Murder Has Blue Eyes
Duo sat, brooding over a steaming cup of coffee.
"You're up early, Mister Maxwell." Jonathan entered the kitchen, dressed in a blue plaid robe and a pair of slippers, luxuriously late at nine-thirty to get himself a glass of orange juice from the refrigerator, and then see to making breakfast.
"It's nine-thirty," the other man replied.
Jonathan stopped for an instant and turned to look at the clock on the wall. "Well. So it is. Didn't realized I'd slept that late." He took the carton and a glass to the island, pouring out half a glass, then sat on the stool beside Duo. For a few minutes the two just sat in silence.
Duo sipped his coffee. "I put a pot on," he said, and the older man nodded, noticing Duo's unmistakable sadness.
"Duo, what's wrong?" Jonathan knew Duo's moods like the back of his own hand.
For many minutes there was no reply, until Duo finally offered up his explanation for his quiet. "I met someone last night."
Jonathan smiled. "Well, well then. That's good... isn't it?" Duo was not smiling back.
"I don't know. I mean, I don't know if I wanted to meet anyone."
"That isn't something that you can control, Duo. It just happens. I suppose you can try to ignore it, however..."
Duo interrupted. "I don't want to have a repeat of what happened with Paul."
Paul had been Duo's last boyfriend. They'd been together for a few months, and things seemed to be going nicely for the couple. Then William stepped in and ruined that as well, making Paul feel so unwelcome in the home and hurting him badly with his viscous words. Duo fought with William continuously during that period, causing the stress level in the home to be very high. Paul was living with his family at the time, since he'd been through a recent job layoff and was forced to give up his apartment, and they were unaware of their son's personal life, since Paul was afraid of what his father, an old-fashioned Irish man, would think. For that reason, the two spent most of their together time either out or at the Maxwell home, that is, until William intervened, as he had already done a number of other times during the year since Victoria's death. Duo felt that he needed to break off the relationship until he could get his personal life in order, since he couldn't stand the pain that was being caused to Paul. The two swore to remain close, however, and try it again after things smoothed out, but shortly Paul was with someone else, and had put Duo behind him.
"Yes, yes... Paul was a wonderful young man," Jonathan added, staring off into nowhere. "I was rather fond of him, myself. But you mustn't let what happened then dictate what you do now. This could be different. Who knows what can happen."
Duo nodded slightly, but didn't really agree with the other man's words. "I guess."
"At least for the time that William is gone - try to allow yourself some happiness?"
Duo looked up to meet the gray-blue eyes of the older man. "I'm meeting him for dinner tonight."
Jonathan smiled broadly. "There you go! And, you will have a wonderful time."
"That's what I'm afraid of," the younger man said with a sigh.
Heero paced in his high-rise, downtown hotel room. He hadn't rested well since returning from the nightclub, and from spending his evening with Duo Maxwell. His sleep had been unrestful, and within only a few hours he was up again, walking the floor in the room, trying to decipher what was going on with him. His entire being was in turmoil, and he didn't like it.
At some point the previous evening, he'd let himself completely forget that he was working, and he'd followed the target into the nightclub. Heero, being the late bloomer that he was, entered the building and was immediately awed by it. He'd been in bars, and he'd been outside a lot of clubs while "on the job," but in his four years of being legal, he'd never gone into one himself for pleasure, nor had he ever followed a hit to this extent. It seemed like everything that he'd worked for - the respect, the seniority, the status - was suddenly hanging by a very thin thread, and that thread was one incredibly attractive, amazingly sensuous man with long hair and drowning violet eyes. Something was changing inside him, something that Heero had no power to stop, and the loss of control over his own mind bothered him to no end.
He'd be seeing the other man again that night, having invited him out to dinner. The club was definitely not the place to take care of things, and really, Heero should not even have been there, but he was, and that was already behind him. He just needed to correct his mistake this next opportunity. In the amount of time that he'd spent with Duo, and the amount of information he'd been able to gather about the man, he seemed to Heero like a really nice guy. Not the type of person that one could imagine had any enemies, that was for sure, but then again, who knew what lay in his personal life? Duo hadn't done much talking about himself last night, at least not about anything that lead on to what kind of a life he had. Everything that Heero knew about him already, he known from following him around.
Heero wasn't exactly sure what he had in mind for dinner that evening, having asked Duo to accompany him as they were sitting at the bar last night having one final round. The other man, he was certain, would assume it was a date, of sorts. Was it? A date before dying? Heero stood peering out of a slit in the drawn balcony curtains, gazing at the cityscape before him as he pondered. They would meet and go someplace nice, probably drink some good wine and make small talk as they got to know each other. It was arranged that Duo would pick Heero up at the hotel lobby at seven, since Heero had already alluded to the fact that he was from out of town, and didn't have a car on this business trip. That would enable the setup to go smoother - and for Heero to perform his duties right in the other man's own vehicle, planting the gun on him, and then disappearing, leaving the scene to look like Duo had finally snapped. Or he could always drug his wine and feign an overdose. He probably thinks I've asked him on a date. Poor clueless son-of-a-bitch. Heero couldn't get the thought out of his mind.
Out of nervous habit, Heero went to a large duffel bag that he always carried with him, taking it out and placing it on the bed. Shuffling through it's contents, he pulled out two semi-automatic handguns and carefully inspected each, removing the clips, checking the chambers, then replacing the clips with a snap. He put the safeties on, then laid both guns back on the bed. They were both unregistered weapons, one of them intended to be left with the dead body of Duo Maxwell, the other a spare, just in case. Then sitting on the bed beside the two guns and the bag, Heero sighed.
He wasn't sure, but for the first time in his career, at least since his first few jobs as a brand new agent, Heero felt as though he was being consumed in guilt. If that was the case, then the time to hang it up was near, before he got himself killed. Distraction was a deadly thing in the game of cat and mouse, and Heero was beginning to feel like the mouse more and more as this job wore on.
At ten minutes to seven, Heero waited outside the lobby of the hotel, on the street, only to see the little silver sports car driven by his "date" for the evening pull up moments after. Heero stepped up and opened the passenger side door, finding the man from the night before inside, and if it were possible, he looked even better than he had of all the times Heero had seen him previously.
Duo smiled bashfully. "Ready to go?"
"Always," Heero responded as he got in and shut his door.
Heero thought for a moment. "Why don't you choose. You know the town much better than I do. I trust you'll pick a nice enough place." Hopefully one of your favorite places?
"Fair enough. Why don't we try Antonio's? It's Northern and Southern Italian cuisine. One of my favorites."
Perfect. "Sounds great." Heero relaxed somewhat in the seat, feeling the shoulder harness he was wearing on his right side. The car pulled away from the curb and they drove off to find Antonio's.
Fifteen minutes later they arrived in front of the posh-looking restaurant complete with valet parking. The two men got out of the car and Duo handed his keys over to the parking attendant in exchange for a numbered ticket, and he met Heero just in front of the entrance. As he approached him, his eyes scanning over the attractive man, Duo felt Heero's eyes doing the same to him as they checked each other out, coming to similar conclusions by the looks of satisfaction they both wore.
"You look, ah... very nice," Duo blushed as he complimented Heero on his neat and tailored look of silk pants and shirt, with jacket.
"Thanks." Heero's face pinked somewhat as well. "You too." Never one for much talk, that was all the response that came to his lips, even though his mind ventured to think much more. They went into the restaurant, Duo holding the door for Heero.
The men were seated and ordered a bottle of red wine to share while the waited for their meals to come.
"So, what is it that you do?" Duo asked his companion, interested in finding out more about this man who seemingly showed up out of nowhere and was trying to whisk him off his very feet.
Heero set his wineglass down on the table. "Securities. Surveillance systems and whatnot."
Duo chuckled. "Ah, OK. You're in town watching things, huh?"
If you only knew. Heero shared in the laugh. "What about you?"
"President of a financial corporation."
"Well," Duo added, "non-acting president right now, but..." his voice trailed off before finishing. Duo's eyes caught Heero's and he smiled bashfully.
"What do you mean, non-acting?"
"You don't have to tell me."
"No, it's OK."
"Alright." Heero poured them more wine.
"It was my father's company, but he died of cancer at only forty-one. I was eighteen."
"I'm sorry," Heero said.
"No, it's OK. Well, then my mother took it over since she was one of the Vice Presidents at the time, while I went to college. That's when I began working there - after college. But last year..." the longhaired man became solemn, and there was just a hint of wetness in his eyes now. "Last year my mother was killed in an accident, so, I started to run things."
Heero contemplated for a few seconds, not really knowing what to say, so he didn't. He didn't miss the heartfelt sorrow in Duo's eyes, though. "But you said that you were the non-active President now?"
Duo smirked, and suddenly his expression grew harder. "My mother remarried two years after my father died. Her second husband is giving me some trouble, if you will. Seems to think he has a right to everything that was hers, and I think he's trying to force me out."
Bingo. "Can he do that?" Heero's interest in Duo's story suddenly grew tenfold.
"Legally, no. But you're in the business. You know how it is. People can do anything they damn well please when you get right down to it, so long as nobody finds out."
Including murder. Heero contemplated this new information. It was all turning into a very interesting plot. He opened his mouth to speak, but just as he did, the waiter arrived with their dinners. Saved by the bell. Heero whiffed the steam rising from his plate.
"This smells delicious." He filled their glasses once more, then ordered a second bottle of wine as they began to eat.
As the evening wore on and they finished the second bottle of wine, along with their dinners, and then some tiramisu, Heero and Duo started to get to know each other better. At least according to what they were telling each other. The wine helped to reduce the nervous tension between them, and before long the formalities were over with, and they were on to discussing more enjoyable topics, such as movies, hobbies and sports. As it turned out, Heero really didn't like sports, while Duo loved watching Ice Hockey and Baseball. Heero liked biking, something that Duo only did when he felt he needed to lose a few pounds, and he also enjoyed practicing in the martial arts. Duo had been taught the basics as a teen, but was never that great at it, although he challenged Heero to a match anyway, just for fun. It turned out that they both loved horror and action films and going to museums, though.
"We should do that. Maybe tomorrow afternoon? Resident Evil is out, and I haven't seen it yet," Duo said, smiling, already setting up a second date for the two of them. "I think there are still a few theaters playing it around here."
Heero hesitated, then went along. "Yeah, that would be fun. Might as well make use of my weekends, I suppose." The other man was smiling adoringly at him, and the knot in his stomach was getting bigger and bigger.
By the time Hero paid the bill, which he insisted on doing, the least I can do, he'd thought, and the two men were heading back to the entrance, Duo was floating on a cloud, filled with good vibes. He handed his parking stub to the valet, and they waited out under the awning in the crisp night air for the car to be brought around, all the while Duo looking at and smiling at Heero.
"What?" Heero finally chuckled, from the attention he was getting. It all made him blush.
Duo shook his head. "Nothing. Everything. I just... it's been such a hard few months for me lately, I never expected to meet anyone. I... lets just say that I've been really lonely lately, and it sucks."
Heero smiled at the compliment, but it was a fake smile, for inside he was twisting up at Duo's words, since that statement sounded much too much like an admission of admiration from the longhaired man. Heero was now realizing just how badly he had screwed everything up by walking over to Duo in the first place, yesterday night at the club. His face went straight as the car was driven up in front of them, painfully aware of the handgun strapped to his side.
Duo afforded himself the luxury of sleeping late the next day, Sunday, because he'd already had two late nights in a row. It was looking like this night would be no different, either, since he was meeting Heero once more. He'd left a note for Jonathan that he was sleeping in so the other man didn't disturb him, or wait to eat breakfast, and he leisurely rolled out of bed around noon. Immediately jumping in the shower, Duo soaked himself in hot, steaming water to bring the life back into him, and shampooed his hair again, which he only did every second or third day, to keep it from drying out too much. He left it loose for now to air-dry, since he wasn't going anywhere for a few hours. Once he was dressed and smelling fresh and clean again, Duo threw on his favorite intact pair of jeans and an oversized sweatshirt, and trotted down the main stairway. A river of chestnut followed behind him like a veil as he made his way to the kitchen to grab a bite to eat.
While he was rummaging through the refrigerator in search of sandwich makings, Duo heard Jonathan approaching, having been relaxing in the study watching the BBC on cable. Sunday afternoon was the day that they played comedy program marathons - today's was Fawlty Towers. Duo could never get into that program, as much as Jonathan loved it. The longhaired man would tease him and say to him, "you have to be a Brit to find any humor in that God-awful excuse for a sitcom." The Simpsons - now THAT was a funny show, and oddly, Jonathan didn't find the humor to be very appropriate. He never could understand that, that was the whole point of that program.
"Well, good morning!" Jonathan sarcastically chided Duo as he carried an armload of lunchmeat packages, a tomato, a head of lettuce, a jar of mayonnaise and a loaf of bread to the island.
"Hey!" Duo replied, obviously in a much better mood after his night's rest today than he was yesterday. "Want a sandwich?"
Jonathan shook his head 'no'. "Aren't we chipper this morning? Or, I should say afternoon."
Duo grinned. "Umm... yeah."
"Did you have an enjoyable evening with Mister..."
"Heero. His name is Heero. And yes, we had an enjoyable evening. We're going to the movies in a few hours, too."
"Oh, very good!" Jonathan seemed pleased.
"Yeah," Duo began. "Heero is only in town for the next week and a half, so we figured we'd at least make the most of the time he has, and then see if we want to pursue it when he gets set to go back to LA."
"From Los Angeles, is he?"
"Yeah. Out here on some business." Duo slathered a slice of bread with mayonnaise and plopped the coated slice onto the sandwich he'd just put together. "Heh, you know... I don't think I could have planned something like this better if I had tried. He leaves to go back to LA the day after William gets back from Aruba."
"Quite convenient, indeed," Jonathan agreed, as Duo sat himself down at the center island and took a bite out of his sandwich. "Well then, if you don't need me for anything, I'm back to the Towers. The marathon started a half hour ago, and they're showing some very old episodes."
"You go for it, Jon," Duo answered sarcastically with a mouth full of sandwich.
Duo picked Heero up at the hotel in time for a five-thirty showing, before the crowds got too bad, and they'd still have time to get something to eat afterward. His heart leapt in his chest for a moment when he laid his eyes on the other man standing at the front of the building waiting for him, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater. In his opinion, silk suits and fancy clothes were wonderful, but there was nothing more appealing than a good fitting pair of jeans to make the imagination go wild, and that's exactly what his was starting to do. As he pulled over to the curb and leaned over to unlock the passenger side door, Duo must have had an awkward look on his face, because Heero noticed it right away.
"Is something wrong?" The dark-haired man questioned Duo as he slid into the bucket seat of the little Audi TT.
Duo laughed, embarrassed. "You caught me red handed."
"Yeah... daydreaming about you and those jeans." Now both men in the car blushed until their faces were beet red.
Knowing that there would be very little opportunity to accomplish his deed while they were out that evening, Heero left his weaponry at the hotel this time, safely locked in a metal case that he hid under the bed. This alone made a big difference in his tension level, and he noticed right off that he was much more relaxed and talkative around the other man. In a way that was good, because he could just concentrate on enjoying himself until later, but it was also not so good, since he could feel his emotion growing for Duo, and that was the last thing that should be happening, even though he didn't try to stop it. Heero, who had once more spent all night thinking and nervously checking his equipment after failing to do the deed on the way back from dinner the previous night, was beginning to think that he was infatuated with the other man. Now, whether than meant that he was, indeed gay as well, or simply that he was high on the attention that was being paid to him, he didn't know. What he did acknowledge, though, was that being with Duo Maxwell brought out feelings in him that he'd never experienced before in his short life, and it actually gave him some hope that maybe, some way, there was a little bit of happiness in this world for him.
Emerging from the crowded movie theater full of adrenaline, Duo was smiling ear to ear as he excitedly talked with Heero about the movie's finer points. They left the theater and drove to get a quick bite to eat - nothing fancy, just food.
"Aw, man, and... did you SEE that part with the lasers? Tell me THAT didn't just send shivers up your spine!"
Heero chucked at Duo. "Yeah, that was some pretty good special effects for sure. Damn... what a concept."
"And what about the one guy, at the end... when he showed up out of the blue and kept that... zombie-monster thing from getting at them?"
"I thought for sure he was dead."
"Oh hell yeah! But I dunno... he was going to blow himself away, after he let the rest of them go. Man, I tell ya, I'm all for chivalry and doing the right thing all that, but if that were me, I'd be like 'WAIT FOR ME, DAMNIT!'" They both laughed. "Shit, I couldn't do that. No way. I couldn't kill another person, let alone put a gun to myself. Unless it was in self defense, and there was no way around doing it." Duo said matter-of-factly as he paid attention to the road. "Then knowing me, I'd screw that up and get myself killed anyway."
Heero's expression changed briefly, his face showing surprise as if he'd just been caught in a lie, and just long enough for Duo to catch it, but he pushed himself to continue the conversation. He forced a laugh. "And what about the guy at the end, with the scratch marks forming on his arms? I think I heard there was going to be a sequel so, I guess he's gonna be in it." Heero adjusted himself stiffly in the seat.
Duo nodded, the awkward moment already forgotten. "Yeah, I think you're right. I read it somewhere."
At Heero's suggestion they wound up going through a McDonalds drive-thru to pick up some burgers and fries, and drove it back to the hotel. Duo was invited up for more casual conversation, and he gladly accepted, offering to spring for dinner since Heero bought the movie tickets. When they arrived in front of the lobby, Duo handed his keys to the valet and they disappeared into the hotel, headed toward the twenty-fourth floor, room 2416. Heero swiped his passkey in the door lock, opening it, and held his arm out for his guest to enter before him.
The room was quite nice. "Hey... I see they spare no expense at your company, eh?" Duo commented, having expected just a run-of-the-mill hotel room. It was a new chain, and one that he'd never had the opportunity to stay at before, so he wasn't familiar with the level of service.
"Well, they like to keep us happy and comfortable," Heero answered as he put the sacks of food on the round dinette table in the little kitchen area of the room. There was the dinette set up, and a small refrigerator, a coffeepot and a microwave, all set in a grouping on a counter along the wall. The small refrigerator was well stocked with alcoholic beverages of many kinds, as well as juices, milk, spring water and cream for coffee. Little vacuum packed bags of coffee sat out on the counter as well.
"Something to drink? There are lagers in here," Heero said, remembering the other man's preference in beer from the other night, as he peered into the small cooler.
Besides the kitchenette, there was a nice, large mahogany desk set up at the end of the room on which Heero's laptop computer sat, complete with an Internet connection and a stylish desk lamp. There was also a chair, loveseat and coffee table ensemble across from the desk, completing a cozy little sitting area in front of a sizeable color TV. Between the sitting area and the kitchenette was the bed, an oversized king, and a doorway that lead to a luxurious bath with a Jacuzzi tub and a large vanity area. All decorated in current styles and pleasing fabrics, the place looked more like an apartment than a hotel room.
"Lager's fine. Thanks." Duo replied. "You want this here, or over on the coffee table?"
"Coffee table is good. I can put on the TV or something, if that's OK with you," Heero said as he turned back around with two beers, shutting the door on the little cooler with his elbow. They carried their bags and bottles to the coffee table, Heero sitting on the loveseat, Duo on the armchair, and Heero flipped on the television, tuning to some cable channel that was halfway in the middle of a movie.
Duo started pulling out his food, putting it on the table. "Oh, I think this is T2," he said, then nibbled on a French fry, watching.
Heero nodded, digging into his burger. "MmmHmm." Shortly, Schwartzenegar's face graced the screen, albeit half ripped off and strewn with bullet holes.
"No, wait. This is the first one. God... I love Arnold movies," Duo offered up, his eyes suddenly transfixed to the TV. They ate in silence after that, watching the rest of the movie. They were in luck, too - Terminator 2 rolled immediately afterward.
Two hours and four beers later, both Heero and Duo were still chatting away, discussing everything under the sun. Heero had since brought his computer over to the coffee table and they first discussed the usability of the notebook, he demonstrating its features to the longhaired man. Before long, though, they were surfing the net, looking at both informative and humorous sites that they each knew, totally engrossed in their fun.
"Check this out, Heero," Duo chuckled, then typed in www.hampsterdance.com and a page came up displaying a little singing and dancing animated hamster, getting a rise out of Heero, who was relaxed and enjoying himself in a way that he hadn't before.
"You're an absolute child!" Heero laughed at Duo, grinning.
"I try," Duo agreed. "Hey, man. If you can't laugh at it, then what the hell good is it all anyway?"
Heero thought about the statement for a few seconds. "Good point."
Duo laughed again, reaching forward to type in another address at the same time Heero put his hands on the keyboard, and momentarily their hands touched, causing them both to blush. Duo pulled his hands back quickly.
"Sorry, you go," Heero said, backing down, with an embarrassed look, to let the other man type first. He immediately began sweating under his clothing when instead Duo looked up at him, his strangely unique eyes glistening, and smiled sheepishly.
At that moment in time, there were so many confused thoughts going through Heero's mind as he sat, face to face with probably the most attractive man he'd ever been this close to, and his face twisted, perplexed.
"N-no, it's..." he tried to speak, but nothing would come. There really wasn't anything to say. The dark-haired man's heart was pounding in his chest, probably loud enough for Duo to hear it himself. Then, as if made of steel metal, with Duo being a powerful magnet, Heero felt his body lean toward the other man, his vibrant but unsure blue eyes glued to the mesmerizing violet ones that were boring into him. Duo's eyes fluttered gently closed before him, and the touch he then felt on his lips was light as a feather and smooth as silk, completely consuming him as his own eyes remained wide open in disbelief. Heero didn't move, his body in its own personal shock, however, he did not pull away. Duo, on the other hand, noted that there was not a response to his advance, so he ended the touch quickly, sitting straight up again.
Blushing, Duo blinked a few times. "Uh..." he chuckled, embarrassed. "You alright?" He asked the question not knowing what to say, noting Heero's look of utter bewilderment.
"Y-yeah," came the whispered reply. Heero relaxed his focus and studied Duo's face. "No one's ever done that before."
"What? Kissed you?"
"You're kidding, right?" Duo asked, surprised.
"But... No way. Man, you're... you're..." You're gorgeous. How can you tell me I'm the first one to have kissed you?
"I've never done this before. Any of this," Heero explained. His pulse was throbbing in his ears now, creating a low pounding sound. His face felt like it was on fire. "I've never...really paid attention to any of it. I didn't even know I was gay before I met you."
"Well, just because I kissed you and you let me doesn't mean you're gay. But it's a start." Duo winked.
Heero lay back on the love seat, looking like he'd just received the surprise of a lifetime. In a way, he had. Breathing out a pent-up sigh, he began to explain. "I just never paid any attention to myself, you know? Spent my childhood alone, my time after school working 25 hours a day. Never had time to think about love, or romance, or anything, before." Duo smiled sympathetically. Heero laughed. "Twenty-four and never been kissed. Can you beat that?"
Duo got a wild twinkle in his eye. "Yeah, actually, I can, because I can bet there are a few other things you haven't done, either! But that can wait until your feet come back down to earth." Heero's face reddened worse than it already was from the suggestive comment. "So... did you like it?"
"The kiss, dummy." Duo chided, adjusting himself so that he was sitting sideways on the loveseat beside Heero, his one leg folded under him so he could lean closer.
"Y-yeah, I think so."
"Wanna try it again?"
Heero smiled mischievously this time. "Absolutely."
Then he leaned forward to meet warm, waiting lips as he received his second lesson in kissing. The entire time they were together, Heero's thoughts never once ventured to the locked metal case under the bed, just a mere few feet away.