Chapter 4: Third Time's the Charm
The two week deadline is looming and Duo is at the end of his
patience trying to find Heero's knight in shining armor. Though at
this point, he'd settle for anyone willing to tolerate that asshole,
especially when Heero gives Duo those knowing looks every time they
end up mentioning the bet. But here Heero is underestimating him
because it only serves to make Duo that much more determined not to
fail. Yuy isn't the only one with a failure complex.
But as the days fly by, Duo's determination can't seem to offset his
dwindling confidence of finding Heero's next date. Not that there's
a lack of gay guys on campus and off, but there are surprisingly few
of the 'Heero' type. He knows plenty of campy, fun, loud, Quatre-
types, and lots of sociable, normal guys; there are some of Heero's
type-serious, withdrawn, studious, but it's surprisingly hard to get
them to agree to a blind date on the word of a stranger who just
unabashedly approaches them. Go figure.
And to make it worse, he keeps remembering his two previous flops.
He got the tall; he got the serious; he got guys who could've passed
for Heero in the right light. Was he missing something big? Was
there something Heero wanted that he forgot to take into account?
These thoughts continue to nag at him over the course of the week,
bothering him during classes, taunting him at parties. And just
before he's about to make an appointment with the school counselor
for a psychological evaluation, the answer just explodes right into
his head like a firecracker. Of course it wasn't his fault. It was
just that he was stupid enough to believe that Heero actually knew
what he wanted. What idiocy. After all, hadn't Heero proven time
and time again he had no sense of romance whatsoever? So armed with
this new perspective and the days dwindling to one, a sneaky new
plan falls into place-Heero was going to be romanced, one way or
another, if he wanted to be or not. Even if it killed him.
Which explains why it's the last day of the bet, and Duo has just
called Heero fifteen minutes beforehand to tell him his date was on
his way. But that did nothing to prepare Heero for Duo on his
doorstep, in ripped stonewashed jeans and a ratty AC/DC tee. Seeing
Heero on the other side of the door, defiant in his everyday green
tank and jogging shorts, gives Duo a sense of accomplishment, having
known Heero would spite his matchmaking attempt by dressing
disgustingly ultra-casual. But then Duo is prepared for Heero's
defiance, dressed in his own duds, and judging by Heero's frowning
confusion, entirely successful in his prediction.
"You ready for our date?" asks Duo, leaning suggestively on the door
Heero raises a thick eyebrow and tilts his head to look over Duo's
shoulder. "Where's the guy?"
"'The guy, Heero?' More like 'the man.' And that wonderful,
amazing, cream-your-pants man is... me." Duo enjoys Heero's confusion
entirely too much-this idea is even greater than ever
anticipated. "Now, I see you're ready, so let's get going."
He reaches out for Heero's hand, but the moment he feels the warmth
of skin, Heero snatches his arm away. "You're crazy," he scowls,
still standing stubbornly in his doorway with no intention of
leaving. In fact, his grip has tightened on the door and it seems
inevitable Duo will be saying goodnight to the peephole.
But Duo stays unfazed. "I'm serious. Now come on, we're behind
schedule already, you know." Still seeing Heero's unwillingness to
move, he decides to appeal to Heero's logical side. "Alright,
think of it like this. You're one of my best friends, and we're
going out for fun. No weirdness at all. We'll talk, we'll laugh,
we'll eat. It'll barely qualify as a date, okay?" He sees Heero
unwilling to think his argument through and decides to really chance
it. "Or are you chicken?"
Which looking back should have been Duo's first try, because if
Heero is anything, he is proud. It's a strange thing-he never backs
down from any challenge of courage and skill, but has absolutely no
sense of awareness of his own attraction, which is exactly what
endears him to so many passersby and has driven Relena into a Heero
tailspin. But at the moment, that pride is his great weakness, and
even as he gives Duo that look that says 'I'm not afraid of
anything,' he is already stepping across the threshold and closing
the door. Duo just grins to himself, because if Heero ever meets
that Catalonia girl from his military history class, he'd be putty
in her hands.
In any case, within ten minutes Duo's driving down the main highway,
occasionally giving Heero sideways glances to make sure he hasn't
found anything to use as a weapon. But with the way he's glaring at
the streetlights and green signs passing by, Duo thinks he may have
gotten more than be bargained for. Of course, under normal
circumstances, he'd have an easy time keeping Heero distracted and
interested, usually through teasing and light hearted conversation,
but with Heero determined to spoil his fun, the challenge is
seemingly insurmountable. But then when has that ever stopped him?
They arrive at the fair a short time later, Ferris wheel and lantern
lights spinning shadows across the packed dirt lot. The music wafts
over too, tinny and indistinct like a warped opera record. If Heero
is impressed, it must have shocked him into stony silence. At
least, that's what Duo tells himself. "Well, this is me being
Heero nods and gets out of the car; his brusqueness a sign of tacit
approval. Duo is vastly relieved, glad he forewent dinner and movie
or some variation thereof. But ingenious choice as it was, Duo
realizes, as they step onto the actual grounds, he hasn't really got
a clue what to do. Usually by this time on dates he'd either be
sucking face in a dark corner or at least have a few good,
suggestive caresses under his belt, so to speak. But with Heero,
either of those might end with a trip to the emergency room, so he
decides to wing it, which works just as well as anything in his
They browse the stalls in heavy silence, eyes going everywhere but
meeting one another's. Duo is painfully aware of how slow time
passes when he is bending over backwards trying to get Heero to
unwind. Burgers refused, rides passed up, fair games 'hn'ed at,
offers of gifts and flowers death-glared at.
It isn't a surprise when Duo blows his top, after the fifth time
they finish a giant loop of the fairgrounds without stopping to
actually do anything. He stops dead in the middle of the aisle and
watches in annoyance as Heero continues alone for a dozen feet
before he realizes that Duo's not by his side. Like a child, Heero
makes his way back to Duo, with the nerve to look puzzled. "What's
This makes Duo laugh in that hollow, disbelieving kind of
way. "What's wrong? Do you realize that we've been around this
place for an hour and haven't done a single thing? I've tried to
talk to you on ten separate occasions and you've grunted in reply.
I seem to remember hanging out at the arcade with you last week and
we were kicking ass on the games the second we stepped in the door.
What the hell's so different this time?"
"Nothing," Heero answers, frowning at his feet. Duo doesn't think
he even realizes how transparent he is when he lies.
"Bullshit, Heero. Come on, just spit it out; I'm not gonna take
offense or anything. Do you wanna go home?"
"No. It's just... weird." Duo's gives an involuntary sigh and Heero's
frown deepens. "I don't... you know." Which Duo doesn't, as he tilts
his head a little to give Heero a helpless, questioning look. "You
know," Heero insists, becoming a little angry, "I'm not... I don't like
you... that way."
Duo isn't quite sure what Heero was expecting him to do, but
laughing certainly wasn't high on the list, if the surprise on
Heero's face is anything to go by. "Oh, hell, Heero. You're just
too damn cute for your antisocial self." Heero only reddens in
reply and Duo reins in his teasing in case he ends up really pissing
him off. "To be honest Heero, I've never thought of you that way
either. And I thought, 'well, I don't really have anyone else for
Heero, why not take him out myself?'"
At this Heero gives Duo a long suspicious look. "You don't want me...
like Quatre does?"
For the briefest of moments, he doesn't think it would be so bad if
that happened, imagining his hands over the tanned expanse of
Heero's chest, fingers rising and falling with each erratic pant of
Heero's body. But then he's back in front of the cotton candy
stand, confused excitement forgotten in the blink of an eye. "No,
Heero, I don't," Duo reassures himself and gives Heero a shove down
the aisle, shaking his head. "You're so full of yourself." But he
adds, a little bit quietly under his breath as Heero walks
away, "But I wouldn't say no." He knows Heero hears this because he
pauses quite suddenly and goes rigid; Duo chuckles and gives Heero
another playful shove. "You're so gullible, you big dork. Come on,
let's go do something before they close this place."
Things unwind as they start playing games, chatting about non-
threatening things, competing viciously. Duo realizes that he's
never quite had a date like this, as he's firing a stream of water
into a clown's mouth and giving Heero sideways challenging looks.
Not that he's never had this kind of intense fun on a date before;
there was that raver with acid green pigtails after all, but he's
never been more comfortable, and it shows. "My clown's bigger than
yours, Heero. That prize is mine."
Heero grunts and squeezes the trigger that much harder, arms flexed
tight trying to hit the target. He's still lagging behind Duo,
however, so just before Duo's balloon pops, he gives Duo a shove to
the side, effectively toppling his unsuspecting friend over. And
while Duo collapses in a watery heap, Heero's balloon explodes and
the crowd around him gives him a cheer. "Thanks," he tells the
booth handler as he receives his overstuffed panda, while giving Duo
a smug look from above.
Duo for his part glares through his stringy bangs for a while before
joining in the laughter around him, giving Heero a half punch in his
shin. "Yeah, yeah, gloat all you want, you cheater; I'll get you
back next game."
Which Duo does, near the end of the night at the milkcan booth,
sneaking up to tickle Heero under the arms on his last throw. The
surprised, half-squeal he gets from Heero is almost as sweet as the
softball that flies way off target and lands with a splat in a
banana cream pie on the concession stand. "Told you I'd get you,"
Duo crows, while bowing to an amused but puzzled audience.
Heero rolls his eyes and slings the giant panda over his shoulders
with great, dramatic effect. "I don't see you with a prize."
Duo just shakes his head; that pride raises its ugly head so
unpredictably. "Low blow, man." He grabs Heero's arm, and this
time there's no resistance. In fact, there's surprisingly little
weight behind the limb, and Duo finds that instead of pulling Heero
in line behind him, he ends up pulling Heero right into his chest.
The contact is heavy and long, and Heero's breath on his face,
layered of corndogs and onion rings, makes his face grimace. But
those blue eyes, open and smiling up at him, surrounded by synthetic
black and white fur, has him laughing and just a little bit
flustered. Because for that one moment before Heero gets himself
together and pushes away, Duo can't for the life of him remember
this is supposed to be platonic.
He manages to push the niggling thought away for the most part, and
gets on with the night, but it stays there, lodged, occasionally
resurfacing to eat at him, along with all those other little
glimpses he's gotten throughout the night. It doesn't help that
Heero has becomes so utterly comfortable with the situation, giving
his tight smiles out like candy on Halloween, and following Duo's
lead across the park. They actually walk closely in the parking
lot, even occasionally bumping shoulders, and Duo is intensely aware
of Heero's presence. On a whim he proposes dessert to extend the
night and Heero actually agrees, getting into the car almost
They talk and reminisce and laugh over disgusting things at a nearby
24 hour diner. Heero forgets his troubles and slurps his drink and
Duo tries to eat his éclair without getting chocolate frosting and
Boston cream all over his fingers. And in the middle of it, Duo
stretches out under the table and finds his foot sliding across
Heero's calf. He can see Heero suddenly come to attention and give
Duo a questioning look, which can only give Duo a new sneaky idea
and a flutter in his stomach. He continues to nudge Heero with his
boot, wandering up the sleekly muscled limb, watching Heero redden
and fidget while he chatters on as if nothing untoward were
happening. "So, I dashed into the den before Relena spotted me and I
swear I didn't breathe until her pink posse disappeared out back. I
don't know how you deal with her... hey, is something wrong?" Duo is
all outward concern, but inside it's amazingly hard not to grin as
Heero's embarassment steadily grows.
And though Heero's glare deepens, his leg remains immobile and
subject to caress. And maybe even his breath is just a shade
shallower. "You... "
Duo raises a confused eyebrow, stirring his coffee innocently. "Me
what? You just went all scary faced in the middle of the
conversation." Duo is basking in his own acting talent, watching
Heero's scowl falter into burgeoning doubt. "Your... your foot," he
finally grinds out, now approaching a fuschia. "That's not the
table... my leg."
Duo's forehead creases in thought. "Your foot?" He spares a look
under the table. "Oh, oh, shit. Sorry. Was trying to rub away an
itch." Duo snatches his foot back to his side, and turns his head
away to feign embarrassment lest Heero catch his shit-eating grin.
But he can still see the vestiges of embarrassment and just a little
squirming in Heero's eyes before he falls back into his blank look.
It's too late to hide, Duo thinks, because the idea's already been
Duo can tell that there's something akin to discomfort in Heero
after the footsie incident. They finish up in relative silence and
as they're driving down the highway, Heero's frowning forward, at
nothing in specific, shifting position as if never finding comfort
in his seat. It's distracting, and worrying, but if it's because of
Duo's attempts at flirting, just a bit gratifying too.
But Duo knows Heero-he likes to internalize his struggles in
silence, and if he can't figure it out, he gets angry and frustrated
at himself. And despite his mischievous streak, Duo finds it hard
to be the cause of Heero's uneasiness. This decided, he heaves a
sigh and abruptly pulls the car over onto a dark shoulder. The rest
of the traffic streaks by, shooting bars of light across Heero's
face, and it takes him a while to realize they'd stopped.
"Why are we here?"
Duo sighs, not quite sure what he's doing, either. Just hanging out
with Heero under the pretense of a 'date' has unsettled him, and
awakened something he wasn't sure was there yesterday. But he likes
the feeling, even if it does give him shivers whenever he thinks
about it. "Um, listen, Heero. This is... kinda awkward," Duo laughs
nervously, getting even more anxious with Heero's wary gaze on
him. "I don't really know how to get it out. Have you ever
considered... an us?"
Heero's face freezes up in a dark look. "Us?"
"Um, yeah, like more than friends 'us.'"
Heero's look only gets fiercer, and betrayed. "You said you didn't
Duo can hear the accusation loud and clear, and feels a spark of
righteous anger mingling with his anxiety. "Look, I wasn't lying
before. I didn't plan this elaborate scheme just to get you into
bed, or whatever."
The accusatory look only increases on Heero's face, and Duo realizes
that his denial only serves to place the idea into Heero's
mind. "Ah, fuck. Look, OK, I had an ulterior motive for dragging
you out on this date. I was telling you the truth when I said I
didn't have anyone else for you, and I did think about calling off
the entire bet. But well, I thought, I dunno, that if I took you
out, I could get you to enjoy a date. Like associating dating with
good things or something. Give you a taste of romance, so you'll
wanna go find someone, you know?"
The blue daggers don't let up. "Someone like you?" he asks bitterly.
Duo's anger resurfaces stronger this time. "Damnit no, Heero, you
get this through your thick head: it's not about a fuck. I didn't
take you out to seduce you." He stops Heero from making another
accusation. "I didn't start tonight thinking this would be anything
other than hanging out, but I'm not denying that sometime tonight
the idea came up in mind." The heat of anger fades again just as
quickly. "I thought about it and I could see us being something
more. I kinda want to pursue it." Heero's intimidating blankness
is not encouraging, but Duo dares to stir the hornet's nest and cups
his palm around Heero's neck. Luckily, he anticipates Heero's
reflexes and manages to restrain Heero's forming fist with his free
hand. "Just relax, Heero." The skin under his hand is smooth and
burning hot. "Listen for a bit, and if you wanna deck me still,
I'll let you." It takes Duo a while of challenging Heero glare for
glare before the fist is reluctantly unwound and Duo dares to shift
a little closer without incurring a broken jaw. He gives Heero an
uncharacteristically wan smile. "Don't think I've been blind; you've
thought about this too tonight. I think you know that there's
Duo can see the truth in Heero's face, as his anger fades into
something unreadable. His voice, when he speaks, however, cannot
hide some simmering anger. "At the diner, with the feet; were you
toying with me?"
Duo winces, ever aware of how Heero's muscles are poising for
attack. "Look, I never said I was a saint. I'm sorry; I tested the
waters, to see if you were open to the possibility, if you liked
having me flirt with you. And deny it all you want, Heero, you
liked it." Duo shifts his hand so it curves around the back of
Heero's head, weaving into shorn, soft hair. "Why don't you let
yourself explore this? Don't you ever get lonely?"
Heero doesn't look Duo in the face when he lies; he looks in a
different direction as he says "No" gruffly, but he doesn't shrug
off the hand in his hair. "I'm fine."
"Everyone gets lonely," murmurs Duo. "It's normal; I do too. I'm
not saying you're miserable, but I worry that you will be if you
don't let people get close. I just want you to be happy. And I
think I can make you happy."
"Duo," Heero fails to continue, turning to stare out through the
"Could I, Heero?" Duo asks softly, his chest aching in fearful
excitement of Heero's answer. "Do you think you could be happy with
Time stops in that car on I-95, and Duo thinks he just might die if
Heero remains immobile any second longer. But then beneath the
crunch of wheels and intermittent blares of horns, Duo barely makes
out Heero's husked out voice, "I guess... you can try."
Duo doesn't exactly even know how to react. He can see the
beginnings of that tired, restrained smile on Heero's lips, the
softening of the angles around his eyes. His hands actually shake
as he tries to pull Heero's head closer. It's like his first kiss
all over again, the nervous bouncing of his stomach, the irrational
fear of disappointing his partner, the disembodied hilarity over the
reality of the situation.
The first touch is completely unexpected because all Duo can think
is 'this is Heero, and I can trace his teeth with my tongue.' The
feeling must be traveling through to Heero because his hands are
crushing Duo's biceps, clenched hard enough to bruise. His eyes are
open too, wide and electric, boring some distance into Duo's face.
The kiss barely qualifies as friendly, much less reeking of passion,
but Duo's struck dumb afterwards. Their mouths resting on each
others cheeks, breaths grating in their ear. Finally, Heero backs
away from the hold, but still rests in Duo's half-embrace, some dark
color passing over his face. Duo's about to make some pithy comment
about his kissing prowess, but Heero manages to pull him back
towards him and kisses him again, wet open mouth and forceful
tongue. Clearly he's learned something from his 'dates', and
whether Duo actually likes the kiss is immaterial because he enjoys
Heero's passion immensely, so he lets Heero do what he wants, while
Duo's hands touch all over Heero's face and neck, never straying too
far, but enough to burnish the contours of his head. This time when
they break apart, there's a violent rash-like flush across Heero's
forehead and neck, and he manages to free himself from Duo's arms
with an uncomfortable shrug. Duo lets him go, with some reluctance,
but he can see in Heero's expression that his distance has nothing
to do with rejection and more with acclimation. So Duo decides to
let Heero adjust to the new dynamic and pulls the car back onto the
Suffice to say, the rest of the drive has Duo smiling smugly, while
Heero gives the passenger window his faraway scrutiny. Though
they're separated by the handbrake and seatbelts, Duo is completely
aware of Heero's presence and shakes his head in amazement at what a
night out at the fair turned into.
They stay eerily silent during parking and walking to Heero's
apartment building, but as much as Duo likes giving Heero space, he
wants to reassure himself of Heero's affections, so he goes and
grabs Heero's hand as they walk. Surprisingly, Heero makes no move
to extricate himself, only gives Duo one of those half smiles. Arms
swinging, they make their way to Heero's building and end up waiting
on the stoop under the sickly yellow floodlight for Heero to fish
out his keys. Heero gives Duo a fuller smile that manages to move
both sides of his mouth and unlocks the door, passing into the
lobby. He goes a few steps inside before realizing that Duo isn't
taking up the door he's holding open. "Aren't you coming in?"
Duo shakes his head softly, surprised by his own diffidence. "No,"
he says, in wonder of Heero under that white light, almost
glowing. "Call me old-fashioned, but if you invite me up we're
gonna have sex." Heero only rolls his eyes and Duo's impromptu
shyness evaparoates. "And even if I know you mean nothing of the
sort, being in the same room as a bed and your ass now that we're
dating might just overcome my willpower."
"Duo," Heero growls, in familiar annoyance.
Duo tsks, back on familiar ground, with an extra incentive to
tease. "Oh, are we uncomfortable with sex, Heero? Don't worry,
I'll make sure your first time's special. Cherry lube, leather
whips, butt plugs, the works. Am I missing anything?"
"Duo!" Heero's growls, face atomic and jaw clenched tight.
"Oh, not your style? You like it romantic?" Duo starts enumerating
on his finger. "There's vanilla candles, satin sheets, massage oil,
role-play, fellatio, rim-"
"Duo! There're people here." Heero is giving Duo the glare of
death, poised to slap his hand over Duo's mouth in case the landlady
cracks open her door.
Duo laughs and dances away from Heero's reach. "You're cute when
you're mortified. But don't worry, Heero. You'll love it when I'm
in you, I promise." He gives Heero a comic wink and darts out the
door, not a moment too soon as a giant panda sails into the glass
behind him. The last look he gets of Heero for the night is his
black irritation, and with a hammering heart, he whispers to himelf
and Heero, "I'm gonna do this right."