Stuck With You... + Part 13 (cont)

Trowa took a sip of his beer and grinned at his friends. Duo was involved in a passionate argument about the engine of the latest Mercedes model with Jack from payroll and Elaine, an active agent. He was leaning back far enough in his chair that he could keep his hand on Trowa's thigh beneath the table, though. Quatre was discussing politics with Une, who Trowa had also been surprised to see tonight. She hadn't arrived until the rest of the party had been there a while, having waited until Mariemaya was asleep before coming out. But apparently she came to the party every year. Trowa was slightly embarrassed to realize he'd never thought about whom Une would spend Christmas with. He'd always liked the woman, even when she was crazy.

He seemed to like crazy people.

Heero was not having quite as good a time as everyone else was. He was frowning into his glass of water, steadfastly ignoring Wufei's teasing. The Chinese man had tired of Quatre's conversation with Une, and turned his attention to tormenting Heero.

It turned out that the restaurant, which was actually a bar and grill type place, had a karaoke machine.

Heero had not had so much as a beer all evening.

All in all, it had been an enjoyable night. Trowa's conversation with Ken had ended when the young man had been dragged off by his date to sing a duet. Trowa was glad to see Ken had apparently gotten over Quatre quite easily once past his initial hero worship. The young agent was laughing happily up on the stage with his arm around the slutty blond chick from accounting. Whose name was Francine, and who really wasn't that slutty, but just dressed that way.

Trowa had refrained from mentioning Wufei's name in their conversation. Ken and Francine were happy tonight, so what else mattered?

A particularly loud snarl from Heero drew Trowa's attention back to the Japanese man. Wufei, apparently realizing he'd reached the limits of Heero's low tolerance for mockery, had his hands up in a placating gesture and was backing off. Heero glowered at him a moment, then turned back to his water.

"What's wrong with him?" Duo asked, leaning back and draping himself over Trowa to get close enough to be heard. Trowa tolerated the public display with a smile, and replied, "Wufei's been teasing him about the karaoke machine."

"Someday, Wufei is gonna get himself killed," Duo declared. He remained in his position, half-lying across Trowa's chest, and stared thoughtfully at Heero for a moment. Finally, he sighed, and said reluctantly, "Well, I guess I have to go make an ass of myself."

"What?" Trowa asked, confused.

Duo tilted his head back to smile up at Trowa. "I have to go do something dumb, to give Wufei a new target. Heero really hates being teased, because he doesn't know how to deal with it. He'll relax if I get Wu to tease me instead."

"Well... what are you going to do?" Trowa asked warily. He didn't bother to ask why Duo would be willing to make a fool of himself to spare Heero's feelings. He didn't need to ask.

"Hmm... perhaps a song," Duo mused, grinning at the currently empty karaoke stage.

"If you serenade me with some cheesy eighties love ballad, I'll kill you," Trowa warned him.

"Understood," Duo replied, laughing. He levered himself off of Trowa and onto his feet, then threaded his way to the stage, beginning to scan through the machine's list of songs. Wufei noticed Duo's activity and looked on with interest, an evil gleam in his eye. After a few moments, the American made his selection and tapped the microphone experimentally.

"Is this thing on?" Duo asked, drawing attention and cheers from all around the room. Heero's head jerked up in surprise and he turned to stare at Duo as well.

Duo waved to his audience. "Thank you, thank you, you're too kind," he told them. "For my first number, since I've been forbidden from sappy love ballads," he paused for the collective expression of regret from the crowd. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry... But anyway, I thought maybe something in keeping with the season would be appropriate. This is one of my favorite Christmas songs... "

The music came up, and some members of the audience apparently recognized the song, because they began laughing before Duo even opened his mouth.

Up on stage, Duo swayed his hips to the beat in a disturbingly feminine manner. He batted his eyelashes and sang in a slightly pouty tone.

"Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, for me
I've been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight... "

There was loud groaning throughout the restaurant as everyone recognized the song, and scattered laughter when Duo didn't change "girl" to "boy." The "girl" on stage gave an extra shake of his hips in response. Trowa was laughing along with everyone else, and Heero was watching raptly.

"Santa baby, a 54 convertible too, light blue
I'll wait up for you dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight... "

Duo was getting into the act now, slinking across the stage as he sang.

"Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the fellas that I haven't kissed
Next year I could be oh so good
If you'd check off my Christmas list
Boo doo bee doo... "

Duo jumped off the stage and began wandering around the floor, mock-flirting with coworkers who were, for the most part, red-faced with laughter. He stroked chins and bumped hips as he continued singing.

"Santa honey, I wanna yacht and really that's
Not a lot
I've been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight...
Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To a platinum mine
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight... "

By this point, Duo had reached Heero, and he paused there, winking at the Japanese man before he turned and shook his fanny in Heero's surprised face. This got another big laugh from the room at large. Trowa felt a twinge of momentary jealousy, but then Duo sashayed over to him and sat on his lap for a moment before making his way back to the stage.

"Santa baby, fill my stocking with a duplex, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Come and trim my Christmas tree
With some decorations bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Boo doo bee doo... "

By the time Duo got back on the stage, half the room was singing along with him, and Heero was smiling happily.

"Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
I don't mean on the phone
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight
Hurry down the chimney tonight!"

As Duo concluded his song, the room erupted with applause and catcalls, to which Duo cheerfully called back. Trowa smiled at the American hamming it up, flushed with pleasure at being the center of attention. Quatre was hugging Wufei while the Chinese man yelled something at the stage, grinning mischievously. Heero had gotten up and walked over to the stage. Duo knelt down to talk to the Japanese man, and Trowa saw the American laugh and smile at whatever Heero had to say.

Trowa glanced over at Une beside him, to see her looking around the room with a gentle smile on her face. She caught him looking and the smile widened.

"Treize would be pleased... to see you all so happy, now," she said.

Trowa didn't know if that were true or not, but the thought seemed to make her happy, so he smiled and nodded in reply.

"Hey, guys! Get your butts up here!" Duo called, using the microphone. Trowa looked to the stage in surprise, and saw Heero kneeling beside Duo, fiddling with the karaoke machine. Duo was grinning, waving at Trowa, Quatre and Wufei, summoning them to the stage. They all looked at each other in surprise, and some trepidation. "Come on, guys!" Duo yelled again.

The three former pilots looked up at Duo warily. Duo planted a fist on his hip and demanded, "What's the matter, you chicken, Wupert?"

"Maxwell! Kisama!" Wufei bellowed, jumping out of his seat amidst the laughter of the audience. Duo just laughed at the blushing Chinese man as he advanced on the stage. Quatre hurried after Wufei, and Trowa sighed, shrugged, and followed.

By the time Trowa reached the stage, Wufei was sulking, being soothed by Quatre. Duo was smirking triumphantly at the Chinese man, and Heero was still messing with the machine.

"What's going on?" Trowa asked, trying to surreptitiously shift behind Duo. He didn't like being up here. He was accustomed to performing in front of a crowd, but... not performing karaoke.

Duo grinned happily at him. "We're gonna sing together!" he declared cheerfully.

"Uh... no?" Trowa attempted to deny. Duo pouted at him. He sighed and rolled his eyes. "I'm really not much of a singer," he complained.

"Oh, don't worry about it," Duo said confidently, waving his hand in dismissal of Trowa's qualms. "With all of us singing, nobody will be able to tell. Especially not with Heero in the group," he added in a whisper, grinning.

"What are we singing?" Trowa asked warily.

"Just watch the prompter," Duo told him, walking over to check Heero's progress. The Japanese man nodded at Duo and stood, smiling slightly.

"All right!" Duo yelled into the microphone, drawing everyone's attention again. "Now, this next song... all my good friends here are going to sing with me, cuz it's kind of our theme song, if you know what I mean. Well, you probably don't, and they probably don't either, but they're humoring me, so just enjoy the show," he advised, grinning. The crowd, already worked up from Duo's last song, cheered happily.

An almost familiar bouncy beat started up, and Trowa frowned, trying to place the song as Duo stepped to the front of the little group. He glanced over his shoulder and demanded, "You guys are going to sing with me, right?" The other four men exchanged looks varying from resignation to amusement to confusion to excitement. Wufei was resigned, Quatre excited, Heero amused, and Trowa confused. Duo shook his head at the whole bunch of them and launched into the first verse alone.

"We've had some fun,
And yes we've had our ups and downs
Been down that rocky road,
But here we are, still around
Thought about someone else,
But neither one could debate
Thought about breaking up,
But now we know it's much too late... "

Trowa finally recognized the song as the chorus approached. Setting aside his pride, he joined Duo at the microphone and started singing.

"We are bound by all the rest
Like the same phone number
All the same friends
And the same address... "

As if he had given some signal by participating, Trowa abruptly realized the other ex-pilots had gathered around the microphone, too. They had to throw arms over one another's shoulders and huddle tightly for all of them to get close to the microphone, and laughter and nerves reduced their little chorus to a discordant caterwauling, but... they were having fun.

"Yes, it's true,
I'm happy to be stuck with you
Yes, it's true,
I'm happy to be stuck with you
Because I can see
That you're happy to be stuck with me... "

Caught up in the enthusiasm with which the five men were attacking the song, the audience of Preventers cheered along despite the horrible noise coming from the speakers. Trowa found he didn't care how bad they sounded. He was surrounded by his friends, laughing and smiling... they were together on Christmas, happy and healthy and making complete fools of themselves. He dimly recalled writing about this song in his journal a long time ago, but he hadn't understood it then. Standing here now with his arm draped around Duo and someone else's arm wrapped around his waist, he realized he was happy to be stuck with them.

His weird, crazy friends. He kissed Duo's cheek lightly and launched into the next verse.

"We've had our doubts,
But we never took them seriously
And we've had our ins and outs,
But that's the way it's supposed to be
Thought about giving up,
But we could never stay away
Thought about breaking up,
But now we know it's much too late
And it's no great mystery
If we change our minds
Eventually, it's back to you and me... "

What a night. We didn't get back here until almost eleven, and now it's nearly midnight. Duo and I opened our presents when we got back. I got a nice dark green shirt (apparently Duo likes to play dress up with his boyfriends), a very old book of Dorothy Parker poems (my favorite how did he know that?), a few other odds and ends... and a small bound diary, with a lock on the cover. He said he picked it up during lunch today for a gag. I opened it up and found a little message on the first page.

"Heero can't hack into this one. But I can pick the lock. Merry Christmas! Love, Duo"

So I'm trying it out.

I'm not too worried about Duo actually picking the little lock. He respects my privacy.

He seemed pleased with his presents. I got him red satin pajamas and a new quote-a-day calendar, and some books and other things.

And I got him a little stuffed lion for his desk.

He loved it.

So anyway, I'm siting here waiting for him to find some mysterious last present he has for me. He's been looking for it for a while now. He hid it in my bedroom for some reason.

It's getting kind of late, though, so maybe I'll go see if I can help him find it.

Trowa set his new diary aside and stood up, stretching as he walked over to the open door of his bedroom. He paused in the doorway in surprise when he saw Duo stretched out on the bed, playing with a red bow.

"Duo?" he asked in confusion.

Duo looked up at him and grinned. "I was beginning to wonder if you were ever going to come and check on me," he said.

Trowa cocked his head. "I thought you were looking for my present," he said slowly.

"Found it," Duo informed him brightly.

"Well... where is it?" Trowa asked, stepping into the room and over to the bed. Duo sat up as Trowa sat down. They faced each other, Duo smiling brightly, Trowa grinning hesitantly back.

"Well, before I give it to you, I just want you to know that it's completely returnable, if you don't like it, or... it doesn't... fit, or anything," Duo stated firmly.

Trowa just waited, wondering at that little speech.

"Okay," Duo said nervously. He pulled the paper backing off the little sticky pad on the bow, and stuck it on his head. "Merry Christmas," he said, smiling uncertainly.

Trowa stared at him in surprise for a moment.

"This was a much better idea in my head," Duo decided, blushing slightly and reaching up to pull off the bow.

"Hey," Trowa said, grabbing the shorter man's wrist before he could remove the ribbon. Duo looked at him with wide eyes. Trowa frowned reproachfully. "You're my present. That means I get to unwrap you," Trowa declared, smiling slightly.

Duo grinned widely in reply, letting his hand fall back to his side as Trowa released it.

"And I like to unwrap my presents... carefully," Trowa continued softly, leaning in and slowly beginning to unbutton Duo's shirt. As he parted the buttons, he pulled the fabric aside and gently kissed Duo's warm skin.

Duo shivered at the contact, and murmured softly, "Come on, Tro, you're killing me here."

"Hmm... not yet," Trowa replied, tugging the shirt out of Duo's pants and slipping it off his shoulders. "But I'll get to that," he promised, leaning forward to bite gently at the base of Duo's neck. Duo rolled his head back, exposing his throat completely, but Trowa pulled back again, concentrating on removing Duo's belt and opening his pants. "My, my," he murmured as he drew the zipper down to the accompaniment of Duo's moans, "batteries included, I see."

"Energizers," Duo assured him breathlessly, as Trowa tried to work his pants off without brushing too much against the hard bulge in Duo's boxer shorts. "I can go all night," Duo purred, suddenly thrusting his hips forward and pressing himself hard against Trowa's hand.

"Plenty of time to take things slow, then," Trowa murmured, pulling his hand away and taking advantage of Duo's position to work the pants lower.

Duo grunted in irritation and collapsed backwards on the bed. "You can just rip the wrapping off, you know," he prompted Trowa.

"I like to take my time," Trowa assured him. "Savor the experience."

"You're gonna savor a beating if you don't hurry it up," Duo growled.

"Patience is a virtue," Trowa reminded him piously.

Duo laughed aloud. "Well, I'm better known for my vices than my virtues," he pointed out. "Vices are more fun," he added, raising his head to smirk at Trowa suggestively.

Trowa looked up the expanse of unwrapped Duo, and with a sigh, gave up the fight. He all but tore off Duo's boxers and his own clothes, then fell into the American's waiting arms, kissing Duo passionately, almost hard enough to bruise as their bodies rubbed against one another, burning with a passion that couldn't be denied much longer.

It went much too fast, all in a blur, but it was still wonderful. Duo wrapped him in warmth and gentle caresses, and Trowa covered the American's smooth skin with kisses. It didn't take either of them long to find their release, and then Trowa was hovering above Duo, supported by arms that trembled with fatigue as he stared raptly into the familiar handsome face.

Duo stared back up at Trowa, violet eyes soft and warm as he smiled, a sweet, almost innocent smile with just a hint of Duo's trademark wicked grin.

"God, Trowa... I love you," Duo murmured softly in amazement.

Trowa felt an answering smile on his own lips. Duo made a soft noise at the sight, his eyes misting over. "I love you, too," Trowa assured him. "I've... never been so happy," he admitted, slightly surprised to realize it.

"Good. That's what I wanted. I wanted to make you happy," Duo whispered.

Trowa leaned down and kissed Duo softly. "And you? Are you happy, Duo?" he murmured against Duo's mouth.

"I'm... ecstatic," Duo informed him quietly.

"Good," Trowa murmured. "So you had a nice Christmas?"

"Best one ever," Duo agreed.

"So far," Trowa corrected with a smile. He reached out and shut off the light, then lowered himself beside Duo.

"I love you."

"I love you, too."

Much later, Trowa lay in bed with Duo curled against his chest, asleep. Trowa stared out the small window. For once, he'd left the blinds up and he could see the streetlight outside. He thought back over the events of the past weeks, and how much had changed, for him, and the people around him. Some changes were subtle, others... were not. But all of the changes, they had weathered together. The five of them.

Me and my crazy weird friends. My wonderful friends. My... my family, Trowa thought to himself, smiling gently. I am happy to be stuck with them. I don't know what I'd do without them. What I'd do... without you, he thought, looking down at Duo's sleeping face. But I don't have to find out, do I?

He brushed a lock of hair off Duo's forehead and looked out the window again. A soft snow glittered in the light of the streetlamp.

I'm a lucky man.

I love my life.

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