DISCLAIMER: (Borrowed in part from Jay, with her permission) The Gundam Universe of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is © Sotsu Agency, Sunrise, ANB, and Bandai America, Inc. Characters, places, timeline and other elements of the Gundam Wing series are the property of said organizations, and I do not profess to own them. The original material herein is © the author and not considered public domain. Please don't sue or plagiarize. I'm in a perpetually non-prosperous state and all spare change usually goes into coffee or bags of oats.

PAIRINGS: R+1, 2x1 WARNINGS: Angst, sap, OOC Heero, yaoi, bad language, pushy (but nice) Relena, lots of coffee drinking, lime. FEEDBACK: But of course! NOTE: This fic idea came to me after reading about a fic contest that was posted to the lists a couple of weeks ago. If I can finish it, I'll enter it, but anyway, it was a contest where you had to write based on a provided idea, and the idea I chose is called "Heero, the not-so-perfect soldier," and the point of it is supposed to be Heero learning to deal with his emotions after J removed a controlling computer chip from his brain. In my fic, it is after the Eve War, and all the scientists are alive and well.

by Shira

Life with Duo Maxwell had always been interesting, to say the least, but life with Duo Maxwell in a full leg cast was just short of a circus, as Heero found out very quickly.

For starters, Duo didn’t like to listen to doctor’s orders, which came as no surprise to Heero at all. It’s hard to keep a good Gundam pilot down, he reasoned. But when it got to the point, a few days after returning home, that Duo stayed on his feet so much that his toes were swollen by the end of the day, Heero had to take some measures to convince him to relax. He wound up modifying the living room so that everything Duo could possible want or need, including the controls to every remote object in the place and a remote-networked laptop computer, was within reach. The only thing he could possibly need to get up for was to either go to the bathroom or get something to eat, and even that had been dealt with somewhat, as Heero had fashioned a makeshift snack box supply of sorts that Duo could peruse while he surfed or watched TV. He spoiled him, in no uncertain terms, but Heero’s main concern was that Duo keep his leg up and elevated, at least for the first month while the most critical healing was going on.

Then besides having a problem following his doctor’s instructions, there was always Duo’s temper that needed dealing with. Occasionally he would get so annoyed at either himself, his cast, or some other inanimate object in the house that had made his way impassable that Heero would hear the man curse mouthfuls from across the condo and immediately know that Duo had either tripped or collided with something. These verbal outbursts were usually followed by the sound of whatever the offending object was being punted across the room like a football, by Duo’s casted foot. Luckily, thus far, it had only been things like Heero’s gym bag that had been left in the living room, and the plastic trash can in the kitchen. When he kicked the snack box that Heero had been keeping stocked for him, all he succeeded in doing was creating a big mess as individually packed granola bars and peanut pouches went flying all over the living room. The coffee table had actually kicked back, leaving the frustrated man reeling in pain. He didn’t kick anymore furniture after that.

Showering had become another serious problem, since all Duo had was a shower stall and an especially deep jet tub without a showerhead. Heero picked up one of those showerheads with the flexible hose from a home center – the kind of head that was screwed onto the spigot on the tub – and that would have worked fine except that once he finally tried the tub out, Duo realized that the sides were far too tall for him to maneuver his garbage bag covered cast over, even to let it rest up on top of the sides. Baths were definitely out.

In the shower stall he fared a little bit better, but wound up having to hold his leg out of the curtain in order to not allow any water to drip under the bag and wet the inside of the wrappings. The last thing he wanted was to need to have the thing cut off and reapplied because he’d allowed it to get wet. The problem remained though, that he could only face the water stream, his right leg propped outside the curtain. Turning around in the shower wasn’t an option either.

One afternoon that first weekend, while Duo was fumbling in the shower, fighting to keep the plastic up since it continually seemed to want to slide down, Heero could hear him cursing from all the way down in the living room. They’d gone as far as to tape the bags all the way around the top of Duo’s leg to keep water from leaking in, and still the cast was getting wet as the tape unstuck after getting wet itself. Medical grade tape, even. Heero chuckled, shaking his head as he listened to the tirade going on above him until he heard a loud “thud” from the living room ceiling and went running, hoping that Duo hadn’t slipped and fallen.

Pushing open the door and bursting into the bathroom, Heero entered the steam-filled room to find Duo cursing like a sailor and fighting with the trash bag that by now was getting mangled from Duo’s attempts to set it straight. Seeing Heero come in, Duo looked up, exasperated.

“I can’t do this! I can’t fucking do this! This goddamn plastic won’t stay in place, I can’t do what I need to do, and I’ve had it! I want to wash my goddamn hair, and I can’t turn around in here to do it, and I can’t get the goddamn plastic to stayinfuckingplace! ” Duo’s expression was actually a little comical, to think that all of his fuss was because of a plastic bag and his cast. He was not amused at the smirk on Heero’s face though.

“Can I help?” Heero asked, thinking about how they could get Duo’s hair washed without getting the cast wet.

“Not unless you want to just wash your hair in place of mine, which accomplishes nothing.”

“Here, wait a second.” Heero went to the bathtub and unscrewed the flexible handheld showerhead that he’d put on when they thought Duo would be able to use the tub. “Turn off the water.” Duo turned off the water, then hopped carefully to stand at the back of the shower stall while Heero leaned in to unscrew the existing showerhead. He replaced it with the flexible head, then turned to the dripping, half-soaped man next to him. “Try that.” Heero noted Duo’s lean, angular form, his eyes straying to give him a quick once over, and then he realized that Duo had seen him do it. Heero blushed and pulled himself out of the shower stall as a smirk appeared over Duo’s lips. “Sorry.”

“For what?” Duo asked, full well knowing what Heero was apologizing for. He turned on the water until there was a spray coming from the handheld head and started to rinse himself off of the soap that was drying on him. He kept his casted leg outside of the shower stall, causing the curtain to be partway open. Then putting the handheld into his other hand, he was able to spray off the back of his head.

Heero sighed. “I should go.”

Duo’s face fell. “If it’s not too much trouble, do you think you could...” He stopped, not sure if he should even ask, knowing deep down inside that what he was doing really wasn’t fair to Heero. He was trying to seduce his friend, or at least get him more interested, and as much as he wanted to do that, part of him realized that it just wasn’t right. If Heero wanted him, he’d say so himself. Maybe. Hopefully.

“What do you need?” Heero asked, trying desperately to pull himself away from the bathroom and the naked man in the shower. Why he was trying to get away, he hadn’t quite figured out yet, since Duo had, more or less, admitted that he wanted to be with him. Heero realized that he was still having a hard time dealing with his own sexuality in the context of actually being part of a couple. Being with someone. All his life he’d been a loner, and though he was making great strides to become the person he really should have been the whole time, sometimes the thought of closeness still caused alarm. It was as if as much as he wanted to belong to someone, there was that one part of him that continued to be cautious, warning him that he shouldn’t get attached in that way.

“Iya...” Duo said, deciding he would go for broke, since it was obvious that Heero was going to need a guiding hand in realizing if he wanted to develop a relationship, “I was wondering if you could, ah, help here with rinsing my hair after I get it shampooed. See, this is lots better, this hose and all, but I still won’t be able to reach all the way back there and get all the shampoo off.” There. He’d said it.

He wants me. Heero froze for a moment, thinking about what he should do. You know what you should do, idiot! Then before he waited long enough to let Duo think he wasn’t interested, Heero walked back into the bathroom and up to the shower, where he cautiously pulled the curtain a little further back. He took the showerhead from Duo, who stood himself in position to have his hair wet by the stream of water while keeping his leg out of the spray, leaning on the front shower wall for balance, and his hands shook a little while he did so. When all of the long, chestnut hair was saturated, he turned off the water and waited for Duo to shampoo himself, the fragrance of the shampoo filling his nose and making him want to reach his hands out to help. Why are you fighting yourself? You’re not J’s puppet anymore. Stop denying yourself, Heero! Wash his hair! He wants you to do it! Determined to not let the soldier win out, eventually he did.

Heero let the showerhead lay in the bottom of the shower, and stepped closer to gently touch Duo’s sudsy hair with his fingers. As soon as they made contact though, he felt Duo stiffen and stop what he was doing, so he pulled his hands back. Rubbing his fingers with the foam from the shampoo, Heero stood embarrassed, letting his eyes drop.

“No, it’s OK.” Duo said without turning to face him. “Please.”

Garnering the courage to try again, Heero stepped close once more, then let his fingers go back to the long, soapy hair, only this time his touch was expected, and Duo softened instead. More confident that his advance was wanted this time, Heero started to massage the shampoo into Duo’s hair, working it slowly into his head, until he was softly scrubbing his scalp, making more lather. Duo leaned into his touch, letting his head fall back and closing his eyes, and he released a long, contented sigh. Heero smiled and kept massaging. He shampooed Duo’s hair like that for nearly ten minutes, both of them sucking up their own pleasure from it as he did. The heat on Heero’s cheeks was equaled only by the feeling of heat he began to feel in his pants, and in embarrassment he adjusted his legs to try to hide anything that might be even the slightest bit visible by the other man.

Switching the water back on and adjusting it for temperature, Heero then moved the spray up Duo’s back and to the ends of his long hair, being careful of the cast, and he rinsed from the bottom up, until he reached his head. “Put your head back more,” he said, needing to rinse his scalp but not wanting to spray soap or water into Duo’s eyes. Duo obliged and let his head fall all the way back on his neck, and he kept his eyes closed as the spray fell on the top of his head, rinsing all the soap away. Heero rinsed him a few times, until the water ran clear of any suds, and then turned the water off again. Handing the showerhead back to Duo, their eyes met, and he smiled shyly before turning and disappearing out of the bathroom door again, leaving Duo to finish up by himself.

Neither of them mentioned the hair-washing episode, at least not until two days later when Duo planned on washing his tresses once more. Heero knew he didn’t wash his hair every day, that doing so would cause dryness in hair that long, and he patiently waited until Duo announced that he would be taking extra time in the shower to do it again. Then waiting until the other man had already settled himself in the stall and had the water going, his casted, plastic bag covered leg sticking out of the partially-opened curtain, Heero went to Duo’s side again where he took the showerhead from him to help him wash his hair. After that it became a regular routine, Heero washing Duo’s hair for him while he was in the shower, and a routine that brought them that much closer together.

on to part XXII

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