disclaimer: merith does not own gundam wing.. or the boys. so sad, that....
lemon advent stories
[ effortless ]
[ unexpected gift ]
[ corner office ]
[ doing what he wants ]
[ winter wonderland ]
"Huh?" Duo looks up to see Heero's fingers holding down wrapping to a box end. "Oh, yeah. Sure." He reaches over and snags a new roll. "We still have two left to buy for," he says, threading the tape through the dispenser for Heero.
Heero grunts softly, pulls two short strips of clear tape and finishes the one side. "Only two?" though his eyes track down the two dozen or so gifts already scattered about, some wrapped, bowed and labeled and some as yet unadorned. He is already tiring of his chore, and knows the list will grow next year. "We should take the lot to one of those charity wrap places."
"What do you get a sixteen year old girl, these days?" Duo asks, ignoring Heero's comment and flipping through a catalog. "Think Relena would mind..."
"We are not buying Claire a car." Heero pauses to glare at Duo.
Duo sighs heavily, exaggeratedly, and tosses the catalog away. "I guess you're right. Relena has enough to worry about." He picks up the wrapped box, shakes it gently and looks to Heero. "Whose is this one?"
As though his eyes have x-ray vision, Heero stares at the snowmen frolicking over dark blue. "Toby's." He pulls a length of tape and pauses in applying it. "I think. A truck, wasn't it?"
His pen halts above the tag and Duo glances at Heero before shaking the box again, his fingers poking at it gingerly. "Yeah, feels like it." He grins and finishes up the tag. "And if it's Julia's doll, you can explain it to Wufei."
Heero laughs softly as he slides the finished present toward Duo's leg. "I could begin by telling him gender roles are not set in concrete, and Sally would be sure to assist." A finger taps on the newly wrapped present and Heero adds, "That one's Missy's, by the way."
"Missy's?" Duo's lips slide up into a smile and he slaps a sticky-back bow in the center of a snowman face. "Trowa's going to kill us."
Already reaching for the next in the pile, Heero snickers. "It was on her list." His humor quiets in a sudden rush. In his hands, he holds a wall calendar of dubious content. Without looking at Duo, he smoothes a hand over the front picture, not seeing the barely clothed, buxom woman but an image of the calendar's recipient.
Duo is still half smiling, and glances up from curling ribbon. His smile drops, and his knee bumps into Heero's. "Yeah, Ken's going to like that one." His voice is oddly soft and his eyes don't leave Heero's face.
Nodding slightly, Heero sighs and reaches for a swatch of paper, the perfect size for the gift. "He seems to be adapting well." A silence settles between them, the soft rasp of the scissors' blade rolls up the thin ribbon. Heero's fingers drum lightly over the plastic covering. "It was just so surprising."
"Yeah, it was." Duo is nodding, concentrating on his next curl.
"I thought they'd stay together." He applies a strip of tape carefully, folds the other end and tapes it down. "They seemed perfect for each other."
Duo snorts softly. "That's a myth, you know." He leans over, sliding the newly ribboned and labeled present to the side. Sitting upright, he turns to face Heero, his eyes moving from Heero's face to his hands. "They had issues." He shrugs. "It happens."
"Like us." Heero's smile is gentle in the quick look he flashes Duo.
Laughing a little too loud, Duo says, "But we were young and stupid then."
An eyebrow lifts pointedly. "And we're old and stupid now?"
Duo is shaking his head; his hands are moving tape and scissors and wrapping paper aside. "No. It was almost too easy back then to walk away." He slides closer to Heero; a hand runs up the outer side of Heero's thigh. "Lucky for us, we got smart."
Heero lets the present slip from his hands and he brings them up to hold onto Duo's shoulders. "Is that what we got?" He is smiling, lowering himself to the carpet, drawing Duo down with him. Their first kiss is soft, questioning. "I like to think that you couldn't live without me." Duo is chuckling lightly against his mouth.
"Good thing for you," Duo rubs his cheek to Heero's. "I can't."
His eyes close and he slides his hands down Duo's back. There is time still to finish their project, to review their list, and make arrangements to ship presents not to be given in person. But for now, there is this, and Duo making him feel like he is young and stupid again. Heero grins. He moves quickly, holding Duo tight and rolls the both of them over, crushing supplies and quite possibly someone's gift. Straddling Duo's hips, Heero leans low and kisses him. His head lifts just enough to catch Duo's eye.
I was ready to blame the girl, at first, but the eight-year-old was crying. And it was close enough to Christmas, she should have been ...happier.
No, it was Duo's fault, and after I explained, he agreed.
It was a Thursday afternoon, mid-December, and Duo had just called to say he needed me. An important mission, he told me. He had promised to bring a dessert for an office potluck, and had to work overtime. "Something simple," he said.
Neither of us had done the grocery shopping in nearly two weeks - both too busy, too tired, too whatever excuse happened to come up. And try as I could, not a single recipe called for a half bag of pasta, a can of artichoke hearts (no earthly idea who bought those), a jar of jam - blackberry, two drink size cans of tomato juice, and a bar of unsweetened chocolate.
On a website listing recipes for gatherings, I found a simple cookie-bar dish he can take. He would have to cut them into bars at the office party; I suspected he could handle that job. After writing down a short list of items needed, I headed out the door for the store down the block.
The walk wasn't bad, and though the weather was supposed to get colder over the weekend, it was currently decent - especially for December. The parking lot appeared to be a bit crowded, more so than the date and time would lead one to believe. Out in front of the sliding doors, a young girl was crouched next to a cardboard box. My steps slowed, and I was scanning people entering and leaving the store. None seemed to be attached to the child.
I stopped a few feet in front of her and she stared up at me. Her eyes were large, as though they belonged in someone else's face. But they were red with irritation, and judging by the dirty streaks on her cheeks, I guessed at the nature. Her hair was pulled back into lopsided ponytails, and her clothes looked a little too large, but at least she was in a coat. Whimpering sounds were coming from the box, and a face with black eyes and pointy ears peeked out from the edge. Another joined the first, but its ears were tufted in white.
"Want a kitten, mister?" the girl asked.
I stared at her for a moment longer, but shook my head and entered the store. It wasn't as busy as I had thought, and in less than fifteen minutes, I was walking back out the door. I hadn't taken more than two steps, and the girl let out a loud wail.
"Kitty! My kitty!" Her hands clenched to her face, with fresh tears in her eyes. In a moment, the situation became apparent; the box was tipped on its side, and the little black and white fur ball was scrambling along the cement walk.
Only by hopping, was I able to keep from stepping on the kitten. The girl laughed behind me, and I nearly dropped a bag. But the kitten was safe. It stopped, sat back on its haunches to look up at me.
It must have been the cold. Or the long day or aggravation at having to do unexpected shopping. Whatever it was, I was bending down, setting a bag aside and picking the tiny cat up in my hand. In a moment, I'd lost my wits and gained a pet.
The trip to the store took longer than I'd planned, but with the unexpected addition, I had to make another trip inside. Duo's cookie bars were made between feeding the kitten and a half dozen search and rescue missions - rescuing items from the wrath of feline. While the dessert baked in the oven, I sat on the floor in front of the couch, the kitten at play in the vee between my legs.
Two hours later, Duo arrived home, take out Chinese in a bag; his bars sat cooling on duvets on the counter, and the kitten no longer played but laid curled in my lap.
"Who's this?" Duo asked, keeping his voice low and leaning over the back of the couch at my shoulder.
I ran a finger over the top of its head, one long gentle stroke. In the hours since I'd picked him up and tucked him inside my jacket, I still hadn't come up with an explanation. Rather than give one, I shrugged instead. The kitten yawned and stretched its front legs. Duo chuckled, his hand snaked over the side and stroked down the kitten's back.
"You wanted to know what I wanted for Christmas..." I told him softly, and lifted the kitten up. "I think he will do." The kitten turned on my palm, to face me. His tongue was more dry than wet, and a lot rougher than I expected.
Duo was laughing again, practically lying on the back of the couch. His lips pressed to my other cheek and his arm half embraced me. "He's all yours, babe." He kissed me again, and chucked the kitten under its chin.
After all was said and done, it was Duo's fault I became a cat owner. If he hadn't needed a dessert, if he hadn't needed me to do the shopping for him, and if he hadn't liked the demon spawn on sight (much like I had), I wouldn't be researching the best approaches to keeping one rambunctious cat out of the tree, and our ornaments safe from harm.
One of the best parts about working for your best friend was the large corner office with windows looking out over the street corner three stories below. High enough that most street noise didn't distract and the view decent for an old town city street. I took full advantage of the view every chance I got. It wasn't Wall Street, New York, New York, but it more than made up for anything lacking with its atmosphere.
The first time I noticed the guy, I'd have to say was about two days after I'd moved in. I have the idea I still had a box or two up on the large windowsill, and I was digging into one when I saw him. It wasn't as though he was doing anything remarkable, just standing there, close to the building across the street. Decently dressed - business casual at any rate - he just stood there. I probably stood there staring at him for a good five minutes before Quatre reminded me I'd been looking for something.
It was two weeks later before I saw him again. Not that I'd forgotten the guy, but more we got busier than shit, and I was out of the office more than I was in it. I want to say I was eating lunch while juggling a spreadsheet report on my lap and I just so happened to look down and see Mister Wonderful walk out of the building across the street. â€˜Mister Wonderful' was a more recent addition, given I had barely seen him that first time. But more than made up for the lack these past three months.
He was wearing this sweater, dark gray with a blue collared shirt underneath. It was windy that day, his hair kept blowing around, and I had to set the report aside, and just watched him. At least, I watched him for the next fifteen minutes or so. He went inside the building and I went back to my report. Like before, he wasn't doing anything remarkable, just stood there watching pedestrians, watching the traffic.
I saw him again later that week. Quatre, his boyfriend and I were about to get into a cab, heading uptown to have lunch at some swank club one of Quatre's daddy owned. Quatre called my name twice before I pulled it together to climb in after him. The guy was wearing a tweed jacket - who the fuck wears tweed these days? - and took his place upside the building wall. Quatre followed my line of sight, and from that day forth, my mystery man became Mister Wonderful.
Over the weeks, it became a scheduled event. I would block out appoints except for those necessary just to sit at the window and watch the man below. The idea dawned about the seventh or eighth sighting that the man needed a little break time, and spent his lunch hour outside on the sidewalk. There were better things I could think of to do to take a break from work, but maybe he thought different.
It was over a large cup of chicken noodle, from the deli down the block, that the man was approached for the first time. At least, the first time on my watch. Noodles fell from my spoon, splashed back into the cup as the man's face lit up. His companion waved down a taxi and Mister Wonderful got in after him. Lunch was over, and I found other things to do for the rest of the week during lunch.
Maybe I wasn't sure what to expect. That Mister Wonderful would be unattached and available? If so, why hadn't I gone down to strike up a conversation? Dating had never been my thing - too busy for the most part, not interested in a lot of the bullshit you have to put up with when there was time.
The Monday before Thanksgiving, I found out his name. Quatre discovered it, though I think he was more surprised than I was. The company was planning to launch globally, and Quatre was in the market for a security software package guaranteed to keep the unwanted from our goods and client data.
"Heero Yuy," Quatre announced, plopping down in my visitor's chair and throwing his shoes up on my desk.
"What's a Heero Yuy?" I didn't even look up. I wanted the marketing analysis done before the end of the day, and needed every minute.
"Not a what," Quatre was saying, "but a who." I looked up just long enough to see the self-satisfied smirk, and frowned, not sure if I was going to like what he was going to say next. "Your Mister Wonderful in fact."
"What?" By this time, I was sitting up, the figures at my fingertips forgotten already.
"Mister Wonderful's name is Heero Yuy." He dropped his feet to the floor and slapped a folder on top of my report. "And your new security analyst."
Yeah, I was right - I didn't want to hear what he had to say. "We don't need a security analyst," I temporized. But that didn't stop me from pulling the folder closer. "We need software."
Quatre was heading out the door already, but turned back. "He comes with the whole package. You've a call with him tomorrow morning at nine to begin implementation procedures and a system walk through." I glared at him, a curse muttered low. "Let's call it your early Christmas present, eh, Duo?" He was laughing, but dodged through the door before the stress ball could hit him.
Of course, the next morning I was right on time for the call. We covered the basics, talked code testing, and development needed. A rudimentary plan was worked out, complete with daily calls until the first code launch. Heero seemed surprised to learn I was across the street from him, and it was on the tip of my tongue to tell him I'd seen him before. It wouldn't have been the smartest idea I'd ever had, letting someone I worked with know I watched him while he was unaware. Instead, I asked him about his holiday plans.
Picking up watching him over lunch again was almost too easy. But now I had a name and a voice. I knew a little more about Heero, though most had to do with the software he created and supported. Into December, he started wearing knit caps and scarves. I never saw his companion again, and I wondered who he was - what he was to Heero. A chance meeting? Or was Heero's habit a possible lunchtime rendezvous?
I did learn he lived alone, had no plans for Christmas. The impulse was there, but I squashed it. Dinner was supposed to be at Quatre's and I wasn't about to toss fuel on that fire. But, the thought of Heero sitting at home alone was never far from surface thoughts.
It was the week before Christmas. Software testing had gone well, and Heero and I were planning to spend New Year's Day together - taking down the database and production site to upload his security software. All over the phone, over the computer. At least I didn't have plans to drink the night before.
The daily calls were reduced to twice weekly, at least until the day of install. Heero offered to buy lunch, and I almost accepted. But, the image of Heero smiling flashed, and I turned him down, making some excuse about needing to return calls and write emails. Some other time, Heero offered, and I agreed.
And there he was, standing out front of his building, watching the traffic pass.
We had just spoken an hour ago, and here I was taking my position in the window. The cold of the day seeped through the glass, but I ignored it. If Heero could stand out in the stuff for an hour, I could sit in a fucking window. Heero pulled his hands out from the jacket pockets and held them to his face. I imagined how cold they'd be and wondered if he left his gloves at his desk or forgotten them at home.
Was his place like mine? A single bedroom box apartment with an efficiency kitchen, one among a hundred. Would he have decorated, or was his place bare bones, with only enough to get by from day to day. Did he eat out or order in? Did he know how to cook or did he work a can opener?
Heero was down there stamping his feet on the sidewalk. He must be getting colder and I wondered how long he'd stay outside. A flake of snow fluttered down outside the window, and I knew he wouldn't - couldn't - remain for long. No one was that dedicated. More flakes followed, but Heero didn't move.
I was standing, shrugging into my coat, and pulling on my gloves before I could think about it any more. Quatre was in the hall as I rushed out, but he didn't say a word. A smile and a nod was all he gave.
Traffic was near to crawling, and I crossed against the light, ignoring the horns when I jogged in front of a vehicle. Heero was still standing out front, his face turned away from me. I slowed to a walk and kept my eyes on him, snow was still falling in a steady pattern.
He was turning toward me as I approached. Words were a foreign thought, and I came to a stop in front of him. Watching Heero was something I did well, though, and his mouth opened, closed only to form a smile.
"You decided to join me for lunch after all."
His was a beeline course, though he had to move a person or two out of his way. Already two others were cruising who Duo knew he was taking home. He finished off his drink, watching as first one and then the other was turned away. His glass discarded and forgotten on a nearby table, Duo stopped a woman with a gleam in her eye from approaching.
He came to a halt not three feet from the man, and stood grinning, his eyes sweeping the other's frame from feet to hair. He was shaking his head, giving a little whistle. The other merely smirked and turned his back, but the glance he threw over his shoulder told Duo what he had to do. And follow he did.
Through the arched door separating the drinking from the gaming, Duo paused long enough to reach up and snag the beribboned tuff of mistletoe. The one he followed was claiming a pool table, racking the set of balls and looking back to where Duo stood. His eyebrow arched, but he said not a word. Instead, he went to the long rack of cue sticks, inspected several and chose one.
"Break?" he offered, chalking the cue.
Duo shook his head. "How bout I just watch you?" He was moving closer, stopping inches from the man. "I like how you move."
The man laughed a quick bark of sound. "You're so full of shit, Duo." But Duo could see he was pleased anyway.
He shrugged, still smiling. Bringing up his hand, he flashed the mistletoe. "Should I invoke the power of folklore?" His empty hand reached for the waist of the man. "Or are you going to kiss me willingly?"
Bare arms circled around Duo's waist, pool cue still held at an angle with Duo's body; a strong tug pulled him close. "You only have to ask," the man murmured against his lips.
His hand slid down from soft silk to smooth leather. His palm came to rest over the tightly encased cheek, and he gave an appreciative hum into the kiss. "You didn't have to, you know," he murmured, moving his lips from mouth to chin and down to neck. "But I like it."
The man shivered and tightened his hold. "It's what you wanted, wasn't it?" He stepped back, his hand circling Duo's wrist and pulling Duo's hand from grabbing his ass. "Leather, silk camisole, stockings... did I miss anything?" The eyebrow arched once again and the man lifted Duo's hand up to his mouth. His lips pressed a kiss to the palm's center, and with a swipe of tongue, the man released Duo's hand. "How long do you have to stay for this thing?" He was licking his lips, watching Duo with half lidded eyes.
"Heero," Duo near whispered, his palm tingled. But he stood back, let Heero have room to line up a shot. The music from the other room faded, the other party goers - his co-workers - no longer existed. His world narrowed to the man bent over the pool table, cue stick drawn back, one leg slightly forward making the other hip jut out. He wanted nothing more than to touch that hip, taste the body behind the leather and lace.
"Now," he said, listening to the balls crack in loud succession against one another. Tossing the mistletoe on the table, he took the cue stick from Heero's hand and added to the balls. "We're going home now," he repeated. Heero's mouth slid into a slow smile.
"Good," Heero was saying, closing his hand around Duo's. "These heels are fucking killing my feet."
Heero pauses only long enough to lean back to press his lips to a small spot exposed on Duo's cheek. He is half dressed in thermal long-pants - his long sleeve shirt is within arm's reach. "Soon," he murmurs, and smiles at the eye that barely cracks open. He moves with sudden action, rising and pulling his sweatshirt over his head; his feet slip into the fur lined moccasins waiting on the floor.
The cabin is pre-colony old, updated through the centuries for bare conveniences if not technology. But the heating remains as it always had - wood stove and fireplace. Stacking the kindling on the grate, Heero thinks of the summer and fall weekends past. The ones they had devoted to the place; the ones given over to repairs or woodcutting trips.
The kindling catches with eager flames and Heero waits until the burn is stronger before adding a handful more of even sturdier tender. He stands from the crouch, dusting his palms off on one another and brushes the ash from his thermals. His breath shows in misty bursts, and he guesses the temp to be in the forties.
At the east window, he draws the curtain, wanting the early sun to warm through the thick plated glass. Just about the time its light reaches through the open bedroom door, it will be time to get up out of bed. Heero isn't surprised to find it had snowed during the night, adding another two or three inches to the near foot already lying heavy on the ground. Through the darkness of early morning, he tries to see the pond, and wonders if it has frozen over yet.
Test it later in the day, he decides and turns toward the kitchen.
The fire takes instantly in the belly of the stove. Heero leaves the door open while he prepares the percolator. Water, filter, grounds, and lid. He sets it on the stovetop, adds several small quarter logs, and closes the latch. From the refrigerator, he pulls the pan of pecan rolls, places them on the counter near the stove. The dough will rise and be ready to bake by the time the sun nudges them from bed.
On the trip back through the cabin, Heero lines up a small pile of logs in the fireplace, knowing they'll last until the day breaks and he can add more.
"Coffee ready?" Duo asks still within his blanket cocoon.
Heero kicks the moccasins from his feet, and pulls off the shirt and thermals in a hurried rush. "Almost," he says, barely lifting the mass of blankets and sliding under. The warmth surrounds him and he scoots closer to Duo. "We have about an hour before sunup." Duo shifts, and though he is hissing with the chill, his arms wrap about Heero's waist and his legs pull Heero closer.
"You're fucking freezing, Heero," Duo mutters, rubbing Heero's back with a flat hand. "You take a run outside?"
"Not hardly." Laughing softly as he nuzzles his face into Duo's neck and rubs his feet on Duo's legs. Duo jerks away, letting a waft of cold air under the covers.
"Asshole." Duo shivers, but he presses his body fully to Heero's.
The cold is momentarily forgotten; Heero lips at Duo's shoulder, one of his hands slides down Duo's back. "Speaking of assholes," he murmurs.
Duo chuckles and rolls into Heero, pushing him on his back. He adjusts his body, his erection hardening in full contact with Heero's. "This good?" Duo asks in whisper, pulling the blankets tight around them. Hunching his back, they are in a small-tented bubble of Duo's making.
"Hmmm," Heero hums more than speaks. His hands knead Duo's ass, bringing him closer, harder with each of his undulations. "I think the pond..." Heero gasps, his neck arches with the soft bite Duo gives. He feels the smile on his neck and pinches flesh between his fingers.
"The pond?" Duo is asking, pushing the blankets down off their heads. His mouth is at Heero's now, and he is kissing him with long, open-mouthed kisses and a teasing tongue.
"It should be frozen," Heero says, grinding hips upward and pushing Duo's ass down. Duo groans into his mouth, and Heero flips their position, rolling Duo under him. Duo is already drawing his legs up, bending his knees, and arching his back to align with Heero.
Duo's pause is only long enough to focus on Heero's face. "You want to go skating..." A particularly deep thrust makes him shudder. Duo hisses a curse, his toes curl under his feet and his back leaves the mattress.
Heero brushes a dry-lipped kiss just below Duo's ear. "Not now," he says in a breathless voice. "After lunch." Duo grunts, but his eyes are still closed, and Heero rolls his hips again, snapping a thrust forward, letting go his own sigh of pleasure.
"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck," Duo says in litany. His hands slide down to his thighs, grasping and pulling them back. Levering his position for deeper penetration, Heero's rhythm changes its slow teasing, speeds into harder thrusts.
The blanket pile slides from Heero's back, catches in the bend of his knees. They are flushed and sweating; the chilled air brings a moment of focus, lost in the next thrust. Duo's laugh is silent, but he opens his eyes to watch Heero's face. He is close and feels the need to come; sees Heero biting his lower lip with his top teeth, sees the line forming between his eyes. His hand drops from his leg, grabs his cock and lets Heero's rocking do the pumping for him.
A minute later and it's done, Heero collapsing on top of Duo, and Duo holding him with a sticky hand. Heero draws air deeply, too quick, and coughs suddenly, the chill tickling his throat. Duo rubs a hand on his back, but his eyes move from Heero's face to the sunlight inching across the floor before the doorway. He shivers and his skin pimples up with cold. Heero is already twisting about, reaching for blankets, and pulling them up over the both of them.
Halfway to laying on Duo, Heero settles back onto the mattress, nestles his cheek to Duo's shoulder, and closes his eyes. His internal clock is telling him they have several minutes before the coffee will finish brewing and the fire will need another log.
"And you wanted to go to Bermuda for Christmas," Heero murmurs without opening his eyes.
Duo stops his absent caresses through Heero's hair long enough to tug on a few strands. "Oh what was I thinking," he intones, too content to put more of an effort into it. "Sandy white beaches and hot sun, tans in the middle of winter, and all the fucking rum I can drink."
"We'll go in February, when it's a lot colder." Heero kisses a spot above Duo's right nipple. "And rum makes you sick."
A grunt and another light pull on Heero's hair, Duo cracks open an eye. "Pecan rolls for breakfast?"
pairing: (hinted at pairings) heero/duo trowa/quatre
To be fair, we all knew Wufei, just none of his relatives - the ones who thought four college boys shouldn't spend Christmas on their own. Though we already had plans. And a tree in the common room. Hell, I wanted to stay. But the others didn't.
But, we took Trowa's car. "More economical on gas." I was told. And Trowa would only let Quatre drive it. That left me in the back seat. With Heero. Not that that was a bad thing, but the moment he got back in the car after the rest stop, his look said in no circumstance was I to bother him. Not with words, sounds or actions.
Then again, there'd been little sleep for Heero this week. Two papers due, a project deadline, a presentation and three exams. Simple things like eating and sleep were irrelevant. But that's Heero for you. Never does anything halfway. Thing was, though, he was already dozing, his eyes were closed and his mouth was open just that little bit. Made me wonder if he snored sometimes. I'd ask Trowa (who happened to be Heero's roommate) but he seemed to be doing a little snoozing himself.
Quatre began to tap a hand to the steering wheel, keeping time with some rendition of Feliz Navidad. I hid the smile, though I knew he couldn't see it, even if he was looking. It was just too dark. The light from the instrument panel lit Quatre's face up, and I caught him making more than a couple furtive glances in Tro's direction. Hell, the guy talked about his music partner almost non-stop for a year now, you'd think he'd do something about it.
And that thought didn't stop me from casting my own secretive look. Fuck, but we were a pair, Quatre and I. Roommate to roommate, tied with bonds as tenuous as an elective course.
If I were to lay the ...blame on someone's head, it would be Wufei's. After all, he was the one who shared that first year class with Quatre, and Quatre was always dragging him around with us, despite the man's reluctance. But then Wufei had to go and invite Quatre to his study group, and that was where Quatre met Trowa. Those two hit it off pretty well, to the point that Trowa spent almost as much time at our dorm as he did his own. Trowa's roommate and "best friend" was Heero. And fuck me if I didn't fall for the guy from the word go.
Not that it was going anywhere. I flirted with the guy all the time, and wind up getting nothing but funny looks with an abrupt headshake. He didn't have a clue and here I'd been thinking this weekend, this holiday would be my last alone. I was going to tell him, and... ah hell. It wasn't going to happen anyway.
I only looked up because it was Trowa who spoke. And here I'd thought he'd been sleeping all this time. But he was right. It was snowing. Quatre shot a look to Trowa and then back at me. He was grinning like a kid at Christmas, and it was catching. I was grinning back at him, and Trowa sat up, leaning forward to turn up the volume on the radio a little. The announcer was saying something about the weather forecast. About how it was supposed to be a white Christmas after all.
About then, Heero's head landed on my shoulder. I about shoved him off, thinking he was playing around. But, his eyes were still closed. And, his hand had fallen to land on my thigh, curled half opened. Instead of moving him, I shifted a little closer, supported his shoulder with my own. He sighed in his sleep and fuck if he didn't smile.
The station flipped from disc jockey noise to another carol. Its opening refrain filled the car though the volume wasn't loud. I looked up from watching Heero just in time to see Trowa sliding back to his side of the car. Quatre was blushing, but smiling.
Trowa began to sing softly, more as a hum than actual words. But, it fit the mood of the moment. Snow was hitting the windshield only enough to let us know it was there. And while there were other cars on the highway, it was as if we were all alone, in some sort of quiet world. I looked back at Heero and all of a sudden, nothing else really mattered. School and grades would take care of themselves. Whether we stayed or traveled five hundred miles to spend the holiday with people we didn't know. If I had the chance to say something to Heero or not.
There was still two hours before we were expected to arrive, and Quatre was playing Christmas songs on the radio. I settled against Heero, and closed my eyes.
All is calm. All is bright.
Behind him, Wufei is saying something ponderous; Quatre's quip lightens the tone, and there is laughter, each distinct and well known to Duo. He smiles in theory if not with content. But, his eyes remain on the road outside, and the snow that covers it. He is called, and so he turns from the window, puts his smile back in place, and approaches the cradle where his friends are gathered.
"Don't you think he looks like his father?" Quatre asks, pulling Duo closer with a hand on his sleeve.
Duo glances to the bundled blankets, and nods. "More's the shame of it." Quatre laughs and Trowa joins him. Duo looks up in time to see Heero shaking his head softly. He pushes his lips up in some sort of grin and gives Heero a shrug of a shoulder.
"Lunch is ready," Relena announces from the doorway. She comes into the room proper, letting the others cross the hall and into the prepared dining room. "I'll be right in after I settle Joshua."
She comes to stand beside Duo, gives him a quick glance, and touches his hand. "You're not going in to eat?"
"Not at the moment," he says, but he continues to watch the baby. "Can I hold him?" Duo asks Relena, and wonders why his palms are suddenly sweaty.
"Of course." She is smiling, already reaching inside the bassinette, and sliding confident hands beneath the blankets. "I was going to rock him to sleep, but if you wouldn't mind...?" She lets the question drift off as she straightens.
"Sure," Duo answers quickly, holding his arms out as if expecting a stack of kindling. "Just tell me what to do."
Relena laughs in a light tone, smiling just for Duo. "How about you sit and I'll bring Joshua to you?" Though he flushes, Duo nods and sits on the padded rocker. Relena moves closer, and instructs, "Hold your arms close, but not too stiff." She nods when he is successful and carefully positions her baby in his arms. "Just keep his head supported," she tells him softly.
"Like this?" Duo barely breaths. Relena tugs his hand to place along the length of the baby.
"Like that." She is smiling at him, and her hand brushes a soft caress over the baby's head. "I'll be back in a couple of minutes, will you be okay?"
"Sure thing, Lena. Josh and I will just hang out here for a bit."
"Alright then," Relena says with a short laugh. "I'll leave him in your hands." She leaves the room with only one look over her shoulder.
The baby's eyes are opened, and Duo watches him try to focus. His hair is in thin wispy curls, dark like his father's, but Duo thinks his features look more Relena. He brushes a thumb over the oil that had anointed him not two hours before. The baby cried then, but now, he is yawning, his hand fists, and swings in a shallow arc. Duo still hears the priest reciting ancient Latin scripture. At the time, Duo only had eyes for Heero as he stood beside Relena and repeated his vows.
Duo smiles and offers his finger to Joshua. "You have so many people around you, little one," he whispers. "So many who will fulfill your every wish, and make sure you grow up strong and honorable like your father." He stops rocking and looks across the room to the window. "I have an idea that your mother won't let you be all about duty and doing the right thing. She'll make sure you have fun and learn to play."
He rises; pausing to make sure the baby is supported and then cradles him against his chest. "It's snowing outside, did you know that?" Duo asks softly, crossing the room. "One of these days, in a couple of years, you and me will be out there chasing snowflakes and building snowmen." He glances down at the baby. "I'll show you how to make the best snowballs..."
His expression grows serious; the image of Heero making his vow before this child washes over him. Duo closes his eyes and draws a deep breath.
"You were given many gifts today, kid," his tone is soft, a gentle breath, and his eyes open and he is suddenly smiling again. "Some pretty darn special ones too." Without lifting his head, his eyes flick to the doorway, confirm they are still alone, and back to the baby. "I can't offer you much, not like the others have, you know."
Joshua yawns, and his eyes are closed; his hand is wrapped partly around Duo's finger. Duo stares out the window, his eyes become unfocused for a moment. "There isn't much you will lack, but there is something I can give you. There is a promise I can make." He watches the snow flurry and draws several deep breaths.
"Your mom and dad made Heero your official Protector, your Guardian," he flashes a grin at the baby. "Whatever the hell that's supposed to mean, exactly. I don't know that you'll need more than one, but I can promise you now that I will protect your protector." His eyes close again and he raises the baby just enough to kiss his forehead. "I will spend the rest of my life guarding the one who guards you, and making sure he is there when you need him most."
"That's good," Heero says in a low voice at Duo's back. "Because I think I'm going to need all the help I can get."
Duo starts to turn, but Heero's hand slips around Duo's waist, holding him still. "Heero," Duo turns his head. "You weren't supposed to hear that." He is embarrassed, but doesn't show it other than the light flush.
"Hmmm," Heero murmurs. He is looking over Duo's shoulder, watching Joshua sleep. "I'm glad I did." His head moves, and the kiss his gives Duo is tender, light. Duo gives a small shudder and Heero smiles ever so slightly. Heero's eyes close, and he holds Duo tighter, pressing his cheek to Duo's cheek. "I never would have accepted Wufei's request if I hadn't known I could count on you being there with me."
"Heero..." Duo lets out the breath he'd held, and slowly relaxes into Heero's embrace.
Outside the window, the snow flurries and the accumulation slowly builds.
"Honey, I'm home," Duo called out in a bad Cuban accent, opening the front door. "Whew! Am I glad that's done." He was stomping his feet on the mat, and unwinding the scarf from around his neck.
Looking up from his crouched position, Heero gave a short snort. "Five late nights in a row? I'm glad it's done too." His lips twitched upward. "You're sure it wasn't just an excuse to get out of decorating?"
"Uh." Duo paused with an arm half inside his coat, gloves, scarf, and hat sticking out of the pockets. "No, really. I had to work. End of the year catch up stuff. Happens every year." Heero's lips twitched again and Duo broke out into a grin. "Bastard." Heero was laughing when Duo pulled off his coat and tossed it over the back of the couch.
"So, you leave anything for me to do?" Duo asked, coming to stand behind Heero, touching his shoulder.
Heero shrugged the hand away. "You're cold," he said, but twisted around and pulled Duo's hands into both of his. He cupped his hands around Duo's and blew breath onto them. "I left the topper for you." His eyebrows rose and dropped.
"Hmmm," Duo murmured, lowering his knees to the floor. "I like doing the topping." His hands slid up to circle around Heero's neck, and he smiled at the slight shudder Heero gave, the tiny flicker in his eyes.
"Good." Heero's voice dropped several octaves and he leaned forward to push his lips to Duo's. His hands rose to cup each side of Duo's face, and his kiss grew from a brush of lips, to a full press, to a lingering open-mouthed one. He drew back with a sigh and rested his forehead to Duo's. "We have to be at the Whiteman's by eight."
Duo groaned and pulled back from Heero. "Can't we just blow it off this year? I swear, if I have to hear Courtney butcher â€˜Hark! The Herald' again, I'm going to chop that piano up."
Through a laughing cough, Heero waved away Duo's threat. "You can't blame an eight year old for missing a few keys, and you know how Grace dotes on her granddaughter."
"I can dream, can't I?" Duo stood, turning his mock glare from Heero to the tree. "Just the topper, hmmm?" He spotted the protective box left out, and picked it up. "I always knew you kept me around for a reason," he was saying with a lift of a brow and a quirk of the lips. The crystal and silver star was in one hand, and tossing the box lid aside, Duo approached the tree.
Heero grunted. "I put up with you so you can put a piece of glass on top a fake tree once a year?" But, he rose to his feet and watched as Duo leaned up against the tree. His eyes traveled down the stretched out length of the body he knew almost as well as his own, and he was smiling when Duo announced that he was done. His eyes rose back in time to see Duo releasing the top of the tree, carefully easing it back into place.
"Another year gone by," Duo said, lowering his feet back to the floor. He turned to face Heero with a hint of a smirk. "Must be tough having to rely on those much taller to do things for you. Reach for those things up on the top shelf." His brow flagged. "Topping..." Heero rolled his eyes and shook his head. "The tree."
"You have two inches on me," Heero said, turning back to put the lid on the storage tub. "I know how to use a stepladder quite well." He lifted the tub, and started to make his way to the hall.
"It's two and a half inches, thank you." Duo moved ahead of him and held the door opened to the under the stairs storage. "And stepladders can't do what I do."
"Is everything about size with you?" Heero's voice was muffled, coming from inside the closet. He backed out again, crossing his arms over his chest. "And like what, exactly?"
"This." Duo was grinning, thrusting out his hands to grab Heero by the belt loops of his jeans, and pulling him close. His lips ghosted over Heero's, and he whispered, "you know how much a half an inch can mean."
Heero tilted his head up to meet Duo's lips and his arms went around Duo's waist. "I rather like your... half inch." He smirked, and covered Duo's mouth with his own before Duo could say anything more.
Duo bumped his groin into Heero's, smiling into the kiss at Heero's stifled groan. He broke away with a fast plant of lips to lips. "Let's just skip the holiday neighbor thing and do a little party of our own."
"How about we go for an hour, have eggnog, and come back for our own."
Groaning, Duo dropped his head to Heero's shoulder. "You are dead set on making me suffer, aren't you?"
Heero smacked a palm to Duo's ass cheek with a half laugh. "I live to make you suffer." Stepping back from Duo's hold, he held his arm for a moment. "There is one more ornament that needs to be hung."
His eyes held Heero's, and his expression became tender and serious at once. "I wondered..." he murmured. Heero gave a nod, and let go of Duo's arm.
"Haven't missed a year yet." Though his eyes darkened. "Except-" Duo's fingers were there at his lips and he was shaking his head.
"Ancient history, man. Doesn't matter now, does it?"
Heero stared at him for several long moments. Shaking his head softly, he pulled Duo's hand away. "No. It doesn't any more."
The box was simple, white, and flat, and its contents heavier than at first thought when Heero handed it to Duo. "I picked it up over lunch."
Duo nodded even as he opened it, his eyes flicked up once to look at Heero and back to the ornament lying in white cotton. He picked it up by the silver thread and held it aloft. "It's beautiful, Heero."
"I rather liked it." Heero smiled though, and took the box from Duo's hand. "I left a space for it," he said, nodding his chin toward the tree with a jerk.
"Damn." Duo's voice had dropped low, and a finger whisked over the filigreed snowflake surface. "Twenty-five already? Shit..." The word drifted off as Heero handed him a tree hook. He threaded the hook and hurried to the tree. "It is silver, isn't it?"
Heero nodded, and cleared his throat. "It had to be silver for the twenty-fifth." Duo was walking backward, stopping beside Heero with his eyes still on the ornament.
"Perfect, as always." Duo turned into Heero, a hand rising to rest on his shoulder and he kissed him.
The hall clock chimed the eighth hour, and they broke apart with a slight laugh. "We're late."
"It's a two minute walk," Duo said, but went to pick up his coat anyway. "We can be a few minutes late. It's expected."
"Yes, but the sooner we go, the sooner we can leave." Heero was pulling his coat on, adjusting the fit across his shoulders.
"Okay," Duo said, holding the door open and waiting for Heero to pass through. "But one cup of eggnog, and maybe one carol." He closed the door behind him, joining Heero on the walk pulling on his gloves.
"Roger that. One nog, one carol, out the door."
They were crossing the street in the middle of the block, stepping over clumps of frozen slush dropped from passing vehicles, and Heero slipped a gloved hand into Duo's. Duo glanced down at their hands and gave him a look. His look turned tender again, and he closed his fingers over Heero's hands.
Behind them, lights from the tree twinkled, showing bright out the window. Mixed amongst the commercial glass bulbs were ornaments of varied styles. Some with humor, some more serious. Some just were. All marked the years from one to now, twenty-five save one. The one year they had not spent Christmas together. The golden rings entwined and welded solid followed that year. And with them, a renewed commitment, and exchange of vows.
High on the tree, the snowflake moved slightly when heat rushed through the vent. Lights sparkled on the surface, highlighted the words engraved into the silver.
Side by side and step by step
Without saying, but always knowing
pairing: quatre, duo (friendship)
Quatre looked up to watch Duo lower himself to the ground beside him. He didn't say anything, but then he didn't have to; sweat dotted his brow and ran in dirty streaks down his neck. Canting his head to the side, he brushed it over his sleeve, and turned back to the letter he'd begun. Words for home were being difficult when he wanted to be nowhere else.
"I thought you were going to hang out near HQ until the chopper came in." He switched his pencil from one hand to the other and rubbed his fingers on his fatigues.
Duo snorted. "Those down home boys started caroling, and a warm beer isn't worth that."
Adding another line to his letter, Quatre nodded. There might have been a cease-fire, but they were still in the bush. Camp was at least tolerable, with a shower and kitchen facilities. Duo shifted around next to him. Quatre's eyes flicked upward; Duo was taking off his shirt. He turned back to his letter and hunched farther into his shirt. Sweat trickled under his collar and ran down his back, adding more to the stain on his shirt.
"December isn't supposed to be this hot!"
"It is this far south of the equator," Quatre replied, his pencil moving slowly over paper.
"Well, it doesn't feel like Christmas."
Quatre avoided looking at Duo, but he smiled for the petulant tone. At home, there would be snow – there usually was - and a tall tree in the front window, full of lights and tinsel. It was the smells he was missing, treats from the kitchen, wood smoke on crisp, frosty air, and pine from the tree. It was doing things he didn't want to, he missed; Iria dragging him out to shop, visiting with cousins who never cared for him and who only made nice to keep in his father's good graces.
"Here," Duo said quietly, thrusting out a can and breaking into his musings. "Merry Christmas, Quatre."
He took the can and turned it over in his hands. "Fruit cocktail?" But, he smiled and set the letter aside. "Where did you get this, Duo?" He was digging into a leg pocket for his church key.
"A trade with the cook at base." Duo was grinning, looking pleased.
Hands paused and Quatre shot Duo a look. "You carried this around for a week?"
Duo was nodding. "Yeah, humped it up here. For you." He looked away, wiping sweat from his forehead and added, "For Christmas."
"I...I didn't get you anything."
"You can make it up to me later." Duo was looking at him again. He gestured to the can slowly being opened. "And share a bite or two of that."
Quatre nodded and grinned, going back to work on the lid. "I could always share the next batch of cookies Iria sends..."
"No! You want to kill me?" At Quatre's laugh, Duo jostled his shoulder. "Seriously, the government should have her make a ton of those rocks, and the Air Force drop 'em all over the jungle. VC won't know what hit 'em."
"I'll be sure to tell Iria that."
"Hey!" Duo shouted with a laugh, but he shoved a hand against Quatre's shoulder and settled back. "So, what would you be doing if you were home?"
The opener slipped off the can, and Quatre jerked his finger up to his mouth. He sucked on the small cut, more to avoid answering than stop blood. The year before, he'd come home a failure, barely passing classes and on academic suspension. He was supposed to have returned to college the following fall.
Quatre picked up the church key and shrugged. "Happy to be there, I guess." When there was only a small strip of metal holding the lid to the can, Quatre twisted the jagged metal back, exposing cut up fruit in syrup. He dug out his spoon and dipped it inside, pushing the liquid away in his hunt for peach chunks.
"Yeah, that's cool." Duo shifted his position, digging his own spoon out. "Howard'd have that funky nog shit he always makes. The guys from the shop would come over."
"Here," Quatre said passing Duo the can. "I remember Howard's eggnog!" He smiled thinking of how good it tasted, the thick grog masking the whiskey, and how terrible he'd felt the following morning.
"Can I have it?" Duo asked, and Quatre frowned over at him. Duo shoved his spoon closer, showing him bits of fruit swimming in the syrup. "Your cherry?"
"Duo!" But Quatre laughed anyway, even as he flushed and couldn't quite look at Duo. He wiped his sleeve over his forehead again, and reached for the can. From the other side of the camp, the singing grew louder. His eyes met Duo's and his laughter was seconds behind.
He took another scoop of fruit, crunching down on a pear piece. And for a moment, the heat faded, the constant sense of something missing was gone. He sat frozen for seconds only, but Duo was watching him.
"Thanks, Duo," he said simply, and offered the can of fruit. "Merry Christmas."
"You should have called," I told him, but got up from the couch anyway, and went to get him a towel.
"It was only from the library," he called up, but his voice was muffled, and rounding the corner back into the living room, I saw his sweater halfway up over his head. I leant a hand and helped jerk it off the rest of the way. It fell to the floor with a sodden thump. "Thanks man." He took the towel, shook it out, and pressed it to his face. "It didn't start raining until Freemont, and you know there's no place to call from after that."
I didn't answer. He still should have called before he left. But at least he was home now. Duo moved the towel to his hair, and I reached for his pants. The buttons on his fly didn't want to come undone, and by the third one, he was chuckling at being jerked around.
"Losing your touch, nimble fingers?" He shoved the towel up enough to peer out at me. The fourth button popped free with no problems.
A grunt for an answer didn't seem quite enough, but the hand inside his briefs did. Duo gave a little shiver not induced from the cold, and the sound coming from his mouth was far from laughter.
"Have I, then?" I gave his cock another squeeze, and watched as he pulled the towel from his head and dropped it to the floor.
"Fuck no!" he hissed, pushing himself forward. I put a hand in the middle of his chest, stopping him.
"You're all wet." But I removed my hand and gave his erection a pat. "Later. That was just a warm-up." He looked like he was going to complain, but hooked fingers into the waistband of his jeans and pushed them down to his shins.
"No," I said, bending down to help pull one leg from his foot. "A tease wouldn't deliver." I looked up at him, holding a handful of jeans in one hand and the back of his calf in the other. "I always deliver."
He made this agreeing humming sound, and put a hand on top of my head. "While you're down there, how â€˜bout you warm me up?"
I snorted, and jerked his jeans completely off. "Shower first." But, my hand lingered on his leg, giving the flesh a hard squeeze.
"Tease," he said softly, and his hand tightened in my hair.
"Shower," I ordered again. Duo laughed, but headed down the hall anyway, naked ass looking too good to not watch. When the shower started, I picked up his clothes in the towel and took them out back to hang on clothesline stretched across the porch.
Colorful lights shone from the rooftop from the house behind ours, and I watched the colors chase one another. Not for the first time, I thought that maybe I should have picked up a string or two. But then, we didn't even have a tree. I reentered the house, and closed the door tight, shoving an old towel along the crack at the bottom with my foot.
In the dim light coming in from the living room, I looked at the pie waiting for dinner the next day. Impulse took me to the refrigerator to look inside. Again. Frequently bare, the few extra items stacked on shelves gave the impression it was full. It was going to be our first real Christmas dinner together. That was supposed to be a special one. And Duo had complained about the amount of spaghetti, casseroles, and meatloaf we ate.
Closing the door, I thought of how surprised he'd be. It would be worth going over budget. At least, this once.
Duo finished his shower a short time later, coming back into the living room dressed - this time in sweats and tee shirt. I pushed aside the stack of forms I'd brought home from work, and Duo more fell on the couch next to me than sat. Heat from the shower radiated off him, but he was yawning and leaning heavily on my arm.
"Rough day?" I reached for the remote, turning the vid on knowing Duo would fall asleep within minutes.
"Yeah," he murmured. "Got stuck on the main desk. You wouldn't think people'd be out on Christmas Eve. At least not to the library."
I found a sitcom I knew he liked and tossed the remote on the coffee table. "It's going to be closed for four days. You know how lonely people there are."
"Hmmm." Duo's eyes were already drifting closed, but his hand had dropped to my leg. "Speaking of lonely... weren't you supposed to be delivering something?" He cracked an eyelid open and peered at me.
"You plan on falling asleep on me?"
"Not on your life." He sat forward in a sudden movement and snatched up the remote. A quick press and the vid was off. "Suck me. Fuck me. Make me come."
"Your romanticism astounds me." But I was standing up anyway.
"Romanticism?" He started to smile and jumped to his feet. "Then I've something just for that." He was at his pack left by the door and flipping the flap open. "I just hope it didn't get wet."
I came to stand beside him, wishing I'd mopped the floor now; I hated wet socks. "Can't it wait until tomorrow?" It wasn't considered teasing to run a hand over his ass, just encouraging the â€˜going to bed' process. The one in which I proved to him I delivered.
Duo half jumped, mixing my name with a muttered curse. "Ah! Here it is." He straightened, holding out a small plastic bag. "For you."
Looking from the bag to Duo, I took it from his hand. It was a lot heavier than I thought it would be. "What is it?" The bag was plain and opaque white, giving no hint on where it originated.
"Open it!" Duo was smirking, giving me that oh-too-smug look he wore when he just knew he'd done well, and I'd have to acknowledge it.
From inside, I pulled out a wax paper wrapped bundle. And I could only hold it, staring at Duo.
"I ran over at break." Duo was grinning. "They were having a big sale, trying to get rid of everything before the holiday." He poked the package in my hand. "I got you two kinds - peppermint and the kind with nuts you like."
"For me?" I looked at the bundle again, acknowledged the confectioner's sticker holding the wrap together, and looked back at Duo.
"And you said I wasn't a romantic." He was still grinning.
I snorted. "I guess discount fudge does count." I leaned forward and kissed him.
"Now is it bedtime?" He slipped his fingers down my waistband, and pulled me closer. "I still need to be warmed up."
"Yes, bed. Now." I was nodding, following him down the hall. "But tomorrow, you're cleaning up this mess."
pairing: gundam wing, trowa/quatre
If it had been last year, he wouldn't be alone. He hadn't been the previous Christmas, hadn't been one for the waiting, the chasing he'd done all year. But then he bumped into him, and two hours before the new year, Quatre's â€˜being single and loving it' days were numbered.
Too bad things didn't work out as well as they'd started.
Two hours after midnight, Quatre shared a cab ride back to his place, a bottle of his private stock of wine and a sunrise. A kiss at the end of their â€˜night' and the last Quatre had seen of him for two months was his dash out the lobby doors, hailing down a cab.
Quatre paused over a can of olives; he was remembering the way Trowa had smiled after the kiss. The look he gave as Trowa explained that he was leaving that very afternoon for a two-month tour in Europe. Tossing the can into his cart, Quatre snorted at himself again. How did one fall for a circus performer, anyway?
An unfortunate date ending with an unexpected reaction to the shellfish dinner. A trip to the hospital and Trowa's three-day stay. With lips too swollen and tender to kiss, eyes puffed to closing, Quatre could only squeeze his hand, and avoid the daggers Trowa's sister threw at him mentally.
It was summer before their schedules coincided again. Quatre rubbed a finger over the end of his nose, knowing he'd still see the pink tint if he looked at his reflection. Instead, he added the small tray of brown-n-serve rolls. It was nearly time to check out. His Christmas dinner shopping was finished.
Trowa had access to a boat, and they were going to spend a long weekend at the lake. The afternoon skiing left Quatre with a third degree sunburn and another trip to the emergency room. At least he was able to go home.
Between Trowa's and his own schedules, the summer flew. Two months into autumn, Quatre invited Trowa to a Halloween party friends were hosting. Trowa promised to come after the last performance. When he didn't appear by midnight, Quatre knew he wasn't, and could only shrug at Duo's teasing of his mysterious man no one remembered seeing at the New Year's party.
The checkout was busy, all five opened lanes packed with last minute shoppers. He pushed his cart in line behind six others, staring in mild curiosity at the tabloid headlines. Another star confession, a senator's indiscretion, hints of space alien invasions. Same stories, and only the names change.
He was turning before the last syllable of his name was uttered. "Trowa!" And now he was smiling, holding out a hand, and clasping the other's with both of his. "Good to see you."
"Same here." Though Trowa wore an odd expression. He looked from Quatre to Quatre's cart. "Christmas dinner?"
Quatre nodded, but indicated the hand basket Trowa carried. "Yours?"
"Yes," Trowa said slowly. He was staring at Quatre again, his smile gone. "Having a little party?"
Quatre glanced back at his cart. There was quite a few items gathered; far more than one person could possible consume in one sitting. He turned back to Trowa, chuckling a little. "No. Spending the holidays on my own." He lifted a shoulder and met Trowa's eyes. "It's been a crazy year. Thought I'd take it easy for the rest of the year."
"Alone? You?" Trowa pulled Quatre out of the queue, letting the impatient woman behind them go in front. "I thought you'd be in the thick of it, busy with your friends and parties."
"And I thought you'd be off to some location for tours or a new show or family." Quatre's lips suddenly felt numb; his arm was tingling where Trowa still held it.
Trowa let go of Quatre's arm and ran his hand through his hair. "Damn." He was suddenly laughing and Quatre along with him. "Let's take it then, Quatre." His basket was placed inside Quatre's, squashing the rolls and knocking over the eggnog.
"Take it?" Quatre rescued his bread, and up righted the eggnog.
"I've taken two weeks off from performing, and have no plans." Trowa's hand was on Quatre's shoulder. "I'd like very much to spend the time with you," he asked simply. "If you want."
Quatre began smiling. "Oh, I do want. I've spent all year wanting."
And with the store watching, Trowa leaned forward and kissed him.
Not all were actively sexual, but there were plenty of them. One day might be a light kiss, a brush of lips to lips. Another day, blowjob in the men's room at Sunny's Bar and Grill. And still yet another, a full body wash - shower and tongue. Then something simple as breakfast in bed, served by a naked Duo. (That things of an active sexual nature happened after tea and biscuits weren't bad either.)
Heero had started to delay opening his surprises until after work. The anticipation of what was to come was far too distracting. That night's mini-gift was no exception. He could still feel the effects from the night before's gift of "dry dock scrub" as Duo labeled it. Coming from tongue and mouth on his naval alone had been a new one.
His dick was already semi-hard. Five o'clock wasn't coming fast enough.
Two days before, Duo had surprised him, grabbed him in the hallway, and shoved him into the janitor's closet. The hand job was fast, and one of the most erotically dangerous ploys Heero'd ever had. "That was on schedule for today," Duo told him in whisper just before Heero came.
Another glance at the clock showed two more hours to go. Heero read the file again, trying to see words rather than the image of Duo waiting in bed, presenting his bare ass for Heero to Punish in manner of choice. The spanking by hand was followed up with a tongue-lashing, and moments before he came - Heero's cock.
The "prisoner or jailer" scenario played about the edges of Heero's mind during the end of day staff. He handed the cuffs and keys over, and would do so again if the choice were his again. Never imprisoned, but the illusion of capture held him still as Duo tortured him. Teased with tongue and mouth and brush of hair, tormented with look and touch and talk. So much so, that when Duo finally entered him, he was coming. That didn't stop him from coming again minutes later.
The clock clicked five and Heero was in the elevator down. Five twenty, he was pulling into the drive, not surprised he'd beat Duo home. He had planned to wait for Duo before opening the next gift. But. Like a kid before his parents were awake on Christmas morning, Heero pried up the slip of paper.
Heero stared at the cardboard calendar in his hand for moment, reading the line over and over again. Now he didn't regret not waiting. By the time Duo walked through the door, he knew exactly what his "mini-gift" was going to be. Duo didn't ask, and Heero didn't say - not until after dinner was finished, not until after clean up was done, not until after their normal Thursday routine was nearly done.
His plan on how to make it succeed firmly in place, he turned off the vidset and turned to Duo. "My choice is made."
Duo arched a brow, his eyes flicking to the advent calendar and back to Heero. His lips hiked up on one side. "Really now. And just what is this...choice?"
"I want to watch you," Heero said, moving closer to Duo, lowering his voice to sultry tones as he spoke. "I want to watch you fuck me."
pairing: friendship with hints at trowa/quatre, heero/duo and wufei/relena
Quatre barely gave a glance in Wufei's direction before nodding. It didn't matter where he put his stuff; the room was theirs for the rest of the weekend anyway. The controller jumped in his hand, and he turned back to slaughtering enemy soldiers in ancient Japanese dress.
"When are the other guys coming?" Wufei asked, dropping down cross-legged next to Quatre.
"Trowa should be showing up any time." He grunted as his 'Liu Bei' character took a vicious hit. A minute of fighting, and the trouble had passed. "And you know Heero and Duo - they'll arrive together and blame the other for making each other late."
Wufei snorted and plugged in a second controller to the console, preparing for a break in the action. "The fifth gate. That's where you're going to find..."
"I know!" Quatre snapped, jerking the controller abruptly, eyes glued to the screen as Liu Bei dodged a direct crit. "It's not the first time I played."
"Sorry! I was only trying to help." Wufei sat back on his hands and stretched his legs out in front. "I brought National Treasure."
Quatre spared Wufei a look, his lips quirked up. "You would. I hear your buddy's in a new movie."
Ignoring the slight or at least refusing to acknowledge it, Wufei nodded. "Lord of War. It's coming out this summer."
The doorbell rang and Quatre paused the game, jumping to his feet. "That should be Trowa." He dropped the controller to the floor and headed for the archway. "Go ahead and hit reset. We can play some three-way until Heero and Duo get here." And then he sprinted up the three steps and down the white tiled hallway, answering the door before Trowa had a chance to ring the bell again.
"Hey, come on in." Quatre threw open the door, nearly causing Trowa to stumble over the stoop. "Wufei's here, but we're still waiting for Heero and Duo." He stepped back, letting Trowa come inside, carting his backpack and a sleeping bag.
"Whoa..." The word was more a loud whisper, and Quatre turned to see Trowa standing on the landing overlooking the living room. "Cool tree."
"Yeah," he said joining Trowa. "Dad has some company find the biggest tree and decorate it." He frowned at the tree with its over-the-top ostentatiousness. "You should see what they did to the outside with all the lights and stuff. We'll go out and look at it after it gets dark." He shot a quick look up at Trowa and back to the tree.
"Okay." Trowa nodded and hiked up his pack. "I brought that Spellberg book I was telling you about yesterday."
Quatre's face lit up. "Oh yeah! Hey, you have to check this out." He grabbed Trowa's arm and started pulling him toward the stairway. "I just picked up Makana: Second Stage!"
"No way!" It was Trowa's turn to become excited. "I thought it wasn't coming out 'til January. You really got it?" He dropped his stuff to the floor and followed Quatre eagerly up the stairs.
"Yeah, and you're not going to believe what happens when the Rangers get to Lunar Four. It's great!" Quatre was walking up the stairs half turn around. "I finished it last night." He opened a door and went to the bedside table. "Here, you can read it next." His cheeks were flushed.
"Does Terry find the... no, don't tell me." Trowa opened the book and read the jacket blurb, moving to sit on the bed. "There's only three more left in the series." His tone went sad.
Quatre nodded, sitting next to Trowa and flipping the book to the back page. "He says he has another series in mind and is wrapping up Inverted."
"Damn. I liked this series." Trowa closed the book and stared at the cover art for a moment. "But, another series. Dude, you know it's got to be good."
"Sure! There's a small exert at the end of the book, and the synopsis looks interesting." Quatre leaned into Trowa, moving pages while Trowa held the book. "It's still in space, but it seems a little more political than adventure."
Trowa hadn't moved, and Quatre looked up at him. Trowa's eyes were wide, but his fingers were gripping the book tightly. "Oh." Quatre jerked away, no longer touching Trowa. "Uh, sorry."
Jumping to his feet with the book still clutched in his hands, Trowa was shaking his head. "No, it's okay. It's..."
The doorbell rang, the extension sounding loud and shrill and both boys jumped. Quatre laughed a little, standing up and brushing by Trowa. "That's got to be Duo." And he escaped his room, not looking back.
"Líng T?ng has been defeated!" The electronic voice exclaimed, the 'game over' warning box flashed on the screen.
"Damn it! No way did that just happen!" Duo shouted, throwing his controller to the floor and jumping to his feet.
"It did, and you're out." Wufei picked up the abandoned controller and leaned forward to hit the reset. "Who's next?"
"We could watch a movie?" Quatre suggested, his controller held loosely in both hands. "A couple new ones came in the other day I haven't seen yet, and Wufei brought some."
Trowa stood, holding out his controller to Duo. "Here, you can play my guy."
Wufei looked over at Quatre. "What're the movies?"
Standing suddenly, Quatre went to the large armoire and opened its doors. "There's Man on Fire..."
"Oh cool! That's the movie where Denzel cuts this guy's fingers..."
"We've seen it." Heero cut in. "It's good." He was unplugging his controller from the console and winding the cord around it.
"Or we can watch Meet the Fockers." Quatre pulled another DVD from the cabinet and frowned at the cover.
"Fockers! Cool." Duo turned to Heero and forked his fingers. Pointing them at his own eyes first, he jerked his hand around to point the fingers at Heero's. "I have my eyes on you Focker."
Heero blinked and turned to Quatre. "Have they sent Shrek 2 yet?"
Quatre looked again, but was already shaking his head. "No, there's something up with the distribution, I think. It should come in next month though."
"We can watch Sith Lords..."
"No!" Wufei interjected standing up. "You and your Star Wars crap." He picked up a plastic case off the table, and opened it. "National Treasure."
Duo fell over, gagging. "Just because you're in love with Nicky, doesn't mean the rest of..."
"Shut up, Duo." Heero shoved Duo's arm. "Let Trowa decide."
Trowa backed up a step holding his hands out in front of him when all eyes turned his way. "Whatever you guys want."
"Alright! Sith it is!" Duo shot to his feet and ran to the movie cabinet.
"No!" Both Quatre and Heero joined Wufei this time.
A cell phone rang. Wufei dropped the movie case and dug into his pocket, fishing out his cell. He was looking at the caller ID, and Duo started laughing.
"Relena." Three voices said in sync. Wufei scowled and flipped the phone open, walking from the room as he greeted the girl.
"Man, when's he going to give in and admit it that he's got the hots for her?" Duo went to drop back in his place next to Heero on the floor.
Quatre was smiling, picking up a handful of DVD cases, and closing the cabinet doors. "Maybe when you do?"
"What? I don't have the hots for 'Lena!"
Heero choked as Quatre laughed. He ignored Duo's punch and hissed 'what?', finding sudden interest in picking up spilled popcorn.
Still chuckling softly, Quatre opened the first of the small stack and popped the DVD into the slot. He turned and spotted Trowa sitting on the couch watching him. Offering a brief smile, he gestured to the remote beside Trowa on the table. "Hit play whenever you want." And he went to sit on the couch near Trowa without looking at him.
"Should we wait for Wufei?" Trowa asked, picking up the remote and studying its buttons.
"Nah," Duo said from the floor, shifting a pile of pillows behind his head. "He'll be on the phone with 'Lena for the next five hours."
"Go ahead," Quatre told Trowa, looking at him and wishing the sudden flush would disappear. "He'll be at least fifteen minutes or more."
Trowa nodded and pressed the play button. Heero rose and began switching off lights. The opening credits were still flashing on the screen, Denzel Washington was sitting at an open-air bar, discussing the possibilities of a new job when he sat back in place beside Duo.
"Do you have a girlfriend, Creasy?"
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"No. What kind of question is that, anyway? You're supposed to be studying history, okay?"
Quatre was already smiling at the exchange taking place on the screen; Trowa touched his arm and he turned his head, still smiling. Trowa had been watching him, and his smile faded. "What?" he whispered.
Trowa moved a little closer, leaning over a bit to put his head near Quatre's. "In your room," his eyes dropped and rose again, "earlier... I-I mean, it was okay." He swallowed hard, and his fingers twitched on Quatre's arm. "It just... startled me."
"What was your first girlfriend's name?"
His smile slowly returned and his limbs didn't quite feel as cold as they had been a moment before. Quatre nodded slowly. "It's okay for me too," he whispered, and released a sudden rush of breath. Trowa flushed, Quatre could see it creeping up his neck and over his cheeks.
"Okay. Good." Trowa swallowed again, but turned then, and watched the movie.
Quatre watched the light flicker on Trowa's face. The movie he'd seen before, and watching it through Trowa's expression was more interesting this time around. He heard Duo say something to Heero and Heero shift around, and knew Duo was laying on Heero's legs - the way he usually did when they watched movies in his family room.
In the sudden silence of the movie, he could just make out Wufei laughing softly and felt a twinge akin to pain inside. His eyes turned from Trowa and he watched his friends, so close and yet, not there yet. Wufei was closer, but even he hadn't quite stepped over the line. It was going to change, soon. No more would it be just them.
Trowa's hand moved on his arm, and he turned back to him. Trowa glance away from the big screen, giving him a short smile. Quatre nodded slightly, and settle back to watch the movie.
They had another eight days left of winter break, and nothing was going to change significantly before its end. But for now, there was a good movie, popcorn, and friends about him.
I can just see your face in outline, your hair hanging loose over your shoulders, and the curve of your lips in that half smile you use to hide what you really want to say. Sex that night reflected the mood. Hungry and urgent, and minutes later, desperate and clinging. And you matched me in intensity, holding me, pushing me to the edge and beyond.
Through the night, I watched you sleep, keeping your body in touch with mine. Your face, so familiar to me, shows new lines, and I wondered, then, when the years had passed. Counting every breath you took, and every flutter of your eyelids, the hours continued towards morning. Your arms welcomed me, and your body opened up to mine. The frenetic passion that fed our earlier desperation was gone; in deliberate slowness, I lengthened our time together. Every touch, every kiss, every sound was for you.
The alarm rang far too soon, and we let it beep-beep-beep, holding each other, touching each other. 'A month isn't that long,' you say to me with a laugh, smiling. I shake my head, willing to believe your words. In the end, you rise and shower, leaving me to follow. But, as I stand in the bathroom doorway, I see your shoulders shake under the water's spray and turn away.
Breakfast was more than a bowl of oatmeal, but eaten just as fast. You left on your own, taking your car just in case. And I watched you leave, standing out on the front steps until long after your car disappeared from view.
It is well past midnight when I give up hope for sleep, and rise. In the dark chill of the room, I dress, pulling on jeans and socks, and the sweater you threatened to cut in pieces. The path to the kitchen is lit by moonlight coming through the window, glinting off the hardwood.
Unsure of why I'm there, I stand at the sink. But, I take down a glass and pour water from the tap anyway. It is your glass I bring to my lips, the water sours in my mouth. A lark, you chose the Caped Crusader of old, and refused to use any other. I empty the glass and leave it in the sink.
Being inside is suddenly too close, and I long for the cold. Hardly a surprise, I pull on coat and gloves, and shove my feet into boots, barely taking the time to tie the laces before I'm outside.
I stand in our yard, bare and brown and am strongly reminded of the year we first arrived. Of how you stood there just before the tall oak, with your arms thrust into the air, shouting for the world to hear your demand for snow. Of how you looked to the stars and shouted equally as loud that you 'love Heero Yuy' and 'no one could tell you different'. I stayed on the porch, calling you an idiot for not putting on a coat.
But that night, I watched you sleep. And told you the secrets of my heart.
The lake holds a layer of ice, not quite thick enough for skating; it is far too soon in the season for it. But, soon after you return, it should be ready. If the weather stays on course. Your skates are oiled, and hang on its peg in the front closet. And I can almost feel the bite of the air stinging on my cheeks, chasing you across the ice, racing you for home, laughing as we crash and fall on our asses together.
On the shore, I watch the sky; watch the moon pass time; watch the glint of its light crack the ice. The satellite you're overseeing the construction of should be impossible to find, but I do. The night before you left, we stood in this very spot, plotting the coordinates. 'Not so far away,' you'd laughed. And home was 'second to the right, and straight on 'til morning'. Very Peter of you.
Christmas lights shine bright across the lake, inviting in-between the dark smudge of trees. My eyes find the houses, naming each neighbor. Even after eleven years, few have changed. 'Known and expected,' is what you said. Stable and devoted, is what I've always thought.
Had you stayed, you would have added our lights to the lake's festive look. I tried, and failed; after taking them from storage, I lost the desire. It is something we do together, and it didn't feel right without you. I'll face your questions if you ask, but somehow, I don't think you will.
The sun is replacing the moon, and I turn from the lake, heading back to the cabin. From the house steps, the penguins greet me through the window. Ironically, they are my only concession to decorating; the statues dressed in winter gear that you insisted on buying that day in Pittsburgh. You told me then of a story about a pair of penguins, of how they once lived in a zoo, and fell in love. Not different from any other penguins in zoos all over the world, but these two were male. And they made a life together.
It is Christmas morning, and feels like judgment day.
Body weary, I am in our room, shedding clothes and letting them fall where I stand. Naked between the sheets, cold and empty, I long for sleep. Your pillow still smells faintly of you, and I curl around it, holding it close to my chest. I whisper that I miss you, and can see your smile.
"I love you," I say out loud, insistently.
"I know," I hear in answer, and sleep is there, pulling me into dreams of you.
(i actually had a small snippet of an additional ending, one that closes it on a more happy note, but it felt wrong, contrived. so... i leave it as it stands.)
Heero's pen stopped in place, and he raised his head. Duo was lying on the couch, his hands tucked behind his head staring at the ceiling. Heero frowned slightly, turning the question over in his head.
"Ten years ago today, Wing was being demolished." He went back to the investigation notes, adding, "I had no reason to believe I'd live past the night, let alone think beyond it."
Duo grunted and shifted on the couch, but Heero continued to write notes. "How about in general? Did you see yourself here, doing that?"
This time, Heero laid his pen down and removed his glasses before turning to stare at Duo. And Duo for his part, had rolled to one side, propped his head on his hand and was staring back at Heero. Ten years could have been a lifetime ago. Ten years could have been yesterday.
"Do you mean did I expect to become a criminalist? Or that I live here, in this town?"
"I dunno. I guess." Duo turned to lay back on his back, his hands on his stomach now. "Does it matter?"
"It's your question, Duo. Does it?" Heero sat forward, resting his elbows on his knees, his hands clasped loosely together.
Duo's sigh was loud. "Yeah, I guess it does." He shrugged a shoulder into the sofa pillow. "Didn't you think, back then, that you'd be doing something different? Be somebody different?" his voice became soft.
Nearly a minute passed before Heero spoke. "I never expected to be anyone but myself. But, no, I never expected to become a crime scene investigator either."
"That's not what I mean," Duo said, sitting up to face Heero. "It seemed obvious back then that you were," he made a small gesture with his hand. "Destine for other things. Politics, maybe. Getting married, having kids. That kind of thing."
Heero sat back with a sudden blink. "I can assure you that the furthest thing on my mind at sixteen was getting married and having children." And then he frowned. "Why are you asking this? What about you? What did you expect ten years ago?"
His mouth opened and snapped shut. Duo turned away, and shoved a length of hair behind his ear. "Just forget it. Forget I asked."
"No, I don't think I..."
The room plunged into instant darkness just as a small explosion sounded; the sudden silence too loud in the absence of normal white noise. A heartbeat later, twin lights flickered to life, one shining from the doorway leading to the kitchen and the other against the wall beside Heero's chair.
"Damn," Duo whistled. "You are a boy scout, Yuy."
"I have never been a boy scout," Heero said, pushing the ottoman he'd been using as a portable desk aside, and standing. "Their motto is sound, though." He went to the kitchen first, and retrieved the emergency flashlight plugged into a baseboard level socket. Coming back into the room, he passed behind the couch and handed the light over the back to Duo. "The first year I lived here, every storm blew the lines down." He rounded the couch and pulled the second light from its socket.
"That wasn't no wind blowing lines down," Duo protested mildly. "That sounded like a transformer exploded."
Heero lifted a shoulder, flipped the setting to 'energy saver' on the flashlight, and set it up on the side table. "Most likely. It could be a few hours before power is restored." He straightened the papers from the file opened on the ottoman, closed its folder and pushed the footrest up against the wall.
"You were going to tell me what you expected to be doing now, ten years ago."
"No, I don't think I was." Duo's head was bent, and he was fiddling with one of the flashlight switches.
"Why did you ask, Duo?" Heero was sitting forward again, watching Duo.
"Heh." Duo half chuckled and flipped off the power switch. "I like it like this," he said, keeping his voice low. The flashlight was placed on the coffee table. Sitting back, Duo crossed his arms over his stomach and glanced Heero's way before turning to stare straight ahead. "Ten years ago, I trotted off after Hilde and thought I could do it - make something of a few scraps of metal, broken engine parts, busted machinery." He looked at Heero again, held his gaze, and let his lips quirk upward.
"I didn't last a year, Heero." He sighed and settled deep against the cushions, letting his head fall back. "After all that talk, all the plans, it just..." A hand rose only to fall back. "It sucked. I hated it."
"There's nothing wrong with that."
"But I tried. I tried to make it be enough, to make it be what Hilde wanted, what I thought we should be."
"You can't make yourself do what you really don't want, Duo. You know that. You proved it during the war on more than one occasion."
Duo laughed softly, and scratched the side of his nose. "Yeah, I guess I did." He sat up and leaned forward, matching Heero's stance. "I've held fourteen jobs since the yard, Heero. Did you know that? Fourteen jobs, and as many places to live."
Heero stilled, watching Duo rub his fingertips over the tops of his thighs. "What are you looking for, Duo? What makes you so restless?"
A quick in-drawn breath and a fleeting look, Duo clamped his hands on his knees and stared at the carpet. "I don't know." He shot another look at Heero. "Not exactly." And lowering his head to his hands, he mumbled between fingers, "Remember when we worked together up on that satellite project off L3?"
"Yes, I remember." Heero nodded. "It was the summer of my junior year at the university."
"Yeah, well, it was the only time I...I didn't want to move on, didn't want a change."
"That was over five years ago, Duo." Heero's voice was just above a whisper.
Duo gave a half laugh again. "Yeah, I know." He lifted his head and stared at Heero. "It's happened again, Heero."
"Maybe you're just tired," Heero said, frowning down at his hands. "Maybe the job..."
"And maybe it's you."
Heero looked up sharply. His throat worked slowly before he gave a nod. "I had hoped."
"What?" Duo's brows drew tight.
"When you called, I had hoped that it would be for longer than the 'month or so' you needed," Heero spoke carefully, holding himself very still.
"What..." Duo croaked, and cleared his throat. "What do you mean?"
"You're an intelligent man, Duo. What do you think I mean?"
His mouth curved upward in a slow smile, and Duo gave a little shake of his head. "You're telling me that you enticed me to stay with you just to give you the chance to seduce me."
Heero barked out a laugh, and sat back in his chair smiling. "If I was seducing you, then why are you still sleeping on the couch?"
Duo shrugged briefly. "You suck at it?"
"I think you would know if I sucked at something." Duo started to laugh, and the lights flickered on for a moment, and went dead once more.
Moving to the edge of his chair again, Heero reached a hand out to touch one of Duo's. "What are you looking for? Because if it's a white picket fence and a couple of kids, this isn't where you're going to find it." Duo was shaking his head, and Heero tightened his grip over Duo's wrist. "But, if you're looking for someone to... share a few experiences with, to make a few memories, and maybe a little more." He gave Duo's wrist a squeeze and let it go.
Duo stared at the mark Heero's hand left on his skin. "What do you want, Heero?" he asked softly.
"I thought that I'd made it obvious." Heero moved to sit on the coffee table in front of Duo. His hand rose and his fingers skimmed over Duo's face. "Stay with me," he whispered.
His nod was tight and short, and Duo was grinning. "I guess accepting that permanent position at Pemro was a good idea, then."
Tension fled from his shoulders, and Heero allowed himself another brief touch. "If you want to make rent on a regular basis, it is."
"Pay rent? To sleep on this broken-down couch?" Duo's grin softened and he reached up to take Heero's hand. "I was thinking that you'd have to pay me as compensation for sleeping on it."
"There is always..." And Heero looked sideways, toward the hall and the bedroom door just out of sight.
"Hey now," Duo said softly, giving the hand he held a light squeeze. "Let's get used to the idea of being something more than friends, first."
It was Heero's turn to nod. "No rush." He stood abruptly, letting go of Duo's hand and moving back to his chair. "I've waited for five years, I think I can handle a month or two." At Duo's look, he smiled. "Or five."
pairing: friendship with stated trowa/quatre, heero/duo and wufei/relena
Quatre kicked up his board, and turned his head to look back at Duo. "Come on. It's not that bad."
"The place is packed, Quatre. We'll get squashed." Duo was looking away across the parking lot, toward the front entrance of the mall.
"It's still early. If we go now, we can be out in an hour." Duo glared at him. "And I'm buying lunch."
His expression changed instantly, and his board was suddenly in his hands. "You're on! Friday's?" Duo started walking, his vans making no noise on the asphalt.
Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, Quatre followed. "Don't you ever get tired of going there?"
"Nah, they have the best wings." He pushed open the entry door and held it briefly for Quatre to catch before heading to the lockers. "We gonna need two?" he asked, waiting for the counter clerk to come back.
"One should work." Quatre slid his board up on the counter next to Duo's and began pulling his jacket off. "You've got Heero's gift already, right?" The girl returned, and handed him a check-in form. "Just one," he said when she tried to hand another to Duo.
"Heh, not yet." Duo dug a hand into his front pocket and pulled out a couple of ones. "I'll probably just take him to the movies or something."
Quatre pushed the form back to the girl and added his two. She gathered the two boards, and Quatre's jacket with a quick, 'I'll be right back' and disappeared through the opened doorway. "Duo! You can't do that. That's like, cheating."
Duo shrugged, and turned from the counter, watching the flow of people enter and leave the mall. "He won't care either way. It's not like he's a girl or something."
"But," Quatre frowned. "You're going out, and it should be something more... special."
"Geesh, Quatre, just announce it over the PA why don't you?" Duo shoved off from the counter and went to stand by the door. "There are a couple of things I think he'd like. Don't worry about it."
The counter girl returned, and handed Quatre a slip of paper with the reminder to be back before mall closing.
The mall wasn't as crowded as Quatre had feared, but four days before Christmas, even before noon on a workday, it was busy. "I'm still not sure what to get Wufei," he said, walking beside Duo, heading toward the first floor center. "What did you get him?"
Duo flashed him a grin. "Heero and me went in together on this set of weights he told Heero about. They're pretty sweet."
"At least you have Heero." Quatre peered through one of the many electronic store windows. "Think he'd like one of those MP3s? He said his last one died."
"Sure, he'd like a new one, but I'll bet Relena already has it covered." Duo turned back to look in the window as well. "I think you're better off giving him a mall certificate. That way he'll get what he wants, and you don't have to worry about it."
Quatre nodded slowly. "I'll see what else I might find first."
They were nearly to mall center when Quatre turned to Duo. "Who do you have to buy for?"
Duo scratched his ear and tilted his head back, gazing up toward the center skylights. "Uh, there's something I need to pick up... for Howard." He looked back at Quatre and grinned. "And Heero."
"Where do you want to look first?" Quatre asked, wondering what Duo was hiding, suspecting there was more to this shopping trip than shopping.
"You should just give Trowa something he'll really want for Christmas," Duo said, flipping through a stack of DVD new releases on sale.
"What's that?" Quatre picked up a movie, flipped it over, and read the back.
"A blow job."
"Duo!" Quatre flushed and looked around. No one seemed to have heard him.
"Or sex. He'd like that a whole lot." Duo looked up with a smirking lift of an eyebrow.
"I'm not going to have sex with Trowa!" Quatre hissed, leaning in close to Duo.
Duo tsked. "Does Trowa know that, or are you just teasing him?" A plastic wrapped movie was in his hand and he held it out to Quatre. "I hear the sex scene in this is killer."
Automatically his eyes went to the title. The red deepened on his cheeks, and he shoved the DVD back in a slot. "What Trowa and I do is none of your business."
"So you're not getting any." Duo was laughing softly, shuffling through another row of movies. "I figured you two'd be boinking like rabbits by now."
"I'm leaving," Quatre announced, and hurried from the store. His arms were shaky, and he wanted more than anything to hit his friend.
"Hey Quatre, wait up!" Duo was calling out to him, vans making slapping sounds on the tiled floor. "Sorry, man." Duo said, bumping his shoulder into Quatre's. "I didn't mean anything by it."
His lips were thin, and he shoved his hands deep into his pockets. "Just because you and Heero are 'boinking like rabbits', doesn't mean everyone else is."
Duo choked, coughed, and turned away. "We're not."
Quatre stopped in the middle of the walkway, letting people stream around him. "What? Then...why..."
With a shrug, Duo gave Quatre a half-smile. "I thought you guys were, and we... uh, were the weird ones."
"Oh." Quatre watched as Duo turned steadily redder.
Looking at his watch again, Quatre thought he should have gotten in the other line when he had the chance. But, there was only the person being checked out in front of him, now, even if he was ten minutes late meeting up with Duo.
After roaming through an electronics store and two music and movie shops, Duo claimed he needed to head off for a place on his own, and Quatre spotted just the store for Trowa's present. The plan was to meet in an hour outside the Disney Store, and from there they'd head over to Friday's for lunch.
Finding the music scores was too easy; paying for the tee shirt, he knew Trowa would like (and wear), negated the joy of the find. The half hour wait in queue for a two-minute transaction didn't seem right somehow. But by then, Quatre was hungry, tired of shopping already, and wanted to be some place quiet.
Duo was waiting on a bench across from Disney, his back to the wall, and his vans up on the seat. Quatre spotted a bag on the floor and held his up to show he was successful, too. "It's getting bad in here." He sat on the other end of the bench. "I think I'll just grab that gift certificate for Wufei."
"There's still tomorrow," Duo said, sliding over and dropping his feet to the floor. "And there's a couple of stores we can hit on the way to lunch."
"So what'd you get?" Quatre peered down at the bag. "Waldon's? You got Heero a book?"
That odd flush was back, and Quatre dived down to grab the bag. "What book?"
"Hey!" Duo shouted, just missing Quatre pulling the bag away from him and opening it. "Quatre!" And Duo jumped to his feet, nearly running from the bench.
He had the book half-pulled from the sack before he realized what he held, and instantly shoved it back inside. A strange tingling ran down his arms, quivered in his belly, and came to rest between his legs. Duo was nowhere in sight; Quatre picked up his bags, and rushed off after Duo.
"Duo!" he called out, spotting the dark colored hoodie slipping between a couple stopped beside a potted plant. He darted after Duo, bumping into the man, and cast a quick apology over his shoulder. "Damn it, Duo! Wait up." They were nearly to the side doors of the mall, now. Quatre came to an abrupt stop, nearly toppling over the stroller suddenly in his path.
"You shouldn't be running in here."
Quatre nodded at the woman, let her pass, and caught his breath. His way was clear, and he started off in a jog toward the doors. Not ten yards down the isolated hallway, Duo was leaning up against a wall, his back to Quatre. Quatre's feet slowed to a walk. He stopped short, and shifted the bags from one hand to the other.
"I, uh... I shouldn't have looked," he said softly. "I'm sorry, Duo."
"It's okay." Duo's arm rose, and he rubbed at his nose. He didn't turn around.
"What are you doing with...that book?" Quatre glanced down at the bag in his hand, wanting to look again, wanting to forget what he saw.
"What do you think?" Duo glared over his shoulder and turned away, hunching his shoulders deeper in his sweatshirt.
"Do you...I... I mean," Quatre swallowed and took a deep breath. "Are you and Heero going to... you know?'
Three girls entered the mall, all about their age. A look was cast in their direction, and heads ducked together in tittering laughter. Quatre frowned in their direction, and the girls hurried away.
"Come on," Quatre said, reaching out, and grabbing a loose fold of material. "Let's go somewhere else." He clutched the three bags from the different stores in his hand, and tugged on Duo's shirt with the other.
Duo didn't speak, but allowed Quatre to drag him away, outside the mall and around to the other side. In ten minutes, they were seated in the back corner booth, water glasses and paper napkin rolled dinnerware on the table. Quatre waited until the hostess left before clearing his throat and looking at Duo.
"How did you get it?" He hadn't seen a receipt, just the title, and a glimpse of a bare chest. "You're not old enough to buy a book like that."
"Willie DeFry," Duo said. "You remember Willie, don't you?"
"He's eighteen." Duo quirked a grin. "And he's so far out of the closet, he'll never find it again. And he didn't have a problem buying it for me."
"Oh." Quatre had known of him, but hadn't met. "Why?"
Duo snorted, playing with the paper ring from his silverware. He shrugged, his eyes flicked up, and back. "Why not."
"You know how, don't you?" That tingle was back, this time making his feet want to curl inside his shoes.
His head dropped to the table. "Yes, I know how..." Duo took a deep breath. "It's just that... Heero and me, we never get there."
Quatre frowned, trying to make sense of what Duo wasn't saying. "You want to have sex?"
"Well, doh!" Duo raised his head long enough to glare at him. "Isn't that the point?"
His cheeks suddenly flooded with color, and Quatre drank from his glass, draining half the water. The waiter appeared, and by the time he'd taken their orders, Quatre thought he could breathe normally.
"We haven't..." Quatre blushed and looked out the window, a tiny smile threatened. "Just kissing and stuff."
"Yeah," Duo said slowly. "That's what we usually do too, but," In a sudden movement, Duo turned on his seat, pressing his back against the window with his elbows on his knees and hands over his face. "Fuck."
"What happened, Duo?" Quatre leaned forward, a hand automatically reaching out for him.
"Nothing!" Duo hissed loudly. "That's just it. We kiss and fool around and fuck..." He flashed a quick look in Quatre's direction. "Not fuck, I mean." He turned back, staring straight ahead. "We've gotten each other off, just not... that."
"Oh." Quatre sat back against the booth's padding, his hands flat to the table. "But you want to, and Heero..."
"Yeah." Duo nodded and pulled the hood up over his head.
Quatre let Duo's response wash over him, remembering the week before, and how he and Trowa wound up in his room. On his bed, Trowa was sitting up against the headboard, and Quatre lying down, facing his feet. They'd been reading, or at least, Quatre had been reading. Trowa had touched him, stroking fingers down the inside of his thigh, and Quatre nearly fell off the bed, rolling away from him.
A few kisses, and once, Trowa's hand on Quatre's crotch over his jeans, was the extent of his sexual life. At least, the one he shared with Trowa. Masturbating in the shower had become part of his daily exercise.
"How... how far have you guys gone?" he stuttered in whisper. A grin was about all Quatre could see of Duo's face, and maybe he liked that better; it made it less Duo, but more, somehow.
"I jerked him off, once." Duo's voice was equally as low, but firm and gaining confidence. "He sort of gave me a blow job."
"Sort of?" Quatre's breathing quickened.
Duo's head dipped, and the grin disappeared. He nodded. "We'd been messing around for awhile, and he'd only," A shoulder lifted and dropped. "You know. He barely touched me."
"Oh." Quatre reached for his water again, emptying the glass. He twirled the glass in his hand, flushing with the sudden vision of Heero crouched between Duo's legs, doing that. Duo was fourteen and ten months, Heero a couple of months younger. He was almost as old as Duo, just a week's difference in their birthdays. And Wufei was oldest of all.
"Do you think Wufei has yet?" he asked, looking up.
"With Relena?" Duo laughed and pushed his hood from his face. "She'd have his balls for lunch if he tried anything."
Quatre had the image, clear and sharp, of Wufei and Relena on the last day of school before break. They were sitting next to each other, like always, but, Relena had been leaning a little closer into Wufei than normal, and Wufei's arm was about Relena's waist, as never before.
"I don't know about that," he told Duo, and pushed images of friends doing things to other friends from his mind.
Duo's wings and his burger arrived; talk was suspended in favor of eating. Somewhere just below his bellybutton, Quatre still felt that little tingle. He chewed on his hamburger, and dipped a fry in catsup. That light fluttering had nothing to do with the need for food, and Quatre wondered if Trowa would be coming over later.
"Can I borrow it?" he asked, and took a large bite of burger.