DISCLAIMER: Bandai and Sunrise own all. I’m just borrowing the boys and their world. The story, however, is mine.

CATEGORY: yaoi, angst, lemon, first-time
FEEDBACK: oh yes, please! dev_aki_jediknight@yahoo.com
WARNING: profanity, references to het sex.
NOTES: Takes place after EW AUTHOR NOTES: I have a lot of people to thank for help on this fic - Mai, Stacy, RQ. I'm dedicating it to Stacy because forever and a day ago, I won a hit-counter pic from her and my request was to capture a moment from this fic. Now and again she's poked me about finishing the fic and I really wanted to come through for her because her beautiful drawing deserves to be presented with the reference material. Thanks for so much, Stacy ::::huge hugs::::

SUMMARY: Heero struggles to find peace in his life, though the wars have been over for nearly four years.

Here's a link to shdlm's [ amazing pic ]

by Dev-Aki Basaa

"Shut up, Duo."

"I was just saying that the place is... seedy. Don't take it so damned personally!"

He was right, of course. Heero Yuy paused outside of the motel room he and Duo Maxwell had just rented for the night, glaring at the chipped paint and torn awning. Their contact had been late, then proceeded to ramble incessantly about nothing worth their time and basically delayed their return to Preventer's Headquarters by a good three hours. When they'd called Une to update, she'd been adamant that they not continue the five-hour trek back to home base.

"I don't care what you used to do during the war," she had said. "I won't listen to either you or Maxwell brag about what all you accomplished on two hours sleep in four-day intervals. You're /my/ crew now. We'll reimburse you. Stop and take a hotel."

Too bad a /hotel/ couldn't be found. Just this broken down sorry excuse for a roadside inn that had a temperamental lock, a door that creaked too loud as he opened it and... And...

Heero wrinkled his nose. "Do you smell that?"

Duo didn't respond, just brushed passed his shoulder, giving enough of a shove that Heero /had/ to step out of the way, had to give him leeway. Duo could have slipped his skinny ass by Heero easily, but Duo would never miss the chance to cut him back for telling him to 'shut up.' Another jab, another point gained. Whether it kept them sane or just enough on the edge of insanity to be the high level Preventer team they were, Heero couldn't determine. However, it was the way they operated; the way they seemed to communicate.

And for some reason, it worked for them.

"Idiot," Heero mumbled around a grin and walked the rest of the way into the motel room. They both winced as he shut the door, the screeching creak hitting frequencies high enough to make distant dogs bark.

"Charming," Duo grumbled from his seat on the twin bed. He'd taken the one on the interior of the room, farthest from the door -- not because he favored that spot necessarily, but because he knew Heero preferred to sleep closest to the door, a hang-up from the war days. Heero had never asked Duo for such an accommodation, but since they'd become partners, Duo'd just always done that. Heero turned away, hiding his growing grin, and settled down on his own bed.

For a long moment, Heero just sat there, staring at the front door that, at some point in this godforsaken room's history, someone had punched a hole into. Spiders had taken up residence in the splintered pressboard and wove an intricate web that dangled in the gap from one side of the hollow wood door to the other. Heero wondered if Duo had noticed them. For their sake, he'd hoped not, or else "Shinigami" might take sadistic pleasure in tormenting their little spider lives. Duo had an odd fascination for such things. He'd once sat for over an hour, repeatedly blocking an ant's path across his office desk. Said he was making the ant's life a little more surreal. Heero thought he was just a little too easily amused.

Heero glanced over his shoulder to see if Duo had indeed noticed the hole and the spiders, but found Duo had his back to him, still sitting on the bed, pulling his undershirt up over his head. His braid flipped in the air as it pulled through the shirt and landed on his shoulder. But what caught Heero's attention was the angry red sore on his partner's lower back.

"What's that mark, Duo?"

"Hm?" Duo looked over his shoulder, his brow furrowed for a moment. Heero nodded towards Duo's back as he turned to face him, frowning a little bit. It seemed like an odd place for an injury. Heero drew one leg up under himself and let the other dangle over the edge of the bed. Duo reached behind himself and brushed his fingers across his back and the sore. Having touched it, he then relaxed and grinned up at Heero.

"Rugburn," he answered.

Heero shook his head; that didn't make sense. How did he get /rug/ burn? From a training exercise? The mats at HQ were foam; they'd never cause that kind of mark.

Seeming to notice Heero's confusion over his answer, Duo flushed a little, raised his hand to behind his head and massaged his neck, a touch of nervousness to the gesture.

"There was this girl...ah, she had this strap-on thing. It was unreal..."

Heero blinked, watching a wide grin spread across Duo's face. Heero shook his head again.

"Are you insane?"

Duo laughed, tossing his shirt away and laying back on the bed. He was still wearing his slacks, but had kicked off his shoes. He brought his hands behind his head and pillowed it in his open palms. Then he glanced back over at Heero.

"Ah, I'm just having fun.” He looked to the ceiling and let out a little chuckle. "Remember that guy from the Preventer's outpost on L1, the big burly one?" Heero nodded his response, but didn't think Duo had actually noticed it. "Go figure, but he wanted me to, you know, rough him up a bit. Slap him around; call him a slut. My slave, even." Duo laughed out loud. "And I was thinking, what the hell, why not? We'd be gone the next day. So..." He shrugged, but Heero noticed his cheeks and the tips of his ears were a little pink. "Then there was Relena's secretary..."

That broke Heero's silence. "Hillary!?"

Duo nodded. "Yeah, that's the one. Wanted to do it on Relena's desk -- a bit of an exhibitionist, that one," he said, a note of awe to his voice. "So while you covered security at Lena's big bash last month, I had 'pressing business'. Oh yeah, it was pressing."

Heero didn't respond, but Duo didn't seem to need the encouragement anyway. Heero wasn't sure if he was bragging or confessing.

"And you know, it's all my fault that Hilde started dating that girl. I got it in my head I wanted to try a threesome, right?" He sat up suddenly and slipped to the edge of the bed, facing Heero. His eyes were alight with excitement and fascination. "It was so fucking erotic, Heero, let me tell you -- all naked in bed with two women, watching them kiss." Then the light died a little in his eyes. "But soon I realized I was doing a /hell/ of a lot more watching than participating. I might as well have rented a porn vid for all the action I got /that/ night." With a sigh, Duo laid back down on the bed, again pillowing his head in his hands.

"And you knew about that intern at Winner Corp, right?" he added after a moment's silence. "He was actually a really sweet kid."

Heero lay back on the bed. Sure, he knew Duo had been seeing different people -- many different people -- but, somehow, it hit him harder hearing the tales spin from Duo's own mouth. He didn't want to care -- he shouldn't care! Duo was just his partner, his co-worker...

"Yo, Heero. Am I boring you with these stories or freaking you out?"

Heero glanced over to see Duo sitting up on the bed, stripped down to his boxers -- white with little yellow smiley faces.

"Neither," Heero said and turned over on the bed, staring at the door and watching the movements of the spiders. He had slipped off his shoes, but was still wearing his shirt and slacks. He had no desire to change, though. Maybe it was another kickback from the war, the occasional need -- usually in a strange place -- to be ready to take flight at a moment’s notice. He'd slept in his clothes a lot during the war, lying on top of covers, not under them. Heero took a deep breath through his nostrils and almost coughed when the air rushed in and stung the delicate skin. The room's odor. It had a chemical smell that seemed to permeate the whole place. It was giving him a headache; he'd be happy when dawn came.

"You know," Duo spoke up again; he sounded hesitant, "if you've got any conquest stories, I'd love to hear them. We're buds, right?"

Buds. Heero frowned. He didn't even know what that meant.

"Right, Duo. I'm going to sleep. Goodnight."

Heero heard Duo sigh, very loud. He imagined he could see Duo's long bangs ruffle, his left brow quirking just a little, the way it always did when he sighed like that. Dramatic.

"Right. Goodnight."

With that, the room fell pitch black, the snap of the light switch turning was the only sound in the room and then silence.

In the distance, the dogs still barked.



Burning pain.

Another injection, another chemical burn flushing from under his skin.


Up. Over. Under. Through the bars, carry his weight across the ladder, drop down the wall. The rope burned gullies in his hands.

A different chemical, a stronger dosage. His nostrils stung at the smell.


Up. Over. Under. Faster this time. Harder this time.

Again. Again. Again. Again. AgainAgainAgainAgain.

And it burns, stings. Don't feel it. Can't feel it.

Make it stop.




"STOP!" Heero yelled, jerking awake, gasping. He reached out, but was confined. He couldn't move his arms! He shoved outward, growling, snarling, only to run into a hard, warm, cushioned surface. It gave and released his arms, but not its contact. Were they hands?

"Whoa, buddy! Calm down, it's me. It’s Duo."

Duo...? Duo. The delayed assignment. The motel. The spiders. Duo.

Heero blinked and tried to even his breathing. He had to get control; it had been so intense.

"You had a nightmare," Duo said.

Heero nodded, but that wasn't it. It was a flashback, a memory. Gods, he hadn't thought about that in years. He shifted in his place and still felt restrained, but warm. So warm. He looked down to see Duo's arms wrapped around his waist.

"Can I get you something? Water?" Duo asked him.

"No." Heero's voice cracked and he closed his eyes. Why hadn't Duo let go of him? He'd calmed down now. Why was he still so close?

"Wanna talk about it?"

This time Heero shook his head. He never talked about it. Of course, Duo meant the dream, but he wouldn't be so stupid as not to realize what the dream had been about. No. Heero just didn't talk about the past like that. Heero felt Duo pull away and then the bed shifting as he stood up. The warmth left him, sending a shiver down his spine as the cold of the room surrounded him again.

After a moment, Heero opened his eyes and looked over to see had Duo climbed back into bed and was pulling the covers up to his neck.

"You just going to go back to sleep, then?"

Heero nodded, then he glanced over at the front door and the spider filled hole. He could barely see them -- the moon had risen higher in the sky and small rays of blue light shone through the gaps in the heavy drapes. It cast long slivers of light across the room. One struck the bathroom door, another lit a narrow portion of a landscape painting that hung on the far wall. The nearest one crossed the end of his bed and then angled up and across Duo's relaxed face. He was already asleep again.

Heero watched him, watched the way, his chest rose and fell with his breath. Heero thought about how cold he felt, sitting there on the bed. The room's temperature had not changed since their arrival -- that much he could sense -- but, somehow, it felt colder to him. As if having experienced the warmth of Duo close made everything else seem colder. However, having him so near had also been...confusing. Heero looked away. He'd been thinking these things lately. About Duo and his vibrancy, about how...how different a life he had from his partner. It both fascinated and disturbed him. He was a part of that life, and yet, he wasn't. Did he want more? Was that it? Was he a moth to Duo's firelight? There were so many things he was still learning about this daily, ordinary life and Duo already seemed to have a grasp on it all. Duo took to the mundane and the normal so easily, making it exciting and enjoying himself. Enjoying life. Heero was envious. The war still haunted him; his past still haunted him. He wanted to let go. He wanted to grab hold.

He wanted...



Heero stood up quickly, his head spinning with thoughts. He strode to the window and pushed aside the drapes just enough to see out to the narrow parking lot and the barren, dark road beyond. The drapes smelled dusty with a touch of mold, but it wasn't the acrid odor that had been bothering him before. Instead, this odor reminded him of hideouts and waiting, and of moments of stolen sleep in bombed out buildings during the war. Somehow all things led back to the war. Outside everything looked blue, a combination of the quarter-full moon and the flickering blue neon Vacancy sign that Duo had joked was like something out of an old B horror flick.


He...wanted Duo. Heero sighed. This wasn't exactly a new revelation, just one that carried with it much confusion and uncertainty. Is it wrong to want your partner -- your friend -- when it is unclear whether he wants you back? And to what extent did Heero desire him?

In his bed? Maybe...

An image of Duo came unbidden to Heero's mind -- sitting as he had earlier, on the edge of his bed in just his boxers, ribbons of hair loose from his braid dusting over his smooth hard chest. It made a rush of warmth curl in Heero's gut.

Okay, definitely.

In his life? Heero frowned. Well yes, but... But he had him in his life already, didn't he?

Heero recalled the shock he felt at Duo's conquest tales -- he really hadn't known. It was as if Duo had some kind of double life. Heero shook his head. "It's not the same," he spoke quietly to himself. The place Duo held in his life, the place he held in Duo's life wasn't the same as what he wanted. They had a rapport, sure -- their jabbing and sometimes even biting banter. While Heero appreciated that, enjoyed their wordplay, he knew there was more to be had.

Intimacy, for example. There was no intimacy between them.

Not just the intimacy of fucking -- if you could even call that intimacy. Heero supposed that if had wanted only to bed Duo, he probably could have done that a long time ago. Especially by the sound of things. No, it was more than that, he wanted more than that from him.

He wanted...

He wanted /Duo/. Wanted to share in his life, wanted just a touch of that vibrancy to be directed toward him. Wanted to feel that life energy flow over him, fill him, give him a sense of life he only felt when he was in Duo Maxwell's presence.

A car drove past, rumbling down the bumpy, over-patched road and pulled Heero back from his reverie. He turned to see that Duo had shifted in his sleep, the blankets twisting around his waist, one arm flung out across the other pillow. Complete relaxation, complete disarray. Yet, he looked so peaceful, innocent.

Heero grinned. Hardly innocent. He just looked the part at times. Heero turned fully around, letting the drape fall close again. He folded his arms across his chest and stared at his sleeping partner.

Duo had always been a distraction to him, even back during the wars. He came to think of him as a friend when they both joined Preventers and were so often assigned together. They worked together so efficiently that Une made it official and assigned them as partners. That had made Duo a very important part of Heero's life.

Yet at some point, Duo became even more important to him than that. Heero just didn't know when that had happened. Or what, exactly, to do about it.

With a soft sigh, Heero walked away from the window and headed to the bathroom. He shut the door and flicked on the light, wincing only slightly at the sudden brightness. He stared at his reflection. He didn't know what he expected to see, but there were no dark circles, no worrying lines. He remembered Duo teasing Trowa when Trowa and Quatre first began seeing each other. Duo had said Trowa was love-sick. That term had the same affect on Heero as 'buds'. What does it mean to be 'buds' with the man you're attracted to? What does one look like when they're love-sick?

Heero narrowed his gaze at his reflection. He looked perfectly normal and unaffected. He hardly looked "love-sick" -- so maybe he wasn't? He certainly didn't feel that way, the way he remembered seeing Trowa: poetic and always smiling, but mostly distracted. No, Heero couldn't afford to be distracted. He had to always be ahead of the game, always thinking up his next jab, his next teasing comment for Duo. That way he would always have something to say and his jumble of emotions wouldn't suddenly try to take off with his mouth. He had to always be prepared. He was a man who followed his instincts, even to a fault. If he left himself open to it, he might say something to Duo that he'd regret -- not for its lack of truth, but for how it might change things between them. Heero would never want that. He wanted Duo as his partner and friend. Anything else -- everything else -- could wait, or never happen. He would not foul this up. No matter what he wanted.

Heero shook his head. A night sleeping in the same room as Duo. He'd not done that in a very long time and long before his feelings for Duo developed. It was going to be a long night. Maybe he should just remain in the bathroom all night. However, the acrid, chemical odor stung Heero's nose again and he grimaced. It was stronger in here and with the door closed it seemed to build, floating around him in thick invisible waves. He turned to open the door, but halted when an image flashed in his mind.

Dr. J

Heero shook his head again, squeezing his eyes shut. They stung, watering at the corners. He took another step forward, struggling for focus; his brain beginning to cloud.

His nose burned; his mouth burned.

Burning pain.

Just like...

Another injection, another task. Again, again.

And it burned.

But he didn't feel it then. No, that's not true. He did feel it, he just...

'Overcome the sensation, boy!'

Don't feel it. Can't feel it.

Heero took another step, reaching out, his fingertips brushed the door. But another step came with a wash of vertigo and at once the door, then the ceiling and then the floor rushed into his view. He heard the thud of his body hitting the tile even before he registered the sensation of it. Dr. J's voice rang in his head.

'Overcome the sensation, boy!'

No. Training was over; the war was over. He had a life now. He needed to let go!

'Do it again! Again. Again. Again.'


A quick breeze ruffled his bangs. The door was open. When did it open?


Again that warmth encircled him, picked him up in strong arms and dragged him from his torment. His eyes slid shut as Duo propped him against the end of his bed, his legs stretched out before him. He let his head fall back against the mattress and took a deep, calming breath. It was so intense, like the dream. Goddamned memories. Why couldn't he forget?

He felt a weight against his thighs and cracked open an eye to find Duo staring at him, concerned etched in his features. Duo had straddled Heero to get close, sitting on his legs and leaning forward. Wait a minute... Duo was in his lap. Heero could reach out and brush his fingers across Duo's bare chest, rest his hands on Duo's hips. Pull those hips to his and take those full, pouty lips...

Oh, this was not good.

"Heero, what happened!?"

Heero swallowed hard. "I... I don't know," he fumbled. He didn't want to think. Because his only thought was how good Duo's weight felt against him. Too good.

"Were you dreaming again? Sleep-walking?"

He'd never sleep-walked in his life, but neither did he know what had brought on the episode. Maybe he had been dreaming, he didn't know, but at least it was an answer. Heero shrugged and nodded a little.

"Are you okay?"

"Duo..." Heero began, but the rest of his thought stayed in his mind, 'I need you to get off my lap before I embarrass myself.'

"I'm tired," he said instead. It was the distraction he needed.

"Of course!" Duo jumped to his feet, off of Heero's lap and Heero found himself equally disappointed and relieved. Duo grabbed his discarded undershirt and yanked it on as he crossed the room. "Let's just get out of here. I slept some; I can drive. You can crash in the backseat or something." He bustled around the room, gathering his clothes, pulling up his pants in one pass, buttoning his dress shirt in another, pacing the room, making sure they weren't forgetting anything.

Duo stopped to retrieve Heero's shoes and handed them to him. He leaned forward, holding Heero's gaze, determination in his eyes. "You don't worry about a thing. I've got it covered."

Still sitting, leaning against the end of the bed, Heero slipped on his loafers. Well, so much for worrying about spending the night in the same room as Duo. Heero suspected sleeping in the car wouldn't have quite the disconcerting affect the hotel room had. This assignment had been an unprecedented disaster, in more ways than one.

"Hey, Heero!"

Heero looked up to see Duo standing at the front door, one hand pressed against the wood just an inch from the hole.

"There's a whole mess of spiders living in this door. You gotta jar?" Duo turned and leaned close, peering directly into the splintered hole. "This is like an instant pet farm!"

Heero shook his head and let himself smile. "Sadist," he mumbled.


When the calm rocking motion of the car stopped, Heero woke. Like an internal alarm, set to the background hum of the engine, Heero rose up from the laid-back passenger seat and with one swipe of his hand over his face; the dregs of sleep were gone. He was fully awake. Then he paused and blinked at the surroundings -- this wasn't Headquarters.

"Where are we?"

"My apartment," Duo answered as he opened the driver side door and set one foot out onto the ground. The cool morning breeze rushed into the car and stirred their shirts and bangs. "It's not quite 6am," Duo continued, "and there's no point in reporting in yet. The business offices are still closed."

Heero raised one eyebrow -- how could they be in town already? The hotel had been about five hours away from HQ and they'd only gotten on the road at ten minutes after 2 am. Duo then glanced back over at Heero and shrugged, one corner of his mouth quirking up. Heero realized he must have had a skeptical look on his face. Duo could always read him too easily.

"I made good time," Duo said, before climbing out.

Sped like a lunatic was probably more like it. Heero sighed and opened his door, stepping out of the Preventer issued sedan. Standing beside the car, Heero took a moment to brush at his wrinkled slacks. Damn things; spandex never wrinkled. A quiet cough caused Heero to stop and look over his shoulder. Duo stood at the hood of the car, scuffing his feet, waiting for him. He looked like such an impatient little kid, head bowed, fidgeting, and trying not to look impatient. It never ceased to amaze Heero how the littlest things about Duo served to make him smile -- when he allowed such a reaction of himself. Right now, he allowed it. He gave a nod for Duo to lead them into his complex.

They were almost to the building entrance when Duo suddenly cursed and then spun, breaking into a run. Heero had to duck to miss being slapped across the face by a flying braid.

"Shit," Duo swore again as he trotted up to the car, "I almost forgot the spiders."


Heero stared at Duo's living room and blinked. There was so much stuff! Stacks of books, newspapers, report papers and magazines leaned precariously against pieces of furniture throughout the room. Every counter space and tabletop had various kinds of clutter. Duo's desk in the corner had half-made model planes and spilled paint; the dining room table had stacks of papers and report files. Seeing this, Heero half wondered if Duo was the culprit behind all the memos about checking report files out with the Documents Clerk and not just grabbing what they needed. Missing files were a perpetual problem at HQ and if Shante were to see this table, she'd surely have some kind of conniption.

Duo slipped past Heero's frozen spot at the doorway and approached a small table in a corner of the apartment. He set down his jar of spiders there (jar courtesy of the all-night motel clerk, complete with a very strange look) and came back Heero's way. Catching sight of Duo in his extreme peripheral vision, Heero could tell Duo was amused by his reaction to the apartment.

"Now don't go making a mess, Yuy," Duo said with a chuckle then he turned to walk deeper into the living room, bathed in the shadowy yellow light of early morning. Heero glared at the back of his head, but followed him the rest of the way in.

All in all, the place was clean, if cluttered, and Duo certainly didn't seem lost amongst all this stuff. He easily found whatever he was looking for, like the coffee mugs buried under a pile of opened mail, for example. Duo seemed to need all the flat surface space he could find.

"Coffee?" Duo gestured a mug in Heero's direction. Heero nodded and followed him even further, into the kitchen. Here there was no clutter at all, just clean, pristine white counter space and new-looking appliances. Heero half suspected this was because Duo never used his kitchen and the various take-out boxes he spied as Duo reached into the refrigerator for the coffee confirmed his suspicion.

Heero leaned back against the counter and folded his arms across his chest, watching Duo prepare the coffee machine with quick and practiced efficiency. Duo had yet to turn one light on in the whole place, but he didn't really need to. There were no curtains on the windows and all the apartment's illumination came flooding through them. Even the kitchen was lit from the bar window that looked into the dining room area -- an extension of the living room and the side of the apartment with the line of windows and the most light. It gave the place a homey feel -- dusky, not dark.

The sound of the coffee machine perking brought Heero's attention back to the kitchen and in time to see Duo's mouth split large and wide with a body-freezing yawn.

Heero cocked his head to one side. He'd slept on his way here, Duo hadn't -- at least he sure as Hell hoped Duo hadn't since he had been driving.

"Why don't you go to sleep, Duo, you don't have to play host to me and HQ isn't really going to expect us until late morning."

Duo nodded even before he'd finished his yawn. "I think you're right. I'm exhausted."

Duo trotted out of the kitchen and paused at doorway just beyond the archway entrance. He turned to face Heero and leaned against the threshold of the door. He made a sweeping gesture at the breadth of his apartment and smiled, a tired and weary version of his typical grin.

"Make yourself at home, I mean it, Span..." but his words were cut off by another yawn.

Heero let himself smile again -- since Duo wasn't looking -- knowing the yawn had just kept him from being teased.

His yawn complete, Duo didn't bother to speak anymore. He grunted his parting remark, and stumbled into the swallowing darkness of his bedroom. Seemed he kept all the curtains in the bedroom closed.

Heero turned back to the coffee maker, grabbed one of the mugs and slid it closer to the pot. Heero drank his coffee black, which was probably a good thing since he doubted Duo had any cream or milk and -- Heero glanced around, scanning the counter for canisters -- he wasn't even sure Duo had sugar either. With a shrug, Heero headed back into the living room, sipping coffee as he went. He paused at the sofa and glanced around the room. One thing could be said for certain, Duo definitely /lived/ in his living room. Heero ventured deeper into the room, walking the perimeter and eyeing the chaos, or what only seemed to be chaos. Each of the stacks and piles he'd noticed before, upon closer inspection, appeared to be various projects, all in a different stage of progress. Even the files -- missing from HQ, though they may be -- looked to be an effort to organize his own records and files. The ship models were vintage, probably dating Pre-colony or some of the transports used in the early days of the colonies population. None of them, though, were copies of anything less than a hundred years old and Heero couldn't help but notice how immaculate the workmanship and paint job was -- regardless of how much of a disaster the work area might be. Heero put down his mug and picked up a paintbrush. He rubbed his thumb over the bristles, the spikes of paint-crusted hairs broke apart, chips of paint -- gray, like the steel side of the ship -- speckled the table top below.

Duo hadn't just succeeded in establishing a social life, he also had a fully developed private life complete with hobbies and a 'lived-in' home. Heero pictured his own home, stark and barren accented only with the few decorative gifts given to him by his former fellow pilots -- no, /friends/ -- as opposed to anything of his own selection.

Heero set down the paintbrush and sighed, puzzled and intrigued by Duo yet again. Would he never cease being amazed by him?

Jolting at an odd sound, Heero felt his body tense, his breath catching in this throat. He moved towards the source and quickly realized what he was hearing was Duo's snores. He hadn't snored in the hotel room, not a murmur, a sigh, nothing. Heero approached Duo's bedroom door, still open and pitch black beyond the threshold. Leaning against the frame, Heero could just make out the lump lying on the bed. Duo wasn't at all as he expected him to be. He'd pictured him as he'd been in the hotel room -- flopped in bed, the blankets tangled around his sprawled legs, his arms spread to either side of his body. No, that wasn't the case. Duo was lying on his side, blankets pulled up to his shoulders, his back to the door. His braid trailed across the pillow, little strands loose from the weave, curled over the sheets. Perhaps he was too tired to even shift in his sleep.

It was times like this -- when Duo caught him by surprise -- that he seemed so much like a flame to Heero, drawing him close, mesmerizing him. There was something about Duo asleep, all that vibrancy at rest, waiting to be released again. More than once, in many instances, Heero had found himself staring, trying to keep his distance from the other man -- figuratively and literally. However, before he could even realize how literal he was being, his knees bumped the edge of the bed.

The jarring woke Duo.

He rolled onto his back, his eyes squinting in the dim light from the living room.

"Mmm, Heero?" He smiled then, a sleepy grin, his eyes sliding shut. He grabbed the edge of the comforter and lifted it.

"Sleepy?" he asked, his words slurred. "It's a big enough bed, climb in."

Heero hesitated, a part of his brain shouting caution at him, but a moment later he had slipped off his shoes and slacks. He took the comforter edge and climbed in. Even moths come too close to the flame, even they tempt their fate and resolve. Heero lay on his side, back to the door, watching as Duo smiled wider still and then rolled back to his previous position.

Heero closed his eyes in sweet agony; he could smell him. A heady scent, mixing his shampoo and cologne and a natural musk that belonged to Duo alone. Warmth radiated from him, so close, too close. Heero could reach out and touch him, run his fingers along the curve of his shoulder. He could slide his palm along the softness of his thigh. That heat, that vibrancy, was within his reach. He had only to let go.

And just like that, he was doing it, touching him. He slid his fingers against Duo's heated flesh, so much hotter than he expected that he almost drew back his hand as if it'd been burned. Duo murmured and rolled towards him and Heero found courage in that response, opening his eyes and shifting closer. His legs brushed the back of Duo's, tangling with them as Duo turned towards him even more. Heero's hand slid across Duo's bare stomach, feeling Duo's muscles clench at his touch. Heero moved. He trapped Duo's body partly beneath his own. He slid one hand slid along Duo's side, the other he threaded into the base of Duo's braid. Heero's pulse was racing; he felt caught somewhere between letting instinct take over and direct him or aborting his actions altogether.

The words 'let go' echoed in his head and responding, he bent forward. They were kissing; Duo's mouth, under his, lips parted, tasting him as eagerly as he tasted back. Nothing could be this wonderful -- it had to be a dream. He wanted to melt into this moment, to never forget how real and solid this fantasy felt. But it wasn't a fantasy. His hands were /really/ roaming Duo's body and he could feel Duo's hands on him. The sound of Duo's moans filled his mind. So beautiful.


Duo suddenly thrust against him and the intense sensation seemed to wake Heero's mind, his fear rising over him like a deluge.

This was a mistake.

He froze, breaking the kiss. He peered down at those kiss-swollen lips, a sight that made his heart ache, but also reminded him how he couldn't feel this strongly for Duo and let this be so casual. His sanity couldn't take it.

"Heero?" Duo murmured, his eyes fluttering open.

He didn't know what to say and faced with those searching eyes, asking, sans words, why had he stopped, his answer spilled out without much thought.

"I can't," he began. "I shouldn't have started this knowing…" He stopped himself before he could confess, though. He shook his head, Duo's body still feeling too good lying beneath his own, Duo's hands still spanned across his back. "I can't be just another one of your conquests."

He moved right after he dropped that bomb, climbing out of the bed to pull on his slacks and slip on his shoes. He didn't even know where he would go, but he had to leave. Dammit! Why did he have to want things that were so hard for him to have? It had been so simple during the war, even the times when he was able to act on his emotions. At least he knew he could always follow his instincts. Now he felt like he questioned everything. He was halfway across the living room when Duo called his name.

He stopped, but he didn't turn around.

"Wait, just..." Duo said, sounding confused and exasperated. Heero guessed he couldn't blame him for that. "Wait," Duo said again.

Heero did turn when he heard Duo opening a door and rummaging around. He was clad in only his boxer shorts, digging in a closet. He then emerged with a pillow, sheet and blanket. Heero watched as Duo made up the couch, tucking a yellow-flowered sheet into the cushions and spreading a thick blue blanket out over the length of the sofa. He then tossed the pillow to one end and turned to face Heero.

"Stay, okay?" He gestured towards the couch. His hair more mussed than Heero had ever seen it, fly-aways sticking out haphazardly as if he'd been shocked with electricity.

Heero nodded and was surprised at the look of relief that came over Duo's face. He would have thought he'd not want him within his sight for a long time after this episode. Instead Duo sighed and turned back to his bedroom disappearing into the darkness beyond the threshold.

Heero waited a moment, still not sure Duo wouldn't come marching back out and tell him to leave. That didn't happen, though, and so Heero moved to sit on the couch. He dropped his face into his open hands, pressing the heels of his palms against his closed eyes. What had he done!?

He had taken advantage of Duo and then turned around and completely insulted him. Why was Duo letting him stay? Rubbing his face, Heero toed off his shoes and then reached over to pull back the blanket. He lay down and tried not to think about what a fool he was or of how amazing Duo had felt in his arms. If he could just go to sleep, maybe it wouldn't look so bad later in the morning.

Somehow, he doubted that.

Heero woke to the smell of bacon and coffee wafting around him, a thick aroma, drawing him up from his restless sleep. A pan of hot grease was popping and snapping. He could hear eggs being cracked into the pan and subsequent rise of the sizzling sounds. He could hear the coffee perking. He lifted his head and squinted in the bright rays of sunshine that shone through the line of windows behind him. Too bright. He dropped his head back down to his pillow and drew the covers over his head.

"You're awake, I saw you move. Get up, I'm making you breakfast."


Heero buried himself even deeper under the blanket. He didn't deserve breakfast. Duo should have thrown him out. Or maybe he wished Duo had thrown him out so this whole episode could be over with and he could go back to silently pining for Duo while Duo attempted to indiscriminately fuck everyone they encountered. Heero sighed. Okay, that wasn't fair. Duo wasn't like that; Heero just wished things were different. Bitterness aside, though, he still had to face him, now, this morning, before the food got cold. But what could he even say to him? Would he demand an explanation? An apology?

"Dammit, Yuy! Get up!"

Apparently, at least for now, all he demanded was his presence at breakfast. Heero heard the chink of dishes and silverware. Duo wasn't setting the table, was he? Heero finally sat up and looked over at the dining room table. What had been a mass of files and papers and God knows what else, was now a cleared space, set with candlesticks, china and crystal goblets filled with ice water. Heero had a hard time believing Duo even /owned/ crystal.

Standing at the table's edge, framed by the rising sun's rays, Duo set down a plate of toast and a glass of orange juice. He looked ethereal, his long hair loose, catching the light and glistening as if it had gold strands threaded throughout it. Dressed in a plaid flannel robe tied loosely around his waist, Duo yanked on the belt as he walked back into the kitchen. Through the bar window, Heero could see him using a spatula to lift the eggs out of the hot grease and place them onto a platter. He was going through a lot of effort for this breakfast.

Heero was still dressed in his rumbled dress shirt and slacks and just pushed back the blanket and stretched. He tried to catch a whiff of himself, but nothing too foul accosted his nose. He thought he should smell three-days ripe, but really, it'd only been since yesterday morning that he'd woken in his own apartment. It seemed much, MUCH longer.

He rose and walked over to the dining nook. Duo had bacon and buttered toast set out on miss-matched platter-ware, orange juice and water in fancy glass pitchers. The silverware actually looked silver and he even owned (slightly yellowed) embroidered cloth napkins. Heero wondered when Duo had the chance to horde his way through some dead man's estate sale.

Heero looked up when Duo walked back in with the platter of eggs. At Duo's directing nod, Heero sat down at one of the place settings and pulled the napkin onto his lap. Dr. J had been oddly thorough with his training and Heero could remember one particular time of going from a shooting range exercise to a lesson in table etiquette with much resentment.

"How many eggs?"

Heero looked up to see Duo still standing beside him, platter of eggs in one hand, a ready and waiting spatula in the other and an expectant look on his face. Heero glanced at all the food before him and looked back up at Duo.

"Two should be plenty."

Duo grinned, broad, it lit up his eyes. He placed two perfectly made, over-easy fried eggs on Heero's plate. He hadn't even broken the yolk.

"Hope you like them this way," Duo said as he walked around to his place setting. "I made sure the whites were thoroughly cooked-through."

Heero didn't even know what to say beyond, 'thank you,' which he did. He'd thought it correctly earlier that morning; Duo never ceased to amaze him and probably never would. Even in light of the situation, that thought made him smile, completely unguarded.

He picked up his fork, looking up to see that Duo was watching him, smiling. Heero couldn't help that his smile faltered -- too worried about the damaged he'd done to their friendship -- but he hoped that he covered it by turning away and helping himself to toast and several pieces of bacon.

If Duo did notice, he didn't let on. "The orange juice isn't fresh," he said, pulling his own napkin onto his lap and reaching for the toast. "Sorry, it's just concentrate from my freezer and I'm not exactly sure how long it's been up there either," he added, with a sheepish grin.

Heero reached for his water glass and was surprised by its weight. He took a drink, wondering if it might be lead crystal. He set the glass back down and reached for his fork, taking another bite of his eggs, then, gesturing about the table, he asked the question he was wondering on before.

"Where did you get all this stuff?"

Duo just shrugged, poking at and breaking his yolk. "I've been collecting things when I can - paycheck to paycheck, you know? I never had a home. Not really." He looked up. "I know you didn't either, but I had a glimpse of one once and I think that's harder, no offense," he added quickly. "The church -- I've mentioned it before, you remember?"

Heero nodded. Duo had regaled him with many stories of his brief time there. He loved watching him talk about it; there was always a special light in his eyes when he did.

"Well, they had all this stuff -- nice glasses and chipped china, serving spoons and candlesticks," he said with a gesture towards the white blown-glass candlesticks. "All these things I came to associate with being a home -- as opposed to just somewhere to live and that's what I wanted. So." He dragged out the syllable, scrapping his fork across his plate in the process. "When the war ended and I finally had enough sense to take the Preventer's job being offered to me, I thought, 'Hey, great! I can have a home.' But you know what I learned?" He paused, looking up as if he expected Heero to respond. Heero raised his brow and shook his head, just so Duo would go on, caught up in his story.

"It's not much of a home when you spend all your time in it alone."

Heero could have gasped. That was the saddest thing he could think of Duo saying, especially with the way he associated him with life and vibrancy -- a flame that he envied for its existence.

Duo went on, pushing a little bit of egg white around his plate with his fork. "You don't pull out the nice dishes or cook fancy meals for yourself, you do that for other people, so," he shrugged a little, "I thought it would be nice, since you're here, to use all this stuff."

Heero clenched his jaw. No. He didn't deserve all this, he deserved...

"You should be throwing me out," he said.

"Shut up, Heero, and eat." Duo didn't look up from his plate, but the fierceness of his tone kept Heero from even beginning an argument about it.

So, they ate, in a silence Heero didn't often associate with Duo unless he was truly upset or very contemplative. Neither a prospect Heero felt overly happy about. For the first time in his life, /he/ had that need to fill the empty space between them with pointless chatter.

"It's very good," he said, silently cursing himself for not knowing how to 'chatter'. A four-syllable sentence hardly counts as 'chatter'.

"Thanks," Duo said after a bite. "I actually make kick-ass scrambled eggs, but I didn't have any milk."

"I noticed," Heero responded with a grin. He looked up to see that Duo was grinning back at him. Maybe this wasn’t so bad. Maybe they could just move past this and pretend like nothing happened. If Duo didn't plan on punishing him for it, then that would be his preferred method of dealing. It didn't happen.

He should have known better since that was NOT Duo's method of handling things.

"I've got something I've gotta tell you, Heero."

Heero froze, fork still in his mouth. Shit.

"Don't freak, just listen," Duo said, setting down his own fork and wiping his hands on the napkin in his lap. He didn't look up. "Back during the war," he began, "I…" And then he stopped and chuckled. Heero looked over at him and found he was blushing, that he looked nervous as hell. Heero set down his fork and grabbed his napkin, waiting for Duo to continue. A brilliant shade of pink, Duo finally said, "I had such a crush on you."

"What?" Heero blinked, amazed. That couldn't have been, it was war! Who had the time to notice a pretty face? There were missions and directives and…self-destruct buttons and vendettas with an ex-OZ pilot. Heero shook his head at himself. He'd always known that Duo wasn't like him in that way. During the war, he'd managed to befriend Hilde and he truly acted on his emotions. Deathscythe was his 'buddy', not his weapon of choice in a duel. Heero had tried to figure out what his emotions were so he /could/ act on them.

"Yeah," Duo went on, his grin all crooked. "I can't say how much of it I realized at the time, but..." His voice trailed off and his face took on a grim look. "But some things don't just go away."

Duo looked up then and Heero met his gaze, his breath stolen by the intensity in Duo's eyes.

"When you came to me before, I thought I was dreaming." His face relaxed a little, looking wistful. "It's a dream I've had more than once." He seemed to stop himself and laugh, apparently self-directed. "Hell, it's a dream I have a lot. There have even been times, with other people," his tone was serious again, "when I'm imagining that it's you."

"Duo..." Heero was dumbstruck. Was this true? Duo wanted him? But... But there had never been any indication! Wouldn't Heero have noticed? Pining for Duo as he had? He would have acted on it! Only... Heero really had only begun realizing his attraction to Duo a year ago. Duo spoke of the wars, of liking him even back then. Four years had passed since Marimiea's uprising. Heero was suddenly daunted by how much he could have missed in the last four years. If Duo's gaze had ever lingered on him even two years ago, Heero wouldn't have noticed. Not for lack of caring, but for sincere lack of awareness. Dammit, how could he have been so clueless?

Duo leaned into the table and for as serious as his tone was and the intensity of his expression, there was light in his eyes. A hopeful light. "You would never be a conquest, Heero," he said. "You would be my lover, someone I would always cherish, whether it worked out or not."

Heero sat there, staring into Duo's eyes, plainly seeing the truth in his statement. But he didn't know what to say, how to react. It was as if everything was frozen, his mind, his heart, his emotions -- because he couldn't laugh, couldn't smile and crying was completely out of the question. Hell, he could barely breathe. Was this what happened when you got everything you ever wanted? Pure, complete, utter, total shock? Dr. J's training never prepared him for this. This was life, the real thing. He needed his training to shut down so he could /feel/ this; that seemed to be what he was waiting for.

However, Duo's intense look began to turn worried the more Heero had to wait.

"What'da thinking?" he said, biting his lip.

Heero shook his head. "I'm not sure yet." It was true. This was good news. Obviously. But it was as if his brain was still trying to catch up. The thought foremost in his mind at the moment was that he could have had Duo earlier that morning. Damn!

Duo didn't seem alarmed by his response, though, and he grinned. "That's okay," he said. "Take your time, I understand."

Duo stood up then, grabbing the now empty platter of bacon and stacking his plate on top of it. He was clearing the table. He probably had a huge mess to take care of in the kitchen.

Action. That would be good. Heero looked up at Duo. "Can I help you clean up?"

Duo looked surprised by the request, but his smile broadened. "Yeah, thanks."

Heero stood, grabbing the platter with a few remaining slices of toast and his own plate; He followed Duo into the kitchen.

Heero tossed the leftover toast away; he leaned over the sink basin and scraped the remnants of yolk from his plate. Reaching to take Duo's plate from him, their fingers brushed and Heero felt the excitement in him spike. It had been such a brief touch; it seemed impossible that it would make him feel so thrilled. Then Duo moved behind him to place the bacon platter on the counter and he slid his body against Heero and Heero felt his pulse quicken even more.

At Heero's side again, Duo started hot water running into the basin before Heero. He then reached across and squeezed the soap dispenser to drop a dollop of detergent into the water. He leaned against Heero in the process and Heero smiled. Reminding himself of his need for activity -- any action to balance his mind -- Heero grabbed a rag and scrubbed at a dish. When finished, he handed it over for Duo to rinse and dry. Again, their fingers touched. Their arms bumped; their hips brushed and each motion felt deliberate and seductive. Heero's breath was shallow and it seemed like electricity thrummed through him, making every patch of skin sensitive. He slyly and shyly glanced at Duo, and Duo returned those looks, his grin quirking a bit more each time. Duo's rich-blue eyes glittered as he reached into the basin and agitated the water -- though it was certainly sudsy enough. His fingers brushed Heero's and Heero captured them, holding tightly as Duo raised their joined hands from the water, suds dripping off them. He looked up, meeting Duo's stare, his mouth watering at the look of lust in Duo's eyes. Duo wanted /him/. Him.

Heero slowly released Duo's fingers, though, letting them slide very carefully down to Duo's fingertips before their hands parted completely and he was back to washing the next dish, grinning like an idiot.

Duo chuckled and nudged him with his hip, picking up the next plate to dry. Heero felt the urge to laugh, but held it back, not knowing if it would come out nervous and a little hysterical. Then Duo left his side, taking the dried dishes to put away in the cupboards. Heero turned to watch him, his wet hands still hanging over the basin. He took a deep breath as Duo stretched in an effort to place one of the platters on a high shelf. One side of his robe slipped off his shoulder, exposing pale flesh and drawing Heero away from the sink. He pulled a towel off from the stove handle, dried his hands and tossed it away. He didn't care where it ended up. Nothing else mattered right now other than the amazing, beautiful man before him.

Heero walked right up behind Duo, their legs touching, and Duo paused. Heero could tell his breathing had quickened as well and he thought he should say something. He didn't know what, however. Words seemed pale. He wanted Duo to know how much he meant to him, but there would be a time for that. It was probably too soon anyway. So he did the one thing that he knew could speak for him, tell a little of the reverence and awe he felt about Duo. He bent his head and kissed his bare shoulder. His skin felt so hot and Heero heard Duo sigh, making Heero feel all the more enflamed. Duo turned and faced him; he was trapped between the countertop and Heero. Without words, with expressive eyes, Duo said, 'yes, finish what you started before.' He even nodded a little, though Heero didn't think he needed the additional encouragement.

He took hold of Duo's exposed upper arm, gently sliding his palm up over his shoulder and onto the curve of his neck. He moved his hand until his fingers brushed Duo's hair and touched his ear. He rubbed his thumb across the underside of Duo's jaw. Heero didn't know skin could feel that soft. Duo turned his head and kissed the side of Heero's hand, pressing his lips and letting them linger the way Heero had on his shoulder. It was more reverent than seductive, just as he meant with his kiss to Duo's shoulder. It couldn't have been more perfect. Pushing up with his thumb, Heero raised Duo's chin so they were eye to eye again. Duo was openly panting now, each ragged breath making Heero's body throb. Clenching his fingers and drawing him close, Heero captured Duo's lips, their mouths parting and melding together.

It was the sweetest taste Heero had ever encountered, even sweeter than earlier because this time he knew he was wanted, knew he was supposed to be here. He leaned into Duo, bending him back against the countertop and ravishing his mouth. He felt Duo's hands wrap around his back, fisting his shirt. Then Duo slid his hands up and gripped the back of his neck, massaging his nape. It made Heero feel wild, feral. He pressed forward, placing his knee between Duo's legs and rubbing the inside of his thigh. He shivered at Duo's moan. He'd had training in all things -- even this, the act, arranged with both a boy and a girl -- but this feeling went beyond training into something primal and instinctual. It was as if he was overcome, freed of his control. Passion washed over him, flooding his mind with an intensity he'd not known since his days of missions and directives. Only, all this intensity, all this emotion was focused on one person -- Duo.

Heero slid his mouth off Duo's, running his lips along his jaw and down the column of his throat. He felt Duo's pulse pound against his tongue. Duo gasped Heero's name as Heero lifted him and he arched and wrapped his legs around Heero's hips. Heero held Duo at his backside, cupping him and pressing their groins together. He ran his other hand up and down Duo's back. Wanting to feel more skin, Heero tugged at the loose belt of Duo's robe and tossed it aside. He slipped his hand inside, rubbing Duo's back and feeling each and every vertebra against his fingertips. Duo had his hands buried in his hair, his fingers flexing against his scalp with each ministration Heero gave to his collarbone and juncture between neck and shoulder. Duo whimpered and encouraged him with each scrape of his teeth and swipe of his tongue.

Duo's had thrown his head back, his hair pooling on the countertop and tumbling over the edge like a waterfall. Heero's body throbbed; his need and arousal making him tremble. Duo shook with the same excitement, thrusting against Heero, his equal arousal making Heero almost blind with lust. Duo bent forward, collapsing against Heero and gripping his back and nape again. He buried his face in the crook of Heero's neck, his hair falling down his back and dusting Heero's arms.

"The bedroom," Duo said, panting still. Heero pulled Duo tight to him, letting his hand rise higher and thread into his hair. He carried him into the bedroom.

Duo's bed was still a mess with blankets strewn all about. Heero reached out and shoved the blankets aside as best he could with one hand. He then leaned forward and laid Duo down on the bed; he climbed over him. He captured Duo's lips again, tangling his hands in the mass of Duo's hair. Duo worked his hands down the front of Heero's shirt, pulling buttons free and sliding his fingers against skin. Their legs were tangled over the edge of the bed and Duo kept rubbing one foot up and down Heero's calf. It made Heero shiver more than he thought something like that would. Maybe it was enough knowing Duo did that -- the most mundane things made erotic because it was him doing it.

Then Duo pulled at the collar of his shirt and Heero threw back his arms and shucked the shirt. He broke their kiss, bending forward to press his lips Duo's chest and reached down to undo his slacks. Heero pushed them down as far as he could. Duo brought his foot up and helped, shoving his pants and jockeys down until Heero could kick them away and toe off his socks. Then, taking hold of Duo's boxers, Heero pushed them as Duo lifted his hips and shimmed, working them the rest of the way off.

Heero pulled back then, peering down at Duo, naked and glorious, flushed with arousal and need apparent in his eyes. So gorgeous. He even said it. "Gorgeous," his voice breathy and awed and Duo smiled. He reached up, wrapped his fingers around Heero's neck and drew him back down against his body. Heero circled his arms around Duo's waist as Duo spanned his hands across his back. He felt Duo turn his head, his lips brushing against his ear.

"You're the one who's gorgeous, Heero, you always have been."

They kissed again, deeply, their tongues sliding together within the heat of their mouths. Heero reached between their bodies and cupped Duo, stroking him, listening to him, feeling him gasp and whimper into his mouth. He swallowed each sound down, feeding off his breath and moans, tasting his excitement with every dip of his tongue. Duo thrust up, rubbing his body against Heero's arousal, echoing each pass Heero made with his hand. Crying out, Duo broke their kiss as Heero ran his fingers lower. He brushed Duo's entrance and teased his way back up. With Duo's whispered, "please," Heero it was time they brought this to its height.

He shifted above Duo, aligning their bodies, groin to groin, their arousals sliding along the other. He then thrust against him and Duo matched his motion, working in tandem. His arms were outstretched, bearing his weight so he could look down at the ecstasy in Duo's face, at the way he panted, open-mouthed and desperate. Duo's hands gripped his upper arms, bruising his skin, holding on as they found their rhythm, moving against each other. Heero would occasionally bend down and kiss Duo, on his mouth, his cheek, or his closed eyes, but as their movements became more frenzied, he could only focus on the beautiful sight before him and the intensity coiling in his gut. Sweat dripped off his hair and face, splattering on Duo's own sweat-sheened skin. Duo suddenly reached up and pulled him down against him, wrapping his arms around his head, his fingers threading through his hair. Heero folded his arms around Duo's shoulders, holding him, still keeping their pace. Then he heard Duo whisper, "I'm gonna come," and his body went very taut, his fingers tightening in his hair. Duo cried out and Heero felt him pulsing against his skin.

"Oh God, Heero," Duo gasped as he came down from his climax. There was something in the way Duo said his name, the pure desire and release of it that it sent the coils in Heero's stomach into tight knots and then, stealing his breath, they snapped and he came, thrusting hard one last time against Duo.

Heero felt boneless and drained, collapsing onto Duo's body, their arms still wrapped around each other. Already he could feel himself drifting into unconsciousness and if not for Duo's movements, he could have easily fallen asleep right there. But Duo shifted backwards and pulled him along. They settled deeper into the bed and Duo yanked blankeds over them. Laying his head down on the pillow, Duo drew Heero to him and Heero curled around his body, their legs tangling under the blankets. Heero rested his head against Duo's shoulder and toyed with a lock of Duo's hair. Just before he completely drifted off to sleep, Heero felt Duo place a kiss upon his forehead and whisper, "sleep well, beautiful." Heero knew he'd fallen asleep with a grin across his face.

He was pretty damn sure he'd never done that before.


He'd never woken with such a complete sense of peace before -- warm, comforted, contented. The memory of what was probably only a few hours ago came flooding back to him -- the beauty of it, the eroticism of it. How wonderful it felt to have Duo, wanton, in his arms. He opened his eyes to see his beautiful /lover/ (Heero grinned broader at that thought) sleeping beside him, his head leaning towards him. They'd shifted positions in their sleep. He was now lying on his stomach with Duo pressed against him, resting on his back. He draped his arm over Duo's chest and their joined hands lay against his sternum.

Heero watched him sleep, appreciating each twitch of his eyes and quirk of his lips. He recalled a time when he'd watched Duo sleep once before, during the war, in that dorm room after he'd broken him out of the OZ prison. At the time, he saw only behavioral data to collect and use to assess Duo's status and projected healing rate. However, in the back of his mind, he'd had one thought that hadn't made any sense and he'd chosen to dismiss it. He'd watched Duo sleep and thought, 'peace.' He couldn't remember if before he'd dismissed it, he'd begun to interpret it as a thought to the wars -- the all-encompassing peace they were fighting for -- or something simpler. Watching him now, he thought maybe it had been a premonition or his inner soul trying to tell him something about the boy lying before him. As if to say, when you're done fighting for the world's peace and need to find peace of your own, look to him. He can bring you your peace.

And he had.

Heero felt peace and happiness as he watched Duo's eyes flutter open and his lips curl with a smile.

"Hey," Duo said, his grin crooked.

Heero smiled. "Hey."

Clenching his fingers with Duo's, Heero rubbed their joined hands across Duo's chest, loving the smoothness of his skin. Duo's eyes seemed to twinkle, delighted. He rubbed his thumb against the back of Heero's hand.

"How late do you think it is?" Duo asked.

"Late. Une expected us mid-morning. It must be afternoon by now."

Duo chuckled, closing his eyes and crinkling the skin at the corners in way that Heero found to be completely adorable. "We could tell her we got delayed by passion."

Heero shook his head and snorted a little. "She would say, 'I don't want to know'."

Duo opened his eyes and nodded, shifting a little closer to Heero. "Yeah, you're right."

They stayed silent after that and Heero enjoyed the stillness between them and the contentment, continuing to stare into each other's eyes.

But it couldn't last; Heero knew that. HQ probably was wondering what the hell had happened to them. He hated to break this perfection, though. He could stare into those beautiful blue eyes forever and never need anything more.

Finally, he stopped the rhythmic rubbing across Duo's chest, flashing Duo an apologetic look.

"We should get moving before they send out a search party for us back at that motel."

Duo nodded. "Yeah," he said with a shrug. He then lifted their joined hands up high and made a show of sniffing himself and Heero. He then dropped their hands back down and wrinkled his nose, saying, "We should shower."

Heero chuckled. "It probably would be best." He raised his brows in expectation. "Together?"

Duo shook his head and grinned. "Don't tempt me," he said, leaning close. "We have to actually get out of here, ya know."

However, neither of them moved.

They stayed, in their peace, staring and smiling at each other. After a moment, Heero shifted to his side and raised their joined hands to brush his thumb across Duo's cheek, tracing the line of his nose, moving across his brow and returned to follow the arch of his cheekbone again. Heero had a sense of disbelief wash over him. His hand in Duo's, lying together, intimate, vulnerable. Never before in his life had he felt so wonderful.

He caressed Duo's face again, the same way as he just had, smiling even more when Duo hummed in pleasure and reached out with his free hand to brush at his bangs, fingering a lock of his hair. Then Duo touched his cheek, lifting it just enough so their gazes met.

Duo had that serious expression on his face again.

"So, what'da think about you and me being exclusive and all that shit?"

Heero let out a long breath. That sounded pretty damn good.

"Just us?" he clarified, even as he knew it wasn't necessary. The look in Duo's eyes told him enough.

"Just us," Duo answered.

Heero nodded. "I think I'd like that."

"I think I would too," Duo said, his smile returning, broad, splitting across his face. Duo then leaned forward and kissed him. A sweet kiss, pressing their lips together and letting them linger then pressing them together again. It was such a tender expression.

"I'm going to get up now," Duo said, murmured against Heero's lips, a fair warning.

Yet, Heero was amazed at how he felt that loss. Duo was still within his line of sight, beautifully nude, his hair cascading down his back as he walked ever so slowly to the bathroom, but the absence of his physical touch struck Heero like a hole in his heart, like a breath he couldn't take. He turned to lie on his back, resting his head against the pillows and staring up at the ceiling. He could hear the shower sputtering to life. In a few moments, little rolls of steam drifted out of the bathroom and dissipated into the cooler air of the bedroom.

Heero glanced into the bathroom. He could only catch a glimpse of Duo occasionally as he moved about the shower stall, distorted through the frosted glass. Rising over the sounds of the driving water and echoing against the fiberglass walls, Heero could hear Duo singing, bawdy and strong.

A part of him felt baffled to be there, more relaxed than he'd felt in years; more hopeful and pleased than he thought possible. His heart knew, though, where to find contentment and had been drawing him here longer than Heero even realized. The doubts and questions of only hours ago felt like a distant memory, cleared away by Duo's kiss. Heero had to wonder. No one knew what a moth really found when it came too close to the flame. Maybe it didn't find destruction or devastation. Maybe it found nirvana.

Heero had.


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