Thinking About Forever + Part 11 (cont)

"I said, good." Trowa stepped forward, forcing Duo to take a step backward. He came up against Heero's firm chest, and strong hands curled around his biceps, the other man gently nuzzling his neck through his tangled hair. Duo froze.

What . . . what is going on?

Trowa put his hands on Duo's chest, carefully, one palm resting firmly on each side. "I want you."

Heero shifted slightly behind Duo as his wide, shocked eyes stared down into Trowa's.

"We want you."

The familiar deep growl, right in Duo's ear, sent shivers down his body right to his groin. Part of him wanted it so desperately it clamoured inside him, screamed inside him to not let this opportunity go, and another part of him stood shocked, disbelieving, sick inside because it was all a joke. It had to be a joke. A cruel, horrible joke that cut him so deep inside he didn't think it would ever heal. Because these were the two people, the only two people in the whole damn world he could honestly claim to love with every part of him and never want to stop.

But green eyes, colourless in the light of the room, were staring up at him, and strong arms were around him, slipping from his arms to his waist and there was a mouth dropping a soft kiss on his neck --

NO!

Adrenaline flooded his previously motionless and stunned muscles, tearing him away from the false promise of safety and warmth -- and love --

Duo twisted around, backing up with his hands held out defensively in front of him, until his back hit the door. He stopped, pressing up against it like he wanted to crawl inside and hide, staring at them with pain in his eyes, like a betrayal.

But that wasn't right, because he was the betrayer --

"Don't do this," he whispered brokenly. "Please, please don't do this."

[Pull me out from inside]

It was Heero who approached this time, instead of Trowa. "Duo, what are you talking about?" he asked, and his voice sounded almost normal. Almost. Who would call Heero normal? "We want you. You want us. You won't ever find happiness with those people you keep dating. What's wrong?"

Duo was shaking his head, hardly hearing Heero's words. "I don't want to be a one night stand," he said harshly.

"Well, it's a bit too late for that, wouldn't you say?"

That hurt.

It cut through the last remnants of the confidence and bravery he had dredged up and left him open and bleeding. His hands and arms, still held out in front of him in a half-defensive posture, were draining of their strength by those cruel words and flopped down loosely beside him.

What was the point of a superficial defence, when a few words could cut him right to the core?

Heero was by his side in a second, reaching for him. "Oh kami, Duo, I'm sorry -- "

Duo pushed his arm aside. There was a lump in his throat the size of the Pacific. "I deserved that," he whispered, staring at the floor, then looked up, his face more open than it had ever been before and showing all his pain. "But I don't deserve this damn joke!" he half-screamed, his voice breaking.

Trowa was by his other side. "It isn't a joke," he said fiercely.

[I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding]

[I am]

"I didn't live this long by being stupid or naïve," Duo hissed. "Threesomes work for a night. They don't work longer."

"Says who?" He wasn't sure who had said it, but they were both watching him calmly, waiting for his answer.

"Says everyone! God, do you know nothing? Why do you think the saying goes 'two's company; three's a crowd'?" Duo was shouting now, his voice hoarse and broken. "Ask any normal person, they'll tell you!"

"Since when are we normal?" Trowa stood directly in front of Duo now, face totally serious. "I'm going to tell you something now, Duo, and don't you dare interrupt me. Save up your comments for when I'm finished. Got it?"

Duo opened his mouth to respond, and Trowa cut him off again.

"You owe me this much at least."

He slowly shut his mouth, wincing inside at the reminder, and nodded.

"Fine. Heero spoke to me about this a little while ago, and I agreed." He stopped suddenly, casting his eyes to the ceiling as though he would find inspiration there. His eyes shifted to the wall at their side, and without moving his eyes from that spot, began talking in a totally flat voice. "Neither one of us has much self-confidence in interpersonal relationships, excepting those between soldier and commander. We never have and it will take much longer before we do. We never spoke of it as such, but we both chose each other as our first lover because we are so similar. We know we cannot go wrong with each other, because all we have to do is treat the other as ourself. We were both soldiers since children. We were both Gundam pilots. We both specified all boundaries of our relationship before we started it, and in the beginning I think we only looked on each other as a former war comrade we could trust, and a bed partner, an outlet for stress relief . . . not more." Now Trowa looked directly at Duo. "That changed, but only when one of us pointed out that if we had a more 'normal' relationship, it would make you happy."

Duo stared, his mouth hanging open slightly. He drew in a breath to tell his friend just how damn stupid that was, but Trowa cut him off.

"I don't think you really understand just how important you are to Heero and myself. Quatre would have tried every way he knew to help me, but I know nothing would have worked from him, because he wouldn't have thought to try the right things. Heero would still be a walking stone wall if not for you." Trowa leaned forward and gripped Duo's hands tightly in between his own, pressing them to his chest, his eyes boring into Duo more deeply than Heero's infamous glare ever could have. Every word he said bit deeply into the braided man. "You never gave up on me. You made me want to live. You made me want to feel. You made me feel. You searched out each and every single way you could reach me and you did. You wormed your way into the deepest pits in my psyche and you told me it was okay to be afraid." Trowa tugged on Duo's hands, his whole body radiating utter conviction. "I would not be who I am today if not for you. You dug me out from behind walls so thick I had no hope of making my way out on my own, and you expect me not to love you?"

Love me?

Heero took hold of Duo's chin and turned his shocked face towards him, blue eyes staring into his. "You never gave up on me either," he said quietly, with just as much conviction. "You kept on eating away at the shield I didn't know how to lay aside, didn't give up on me even when any sane person would have. You did the same for me that you did for Trowa, searched me out and led me out of the pit of my own psyche when I couldn't find the way myself. You made me what I am today by telling me I didn't have to listen to anyone else for what I had to be, that I could be who I wanted, not anybody else. I need Trowa because he understands what I mean when I say this in a way no one else ever will, but I need you because you were the one. . . ." words failed him. He waved one hand eloquently, as though they would appear out of thin air. "To teach me everything worth knowing," he finished.

Duo couldn't think of a damn thing to say.

"Duo," Trowa said softly, catching his attention. Helpless, Duo looked at him. "Duo, we both love you. More than words will ever say. We love each other, too, but. . . . We were each other's confidence booster," he said with a wry smile. "We were going to stay together long enough to give each other enough confidence that we could handle a real relationship . . . with you. We never really expected to love each other. When Heero told me what had happened, I was so jealous . . . because he had had you, and I had never had a chance."

Trowa glanced over at the Japanese man, a small smile quirking each set of lips. "Once I calmed down enough to talk about it rationally, we realised your reaction hinted that you most likely had feelings for us. And . . . why should one or all of us be miserable for the rest of our lives?"

At some unspoken signal between the two, they stepped back, giving him breathing space, room to decide maybe. Duo looked frantically from one to the other, searching for one sign, one little sign that this was a joke, that this was a dream, knowing that they were going to laugh or fade away and he'd be back in his miserable lonely life, in his empty apartment, because no one gave the street rat a gift like this --

Nothing happened.

Duo's knees suddenly gave way, and he slid down the door into a boneless heap on the floor, only held upright by the synthetic white-painted wood at his back.

There was just one problem with this picture. One that wouldn't go away no matter how hard he tried not to think about it. And it had to be addressed now, before all his reason left him.

[Colorblind]

"Threesomes don't work," he whispered, and lowered his head into his hands, shaking it from side to side. "They just don't work."

Trowa crouched down beside him. "Says who?" he asked gently, repeating the words of earlier.

"Everyone. No one. Society. Normal people."

Heero snorted, crouching down beside him as well. "Duo, do we look like society's ideals?" he asked. "I was raised by an assassin and a mad scientist. Trowa was raised by mercenaries. You were raised by the streets and priests. We were all Gundam pilots. We all fought in wars at fifteen years old. We're three of the top Preventers' agents. We're all men. We're gay. Does that sound like normal or socially acceptable?" he asked. " 'Fuck normal. I'm Shinigami.' You said that once. Have you changed your mind?"

"No," Duo whispered.

"Then what's the problem?"

He was silent, staring at the floor past his knees. He was sure he looked a mess, braid in tatters, clothes rumpled and reeking of three day old sweat and tears. He was beginning to wonder if he wasn't more fucked up than they were, with his seeming inability to accept the happiness they offered. To anyone else, after what he'd done, after what he'd said, he wouldn't be worth it. Hell, he didn't think he was worth it.

And still they were saying they loved him. That they wanted him.

He had to shut his eyes against the tears that welled up. Still with his eyes closed, he said, "Do you want to know the real reason I ran out of Quatre's party?" he asked.

"Go ahead, Duo," he heard Trowa say.

"I saw Quatre and Wufei . . . and you guys . . . and you were so happy together, like the kind of 'til-death-do-us-part-two-point-three-kids-and-a-white-picket-fence happy, you know? And it was prob'ly the alcohol lowering my defences, but it made me realise that . . . that I'd never had that. That no one had ever loved me that much . . . that was why I was dating all those people. I was thinking you guys all had your forever . . . and I wanted to find mine." He opened his eyes, now wet with tears, to the two men beside him.

"And you couldn't find it, could you?" Trowa said gently.

[Coffee black and egg white]

[Pull me out from inside]

"No," Duo whispered. "N-none of them . . . could ever have been forever. And . . . and I don't think anyone else who hadn't seen what I'd seen and done . . . what I've done, could come close to being forever. It made me wonder . . . if I was meant to be alone." He swallowed hard. "But . . . but I want something for forever. And . . . and I n-need to know, what it is exactly you're offering. Forever . . . or not."

"You're thinking about forever," Trowa began.

"So are we," Heero finished. "All or nothing."

There was a tense silence as Duo lowered his head to his knees and hid his face from them, hunched over. Each wanted so badly to hear Duo's answer, to reach out and touch him, but neither moved, fearing it would break the spell and Duo would say no. As long as they didn't love, didn't shake him out of it, there was still the chance. . . .

Eventually, the braided head lifted. Red-rimmed eyes wet with tears stared at them.

[I am ready]

[I am ready]

[I am ready]

"I leave my dirty clothes on the floor," he said.

"I know," Heero said, rolling his eyes.

Duo sat up a little bit straighter, leaning against the door. "I leave hairballs in the drain," he said.

"I know," Trowa said, remembering all the times the drains had clogged in their safehouses because of Duo's hair.

"I'm messy."

"I know."

"I'm loud."

"I know."

"I use other people's toothbrushes."

"I know."

"I can't cook anything more complicated than pasta without poisoning myself."

"I know."

"I can't keep a plant alive longer than two days."

"I know."

"Don't you care? That you'll be taking the bad along with the good?"

Please . . . tell me you don't care. . . .

[I am . . . fine]

[I am . . . fine]

Heero moved to carefully cup Duo's face in his hands, as though the braided man might break if he held him too tightly. "Duo," he said, "I want you with me so I can complain about the drains clogging again. I want you with me so Trowa can roll his eyes when he picks up your dirty clothes and so he can tell you to do your own laundry and end up doing it himself anyway. I want you with me so I can nag you about getting your own toothbrush and stop using mine. I want you with me and Trowa so we can take turns keeping you out of the kitchen while we cook, and then stand over you and make you do the dishes, and have you sweet-talk us into doing it anyway. I want you with me -- with us -- so we can both complain about your little quirks, tell you turn down your stereo, and clean up your own mess. And I want you with us so we can have the right to never do a thing about your little quirks, so we can have the right to never force you to turn down your stereo, and so we can have the right to pick up after you." He smiled and leaned forward and kissed Duo on the forehead.

For another long moment, Duo was silent, his eyes flicking from Heero to Trowa and back again. Then, finally, in a voice so small it could barely be heard, "Forever?"

"Forever," Trowa confirmed with a smile in his eyes, Heero nodding beside him.

Once again tears welled up in Duo's eyes, but all they could see was his beautiful smile as he fell into their arms.

[I am fine]

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