A Moment of Perfection
I used the remote on my keychain to unlock the doors to my vehicle
and glanced over at Duo, "Have you eaten?"
"I did actually, but you know me, I can eat anytime," he replied.
His eyes roamed over the car as we neared the curb and I waited for Duo
to say something about it.
"What'd they do, throw the keys at you?"
"Something like that," I said.
"I guess being 'Savior of the World' has its benefits," Duo
chuckled, referencing the name I had been dubbed by the media after the
wars. "So what's your codename?"
"What?!" Duo had his door open halfway and was tracking my progress
with bulging eyes as I skirted the hood to get to the driver's side.
"My partner is Jam."
"Heero, tell me that you're joking," Duo said as he slid into
I pulled open my door and assured him that yes, I was joking.
I chuckled as he exhaled a noisy sigh of relief. "You know, it's
gonna take me a while until I can tell when you're joking or being
serious. In any case, I was gonna say, Une is losing it again if she's
got Biscuits and Jam running around investigating people. So what is it,
"I haven't been assigned a codename."
"So... you could conceivably be Preventer Biscuit?" Duo cracked a
"Not without Jam."
The grin quickly melted off his face. "You're right," Duo said with
We were both laughing as I pulled away from the curb, and I no
longer regretted in the least, my choice to show up so quickly. I only
hoped Duo felt the same way.
"I may regret this," he said as we approached the location I had
chosen for our date.
I held the door open for him and he shook his head as he moved past
me with a rueful expression. The interior of the pool hall was clean and
relatively well lit; the sort of establishment that middle class suits
came to throw back a few and play a few friendly games with their
friends. In a show of mercy, I told Duo he could break as we secured
ourselves a table.
As Duo was racking up, I managed to flag down a waitress. The girl
smacked her gum and kept glancing at Duo as she took my order. He was
stretching halfway over the pool table to line up the balls perfectly
and his shirt was riding up to expose a good amount of skin.
I made the girl repeat the order. Twice. For both our sakes. When
she returned, I tipped her generously; I was more than a little surprised
when she returned promptly and got everything right.
Since I hadn't eaten anything yet, I started in on the sandwich I'd
ordered and let Duo warm up. He wasn't half as bad as I expected from
his comment as we entered, but I decided to go easy on him anyway and
didn't take the extra time to line my shots up as well as I could. As we
took turns prowling around the table, we played a little game of
favorites. I think I learned more about Duo in the span of a few hours,
than I had during all the time I had lived in the same apartment as him.
By our fourth game, we'd demolished two baskets of chicken wings.
The waitress swung by again with a fresh basket and a new bottle of beer
for Duo and mineral water for me.
Duo rolled his neck and said, "Fruit."
I sucked barbeque sauce off the tip of my thumb and made a show of
studying Duo. What sort of fruit did he like... "Apples," I guessed.
"Strawberries," he said and sank the last of his stripes. He aimed
for the eight ball and paused with his arm drawn back, "I'd have to say
for you... hmm... raspberries."
"Plums," I told him. He grunted and ended up missing his shot. I
relinquished the stool and the rest of the wings to him.
I chalked my cue and leaned on it while I thought up a new topic. I
had a hard time concentrating and spent more time fixated on the bob of
Duo's throat as he took a long swallow of beer. I finally came up with,
"Christmas," Duo replied automatically.
I smirked and shook my head as I dragged my attention away from him
and eyeballed the table. "Unity Day."
"Damn," he muttered. "I knew I shouldn't have said Christmas."
"I pick Christmas for you," I said and missed my shot.
"Nope. My turn again," he grinned and stood up, wiping his fingers
off on his jeans. I stepped back and looked at the situation on the
table smugly. I may have missed my shot, but I effectively blocked off
all the easy ways for him to sink the eight ball. "Fourth of July."
"Fourth of July?" It took me a moment to remember that the
significance of the date was to commemorate American Independence day. I
found it amusing that the holiday I loved most, celebrated the harmony
of all the Earth nations and the colonies, while his celebrated the
"Fireworks," Duo said and winked; cutting off my thought process.
Fireworks? "I don't have a favorite firework."
"You don't?" Duo looked surprised, then returned to half crouching
and examining all the possible angles of attack, at table level. "Well,
that's beside the point. What I meant was, that's why I like Fourth of
the July. For the fireworks."
"Oh." I didn't quite understand what the big deal was though. I'd
seen enough explosions in my lifetime. Somehow the fact that Duo liked a
holiday purely on the basis of its inclusion of explosives didn't
surprise me. And he said it was always the quiet ones.
"You don't even like fireworks do you?" he said, having heard the
disinterest in my curt response.
"Not really," I admitted.
"How about, if I make this shot, you agree to let me take you to see
a fireworks show," Duo proposed.
I shrugged. It wasn't as if he'd make it, and even if he did, hell,
the truth was I'd watch paint dry just to be with him. "Deal."
Eight ball, side pocket. Near impossible shot. Duo sank it without
batting an eye.
"I was getting tired of letting you let me beat you," he said.
"Grifter," I accused. He propped his cue against the table and
spread his palms in a silent, 'who me? Nahh...'
He glanced at the clock over on the far wall, then sucked in a deep
breath and said, "Well, it's getting late and I've got to be up early
tomorrow to get a truckload of shipping manifests in order before I get
to spend the day interviewing people. "
I nodded. It seemed that Hilde had finally mustered up the guts to
bring her own secret out into the open. Duo accepted her decision to
quit the yard with all the love and understanding I expected from him,
but he admitted he was afraid they'd lose touch. I reassured him as best
I could that I didn't think that would happen and he finally agreed with
We paid for the table and Duo walked close beside me as we headed
back to where the car was parked. I started the engine and he said,
"I'll have some free time this weekend if you want to get together
The weekend seemed impossibly far away, but the thrill of knowing
Duo wanted to see me again, burned away any ghosts of frustration.
The drive back to his place gave us enough time to make tentative
plans for our next date, and this time, Duo said that he'd pick where we
went and what we did. I had no complaints with that, and if anything, I
was doubly excited by the prospect of doing something he wanted to do. I
pulled up next to the curb and put the car in park, but left the engine
on. I think we both knew that if I got out and walked him up, I'd end up
staying the night; and neither of us really wanted things to happen that
Duo unbuckled his seatbelt and, when he didn't get out immediately,
the fingers of my left hand tightened on the steering wheel in
anticipation. I twisted slightly to look at him and as I did, he levered
himself up and leaned towards me. A shivery tingle ran along my skin as
our eyes locked and we fumbled with such simple things as trying to
gauge which way to tilt our heads.
We were at an odd angle, the low ceiling height forced us into
awkward positions, and we whispered laughter as our noses clashed
despite all our best attempts. Somehow we managed and I wasn't
disappointed when our mouths finally met in a quivering uncertain brush
of lips. Duo's breath carried the sweetness of barbeque sauce and a hint
of beer and as much as I wanted to keep looking at him, my eyes closed
of their own volition as our tongues met, ever so briefly, before he
pulled away and pressed his forehead against mine.
I could hear my heart beating in my ears and my breath was shallow
as I reopened my eyes.
Duo made a soft sound in his throat, then he turned and placed a
soft kiss against my knuckles; my left hand was still clenching the
steering wheel, while the other had found it's way up the sleeve of
Duo's shirt and was gripping the firm muscles of his upper arm. I
released my hold on his bicep, and I heard him say softly, "I believe
you, Heero." In a heartbeat, he pressed his lips against my knuckles a
second time, then was out of the car and giving me a jaunty wave as he
jogged towards the stairway up the side of the building and ran up them,
three steps at a time.
"Believe what?" I shouted, leaning towards the passenger window.
Duo stopped and turned around slowly. He held my gaze and I dimly
heard the engine's purr shift as it continued to idle. Finally, in a
burst of motion, he scratched the spot on his arm where his tattoo was
and took one step downwards. His face became clearly illuminated by the
orange sulfur glow of the streetlight and he smiled as he mouthed, "That
you love me."