I think there's one period in my life I'll never be able to forget, no matter what else happens. I can't forget it; I'm too scared to. No, make that terrified. I'm terrified to think of what could happen if I ever forgot because this was one of the most important lessons, one of the most important memories of my life. It begins exactly two weeks before Duo's eighteenth birthday; exactly two years, seven months and three days after Duo and I "got together."
Yes. I counted.
"Heero! Get out here!" my boyfriend's voice screamed frantically, a loud banging on the front door to my parents' house following shortly after his cries. I'd been lying on my bed, snoozing the afternoon away when he had started his racket. My parents were probably still at work or they would have let him in already. "Heero!" I snapped awake in an instant and tumbled out of bed hurriedly. My fingers found their way into my hair, running through the strands nervously as I rushed out of the room wondering what the hell could be wrong with Duo. Had his father kicked off and he was here to celebrate? No, Heero... that's not nice. I snorted at the mental sarcasm. When had my thoughts begun to sound like Duo?
I threw open the door when I finally reached it, barely able to get my stubborn fingers to fumble with the locks before my hand was latched onto the knob. Duo stood there, his fist raised to pound on the door again, his beautiful eyes wide and almost shocky, and his brown hair frazzling out of his braid like he'd thrown it together in a hurry. When he saw me his fist lowered and that was the only warning I had before he launched himself at me, wrapping his arms around my neck and nailing his lips to mine.
I froze, my eyes widening as I stared out the still open door. My gaze was searching almost frantically to see if someone, anyone was watching. It was horrible and I knew that, but I couldn't help it. My parents still didn't know. Guilt welled up inside me until I had to push Duo away, my hands clasping his shoulders and looking into his eyes for a reason to his excitement.
"What?" Ohh, yeah, wonderful, Yuy.
"Lookit this!" he said breathlessly and waved a paper in my face. I reached for it but he snatched it away, holding it up so he could see the words. "Dear Mr Duo Maxwell...important future...blah blah blah...okay, here! 'We're glad to inform you, Duo Maxwell, that you've been accepted into the University of North Carolina under the High Achievement and Academic Scholarship provided by our school!' Isn't this wonderful?! This is wonderful, I think it's wonderful, don't you?" His words were stumbling over each other in their haste to leave his mouth.
"It is wonderful, Duo," I said, with no little excitement of my own, finally releasing my hold on his shoulders and allowing him to pull me into another excited hug. I reached out an arm and caught the very edge of the door, slamming it shut before pressing my lips to the place where his neck met his shoulder. My arms wrapped around his waist and I backed us away from the door toward the stairs.
"I mean we’ve been accepted to the same school and everything. We could get an apartment together or, barring that, we could kill our dorm buddies and share one of those!" He grinned wildly when I just stared at him.
"Okay, well, no. But the apartment idea was a good one..." he trailed off and his arms tightening around my neck, his violet eyes becoming sober. "Because you know I've been working my ass off to save money for this ever since I could get a job," he said quietly. "And ever since our little understanding, I don't think I could imagine not doing this with you." He was looking at me intently and I had to repress the sigh that wanted to come. I loved him. He'd known I loved him for a year now, which was about when I had figured it out. Yet he was always unsure about anything he suggested when it involved the two of us doing things together. Why? Because as of yet he and Relena were the only people in the world who knew I was not straight.
He pulled in a breath when the door cracked open before I could comment and quickly disentangled himself from me. "Duo, hi!" my mother said, stopping in the doorway to smile at us. She had been delighted when I had come home with a new friend one rainy afternoon. I'd never been very popular, I had preferred to keep to myself and didn't really have any friends except for Relena and after knowing her since Kindergarten I considered her more my sister than anything else. I wondered if she would be just as delighted to know that my supposed best friend was really the love of my life. The love I'm hurting every day, I thought when I looked at Duo and saw that his excited expression had somewhat dimmed.
I am a coward; I'll admit that here and now. And one of my worst fears is falling out of acceptance with my parents. Aside from Duo, they mean everything to me. One day, I'll tell them and be damned with the consequences because I know, no matter what, I'd never give Duo up for anything. I just don't know when I'll be able to face that decision.
"What's that?" my mother nodded curiously toward the paper hanging limply from Duo's hand before she automatically turned to lock the door behind her.
"This?" Duo flashed one of his biggest, brightest grins and I nearly cringed at the forced quality it had. I looked at my mother to see if she had noticed. She hadn't. "Just a letter of acceptance to UNC," he continued breezily, waving his hand in a dismissing quality.
"Just? " she walked toward him and wrapped him in a tight hug. "Duo, there's nothing 'just' about that!" Taking a step back she laid a soft kiss on his forehead. "I'm proud, Duo. Extremely." Duo's cheeks flushed and he was almost visibly purring at the motherly contact. It was times like these that I had hope that this wouldn't turn out horribly.
"Thanks Mrs Yuy," his grin toned down until he was giving a genuine smile.
My mother made a little sound in the back of her throat and rolled her eyes, brushing her glossy reddish hair away from her face, "Why you insist on calling me that... Duo, you've practically been a part of this family for two years now. It's Adrian to you. Deal with it."
"Yes, Mrs Yuy." Duo edged a little closer to me, as if to hide behind my body when my mother let out a loud groan and closed her eyes in exasperation.
"Teenagers," she muttered as if it were the darkest swear word she could think of. She reopened her dark blue eyes, the only characteristic I'd inherited from her, and walked past the both of us toward the kitchen. "We're celebrating. I sense manicotti on the menu tonight," she knew that was Duo's favorite dish. "That is...if you can stay for supper?" she cast a look at Duo's almost too-thin frame over her shoulder and raised an eyebrow. It definitely wasn't Duo's fault he was thin. He loved food more than he loved me, or so it seemed sometimes. But circumstances had determined that even though he was almost as tall as I had grown to be, he was still as slight as he had been before he'd hit his growth spurt at sixteen. I was determined to work on that when I finally got him away from his father's money-grubbing clutches.
"As if I'd turn your cooking down!" Duo crowed and reached for my hand when her back was turned again, tugging me toward the stairs.
"We'll be upstairs until it's ready, Mom," I called back and she shouted an affirmative from the kitchen.
We walked side by side up the stairs and down the hall, my fingers twined with his. When we reached my room I plopped down on the edge of my bed, my eyes tracking him as he closed the door and moved over to my stereo. He bent over, fiddling with the buttons for a moment, his pert behind moving temptingly. Loud rock filled the room when Duo turned back toward me, a familiar glitter in his violet eyes.
I grabbed onto his hand and pulled him toward me until he was standing between my spread knees. My hand came up to trace the curve of his cheek before bringing him down for a kiss. "I do love the apartment idea," I murmured, brushing his soft hair away from his eyes before kissing him again. Duo moaned low in his throat as my tongue rubbed languidly with his. He crawled onto my lap, his knees on either side of my hips, his hands burying themselves in my hair. I loved that sensation, his hands clenching and unclenching in my hair, tugging on the strands enough to make my scalp tingle. I wrapped my arms around his waist, bringing him closer to me until our torsos were flush against each other. I dragged my mouth away from his lips, breathing in deeply as I rested my forehead against his, our hair mingling and our eyes staring deeply into each other.
"I love you," Duo dared to whisper, his tongue swiping across my parted lips in one hot move. His eyes were darkened, glazed with want and I realized, not for the first time, that I could never deny that look. I moved us until he was lying on his back under me and I was straddling his hips. I drew in a ragged breath and the sudden surge of pleasure the change in position brought, my hips moving against his slowly, restlessly. Duo bit his lip to hold in another moan as I grazed the sensitive stretch of his neck with my lips, pausing to lick hungrily at the place where his pulse pounded visibly. There was something so erotic about his neck; I couldn't describe exactly what it was. It was the way the slightest nibble could drag a round of gasping cries from him, or how a well placed suck could make him scream, just like that.
"Hee-ro," he breathed, his voice hitching in the middle of my name, a sound that never failed to drive me mad with desire. I wanted him, I needed him, and I loved him. Duo's hands ran up my arms, over my shoulders, toying with the buttons on my shirt before slipping the first few out of their holes. His fingers danced eagerly inside, gliding over my heated skin. I pulled my mouth away from his neck, scraping my teeth gently over his collarbone, my hips speeding up against his, making an insuppressible moan fall past his bruised lips.
He was writhing when my hands grasped his hips, moving beneath me, now almost completely lost in his own world of pleasure. My hand moved from his hip, brushing over the zipper of his jeans, undoing it, slipping inside. "Ahh!" Duo cried out at the feel of my hand on him, the feel of my own flesh burning into his thigh as I pushed against him. My fingers wrapped themselves around his sex through his boxers, rubbing the material over him, bringing more soft cries from him that were swallowed by the music he had put on.
We were so caught up in each other, in our pleasure that we didn't notice when my bedroom door opened. My father's voice cut through my fogged mind like a knife and my eyes snapped upward, toward the door. "Guys, Adrian sent me up to see if you wanted --" He trailed off in shocked silence as he finally turned to look into the room. Mistake one. Duo'd forgotten to lock the door. I'd forgotten to remind him.
The seconds ticked by like minutes, years, dragging themselves laboriously past us. Duo seemed to freeze up beneath me, his body going cold in an instant when he realized why I had stopped. I wanted to look at him, to see what emotion lurked in his incredibly expressive face but my eyes were riveted on my father. His lips were moving soundlessly, his bronzed face so much like my own turning a slow crimson as his slanted brown eyes flicked over the picture Duo and I made, pausing where my hand was still buried in Duo's pants.
I finally did look down at Duo and wished I hadn't. I swallowed thickly at the way his eyes were squeezed closed like he was expecting the worst. He could take harsh words from his own father because he had grown up around them, but I don't think he'd be able to stand it from a man who had shown him nothing but kindness.
"Heero," my father's voice finally cracked the wall of tension surrounding us, but didn't lessen it in the slightest. My gaze moved back to him. "What..." A vein began to pulse in his forehead. "Would you care to explain this?" he finally managed, his voice colder than an iceberg. Duo cringed beneath me. I looked at him again. His teeth were now biting into his bottom lip so hard it looked like he would draw blood at any moment. The hand that was still on his hip started to move soothingly. My father caught the motion and his gaze darkened further. I was thankful now that Duo wasn't looking. I don't think he would have survived the murderous look my father was giving us.
"No. No, I've changed my mind. I don't think I want to hear it right now."
"No!" he roared and Duo shivered under me, never having heard a tone even similar to that from my father. I don't think I had either. "Fix your clothing. I'll tell Adrian not to bother with his dinner. Duo is leaving," his words were clipped, precise and he turned on heel to exit the hallway.
"Oh God," Duo gasped, angry red lines where his teeth had cut into his skin lining his lip. "Oh God," he began to shake, his limbs trembling like leaves in a storm. I couldn't help but notice that I felt oddly detached, distanced, as if I was dreaming and this hadn't really happened. Yet, looking down into Duo's stricken eyes when they opened, I knew that it had.
I sat away from him, then pulled him up and into my arms. His shaking only increased as he clung to me, but he didn't cry. I had only seen Duo cry once in the time that I'd known him. And I'd punched him a second afterward. "Heero...God, Heero, your father hates me," he whispered against my half-open shirt. Then he was pulling away, rising to his feet quickly, too quickly. He stumbled back toward me and I stood to catch him. He stood there against me for a second, two, until he pulled away again, zipping his pants up and backing away toward the door. His eyes were wide as he looked at me and a small laugh escaped his mouth, sounding wholly out of place. "You heard the man," he quirked a fake grin.
"Duo --" I started but he shook his head almost frantically. It seemed I was doomed never to complete a sentence that night.
"I'm leaving. Now, like a good boy. Doing as I'm told," he turned.
I strode toward him when he made to exit the room and grabbed onto his arm, swinging him around to face me. "You can't just kiss me and leave," I said quietly, remembering the day when everything had fallen into place.
Duo's eyes grew anguished again. "No, Heero, no, no, no." He shook his head vehemently. "You have a good family. You have a family. And if I stay I'll ruin that. That's how it always works."
"Duo, he doesn't hate you. He was shocked, that's all, I'm sure. He doesn't..." I stopped at the look in his eyes, my grip tightening on his arm. "You are not going to stop seeing me because of this. I can deal with my father. I know I can." I just didn't know how...what to do, where to start...
"Heero, you know I love you, right?" he looked at me earnestly and I nodded. "Good." He tried to remove his arm from my hold but I couldn't bring myself to do it.
"You're not --" his lips on mine cut me off and when I let go of him in shock he was gone. I didn't go after him. I couldn't move. The detached feeling had suddenly disappeared and the reality of it all fell on me like a ton of bricks. My father had found out. My father had definitely not taken it well.
Mistake two. Duo had left. But I would not allow him to stop seeing me.
Duo had stopped coming over. Duo had stopped answering his phone. Duo was avoiding me. My father and I had not spoken to each other in the two weeks since it had happened. Unless you counted trading stony glares as talking. I was miserable. I was in the exact situation I had tried to avoid by keeping the truth from them. Only now I didn't have Duo to compensate.
It was Saturday, the day before Duo's birthday, and I was lying in bed, trying very hard not to think of that fact when a weight dipped the corner of the bed toward the floor. I opened my eyes, surprised to see Relena sitting very calmly at my feet. She wasn't looking at me, instead focused on the hands folded in her lap.
"You know you're an idiot," she said after a moment, finally looking at me. I nodded silently in agreement and she raised an eyebrow. "You know because he's avoiding you he's also avoiding me. He doesn't want to ruin our friendship by making me choose. Because obviously he broke up with you and you hate him now," her tone was caustic and she took in the shocked expression that came over my features. "Why haven't you gone to him?"
"He's avoiding me," I said flatly.
"Oh, of course," she soothed, then smacked my thigh with the back of her hand. "That, Heero Yuy, is no excuse." I frowned and looked away from her, knowing what she said was true. I wanted to go to him, but I hadn't been able to work the nerve up to do so, afraid that he'd turn me away.
"I'm leaving now. And until you start using the brain I know is somewhere hidden in your head, don't bother calling me, okay?" Relena said sweetly before standing up and leaving the room.
I laid there for a long, long time, just thinking. My father showed no signs of backing down from his anger. My mother was quietly noncommittal and that was almost as bad. I was unhappy and I missed Duo more than I had ever missed anything in my life. I knew what I was going to do.
I rolled out of bed and straightened, walking downstairs and into the garage, which sat off of the kitchen, without looking at either of the people sitting at the kitchen table. I grabbed three empty storage boxes and walked back through the kitchen toward my room. My father cursed and stood, setting his cup of coffee down on the table. He followed after me.
"What do you think you're doing, Heero?" he demanded when I started emptying the contents of all my drawers into the boxes. I ignored him, keeping to my task and trying not to remember that that was the first time I'd heard him speak in two weeks. "Well?"
"Heero, answer your father," my mother said from the doorway, her voice weary.
"I think it's quite obvious, though," I replied and moved to my desk, taking all the papers I needed from it and putting them into another box. "I'm moving out."
"The hell you are," my father shouted, his eyes sparking dangerously.
"I'm eighteen, I turned eighteen months ago. You really have no right to tell me what to do any more."
"You have no reason --"
"Look," I cut him off, relishing having finally gotten the chance to do so. "You obviously can't accept the fact that, yes, Duo was my boyfriend and I love him very much. Therefore, I see no reason why I should continue to remain here. I'm gay, but you don't like that, so I'm leaving. Understand now?"
"I never said anything --"
"Exactly, not anything! Not one word since that night. You made it painfully obvious."
"It was a shock, Heero."
"A shock that lasted for two weeks, huh?"
I hefted one of the boxes and walked past him and my mother, taking it out to the car I had bought not long after my seventeenth birthday. I repeated the trip twice, pausing momentarily outside my door on the third to hear my mother whispering calmly to my father. "He needs to do this, Hideo. You've been an ass, accept that and move on. He'll be back."
I had a box in my arms when I walked from my car to the tiny ground floor apartment somehow looming in front of me. The door opened before I even reached it. Duo stood on the other end, wide-eyed and pale, as if he had never expected to see me again.
"Heero, what're you doing here?" Hearing his voice after two weeks made me physically ache.
"Moving in," I replied, making it a plain statement of fact. And it was. He really had no say in the matter.
"Oh..." Duo blinked and moved aside to let me through to door as if in a daze. My eyes moved over the place, the kitchen, living room and hall all somehow connected in one small box. Then my gaze stopped on the man standing in front of one of the bedrooms with a beer bottle in one hand.
"So, you're the fairy's boyfriend. Don't tell me we're all gonna be one nice, little family, now," Bill sneered, waving agitatedly with his beer hand.
"That's right. I'm the fairy's boyfriend. And what a lovely fairy he is," I stated matter of factly and lent to place a light kiss on Duo's lips. Everything within me screamed at the contact. Duo still looked dazed. I turned back toward the fat old man who looked decidedly red in the face and green around the gills. "Don't like it, then you can easily move out since I know Duo's been paying the rent, the bills and for the food for quite some time now. In fact, I'd even help you pack."
Bill stood, visibly flabbergasted before he turned and disappeared into his room.
"Heero, I thought..."
"You thought wrong," I put the box down at my feet and pulled Duo into a tight embrace. He stood there, stiff for a moment before returning the hug. "Don't you dare, ever think that I'd just let you go," I murmured against his hair, breathing his scent in deeply.
"But your parents..." his voice was tired, husky with too many emotions to name.
"Will get over it," I snorted. "Parents fight with their children all the time, then forget they even fought days later. It's a fact of life. And I had to come out sooner or later." Duo nodded against my neck and I smiled, happy for the first time in two weeks.
By noon the next day Bill still hadn't come out of his room. Duo and I were quietly snuggling on his bed, enjoying the morning. "Happy birthday," I murmured, smirking slightly. "I'm considering following tradition and spanking you eighteen times."
Duo laughed devilishly and squirmed out of my arms and out of bed. "If you think you can catch me, you're on," he leered then dashed out of the room. I rose languidly, not even bothering to give chase. When I left the room I saw that Duo was standing in front of the open front door, staring a giant yellow cake in the face. Blue-frosting letters decorated the top. Come home.
The cake lowered and there stood my mother, a hesitant smile on her face. She looked at the cake, the around the apartment, then back up at Duo. "That means both of you," she said, referring to the lettering.
Duo looked at her in shock, "What about Mr Yuy?"
"Hideo and I had a... discussion," her smile turned feral and scared me more than anything ever had before. Mothers just weren't supposed to have that look.
"Ah hah! He can say my name!" she crowed delightedly, drawing a crooked grin from Duo.
"I really don't think Mr Yuy wants me there."
"He can get over it, because I do," she said, taking another look around the apartment with obvious distaste. "Honestly," she said, turning to look at me now, "Hideo doesn't have a problem...well he does, but we're willing to accept that you are gay, Heero. It's obviously not something you can change," she smiled softly, motherly at me before continuing. "He's can be a stubborn asshole sometimes and he refused to admit he was wrong."
"There's still Bill," he cast a look at the still closed door to Bill's bedroom. "I have to --"
"You don't have to do anything for that...man, Duo," I said gently, walking toward them. "You're eighteen as of today. An adult. Meaning he can't do anything if you leave."
"Oh... oh!" Duo's gaze brightened considerably, violet eyes twinkling with an inner light. He looked at my mother, "You're sure?"
"Positive," she grinned excitedly.
"Heero," he rushed up and wrapped himself around me, obviously pleased to be doing it in front of my mother instead of hiding. "How soon do you think we can pack my stuff?"
Two years, seven months and three days after we became a couple I experienced what it was like to be without Duo and I'll never forget because I will never allow it to happen again. Never.