Stages of Love: Postcards from Africa
The veranda rail pressed into the small of his back; sweat trickled from his hairline down the curve of his spine. His head beyond the shade of the overhang, the late afternoon sun was piercing, and he closed his eyes against the brightness. Nerves heightened, the grit under his bare feet felt as pebbles, the habenaria heady and rich in scent.
His hand clutched hair in spasm; his other grasped the wooden rail for support. Duo leaned back even further, hips thrusting instinctively as the mouth went down deeper. Hands held his sides tight, stilling his movement. The suck and draw, and he forced himself to keep from speeding the end. Another downward stroke, a rush of breath and Duo cried out, startling the birds into flight from a nearby tree.
Opening his eyes slowly, his breathing becoming calm, he stared at the darkness hovering above. He relaxed his bent knee, laying it flat to the mattress. It’d been over a year, and he still called out for him, still dreamed of him. Clumsily he reached for the tissue box, knocking items to the carpet. A quick clean-up, and he rolled to his side.
In the half-light from the moon shining through the open curtains, he made out the latest card and picked it up. The corner of a dusty house, a line of trees and native floral behind, colors muted from a blistering sun. His finger traced the wooden rail and he wondered.
Two jabs, a kick and a quick series of punches.
Duo wiped the sweat trickling with a forearm, stilling the bag with his other hand. Beginning to slow, he continued; he had another thirty minutes by his count. A side-kick sent the bag swinging, and he leapt, spun, planted a foot and delivered another power hit to the bag.
"When I said you could use my workout room," Wufei's voice called from the stairs, "I didn't think you'd stay down here your entire visit."
"I don't want to blow my routine, man." Duo pulled off the protective mitts and picked up a towel. "Five hours a day, and I've only been at it a little over four."
Wufei sniffed. "It's close enough. You can't substitute Heero with..." Duo gave him a sharp negative shake and Wufei choked off the rest. He bent to unlace the footpads as Wufei continued. "A postcard came for you."
Dropping his equipment, Duo plucked the card from Wufei's hand. "It's from Heero," he murmured staring at the picture.
"I don't understand." Wufei frowned. "Still getting a clue?"
Duo started to reply, and stopped. Flipping the card over, he stared at the same four words that were always written. "I'm an idiot," he said, barking out a laugh.
Wufei snorted. "Already knew that." When Duo took off in a run up the stairs, he called out, "Where are you going?"
His yell was nearly lost by the slam of the door and his pounding footsteps, "Africa!"
Mid-afternoon was hot, even under the vine covered lattice grotto Duo was trying to nap in. A large fly hummed, landed and flew off with each half-hearted swing of his hand. Hearing footsteps on the stone path, he hoped Heero brought something cold to drink with him.
As Heero knelt next to his hammock, Duo cracked open an eye. "I need to run a perimeter check," Heero was saying, his look traveling Duo's stretched out length and back. "Want to come with me?"
Raising an arm to scratch behind an ear, Duo shook his head. "Nah, rather stay right here."
Heero ran a finger down the unbuttoned path of Duo's shirt. "I'll give you an ice bath when we get back." His tone was low, and hotter than the late August sun.
A lazy smile climbed higher. "How bout you go, and I give you one when you get back."
"Since when did you get so lazy?" Heero snorted softly.
His eyelids slid half-closed, drowsy with heat. "Not lazy," Duo murmured.
Overhead, he spotted a butterfly resting amongst the leaves. His eyes traced the woven pattern of the plant through the thin slats of wood. Apart, the vine would have grown, but not flourished; the grotto wouldn't have become the summer haven it had. Together, the vine and lattice offered more; together, they were stronger and the better for it.
Turning his head to look at Heero, he added, "I just know where I belong - now."
Making his way through the house at a jog, Duo met him coming in the front door. He waited until the bags were dropped before drawing him close. Pulling back, his smile wide and welcoming, he looked Heero over, hands still clutching his shoulders.
"You look good. How'd it go?"
Before answering, Heero stepped closer, brought his hands up to cup Duo's face and gave him a kiss. A brush of lips became parting ones, and tongues greeted one another. Duo's grip loosened and slid down Heero's sides to hold him by the waist. When Heero pulled back, he pressed his cheek to Duo's.
"I've missed you," he said simply, kissing his face, and then his ear.
Duo made a pleased sound, grin firmly in place as Heero planted a line of kisses down his throat. "Me, you too." His amusement made vocal, and he pulled back enough to look Heero over. "You're a bit insatiable."
Heero only smiled, but Duo caught the flicker in his eyes. "The conference went well. We've got the grant and I've got a new assistant."
"Good, someone to give you a hand." Duo began tugging up on Heero's shirt, pulling it from his khakis.
Lifting his arms for Duo to pull off his shirt, Heero muttered, "Oh yeah." Sweat-soaked cotton dropped to the floor. Heero reached for the buttons on Duo's shirt. "But, there's only one man I want under me."
"Oh? Got anyone in mind?" Duo asked, his lips traveling the muscle lines and grooves of exposed flesh.
"Always." Heero tugged off Duo's shirt and added it to his. "Now who's insatiable."
"Always," Duo murmured, drawing him backwards, farther into their house. "I should probably show you what I can do in that position."
Following, unbuckling his belt as he went, Heero told him, "I already know what you can do." With Duo's hands sliding under his waistband, he added, "but it wouldn't hurt to go through the motions."
Duo's chuckle ended abruptly as Heero's mouth found his in another kiss.