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

Author's Notes: Wow, this fic has languished on my hard drive forever. Work and all, etc, but that shouldn't really be an excuse. But now I've finally got the last real chapter for the fic. I might/probably will write in the lemony epilogue whenver I can find a way to do it in keeping with the tone of this fic. But I do want to say thanks to everyone who has read this, over the *ugh* years...

Blind Date
Chapter 5: Coupling
by syrupjunkie

The air is alive with the sound of violins and flutes. Waiters in swallowtail tuxes circulate around the garden like ice dancers, and amidst the explosive floral arrangements, Quatre is holding court with wit, double entendres and surreptitious gropes under the table. Trowa, sitting criminally close to him, is far from flustered, drinking wine and returning conversation, while Quatre's fingers trace the bulge in his pants and work at the zipper.

Duo shakes his head with clear dismay at the sight, knowing full well the impropriety that's going on, having had to duck under the table to retrieve his napkin. Clearly, this is why Trowa has lasted so long as a boyfriend-he shares Quatre's shameless perversions.

The rest of the table-three of Quatre's sisters with their husbands and a couple of local politicians-burst into laughter again, while Quatre visibly jumps off his seat with a surprised squeal, barely audible amidst the guffaws. Going by Trowa's smug smile, clearly he is not taking a passive role in this exhibitionist display. But Quatre recovers with amazing skill and re-directs conversation towards one of the guests so that he can enjoy his new found attention without giving off any telltale symptoms. Though he appears to be interested in the new speaker's comments, Duo wonders with amusement who Quatre thinks he's fooling, with those lusty looks he keeps shooting at Trowa.

Tired by the long treatises on managing money and/or power and not wanting to see the exact moment when Quatre gets found with his hand in Trowa's pants by the conservative lieutenant governor (though he definitely wants to hear about it later), Duo excuses himself politely to go find Heero in the crowd. This task ends up proving even more difficult than he might have previously anticipated.

The party is at the Winner family mansion, a palatial affair with hundreds of guests grouped into cliques desperately trying to curry favor with the more influential. The moving swarm of socialites milling around is a constant obstacle in Duo's way with their designer dresses and pressed suits and heavy h's. Go figure that Quatre actually liked going to these stuffy power luncheons. He's at home with the captains of industry, public officials, and jet- setting heirs. But Duo is a stranger here, winding through the meaningless conversations and flying under their radar in his most respectable pair of jeans and button-up shirt. That he doesn't belong here is obvious, but it didn't surprise him, however, that Quatre would go and invite his barely educated, scruffy, college friends to the party. It was probably less of a favor to said friends, but more of an ironic gesture to his father. What made Duo agree to come isn't necessarily clear, though it may have had something to do with Heero's obvious hesitation to attend. And now that he's here (and dragged Heero grumbling all the way) Duo is outrageously outclassed in the entire affair, but he wouldn't have it any other way. He plays along, gives everyone a charming but roguish grin and cavalierly prods women and businessmen out of his way. He even goes so far as to flirt with some older women who are looking for cabana boys to pass their time at home while their husbands are fooling around with their secretaries. He talks the women around a bit, opening enough space to sneak down the paths, and they look at his retreating back and swaying braid with something akin to wistful regret.

Various wrong turns and many broken hearts later, Duo finally manages to spot Heero's shaggy head through the crowd, but a sense of foreboding sweeps over him as he recognizes the pastel pink pant suit that has his lover effectively cornered against the gardening shed. In hindsight, Duo had no one else to blame; it should have been obvious from the get go that these upper echelon galas would have to include the current director of the humanitarian minded Peacecraft foundation. Which is why he sees in front of him, in all her obsessive glory, Relena Peacecraft, who has trapped Heero in a relatively secluded corner of the estate. Usually Duo would just storm off in the opposite direction, with the philosophy that Heero was a big boy and Duo needn't risk his mind (or eyes for that matter) by getting involved. But things had changed since last month on campus. Heero is his now, he thinks possessively, and as such he must educate her highness to that very important fact. If anyone was going to flirt outrageously with Heero, it'd be him, so Duo takes a steadying breath and bites the bullet as he rushes in to extract Heero with minimum casualty.

"Relena!" he yells, his strident yet cloying voice carrying over the classical music to cut into their conversation. "How nice to see you!"

The pink demon turns around to face the shouting man walking briskly towards her. She blinks at Duo for awhile, scrutinizing his nearing face and trying to place him. "Oh, Duo Maxwell. Why, what are you doing here?"

She says this with a tone of `you're not nearly special enough to be invited.' Duo hears this loud and clear, but holds his tongue and continues to smile amicably, with even more teeth as he slips his arm around Heero's waist. No subtlety there, he crows in his mind. This guy is mine, mine, mine. "Oh, you know Relena," he drawls. "As a poor college student, I'll go to any lengths for free food." The look of horror on her face is hilariously priceless, but he hastens to tell her it's a joke before she gets security to chuck him out on his ass. "I'm just kidding, Relena; I'm a friend of Quatre's. He invited me and Heero."

"Well, how wonderful," she says, completely naïve of how condescending it sounds in Duo's ears. Heero is apparently blissfully unaware of insult too. "How're you enjoying the party?"

"Oh, you know, it's OK. Not all that terribly exciting, though. Don't you agree, Heero?"

If Heero is aware of Duo using him to piss off Relena, he at least doesn't seem to resent it, though he doesn't voice his encouragement either. However, he does subconsciously lean closer to Duo. "Yes."

Duo is celebrating his coup with Heero pasted against his side, and a giant question forming on Relena's face, her eyes darting back and forth between them, as if tracing some invisible thread. "Well, Duo, would you mind terribly if I talked to Heero alone?"

Duo is about to refuse when he sees that Heero is nodding slightly. For a minute, Duo's stung by the rejection, but he tells himself to trust Heero, and he reluctantly gives him a final squeeze and slinks off back to Quatre's table, in hopes of engaging him or Trowa in normal conversation that doesn't involve stock shares and exploitable demographics.

But by the time he finds his way back to the veranda, the table is strangely empty, with Trowa as the only one around, coolly sipping wine. Quatre is nowhere to be seen, which is unlike him given his complete fascination with all things Trowa these days. "Where's Quat?"

Trowa swallows slowly and smiles darkly into the glass. "Getting a verbal lashing by his sisters?"

He inclines his head to the side and Duo can see Quatre shrinking under the wild gesticulations of three of his sisters. He can't hear them, but he can pretty much imagine the conversation-something along the lines of following proper decorum and not indulging in morally reprehensible behavior in so inappropriate a setting. It's actually quite amazing to see brash, colorful Quatre being cowed by anyone, but if someone could do it, it would be his three fortune 500 CEO sisters. Giving up on lip reading and becoming dangerously hypnotized by Fatima's waving arms, Duo turns his attention back to Trowa. "So, you guys got caught at last, huh?"

Trowa's smile only gets more sinuous. "Apparently, it's hard to answer questions about profit margins when you're coming in your pants."

Duo burst into laughter, imagining the stunned look that must have been on everyone's face. "You know, you two are really made for each other."

"Could say the same about you and Heero."

Duo finds it so cliché that the thought of Heero puts the most ridiculous smile on his face. "Yeah?"

Trowa nods in that relaxed kind of way. "Yeah, you guys fit." There's a comfortable silence between the two of them before "he good in bed?" Duo actually does choke on his tongue, something Hilde always said was going to happen to him one day. Trowa only chuckles. "That good, huh?"

Having watched his brief life pass before his eyes, Duo shakes his head frantically, while catching his breath. "Ah, we haven't... gone there... ah, yet."

This intrigues the swimmer if the raised eyebrow is anything to go by. "Yeah? Would've thought you'd jump him the first chance you got."

Duo's ready this time, giving Trowa a cheeky, salacious grin. "Believe me, I think about it like two hundred times a day." He shrugs and the look disappears. "But I like him, and it's different now. I want it right, you know?" Which he doesn't expect Trowa to know because he's with Quatre, and if there's anything those two don't know about, it's patience.

But Trowa surprises him by nodding. "First time I met Quatre," he says, "I thought it'd be some hot little fling. Wasn't until a couple months in, when we figured this was something long term. We still have sex, but one of these days, we'll do it different. Do it like it means something."

Duo has no response; he's utterly unprepared for Trowa's casual eloquence and the depth of his and Quatre's relationship, that Quatre, making-his-way-through-the-entire freshman-dorm-Quatre is really committing to something more than a tumble in the sheets. The hilarious thing is that Quatre could say the same thing about him. What the hell was it with those quiet, serious types? Coming in out of nowhere, seducing the hell out of you, raising your hormone levels so high you feel like you've gone right back to puberty. And then making you fall so helplessly in love with them that it almost sounds cruel in Duo's mind. But he doesn't tell Trowa this; instead he nods to show his understanding and sits in the silence to contemplate for a bit.

Or at least the few minutes of relative silence before Relena's half- brother marches onto the scene, entering from the main house, all bronzed and god-like with his straight platinum hair. And right behind him, face fierce as ever, is Wufei Chang. The moment Zechs is spotted, the chatter increases tenfold, a cacophony of single girls gossiping about his body, men jealously denouncing his dramatic ways. From the crowd, three determined girls burst free and close in on his position like a flock of starving ravens. And from each of their mouths is a saccharine hello, a parody of coquettish seduction.

The look on Wufei's face watching them approach what still may be his boyfriend is hilarious to Duo-he scowls first at the nuisance, but the grimace meets with no reaction, and he pales and almost flinches when he realizes the deadly intensity of the women swarming his man. They reach out long manicured nails, tracing the lines of muscle on Zech's shirt, standing on tiptoe to whisper things into his ear. Zechs bears the invasion without emotion, face as smooth and blank as ever, a marble bust upon wide shoulders. Wufei, however, is not nearly so calm and diplomatic, and infuriated by sudden jealousy, he actually manages to rip two of the girls off Zechs with his bare hands. The third, watching the carnage and violence of the smaller man, takes a cautionary step backward, allowing Wufei to slip neatly between them and Zechs, a bodyguard against their advances.

Duo laughs uproariously over the display of protectiveness, especially the quirked eyebrow Zechs gives Wufei's back. That he's pleased is not in question, but it is entirely uncharacteristic that Merquise would suddenly clap a hand on Wufei's shoulders and yank him around into his broad chest. Or the vicious kiss that follows and smothers all sound in the garden. No clearer sign of Zechs' status is needed for the women, who are left gasping and flabbergasted standing around the couple. The whispers restart anew, but the women slowly increase their distance, and Duo has a real longing for being able to do that to Heero in front of Relena. But Heero is very anti-PDA and Duo might end up single again with a black eye for all his troubles.

Trowa seems to read Duo's annoyance and whistles appreciatively at the still necking pair. "Now that'll be fodder for the gossip columns tomorrow." Seeing Duo's jealousy, he tells him, "Don't worry, your man's coming around the corner too."

This makes Duo's head snap out of his kissing-Heero-in public- fantasy/murder tragedy. Indeed, Heero is making his way through the crowd towards their table, and Relena nowhere in sight. Duo meets him halfway, eyes still scanning around for any scrap of violent pink. When he is reasonably sure that Relena is not crouching in wait to strike, he turns to Heero. "So, how'd you escape her?"

Heero scowls at Duo, and then sighs. "She's a good friend, you know. I wish you'd get along with her."

Duo feels a little shame at Heero's words, but the image of Relena with her arms all over Heero quickly damps down any guilt he was building towards. "Sorry," he tells Heero, nonetheless in an attempt to show his willingness to work on it... someday. "So?"

"So I told her that we were together and I'd still like to be friends. Only friends."

The following silence is entirely Duo's fault. His mind is reeling that Heero just went out and told Relena so boldly, even more that he apparently got through to her. Screw public kissing; being rid of Relena pawing his man was way better. The elation of Heero's proclamation, his PDA of sorts, bubbles up in Duo's chest and he has the untamable urge to really make Heero understand how welcome this news is. He hot-headedly grabs Heero and pulls him close, mouth lowered right at Heero's left ear. "I fucking love you," he tells his boyfriend, unaware of all the things that that statement might entail. Only in the ensuing silence does he realize what he has just done, with Heero still trapped in his arms. Slowly, he raises his head and looks Heero in the face, blue eyes dark but unreadable. As if responding to Duo's gaze, Heero's mouth curves into a small smile and his head rests momentarily against Duo's shoulder, mouth turned up and poised to breathe hotly and deeply into Duo's neck.

Heero doesn't say anything, only remains in Duo's arms for longer than he normally would and in this way, Duo knows his proclamation is returned in kind. He brings his arms fully around Heero, and together they stand frozen on the lawn, in the afternoon light of what Duo will remember as a pretty near perfect day.

to be continued

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