Disclaimer: The Gundam boys aren't not mine, never will be, but it's damn fun to pretend and write gloriously dirty stuff about them.

Rating: PG-13 for this chapter; NC-17 eventually

Author's Notes: It's been forever since I've updated this fic, and the chapters keep getting longer and more complicated. I've tried to keep this fic light, but some angsting tends to sneak into my writing no matter how vigilant I stay. Anyway, on with the show.

Blind Date
Chapter 4: Third Time's the Charm
by syrupjunkie

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plenty of campy, fun, loud, Quatre- types, and lots of sociable, normal guys; there are some of Heero's type-serious, withdrawn, studious, but it's surprisingly hard to get them to agree to a blind date on the word of a stranger who just unabashedly approaches them.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 jamb.

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 creative."

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 experience.

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 wrong?"

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 freakishly docile.

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 planted.

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 want me."

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 something there."

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 windshield.

"Could I, Heero?" Duo asks softly, his chest aching in fearful excitement of Heero's answer. "Do you think you could be happy with me?"

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 highway.

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."

on to chapter 5

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