By: BleedToBlue
see part 1 for notes, warnings

Coin Operated Boy + Part 2

Things Change.

It's Monday again, funny how it rolls around, funny how suddenly Mondays are not so hideous. My laundry is done for a change and there's food in the fridge. Life with Heero is different, better. Work is still boring, paperwork is still multiplying in my in-box but at least we have a mission. No, sorry. I have a mission. We have a case.

My mission objective is hard at work doing research for our new case. Heero is sitting at his desk and no surprise, is tapping away on his computer. I never noticed before how Heero tilts his head a bit when he's working on something. His eyes are focused on the screen and as I watch they narrow and widen ever so minutely. Heero's eyes are blue, very blue, and very intense. He suddenly flicks his eyes at me and I notice they soften just a bit. I wonder if they've always done that.

"Why are you staring at me, Duo?" Heero looks surprised, like he never caught me staring at him before. Maybe he hadn't, Heero watching is part of my new mission. It's turning out to be a pleasant part, Heero is very easy on the eyes. Heero is a handsome man; I knew that, I guess I'd never thought about it. Heero was my friend and you didn't look at friends like that, right?

"I like looking at you, Heero." I answer with a smile. He blinks; I don't think he was expecting that. "How's the research coming?" I add so that he doesn't have too much time to think about me looking at him. He switches back to thoughts of work and we discuss crime and criminals and the moment is forgotten. Later I notice him looking at me like he's seeing something unexpected but welcome. I keep my face blank but inside I'm smiling.

Our new case is pretty routine. Someone is selling drugs and using the money to finance what may be a new terrorist group. Not unusual but the scope is pretty big and it appears that it's been successfully hidden for sometime. Which smells like some one in power has helped cover it up. So it's a job for the Preventers. Right now we're just involved in research, Heero's doing his computer voodoo. My job is to look for how they are bringing the stuff in, running checks on shipping logs; boring, routine stuff that leaves me lots of time for my mission. Mission Heero.

It's true that Heero is usually the one with the mission and maybe it would be more correct to say my mission is to create one for Heero. That mission will be Loving Duo. It won't be hard; I think he already does love me, correction I think he's in love with me. He just doesn't know it. I want him to know, I want Heero to love me, be in love with me. The thought of a focused, mission-oriented Heero, when I'm the mission is...intimidating, exhilarating, intoxicating. All that intensity, all of the intellect, the desire for perfection.... all for me. I suddenly feel giddy. Heero never does anything half way. I wonder what sort of lover Heero will be?

"Do you feel alright? Your face is awfully red." Heero looks concerned. I feel my face get hotter; I'm embarrassed, caught thinking hentai thoughts about Heero. I'm glad he can't read my mind.

"I'm fine, I uh, I need, uh air." I'm stammering and stuttering like a fool because I had a sudden vision of Heero focusing those intense blue eyes on me and leaning down to kiss me. I see Heero's lips, slightly open, just the hint of his tongue. A shot of Heero's very capable hands moving over my body; sliding down my skin follows. I look at Heero. I grab some files off my desk and practically run out of the office to the men's room, hoping Heero didn't notice what I was trying to cover with my manila folders. I hide in a stall and think about cold showers, filling out forms in triplicate, Relena naked. That always helps.

Back at the apartment I have my mind firmly on my plan. I cook something Heero likes for dinner and it's his turn to do the dishes but I offer to dry. We stand together in the kitchen, not talking but it's the nice kind of silence. I dry the last dish and put it away. Heero is leaning against the sink and watching me. I raise my arms and stretch, I put a little extra into it because Heero is looking at me. His expression is ...attentive. He's looking at me like he hasn't quite seen me before. I do not smirk, at least not on the outside.

I grab Heero's arm and pull him into the living room to watch a movie. We flop on the couch and I lean on Heero like always. I snuggle against him and he goes very still, I wait and he relaxes against me. We watch the movie; it's an old horror flick. We make fun of the dialogue and I fall asleep before it's over, as usual. As I drift off I feel Heero's arm settle softly around my shoulders. I think Heero is starting to notice.

+

"Who is that man and what have you done with the real Heero?" Quatre is hugging me hello and whispering fiercely into my ear. Heero greeted both Quatre and Trowa with welcoming hugs and even kissed Quatre on the cheek. Trowa is still standing there blinking at a smiling Heero. WeFei was even more shocked earlier, while Sally grinned and winked at me. We're all together for WuFei's and Sally's wedding. It's being held at a nice hotel in the city and we're all staying there. They are seeing the new and more affectionate Heero, the Heero who has decided that hugs and kisses between friends are a good thing. I think so, too.

"It's nice isn't it?" I answer Quatre blandly. "Heero looks great in that shirt, doesn't he? Wait until you see him in his tux." Quatre's attention is easily shifted by fashion thoughts. "Trowa looks wonderful, too." If clothes didn't distract him it was a cinch that looking at Trowa and imagining him in a tux would get his mind off Heero. Quatre's eyes run over Trowa and I laugh.

Heero is relaxed and almost social. He's always been most comfortable around his fellow pilots but over the last few months he's changed. Quatre and I have always been physical, touchers, huggers, kissers. I've always included Heero in this but he was stiff, uncomfortable. Lately he seems to enjoy it, maybe even invite it. Our friends seem very aware of the difference. When Heero comes to stand next to me, casually placing an arm over my shoulders, I think Quatre's eyes are going to fall out of his head. After that they all watch us closely, I see the wheels turn in their heads.

Trowa and Heero are making plans for later on and they exchange room numbers. I wait for Quatre to realize that Heero and I are sharing a room. We have two beds but he doesn't know that yet. Trowa doesn't make any sign that he is surprised but Q's eyes widen for a moment when it hits him. I know they will all discuss what it might mean when we are not there. It makes perfect sense for us to share; it was Heero's suggestion. It made me smile when he said he'd book a room for 'us'.

We are having a practice run for the wedding. WuFei and Sally are finally tying the knot and all four of us are standing up for WuFei. Heero is actually the best man; Tro, Q, and I are groomsmen. Sally teases she had to beat off bridesmaids' volunteers with a stick when they found out the Gundam boys were in the wedding party. Lady Une overhears, snorts in disgust and says Sally had to bribe her bridesmaids' because no woman wants to stand next to such pretty boys.

Lady Une is also looking at Heero and me in a way that makes me think I'll be seeing the inside of her office before long. Preventers' have rules about partners; but I'll let Heero handle that, if it becomes necessary. The office gossip must be spreading.

It's been a little over three months since Heero and I went to visit Quatre and I had my vision of how life could be. My plan is coming along quite nicely thank you. If Heero wasn't in love with me before I'm pretty sure he is now. And if the look in his eye is any indication he's definitely thinking about me in 'that kind of way.' I'm just not sure if it's kicked over into Heero's conscious mind. I think that here, with our friends and love in the air is when Heero and I are going to have a little talk. A talk about love.

The last few months with Heero have been great. Heero seems really happy. We spend a lot of time together. If it were any other two people I'd say we were dating but mostly it's me getting Heero adjusted to the idea of us being together. People at work are starting to speculate. Heero is oblivious to it all but I notice. After this weekend maybe even Heero will notice. Our friends certainly are beginning to.

+ Heero has noticed that I'm not going out. I don't realize it until something happens at work. A guy who'd been giving me a bit of a rush before I started seeing the bastard is asking me out again. For coffee, or drinks, or a movie or something, he persists, one of those who doesn't take 'no' well. I turn him down. I wasn't interested before, not interested now.

He comes into my office when Heero is in a meeting with Lady Une. I'm sitting down at the computer when suddenly this guy is leaning over me, smirking and he's just way too close. I'm counting to ten because I don't want to lose my temper and cause a scene when suddenly he disappears and I hear a thud and a growl. Heero is back from his meeting and has handled it. I think that's when people at the office started to get ideas.

The dust has settled and the bodies cleared away, Heero is staring at his computer screen and looking stormy. I think he's waiting for me to yell at him.

"You know, Heero," I say calmly, "I could have handled that guy." Heero's face gets dark. "But thanks for taking care of him." Heero's face shifts into sunlight. I wait for the 'hn.' It doesn't come.

"I thought he was trying to kiss you." He blurts out, still not looking at me. "Did you want him too?" Oh, Heero. The thunderclouds are back.

"No, Heero, I don't want him to kiss me." I see Heero breathe and the look on his face takes my breath.

"Good. It's inappropriate at the office." Heero is worried about my virtue. I feel...I feel.....nice. Heero's concern makes me feel...loved. "Duo, I noticed you haven't been...seeing anyone, you don't go out on dates anymore." Heero is looking uncomfortable.

"Are you trying to get rid of me, Yuy?" I ask in a light tone. "I'm happy with the friends I have." Heero just blinks and doesn't have anything else to say. It's a good moment. Heero doesn't talk about it anymore but later at home he asks me what I'd like to do this weekend. When we sit down to watch movies I get an awkward hug and later a shy good night kiss on the cheek. I feel that kiss for a very long time. Somehow it means more than the most passionate kiss I ever received from any lover.

+

I'm sure Quatre and Trowa have heard rumors because the Preventers are a small, tight group. WuFei and Sally will have told them if nothing else. I'm waiting for someone with less tact that Quatre *coughWuFeicough* to bring it up and at the rehearsal dinner I'm rewarded for my patience. "Maxwell, what is this nonsense that I hear about you and Yuy dating?"

I smile and pretend ignorance, which is easy because WuFei is convinced of my idiocy. "Where did you hear that, Wuffie?" Make him mad and distract him.

"Duo." Uh, oh, first names. There is an implied threat in his tone and a steely look on his face, which suddenly softens, and I am caught off guard. "Duo, are you and Heero a couple?" Never underestimate WuFei; he goes right for the jugular.

"We aren't dating, we aren't sleeping together." I answer truthfully, hoping the mention of 'sleeping together' will shock WuFei into forgetting what he wants me to tell him.

It doesn't work. WuFei has hold of my arm and leans in close speaking quietly into my ear. "Heero is not like your other conquests, you can't just toss him aside when you are done." WuFei is intense. "I don't want either of you to get hurt." Oh, 'Fei, you like me, you really like me.

"Heero is my best friend, I would never hurt him." I look in 'Fei's eyes. "On my honor." WuFei lets go of my arm. I am left blinking in surprise as WuFei walks away. But I have to think about what he said. Heero is different; it's not a game with Heero. I think about what WuFei called my 'conquests' I never told those people I loved them. I didn't love them. I don't feel really well right now.

+

The rehearsal goes badly, there were children involved, evidently the ring bearer and the flower girl don't get along. I am told that having trouble at the rehearsal is a good thing. I don't pretend to understand weddings. The tux fittings are acceptable, I look good in black and Heero looks good in anything. There's to be a small bachelor party for WuFei tonight but it's not going to be one of those wild, drunken things with skimpily clad women. WuFei would simply die, and yes, it's tempting but I'm not going to do it. I'm hoping no one else does either 'cause I'd get blamed. There hasn't been time for Q to corner me and have a heart-to-heart but I'm just waiting for it.

We go back to our room. Heero is sitting on his bed waiting for me. I'm in the bathroom changing for dinner with the guys. There's a knock, Heero answers the door and it's Quatre. Heero picks up his jacket and says he'll meet us in the bar. I don't know why he's running, must be the look on Q's face. I pick up a brush and start smoothing out my hair. Quatre moves in behind me, takes the brush from my hand, and brushes quietly for a few moments. I'm just watching him in the mirror, waiting for it; I enjoy the sensation of having someone I trust touch my hair. Quatre puts the brush down and starts braiding. It's not like Quat to take so long getting to the point. He comes to the end of my braid, and I hand him a hair band.

"Thanks, Q." I offer. He fingers the end of my braid and then hands it back solemnly. "It's not like you to be at a loss for words. Are you mad about something?" I ask, the lengthy silence has unnerved me. Quatre finally looks at me and I only see concern on his face.

"I'm worried about you. I'm worried about Heero." At least he hasn't asked me any questions I can't answer.

"I think Heero is really happy. I'm happy. What's wrong with that." Quatre's face smoothes out but he doesn't smile.

"Heero loves you, he has for a long time." Being proved right is somehow unsettling. I feel butterflies in my stomach.

Quatre continues, "Heero's happy right now, but what will he do when you aren't there anymore. I know you care about Heero but I don't know exactly what you feel for him." Quatre takes a deep breath, " Heero may take a while to figure out how he feels but he's not stupid, Duo. And he deserves someone who loves him as much as he loves them. Everyone does." I don't know what to say.

I want to reassure Quatre. I want to tell him to mind his own business. I want to ask him if I don't deserve to be loved, to be happy the way he is. I want to say 'I love Heero.' I don't want it to be a lie. So I say the only thing I can. "I promise, I won't hurt Heero." Quatre doesn't seem to be reassured.

"If you aren't in love with him, eventually he will get hurt. Duo, I want..." The phone rings and I rush to answer it. It's Trowa, WuFei is downstairs and they are waiting for us. I can tell Quatre isn't satisfied but we have to leave. For now I've escaped. Well, I've escaped from Quatre; it's not so easy to escape from myself. What if Quatre is right?

+

WuFei's bachelor party is dinner at a nice restaurant in a private room, just the five of us. We tease WuFei about Sally but not too much. WuFei is pleased and happy and in love. I know about his first marriage and imagine it was much different. He mourned Meiran for a long time, he fought in her name, he deserves happiness now. I am happy for him, we all are. And we all like Sally. After dinner over coffee we reminisce a bit about funny things that happened when we stayed in safe houses, odd things that we found difficult or amusing after the war, we talk about how normal our lives sometimes seem. It's good to be here with them.

Heero, WuFei and Quatre start discussing Preventers, politics and some new law or other. I walk across to a window that looks out over the city. We are several stories up and it is a beautiful view. Trowa comes to stand beside me. I know what's coming.

"How are things these days, Duo?" Trowa asks and I think he means, 'how is Heero and what-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are-doing?' Because that's basically what WuFei and Quatre have asked, in their own way of course.

"I'm fine. Thanks for asking." I say, a little tired of our friends' concern. I'm starting to feel a wee bit touchy about it. A little voice in my head asks if I'm feeling guilty. I don't answer.

"Heero seems...good." Trowa adds. "Happy." He looks out the window and takes a sip of the drink in his hand. I wish I had a drink but don't want to walk away to get one. I don't want Trowa to think I'm running away. Running and hiding don't seem like an option right now. I wonder why I feel so defensive. I'm not hurting anyone; I'm not going to hurt anyone. This is as much for Heero as for me. I realize Trowa is watching my face like he can read the internal dialogue I'm having.

"Yes, Heero is good. Are you going to warn me off too?" I could just bite my tongue. But the words are already out. Trowa looks at me as if he doesn't understand.

"Why would I do that, Duo? You're happy, Heero is happy. Why would I want to interfere?" Trowa seems genuinely puzzled. I feel relieved. I realize I'm smiling so hard my face hurts.

"WuFei and Quatre have already read me the riot act. They seem to think Heero needs protection from me." I notice how resentful I sound. I'm not sure where it's coming from. "They seem to think I'm using Heero, that being around me is bad for him."

"You and Heero are able to decide things for yourselves. They are concerned about their two good friends. We all want you to be happy." Trowa looks over at Quatre who is still engaged in his conversation. I notice Heero is looking in our direction.

"I am happy." I say fiercely. It comes out sounding not very happy. What does that word mean anyway. Why is it so important? I want not to feel empty. I want not to feel alone. I want someone who cares about me, someone who won't leave. I suddenly notice that Trowa has moved away and is blocking Quatre's and Wufei's view and that Heero is standing next to me with a worried look on his face, with concern in his eyes. Concern for me, concern and yes, love. I suddenly relax and smile, and I don't feel alone.

Later in the room we are lying in the dark, I'm thinking about how it felt to see that look on Heero's face, how it made me feel, warm and sort of overwhelmed. I'm trying not to think about the body of Heero Yuy lying just across the narrow space between our beds. I can hear his soft even breathing, I'm not sure if he's asleep. I can almost imagine I feel the heat from his body. For just a moment I contemplate getting up and sliding into bed with Heero, lying against him in the dark, feeling his warmth, the way his chest rises and falls, letting his breath ghost over my skin. I fall asleep listening to the comforting sound of Heero breathing.

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