"Hi, I'm Relena Dorlian-Peacecraft," a cheerful
voice said and a hand appeared in front of my face. I
blinked, slowly coming out of the daze I had fallen under as I
stared up at the slowly darkening sky and waited for
my new tutor. I looked at the hand dumbly for a moment
before I realized that she probably wanted me to shake
it. I'd never understood that kind of greeting. Really, what
did anyone gain by pressing palms and moving arms up
and down? I humored her anyway, grasping her hand solidly
and letting a charming smile creep over my lips as I
"Duo Maxwell," I replied and finally dragged my
eyes up to hers. They were pretty eyes, of that there
was no doubt; wide and innocent and one of the brightest
blues I'd ever seen. They started to gain a slightly
panicked edge. I looked down at where I was still shaking her
hand. Oh. I dropped her hand, my expression
turning sheepish. I'd been like this all day; dazed,
unfocused, absent-minded. I couldn't seem to
concentrate on anything, my willful mind always wandering back to the
situation I really didn't want to think about.
"So, I was told you need help in German...did you
bring your books?" the girl -- Relena, my mind
reminded me -- was saying. Her lips were pretty too; plump and
soft looking and a shade of pink that had to be
natural, even with the sheen of gloss that covered them. They
parted as she breathed in, waiting patiently for a
My mother, if she could be called that, had
disappeared again. I should have been used to it, I
really should have been. She made a habit of disappearing every
other month or so. But she'd been gone for a long
time this time, a very long time since I hadn't seen her in
about two months. I don't know why I was worried.
She had made it obvious from day one that she didn't care
about me, that she'd only married my father
because of me. That, at least, I couldn't blame her for. I
wouldn't have married my father either, disgusting
drunk that he was. It was a wonder I'd managed to live this long,
what with my mother's inattentiveness and my father's
constant stupor. Yet here I was, the ripe old age of
sixteen, getting tutored for my German class because I
needed to pass it if I wanted to get a scholarship for
college. Wait...tutor... Oh.
I shook away my thoughts in time to hear the
girl ask, "Duo? Are you alright?" Her pretty face
was twisted in a look of half-concern, half-confusion.
How long had I been spaced out? Five minutes? Ten?
Two months? No...
"Yeah, I'm sorry," I apologized, working hard to
make my voice sound cheerful. "I'm just a little
distracted today. What were you saying..?"
"Your books," Relena -- that name really didn't
suit her -- prompted, her pink lips curving into a
hesitantly understanding smile.
"Right! Right..." I trailed off, looking down at
my feet. Books... "Oh! Right, in the bag," I
looked up and grinned, wondering if the grin made me look as
stupid as Relena -- really she was more of a 'Lena' --
no doubt thought I was. I bent a lifted my backpack,
huffing slightly at the weight. "Did you want to stay
here to study or go somewhere else?"
We were standing in the middle of Gregory, North
Carolina's largest park and when I finally made myself
look at the whole girl, not just her pretty eyes and pretty
lips, I couldn't help but wonder if she was cold. She
was wearing a knee-length skort in the same shade of pink
as her lips. A skin tight white shirt with sleeves
that only reached her elbows was tucked into the skort's
waistband and other than the prim white socks that
barely covered her ankles before they disappeared into cute
Mary Janes she wasn't wearing anything to keep her
warm against the chill that had come when winter had
started to set in.
"Actually, she's not going anywhere with you," a
cold voice answered for her and my gaze flew back up,
landing on the boy that had walked silently up behind
Relena. Relena jumped, startled and turned to look at
the newcomer, her gaze darkening slightly.
"Heero, don't be rude," she admonished softly and
the boy cast her a brief look before focusing back on
me. He was, in a word, gorgeous. Or he would have been if
he hadn't been looking at me as if I was some sort of
slimy bug that needed to be squashed. He had the
darkest blue eyes I've ever seen, even darker for the
fact that they had a death-sentence, my death-sentence,
obviously lurking in them. Wild brown hair fell over
his forehead and his skin had a natural bronze tint to it.
Yes, definitely gorgeous.
I may have thought Relena was pretty but she really
wasn't my type, being female and all. I was gay and I
made no effort to hide it. Yet, I knew as Heero
looked over me with that threatening gaze, taking in
my baggy jeans -- his gaze lingering where the knees were
ripped and shredding -- and my black Metallica shirt,
that he didn't realize I'd much rather compromise
his virginity than his girlfriend's. And she
was obviously his girlfriend, if my very presence
warranted that look. Which meant he was
straight and therefore off-limits even if he hadn't hated me on
"We should go, 'Lena," Heero said in that same
ice-cold tone and I watched as Relena chewed nervously
on her lower lip, her eyes traveling from me to Heero
and back again. I decided that no matter how hot he
was I was going to hate him as much as he did me. No one
talks to their girlfriend like that and stays on Duo
Maxwell's good side.
"Heero, I'm supposed to be --"
"Hey, don't sweat it, Lovely," I finally determined
that Lovely suited her much better than Relena or
'Lena combined. I gloated at the way Heero's expression
darkened considerably. "You've got my number, right?
Call me next time you have a free afternoon, 'kay? We'll
pick this up then." My words could be taken so many
different ways if given to an overactive imagination
or a jealous boyfriend. I knew that, reveled in it
"Okay," Relena said a little uncertainly but I was
already walking away. I didn't turn around when I
heard Relena start to rip into her boyfriend but I caught a
few random words as the distance grew. "Such a jerk"
and "his tutor" being among them. I smirked and
cheered her on as I stuffed my hands into my deep
pockets and left the park, boots thudding heavily on the
sidewalk with every step.
"Guten Morgen, Klasse!"
"Hallo, Frau Peters," the class replied as one
like little drones, programmed for the correct
response. I refused to add my voice to them.
"Jetzt... Gesetzt alles weg. Keine Bücher,
keine Hefte. Ihr habt einen Test heute!"
I sunk into my seat when groans started to fill the
classroom, positive that the teacher was a sadist.
She had to have been. Her voice was far too
cheerful, perky even, at seven o'clock in the morning
every day, but the tone she used when she told us to
put everything away so we could take a test was
absolutely gleeful. She stood away from her desk,
waving a great big stack of test packets in one hand
enthusiastically and literally bounced around the
room, plopping one on every desk as she went.
Pausing in front of my desk she stared down at me
for a moment with a small smile. "I hope you pass
this one, Herr Maxwell...? she said, not unkindly. She
really wasn't a bad woman...just inhumanly hyper. I
nodded a little half-heartedly and opened the test packet. If
I failed this time, it wouldn't be because I didn't
know the material. Relena and I had been studying together for
two weeks now and she was coming to be the best friend
I've ever had, despite her boyfriend's obvious
disapproval. After the first day Heero hadn't been
verbally against me, probably because of the argument he and Relena had
in the park. Relena could be a vicious lady when she
set her mind on something. Lawyer blood definitely
streamed through her veins.
Her father was the infamous Jack
Dorlian-Peacecraft, prosecuting attorney of the
illustrious Dorlian-Peacecraft law firm. The firm had first been
established fifty years ago by Relena's grandfathers,
Henry Dorlian and Nathan Peacecraft respectively. Dorlian's
son had married Peacecraft's daughter and Relena had
resulted from that union. Jack already had one leg in
the judge's bench at 42 and it was obvious even now
that Relena would follow closely in her father's
I breezed through the test and the rest of the day
passed in a bored daze. Really, if they wanted you to
learn something, they should at least make it
interesting. But no, it seemed that all of my
teachers except for Frau Peters had speaking in monotones down to an art
form. When the bell rang at the end of seventh period
I practically sprang from my seat and ran to the door.
It didn't strike me as ironic that I was actually
excited to be going home until I got there.
It was raining outside, but I didn't care. I loved
the feel of the cold drops pelting down on me as I
walked home, there was just something so refreshing about it.
The hair that wasn't held back in a thick rope of a
braid was clinging to my face in soaked curls, just like my
clothes were stuck lovingly to the admittedly narrow
planes of my body by the time I had reached the small apartment
I shared with my father. And Mom when she's
actually here, I thought, not a little bitterly.
She still hadn't come back.
"It's about time you got home, boy," my father's
slightly slurred voice broke through my good mood as
soon as I'd opened and closed the front door. His name was
Bill Maxwell and it was safe to say I hated him. My
shoulders stiffened but I didn't turn toward him,
taking the time to bend and unlace my boots so I
wouldn't track mud all over the house that I had to clean.
"Out with your little fag friends, playing in the
mud?" he snorted then belched loudly.
"Believe it or not, I was at school," I replied
dully, good mood completely vanished, and turned
around to face the fat old slob sitting in the Lazy Boy across from
"Don't know why you bother," he scratched his belly
through the thin and sweaty t-shirt that barely fit
over it and stared that the TV, hardly acknowledging my
presence except to scorn me.
"Maybe because I want to get away from you?" I
offered, shaking my head and walking into the tiny
kitchen to get a glass of water.
"That ain't ever gonna happen, boy. You're a
friggin' fairy, what do you ever expect to amount
I leaned against the counter and endeavored not to
drop my glass while I drank the slightly rusty liquid.
"Nothing more than I've ever wanted to amount to," I
replied, after a moment. After sixteen years of
living with Bill and four years of living with him while knowing I
was gay, I'd become immune to his insults. Or so I
liked to tell myself.
"You still want to be a fuckin' teacher, kid? Hah!
They'll have your fairy ass in jail for molesting
those little boys you'd 'teach' before you could say 'shit stick',"
he took a loud swig from his trademark bottle of Red
Dog, belched again and swiped wetly at his mouth.
"Listen, Bill, I'm going to my room now --" I
started walking toward the cramped room in the back of
the apartment, tired of hearing him talk.
"Renee's dead," Bill said almost idly, switching
the TV off with an audible click.
"What?" I stopped in my tracks, turning slowly to
His watery, red-laced alcoholic eyes stared back at
me with an expression I'd never seen from him before.
He was almost... sad. Impossible. "I said the
bitch is dead," he half-shouted, slamming his bottle
down on the foldable dinner table beside him. "The fucker
she left with this time, he was a smart sonuvabitch,
did the whore in before she could leech him into
"How do you know?" my own voice sounded strangely
distant. I don't know what was wrong with me; I think
might have been in shock.
"Heh, the porkers came and visited," he
sneered the word. "Thought they'd let me know.
Thought maybe I'd know something. Friggin' idiots. Like I'd
kill my wife," he scoffed, turning away from me again.
No, you'd just wait until she brought a paycheck home then
smack her around a bit.
I walked toward the door, slipping into my
boots. I didn't bother to lace them, just opened the
door and stepped out. Bill didn't comment; I hadn?t expected
him to. I walked aimlessly, the rain driving into me,
chilling me to the bone. I didn't flinch when thunder began to
rumble loudly above me, I hardly noticed when
lightning flashed, my mind was blank. Completely and totally
void of thought.
When I finally stopped, my fuzzy brain working
enough to take stock of my surroundings, I was in
front of Relena's house. If it could be called that. More
like a mansion, if you asked me. I don't know how
long I'd been standing there when the front door banged open and
Relena came running out with an umbrella over her head.
"Duo! What are you doing?! It's
pouring," she said, stressing her words in a
way she only did when she was worried. I shrugged, but I couldn't
form the words to reply. Her hand latched onto my arm
and she was tugging me up the walk to her house, dragging
me inside; sopping cloths, muddy boots and all. Her
parents were obviously away at work.
"Here," she said, leading me across the hardwood
floor to a closet. She took out a towel and pushed it
forcefully into my hands. I automatically wiped at my
arms, but my clothes were beyond help. "Ugh..." she
muttered, chewing slightly on her lower lip. "Go into
Daddy's office and take off your clothes. I'll go
borrow something from his room and we can stick your things
in the drier," she rattled off, giving me a push in
the direction of the office when I didn't respond.
I did as she said, stripping down to my boxers and
balling my clothes up in my hands. I didn't drop
them; I didn't want to ruin their perfect wooden floors. By
the time Relena came back I was shivering, my teeth
clattering as the cold air hit my damp skin. She made a tiny
sound in the back of her throat at the sight of me and
thrust the dry clothes into my hands, taking the soggy ones and
leaving the room hurriedly. She was such a virgin.
It was terribly adorable, or would have been if I had
bothered to notice at the time.
I slipped mechanically into the clothes she'd
handed me -- a navy blue t-shirt that was at least two
sizes too big and pants that I couldn't get to stay on my hips,
but I didn't think it mattered since the shirt fell to
my knees. Her father was not a small man. He was almost
full-blooded German. Which explains why Relena is
so good with the language, my mind noted inanely.
I stepped out of the room and found Relena waiting
in front of the stairs that lead to the bedroom area
of the house. She turned when she saw me, climbing the
stairs like she expected me to follow. So, I did. I
allowed myself to be lead into her bedroom and sat down on her
bed. I allowed her to fuss and hover over me as she
tried to find out what was wrong. Until -- "Alright,
Duo. Explain," she demanded in the tone I'd dubbed
her 'lawyer tone'. It was hard to deny her anything when
she used that tone. No, you were too busy being
worried about the prompt removal of your balls to even think
I looked up at her, and then looked back down at my
lap. "My mother's dead," I said, with a dreaded
finality, like just because I'd finally said it out loud it was
"Oh..." her pretty blue eyes widened and she sat
down on the bed next to me. "Duo, I'm sorry," she
offered, wrapping her arms around my shoulders and it
was like something inside of me broke.
I buried my face in her neck, my words muffled by
her warm flesh. "That's the thing, 'Lena, I'm
not. I'm not sorry she's dead," her
arms tightened briefly and I think I'd started crying
but I wasn't sure. It was like I was completely numb. "I'm
not sorry, I can't be. What kind of
person does that make me? That I don't feel at least
remotely sad that my mother is dead?
"But she was never there, 'Lena, she wasn't really
my mother... I didn't know her, but I should
feel at least something. God! Am I even human?"
Her hand moved soothingly over my back and
she was murmuring little soothing words as I sobbed
silently against her, babbling my life's story. And
what a sorry life it was...
"Obviously you do feel something, Duo," she
whispered finally, his hand never ceasing its calming
circles. "Otherwise you wouldn't be here. You do feel
something, even if it's only anger. Anger is an
emotion, too, and sometimes it's the only one that works." We sat like
that; the only noises passing between us were our
heartbeats and my hitching breaths. Then the door
"?Lena, I'm done fixing your Sega. It should --"
Heero. My face lifted from Relena's neck in time to
see Heero storming toward us, a murderous expression in his
eyes. He grabbed me by the collar of my borrowed
shirt and pulled me off of the bed, his fist flying at my face.
"Heero!" Relena shouted as his hand impacted with
my cheek, sending my head snapping back sharply on my
neck. Then he suddenly dropped me and I landed on my
ass with a carpeted thud. I looked up to see Relena
holding onto Heero's wrist, her nails biting visibly
into his flesh. "What do you think you're
doing?!" she shouted and Heero turned shocked
blue eyes to her.
"I could ask you the same thing, 'Lena! He was
"What? He was practically what? What
right do you think you have, acting like that,
"I'm your brother!" he roared back at her and I
blinked. Whoa, step back... What? Brother?!
"Not by blood and that still gives you
absolutely no right what-so-ever to beat my
"Damn it, Relena, he was...you were --"
"I was comforting him, his mother just
died." Heero's mouth snapped shut audibly and
he turned to look at me where I remained sprawled on the
floor, most likely just noticing how red my eyes
probably were. All I could notice was that my jaw had begun to
ache. "I don't understand why you hate him, Heero. I
just don't," Relena was saying and I almost snorted. She
could be so blind about some things.
I decided to stand then. "I should go," I winced
at the hoarse sound of my own voice and avoided
looking at Heero as I walked through the doorway. He was staring
at me, his eyes tracking my every movement and I could
feel it like fire burning into my skin.
"Duo, wait," Relena followed rushed me down the
stairs. "You need your clothes, they should be dry by
now." I nodded and waited as she disappeared down a
hallway, reappearing with my baggy jeans and black
T-shirt. I walked back to the office and changed
clothes, handing her her father's things when I came
out again. I couldn't help but notice that Heero was standing at
the top of the stairwell, looking rather lost.
I turned and left the house. It had stopped
raining. I still wasn't sorry.
"Duo, are you paying attention?"
I looked up from the German book and looked at
Relena with a smirk. "Ja, klar!"
Relena grinned back, "Good, then you'd have heard
me when I said that we're through for the day." I
blinked. She tilted her head knowingly, "Oh, you
didn't? Well, we are. I have to go to dinner with
Daddy and one of his associates. Do you need a ride home?" she
offered tentatively and I cringed at the thought of
her seeing the rats'-nest I lived in.
"Nah, you go on. I'm going to stay here and read
for a bit." Here being the school library. She
accepted that and picked up her books.
"I'll see you tomorrow, okay?" I nodded and she
was gone. I leaned back in the stiffest chair in
existence -- I swear, only schools can issue their like -- and
Ever since That Afternoon as my mind had titled it,
Heero had been going out of his way to be kind to me.
Someone would trip me in the hall and he'd be there to
help me up. My books would fall out of my locker and,
suddenly, there he was helping me pick them up. It
was almost as if he was stalking me. A guy could get
used to that, I tell you. But I didn't forgive
him yet, even though I understood completely why he
had acted that way. I didn't want him to go back to
either ignoring my existence or hating me once I did.
Foolish? Maybe; but what can I say?
A voice over the intercom announced that the school
was locking up for the day and that everyone should
leave but I really didn't feel like going home. I
didn't want to see Bill; I didn't want to have to look
at his filth or the tiny apartment. For one night, I just didn't want to.
I was in one of the closeted study rooms in the back
of the library. No one would notice if I didn't walk out
because they probably didn't know I was still in here.
All the lights but a few central ones suddenly extinguished, proving
my theory. They'd locked down and I was here for the
night, blissfully alone.
Or I thought I was until I heard a loud thud and an
equally loud curse in an all-too-familiar voice coming
from the main library. I stood quickly, pushing myself
away from the desk and opening the door to the
study-closet. My hand groped on the wall beside me for where I knew
the light switches to be, turning them on with a fumble.
I stared. Widened yet slanted dark-blue eyes
stared back from beneath a fall of shaggy brown hair.
"Are you stalking me?" I asked
incredulously, voicing my thoughts from earlier.
Heero's eyebrows drew together in confusion.
"Why would I... No. I was in the bathroom and the
intercom obviously doesn't work in there,
otherwise I wouldn't be here," he glared up at the
offending gray box on the wall.
"Why are you here?" I wondered and he turned
his glare to me.
"'Lena was supposed to give me a ride home, I was
waiting for her when I had to...go. Obviously she
didn't see fit to wait for me."
That didn't sound right. I knew Relena
wouldn't forget about him...hm...
"So, why have you been following me around, Heero?"
I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned a hip
against one of the bookshelves, waiting for him to
He continued to glare. "I judged you wrongly and I
didn't know how else to apologize."
"Well...you did overreact, but I can forgive you,"
I said congenially, finally giving in despite my inner
"Over... Your face was buried in her neck and you
were making these...noises! How was I
supposed to react?"
I sighed slightly, "I know what you think you saw
but I wasn't doing anything like that."
"And do you know why?"
"Because your mother..."
"No! Because I'm gay," I shouted,
like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Well, everyone else in the damn school knew it...
"Gay!" I repeated. "As in, G-A-Y, gay!" He
stared blankly at me for a moment and I threw my hands
into the hair. "Oh, screw it!" I stalked toward him
and grabbed his face, forcing him to stay still as I
pressed my lips to his. He didn't move. Which could have been a
good thing and could have been a bad thing. My lungs
gave out before I could tell and I had to come up for air.
He was looking at me with these hooded eyes, dark blue
orbs glittering behind his lids. I couldn't tell whether
that was an "I'm going to kill you" glitter or a "kiss
me again" glitter, but I trudged onward anyway. I let go of his
"See? Gay. Like, boys get me hot. Got it?"
"Duo?" his voice was dangerously soft.
"Hm?" I squeaked, fearing the worst.
"Shut up." And he was kissing me, not just an
innocent press of lips together, either. His tongue
was prying my lips apart and delving within, drinking from my
mouth like someone who'd been in a desert for months
and was just reintroduced to water. I let out a soft moan and
he pulled back.
"You're..?" I mumbled.
"Yeah," he nodded.
"When?" my voice was kind of fuzzy, a mix of shock
Heero snorted. "Since puberty; when I learned what
sex was." He backed away from me,
"Hey! You can't just kiss me and leave!" I was
slightly offended, mostly amused.
He stopped, "You kissed me first," he returned,
sounding extremely mature. Right.
"Yeah and I didn't leave."
"I have to get home. You should, too."
"Nope!" I said, but I finally walked toward him
and we unlocked the door to the library. We ended up
jumping the gate of the student parking lot, which was
no simple task considering it was raining again. I
fell to my knees when my feet impacted with the concrete beneath
the fence, causing mud to fly up toward my face.
Heero landed behind me, managing to stay on his feet, and he
offered me a hand to help me up.
"Tha --" he cut me off by jerking me toward him and
giving me another, hot, lovely kiss. "Mmm..."
Mud-spattered kisses with your former nemesis...what
could be better?
He pulled his lips away and rested his forehead
against mine. "If you're not going home, where are
you going?" he practically demanded.
"Dunno, I think I'll just wander around for a
while. I'll get there eventually..." I trailed off
at the look in his eyes.
"What? Who gave you the right --"
"No," he repeated and grabbed my arm, forcing me to
follow him with a surprisingly gentle grip.
"Where..." but I stopped. It really didn't matter.
Sure, it was sudden, but Heero wasn't exactly the
most... subtle person. I think we had reached an
understanding. A very sudden, very intense, very
And that was one of the best understandings of my
1. Yes, a skort. mwahaha! 1990s fashion was evil, no?