Chapter 5: Coupling
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
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
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
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
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
Duo burst into laughter, imagining the stunned look that must have
been on everyone's face. "You know, you two are really made for
"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
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
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.