Watch Me Spin
The doc's apartment was in one of those high-rise buildings in the thick of the city, like Quatre's. But where one was old and elegant, the other was aesthetically modern, all angles and glass. We rode the elevator up in silence; me still pondering if Heero sported wood in the morning, and him, shit - I don't know. He stood in the center of the car, staring straight-ahead carrying our damned pastries. Made me want to poke him, or kiss him or something. Yeah or something would be nice.
"I can make coffee or get you a beer. Anything?" he was saying as he keyed a series of numbers into a security pad next to the door.
I didn't want to stare, but it was a gadget. And it made the slightest of beeping tones. I felt like I was the next guy in line watching someone take money from an ATM, and shifted my attention a little to the left. His belt was brown with a gold buckle. And I was staring at his crotch. I liked the way his pants fit his front too.
"Huh?" Damn, had to work on those conversation skills. "Oh, right. Coffee's fine if it isn't too much trouble."
He led the way inside and flipped a couple switches. Lights came up in the room beyond the entryway and I peered down the short hall curiously. "You can leave your bag here, unless you feel more comfortable keeping it with you," Heero was saying.
I focused on him, and noticed he had removed his shoes. His socks were black with dark blue and grey threads running a pattern through them. I set down my bag where he indicated, and toed off my own shoes, hoping I hadn't worn a pair so old, they were either threadbare or stained beyond hope. Maybe I should go shopping soon. Heavy, white cotton, and still new enough constant use hadn't beaten them down.
The living room was carpeted. And I don't mean that nappy Berber stuff; I mean thick plush pile, as cushy as my mattress at home. The doc continued around the room and exited through an arched doorway. I hurriedly followed.
"Nice place," I told him, with a quick glance around. Kitchen, gleaming appliances mostly in black and white with chrome trim.
"Thank you." He looked back at me, amused or something, pushing buttons on a machine under the cabinet. I moved closer.
"Fuck me! What the hell is that?" I blurted out. Damn, but if that wasn't the coolest fucking thing.
He did laugh this time. "A coffee maker." A finger hit the on button, and a small red light pulsed. "It's hooked up to the water supply, has compartments for three coffee bean flavors and two brew spouts." He shot me a grimace. "It also came with attachments for steaming milk."
When he moved away, I got a closer look. Damn but that was sweet. Compact and slick, I scoped out how the water came in, saw the vacuum seal where the coffee was stored, and even found how the steamer attachment was supposed to be attached. The red light stopped blinking and a green light came on.
"Are you sure you're a jock?" Heero asked, placing a couple of mugs on the counter. "I could go find a tool kit if you want a closer inspection."
"S'kay," I said, backing up. Fuck. I was acting like a ten-year-old with a new container of Legos. "I'll take you up on it next time." I grinned. His look told me he didn't believe what I was saying. "Quatre is still in awe over the sound quality difference of his speakers after I got a hold of them."
"Not your typical ones, man. They are so hooked up in circuitry to his music system it's like running a sound board." I nodded, blew on my coffee and took my first sip. Damn, it was good.
"You've ran a sound board?" he asked, and I peered at him over my cup. He sounded almost surprised. What? Because I'm good in sports, I wouldn't know anything else?
I grunted slightly and leaned a hip against the counter. "In high school and some in college." I shrugged. "I've the hots for all things electronic. Give me a board, a handful of circuits, nodes, resisters and some solder and I'm happy for hours."
"Electronics," he repeated like he was stunned. And then he shook his head. "I prefer the applications, the use of electronic items more than its components."
"Software more than hardware?" I murmured, blowing on my coffee again. My words caught him in the middle of a sip, and he gulped instead.
"More the application of both, than one specifically," he shot back at me. My lips twitched, and I watched him watch me. Yeah, this guy was going to be more than a handful. "The couch is in the other room," he said by way of suggestion.
Taking the hint, I led us back the way we came in and stopped by what he'd called the couch. It was like a narrow bed that didn't stop at the usual six feet. And was more plush than the carpet. In a soft tan even. And that made me think of his questions earlier. I scanned the room quickly and found a single painting the only item of color outside of those earthy browns and creams in the room.
I shot a look at Heero, and he was doing something with a stereo system I made a mental note to check out later, and sat my cup down on low table in front of the bed-couch thing. The painting drew me closer, and just in how it was presented, I knew it was showcased on purpose. It wasn't a seascape, exactly, but wasn't of land either. Blues melded into blue, swirled with black highlighted in grey. Dashes of green, violent splashes of red and a despondency of yellow. Even I could tell the artist was disturbed.
Music set at low volume, sounded from hidden speakers surrounding the room; instrumental but not quite classical, soothing but not boring. What'd the old kings and queens call it? Chamber music. Conventional pieces to talk over without hearing. I felt him at my back before he said anything.
"It's my favorite." His voice was so low and respectful; I turned to look at him. He was staring at the painting as if nothing else existed. "It holds a power I've yet to find its equal." And then he looked at me. "What do you think?"
"The artist could use a good shrink," I told him. In this light, the blue of his eyes mellowed. No longer the sharp stabbing color it'd been in the coffeehouse, but no less intense. Maybe it was the mood of the music and the painting or maybe it was me. I wanted to kiss him, to feel his lips against mine, and taste how the coffee tasted on his tongue. I wanted to feel his heart pounding beneath my fingers on his chest and I wanted to find out if holding him was as good as I was imagining it to be.
"She would have benefitted from one," he returned quietly and his eyes flashed to the painting again.
"You knew her?" I continued to watch him and he nodded. "Not that I'm an expert, but it's good. Dark, though it's full of color." He nodded again and his eyes flicked to look at me. "And hope, though it shows nothing but despair." He let out a little shuddering sigh thing, and I caught the end of it in my mouth. Just a quick press of flesh to flesh and I drew back. Now I had all his attention.
"The artist was my mother," he said simply and stepped away towards the couch. Shit. How the fuck would I have known? I shot a glare at the mental institution artwork and went to join him on the couch.
"Ah, I'm sorry if what I said..." Heero held a hand up.
"You didn't say anything that hasn't been said before, that I haven't thought myself." He sat at one corner in a relaxed pose, legs crossed with an ankle on a thigh.
Sitting in the middle of that fucking long-ass couch wasn't what I wanted, but it was either that, or shout from across the room. Made me wonder if he did that on purpose. I fiddled with my coffee mug, not sure what to say, and tried to think of a way to get back to that comfortable spot we were at in the kitchen.
"Tell me what you hoped to get out of ...therapy," the doc asked.
I jerked, nearly spilling coffee on myself, and set the cup down in a hurry. "I told you. I'm a top."
"You keep saying that," he said, leaning forward towards me. "It makes me wonder who you're trying to convince. That if you say it enough even, no one will stop to ask anything else." I wanted to say something, wanted to tell him there's not convincing when it's true, but nothing would come out. "Why do you do that?"
"Isn't that part of why I'm here?" I threw back at him. Dinner must have been too much, ‘cause my stomach was doing that little knotted dance.
The problem was I don't think Heero liked what I said. He stared at me for the longest minute, and I felt like I used to back playing ball - the whole, bases loaded, two strikes, bottom of the ninth feeling that what I said next, what I did next would determine how everything would turn out.
"I'd like to tell you something that goes against what you might have been told." He uncrossed his legs and slid closer to me. When we were sitting close and more or less like opposite bookends, he said, "I don't think you need therapy. I don't think you need to see anyone about your... problem. And no matter what does, or doesn't, happen here tonight, I don't want it to be any part of some therapy."
His words sounded alien to me, and it took a moment for all of it to sink in. "That," my voice cracked and I cleared my throat. "That would be good."
"It would be," he repeated watching me. I wanted to look away, his eyes were so intense. "I want to find out all there is about Duo Maxwell. If you'll let me, I am here to listen to whatever you have to say."
The way he was staring at me, that soft piercing look in his eyes and the sensory overload his hand was making stroking my thigh, I felt torn. Part of me wanted nothing more than to crawl in his lap to be stroked and petted all night. Part of me wanted to jump him right there, and the other part wanted to bolt from his apartment as if it were on fire. Being the weakest link, it took the walk and the other two compromised by letting me kiss him.
The only problem was, those parts of me didn't tell Heero that. A hand on my chest stopped forward progression and I wound up blinking at him. What the fuck was his problem? I knew I hadn't misread him; he'd wanted this just as much as I had. So what's the deal?
"I think we need to talk first," he was saying, those fucking eyes looking right through me.
I sat back, releasing the grip I didn't know I had on his shirt. "Wadda ya wanna talk about?" More than a little disappointed, talking was the last thing I wanted his mouth doing - unless it had to do with instructing me how to do him.
"You," he said simply. Bastard. He knew what I was thinking; I could see it in his eyes and the way he kept trying to not smile.
"We've been doing that all night." Okay, so I whined a bit. "We should talk about you."
Heero only nodded and stood. "Fair enough. Let me lower the lights, and then we can get comfortable."
While he fiddled with a remote and lights were being adjusted, I thought of removing clothing. Preferably his, but mine would work just as well. I would be comfortable. He was chuckling and I glared at him.
"You look like I took your favorite Tonka away from you," he said taking a seat, his back against the couch arm and one leg bent at the knee with its foot planted on the couch cushion. A very inviting pose.
"Looks like you're trying to give me my Tonka back," I voiced at a murmur, eyeing the spread legs.
Snapping fingers held low brought my attention up. "Talk." I nodded reluctantly. "But if you'll allow me," he paused, and I leaned forward like a bitch in heat. "I'd like to hold you." What?
I recoiled a bit and stared at him. "Huh?" See, conversational skills.
"Hold you. I want you to become comfortable." With the lights muted low, I had trouble seeing what he was thinking now. "And you might find it easier to talk not facing me."
It felt as though he'd asked me to jump from an airplane. But a part of me really wanted to, and the part that wanted to fuck him agreed - I'm sure it was thinking that if I gave into Heero now, Heero'd give into me later, the horny bastard. Never let it be said I was too afraid to do something I didn't want to do. I crawled over the couch, stayed kneeling in front of him for a moment and, reading only that tender expression he'd offered once before, I turned and sat.
Straight up and like a board, but I was officially in his lap, sort of. I felt him shift around back there, and his breath blew on the back of my neck and was gone. Then the pads of his fingers began to rub on my shoulders. Softly at first, the longer we talked, the more pressure he applied.
"What would you like to know about me?" his voice came from somewhere behind me.
What did I want to know about him? Other than the waking up in the morning thought, and if he fisted using the left or right hand. Did I want to know about his past lovers? Did I want to find out about how he became a doctor?
"Your mother. Tell me about her. About that painting." I hadn't even realized I said anything until his fingers stopped and started again.
"When I was young, we lived in the mountains above Kyoto," he intoned. "She was a popular artist, and her paintings sold well." I tilted my head and looked at the wall. Yeah, even I could see that. "She often would tell me stories of my father. He had been an American officer stationed at Kyoto." I tried to analyze his voice, but it was too flat, too low to tell what was going on inside his head. "He was killed in a training accident just after I was born."
I shifted around to look at him, leaning against an arm to do so. "You don't have to talk about this. I don't..."
"It's all right. I never knew him," he interrupted me. His hands on my shoulders, he turned me back around. "There were times I wished I had. From the way mother spoke of him, he must have been a good man." I grunted a response. I knew how that one went, having lived through someone else's reminiscences.
"She never got over his death. She was always sad and her paintings show it." His fingers had moved down my arms, touched my hands and glided back up. "We were very isolated where we lived. The nearest neighbors several miles away. But every two or three days, we'd walk down to the village for items we'd need."
I could hear the smile and the sadness in his voice. "It was lonely, but... I remember liking our home. I remember the panels she'd painted, and the scroll on the wall." His chin rested on my shoulder. "She loved growing things, and we had a small orchard in the back. And she had a garden and grew a lot of her own vegetables. Very few flowers though."
Heero's voice was at my ear, and his hands were on my chest, on my abdomen. And I was leaning against him. For half a second, I was disturbed I'd relaxed so much, but what the hell. It felt nice; he felt nice.
"I was six when she died." He said it in such a way it was like he was talking about someone else. My hand closed over one of his. "She just didn't wake up one morning." I felt him shift at my back, a deep breath drawn in expanding his chest. "I had to walk to the village on my own to find someone to help take care of her." He fell silent, and all I could picture was this small boy with blue eyes and dark brown hair trying to wake his mother. It must have been one hell of a long walk. I squeezed his hand.
"What happened after..." I fumbled, not sure how to phrase the rest of the question.
He stirred slightly; his arms tightened a fraction and released. "I went to live with her father." Just by the tone alone, I knew he hadn't been pleased with that. "Until he sent me to the states, to my father's family. I've lived here since."
It got quiet for a bit then. At about the time he was going through what he did, I was having some of the same problems. "I lived in an orphanage for awhile when I was eight." Other than his hand tightening on mine, he didn't do anything else. "When it closed down, the state moved me to foster care. I was there ‘til I started college."
"What happened to your family?" his voice a whisper in my hair.
The smell of the woods, clear and sharp filled my nose suddenly, making my eyes smart. I could almost hear my brother calling to me, yelling in his excitement at our game. "Luke. They used to call me Luke. My brother was Solo." I blinked several times. "Mom was pregnant with him when Star Wars came out." I let out a little laugh. "She was so in love with Harrison Ford. And Solo was always Hans. I was always Luke Skywalker. We had a dog we called Chewie and we would pretended he was a wookie." His bark sounded in my ears, the image of his long red hair in the sunlight flashed. "He was an Irish Setter."
"It's okay, Duo. It's okay," his voice soothed. My heart was pounding; I could barely breathe, though my chest heaved. "Ssh… You're okay. It's all in the past," he continued to murmur.
I made a stabbing swipe of my hand at my eyes. "The bastard killed him." There'd been so much blood, and Solo whimpered. It'd been the first time I'd ever seen him cry. "He used to..." My chest hurt, it was on fire. "He used to..." My hands clenched into fists. "He would hurt him, at night. After Mom left for work." And I'd lay in my bed, too afraid to move; afraid if I did, he would hurt me too. He'd make me bleed like I'd seen Solo bleed.
"Oh Duo." Heero's arms were pulling me close, and his face was pressed to my neck.
Fuck me if I wasn't crying either. God damn it to hell! I don't fucking cry for twenty years, and suddenly I was like a baby. Wiping at my eyes, I tried to get my breathing under control. It'd been so long ago, what the hell did it matter now?
"Your mother, did she..." the question tentative against my skin.
Shaking my head, I took a hitching breath and closed my eyes. "Not until the cops hauled his ass away. Not until the autopsy." I could picture her standing on the concrete steps, grief still so fresh from the news ‘bout Solo. And the cops pulling him fighting, swearing and yelling, shoving his ass into the cop car. "She wanted to blame me for not saying anything." And her eyes turning to me after they'd driven off, accusing me of letting it happen.
I was struggling to breathe again, and it took me a second to realize it was Heero's arms squeezing my chest and not me. His reaction took me by surprise; his objectivity must be shot to fucking hell. And that thought made me smile a little.
"Was it your father?" he asked cautiously.
"No," I said shaking my head. "He died when I was two or three." Photographs I barely remembered seeing, flickered like a broken film strip. A wedding. A couple and a baby. A family. There weren't any after that. "She thought we needed a role model. A man around the place." After the cops brought Solo ‘n me home for the third time that summer; Solo had got caught smoking, and me hanging out, learning how to swipe candy when the store clerks weren't looking.
"Your step-father then?" Heero was murmuring into my hair and I tilted my head to look at him. His eyes were closed and he opened them slowly.
"Yeah," I whispered softly, shifting around a bit. He looked more lost than I felt, and I wormed an arm up and over his neck. We were fucking clinging to each other like the only survivors on a life raft. And in a way, we were. "Mom worked nights, mostly. And sitters didn't work out." One more interested in her boyfriend than the kids she was supposed to watch. Several too young - just barely older than us, but they needed the money, and Mom too desperate to find someone older.
"Solo ‘n me, we spent a lot of time in the woods behind our place." As soon as Mom would come home, we'd be out the door. "‘hunner acre woods, he called it." Our special place we'd go, to hide from him, so we didn't have to listen to him fuck her, so he couldn't touch us when she'd fall asleep after. "He was Hans Solo, and I was called Luke, then." We had a tree fort that'd fall apart every time the wind blew.
"And you're called Duo now..." it was a question.
Sighing a bit, cause this part was just odd, and no matter how much I try to work it out for myself, I'd never understood. I found myself staring at that painting, and again I thought of Heero, six fucking years old, walking down some mountain track after finding his mother dead. A swirl of white cresting in turbulent blue caught me.
"She killed herself during the trial. She couldn't take it." The state had taken me away after the fucker was gone. But by then, Mom was considered an unfit parent. She'd lost everything and people had taken to spitting on her in the streets, letting her little boy be used that way. "I was moved up north, to where most folks had never heard of me and my brother." Looking at him again, I gave a short smile. He had such a bleak look in his eyes now. "When the judge asked, I told him Duo. I wanted to be called Duo." Because Solo 'n me, we were Mom's dynamic pair.
Heero closed his eyes again, and laid his head against mine. Shit. I hugged his shoulders, and gave the side of his head a little kiss. One of his hands slipped down to grip my hip and he buried his face further in my neck. He was going to have me bawling in a minute.
"So," I ask almost gruffly, suddenly wanting the subject to change. "What's with the painting?"
The hand on my hip gave a reflexive spasm. And without looking, Heero mumbled against my collar, "It was my mother's." I waited for him to continue, my breathing slowed to a normal rate and the horror show of my life faded. My eyes were tracing a particularly long sweeping pattern when he did speak again.
"She started it the year she died." He lifted his head away, glanced in the painting's direction and then back to me. "Her father got rid of all her other paintings. It took me years to hunt this one down." He looked at it again. "I'd never forgotten it." A deep, shuttering breath shook his frame. "That hint of hope you saw in it," he nodded towards the wall, looking at me now. "I used to think that was me giving her something to believe in."
I stared at the painting some more, feeling how it matched this melancholy mood that settled around us. The hand on my hip had slipped farther down, and Heero ran it lightly over my upper thigh in almost gentle strokes. He held me, but I was holding him, with his head still pressed to my shoulder and my arm around his neck. In the past, the only times I'd let anyone hold me was during that post-coital glow, and then for only as long as it took to catch my breath. Not even Quatre had I ever let this close, let him hold me. And yet, Doc just felt ...right, somehow.
As though it'd happened days ago instead of hours, I pictured him in the coffeehouse, showing me his strength, and his reserve. Our walk to the café showed his determination and resolve. And dinner revealed so much promise, and his sense of humor. But here in his home and with me, he gave the gift of his vulnerability. The difference on how he was before and what he displayed now was not lost on me. This man I held was just as private on the inside as I was, and yet...
He stirred, and my hand tightened on his arm. I didn't want to lose this acceptance despite all feeling and slid my hand up to caress his hair. "Do you ever miss her?" I asked quietly, eyes still tracking the sweeping lines.
"Sometimes," he answered without hesitation. He wiggled around the couch and against my side a bit, reminding me of what a puppy would do to snuggle with its littermates, making me smile. "How ‘bout you? You miss..." his question trailed off, and he gave a slight snort, pulling away from me.
"It's alright," I answered hastily, holding onto him. "Yeah, I do. Solo mostly, but Mom... yeah." Mom as I remembered her when I was younger, when she'd read to us. Mom in the kitchen baking cookies. And Mom giving me that goodnight hug, tucking me into bed. I wished I could forget the look in her eyes the day they told her her oldest had died and why.
Dropping my head back against the couch, I blinked up at the ceiling. "I'm tired, Heero."
His arm squeezed me gently, his voice soft in my ear, "would you like to go to bed then?"
"Yes," I whispered, then "no." I sighed. "I don't know." I lifted my head, and shifted around to look at him. "I want this ...emptiness to stop."
He watched me for a long moment, and I resisted the urge to flee again. Come hell or high water, this night was going to happen. At last he nodded. "All right. Let's go to bed then."
And like an actor in the audience on opening night, the surreal feel of the moment washed over me. Heero standing and taking my hand, him leading me down the hall to his room and the door closing on all I knew before, knowing that when it opened again, everything would be changed.