Taking the E Line
The subway car was crowded, its benches lining each wall with every seat taken. Holding onto one of the many poles standing sentry down the center, Duo was eyeing his fellow commuters at each stop. After tromping through The City streets, the air-conditioned car was worth the hassle and press of bodies.
An advertisement above one bench drew his attention. Familia, he mouthed, pulling from memory his rudimentary understanding of Spanish. Lips quirking, Duo knew his translation of the ads contents could not be what he thought it said. His eyes slid over the adverts listing ambulance chasers and getting a better education. He read a new movie flyer for the fourth time and adjusted his footing as the subway train rounded a curve.
There was a shift in bodies at the next stop. Space opened and Duo glanced sideways. Heero was still leaning with a shoulder to the pole, and his focus on the magazine in his hand for the world as though he was at home. Duo had a moment of wishing he'd brought something to read and dismissed it as the train lurched out of the station.
Five more stops, he kept reminding himself. Then the express home. Duo continued to watch Heero, not so much as he read but more how Heero almost instinctively adjusted his stance as the train bounced along. When they'd entered the station, Heero had slipped out of his long-sleeve; the station was hot and the traffic heavy. Heero's tee shirt bore a small spot of discoloration from Duo's energetic talk with his hands clutching a mustard laden hot dog. His tee shirt was tucked into jeans worn to that comfortable status just before holes begin appearing.
Queens Plaza station was announced, and the train slowed. Duo's attention wavered between watching passengers shuffle off and Heero scratching an ear. Just as the door closing warning started to sound, a woman passed through the doors. It was the baby cradled in a body carrier strapped to the woman that pulled at Duo's attention. He gave the woman a brief smile, her baby was cute in that just born sort of way.
As she took her seat, Duo's smile froze. He couldn't decide if she was wearing a bathing suit top or a fancy bra, and her shorts revealed more than covered. Averting his eyes, he couldn't help a second peek. From the stretch marks across loose, sagging flesh, he had to put the baby's age at less than two weeks.
Duo shifted his grip on the pole, glanced at Heero again and scanned the row of ads one more time. None had changed in the past few minutes, but he attempted another translation advertising family reproduction breakthroughs. At least that was what he thought it was saying.
The woman was murmuring something to the baby, but Duo noticed her eyes never left Heero. He cut his gaze over in time to see Heero turn the page of his magazine and back to see the woman eyeing lean hips and zipper covered parts only Duo and Heero's doctor sees. Duo looked at her stretch marks, at the loose folds hanging over the waistband of her shorts and stifled the chuckle.
His amusement carried him the two steps from his pole to stand just behind Heero. The train made a lurching curve and Duo's hand went high gripping the pole. Heero's auto-balancing act pushed him flush against Duo and he turned to look at him, an apology dying on his lips. Duo smiled and waved his fingers.
"You looked lonely," he was saying.
Heero snorted without answering, settling back against the pole, already picking up where he'd left off. Duo peered over Heero's shoulder and glanced at the woman from under his eyebrows. She stared at him for a moment and dropped her eyes. Duo hooked his thumb through one of Heero's belt loops and let his fingers splay over Heero's hip.
"Ours is the next stop," Duo said, leaning in close enough to brush Heero's ear with his lips.
A vague agreement, and Heero was using his used metro pass stub as a bookmark. "Gino's for dinner tonight?" His head canted to the side, looking back at Duo.
The train was slowing to a stop and Duo saw the woman struggle to rise to her feet, supporting the baby. Heero took a step and offered his hand. Duo only smiled and gave a slight nod to the woman's look. She let Heero help her to stand, but moved to the doorway without a word.
As they left the train and made their way out of the station, Duo bumped Heero's shoulder. "What's with the frown?"
"That woman," he said slowly, his hand rising in half-gesture to the stairs. "Did she just have that baby?"
Duo glanced upward, knowing the woman had passed minutes before. "I think so." He shrugged. "It looked young enough to be fairly newborn."
"Then what was she doing wearing..." Heero stopped and shook his head. "Never mind. It doesn't matter." He gave Duo a smile and closed a hand about his. "Let's just get out of this city and go home."