A Moment of Perfection
None of the few remaining clumps of guests scattered around the ballroom
held Duo in their midst and I'd already checked his room. Twice.
My next stop was the kitchens. No luck there either. I was getting more
than a little frustrated and my steps were rushed as I headed back towards
the stairs leading to the wing where Duo was assigned a room.
I didn't notice Wufei until he caught my arm and stopped me. His grip on
my sleeve was tight, but I hardly felt the pressure of his fingers. He cocked
his head and said sarcastically, "You're making security nervous."
I looked Wufei directly in the eye, as I always did. "Duo, have you seen
He released his hold on my arm and toyed with the cuff of his shirt. "I
heard he conned you into dancing with him," he said slowly. I ground my back
teeth together. I wasn't in the mood for gossip or small talk; even if it
from Wufei, who hardly ever made the time for such things.
"Do you know where he is?" I snapped.
"Why are you looking for him?" Wufei asked. His tone was a little too
casual and held more personal interest than I had ever known him to express.
I stood up a little straighter at the unvoiced challenge, as I understood that
Wufei knew precisely where Duo was and didn't want to tell me. He had a
talent for being obstinate at the worst possible times.
It was none of his business why I was looking for Duo and I told him
that angrily. Wufei bristled and I resisted the urge to grab his shirt and shake
the information from him. "Tell me where he is."
"You want to know where Maxwell is, you let me know why you're looking
for him," Wufei growled back at me. The fingers of his right hand had curled
themselves into a fist and my own nails were soon biting into my palm.
"Damnit, Chang. Where the hell is Duo."
Wufei widened his stance slightly and he smirked before pressing his
lips in a thin line. I felt the sickening rush of anger boiling in my chest and
shifted my weight to match.
"What the hell is your problem? Just tell me." If he refused again, I
was going to enjoy pounding the information out of him.
"If you think I'm going to tell you where he is, just so you can go and
beat the crap out of him, you are sadly mistaken," he said grimly.
My jaw went slack. Wufei was being a stubborn pigheaded ass because he
was trying to protect Duo? From me? Incredulity at the situation was the only
thing keeping me from bursting out laughing.
"Wait," I said. I held up a hand and Wufei's expression turned from
determination to puzzlement. "You think I'm looking for Duo because I'm mad
"Why else would you be stalking around with that look on your face,
Yuy?" Wufei asked. His posture lost some of its hostility, but he was far from
being at ease.
"For exactly the opposite of what you're thinking," I murmured and shook
"What does that mean?" Wufei crossed his arms.
I finally broke eye contact and let my gaze drift towards the yawning
archway that spanned the entrance to the ballroom. "You heard right, I did
dance with Duo, but," I smiled and amusement crept into my voice, "I was
hardly conned into it."
His dark eyes widened in understanding and a look that was somewhere
between relief and satisfaction, flashed across his features. All remaining
tension vanished between us as he jerked a thumb over his shoulder and said,
"Saw him slink out to the garden."
I clapped Wufei on the arm and managed to thank him as I rushed off to
The estate gardens were vast. The layout hadn't changed since I was here
last, but I knew finding Duo in the maze of carefully tended vegetation
wasn't going to be easy. I worked my way from east to west and naturally, he was in
the last sector of my search.
I found him leaning against the rail of a low bridge that arched gently
over a sculpted stream. There were small lights submerged in the water and a
tangle of gold and red spotted koi swarmed after little crumbs that Duo
tossed in sporadically. The lights weren't bright enough to illuminate more than a
few inches above the water and I saw him mostly by moonlight.
"Hey," he said as I approached.
"You aren't supposed to feed them," I said. I folded my elbows on the
rail and stared down into the water with him.
"Yeah?" He paused with a bit of torn off bread pinched between his
fingers. "Is it bad for them or something?"
A list of all the reasons why overfeeding the fish was bad ran through
my head. I ignored it. "Just this once," I said and stole the piece of bread
from Duo and tossed it down into the pond.
"You've changed, Heero," Duo said.
"Yes I have." I wondered if he thought that was a good thing.
"What do you mean?"
He dusted his palms together, sending a hail of crumbs down to the fish,
then turned to look at me. His brows were drawn together, forming a severe
crease between them and the corners of his eyes were tight.
"Why did you come to me?"
"Yes... No..." he turned away and gripped the railing. "You know, I
thought I was over you. Then I hear that you've left Relena's and little postcards
start coming through the mail."
He paused and snorted softly, "You have the most absurd handwriting,
Heero. You're the only person I've ever seen who writes exactly like those stupid
cursive alphabet posters you see tacked above chalkboards." I wanted to say
something...anything, but nothing seemed appropriate for the moment.
Appropriateness be damned. "Duo, I came to you because I'm in love with
I stopped breathing as my confession hung in the air. It seemed as if
even the crickets had ceased their chirping once the words had tumbled out.
"You don't mean that," Duo said with a heavy sigh that turned to mist.
"You came to me, cause Relena's getting married and everyone and their brother
knows that I'm an idiot and willing to settle for being Heero Yuy's second
I studied his profile and flashed back momentarily to the night Relena
set me free. A sickening lump formed in my stomach and I prayed that Duo wasn't
doing the same.
The weary defeat in his voice hurt me more than the accusation. How much
had I hurt him by ignoring his affection in the past? A touch of anger
entered the mix of feelings that struggled beneath my skin. He certainly had a right
to believe what he did and I was a little peeved, because, much as I hated to
admit it, there was some truthfulness to his words.
"You're right and you're wrong," I said. I grabbed Duo by the shoulders
and twisted him around. He met my eyes reluctantly; the positions we stood in
left his face mostly in shadow and mine illuminated by moonlight. "Maybe Relena's
engagement did influence me more than I care to believe, and I definitely
showed up with an over-inflated view of you that I'd built up over the past
year, but dammit, Duo, this week has been the best week of my life. I went
to sleep every night thinking about how great it was that I'd see you in the
morning..." I faltered and immediately felt stupid and awkward.
Duo remained silent and I couldn't make out his features clearly enough
to get any sense of what his reaction was.
I almost punched him when he kissed me suddenly; his hand clamped down
on the side of my neck and I was too startled to open my mouth and return the
"You say you love me and that this isn't about Relena?" Duo said as he
drew away. "Prove it. Figure out what the hell you plan to do with your life, get
a job doing something you enjoy and if you still feel like you're missing
something and that something is me; then give me a call and ask me on a
I stood there dumbly, one hand at my lips in the center of the low
arching footbridge. The garden was a muted canvas of soft blues and shadow and my
skin was warm despite the chill of the night. I stood there for a long time, with
only two thoughts running circles in my head for company: Duo had kissed me
and then he had walked away.
What did I plan to do with my life? At the moment, all I wanted was to
be with Duo. To prove myself worthy of his affection; to coax those radiant
smiles from him and be kept up laughing into the late hours of the night.
But, if proof had to come by way of my dedication to his conditions then
I would respect that.
I rapped my knuckles against the edge of the door to Duo's studio
apartment and waited patiently as I heard his heavy footsteps inside. The door flung
open and Duo stared at me, he was clad only in a worn pair of jeans and had a
faded black tee shirt clenched in one hand.
"Heero, what are you doing here?" he blurted out.
"I've fulfilled each of your requirements and I'm here to ask you on a
date," I said. I tried not to stare at his bare chest and keep my eyes level
with his. However, I did get my first full view of the tattoo on his arm; a
little red devil winked at me from atop blocky letters that spelled out
I repeated myself. Duo gave me a dirty look and slung his shirt over one
shoulder before he leaned against the doorframe and effectively blocked my
view of his apartment interior. He lifted his chin slightly and said, "It's been
"Yes it has."
"You know I expected you to stay away for a year, or hell, a few months
"Three days," he repeated in disbelief.
"Is that a yes?"
He seemed reluctant, and I felt a little pang of guilt for showing up and pressuring him.
"Oh what the hell," he started laughing softly and welcomed me inside. "Give me five. I don't need to wear anything special do I?"
"Three days," he mumbled as he trotted up to his loft to get ready.