Author: BleedToBlue
Pairing: 6x2, 3x4, 1xR, 5+2
Rating: R-ish, m/m implied
A/N: Follow up to Just A Wedding

The Entropy of Memory + Chapter 1

"Duo, it's so good to see you." Quatre grinned happily, embracing Duo in a quick hug, then stepped back, looked him up and down appraisingly.

"You look like hell," he added in a critical tone, noting the dark circles under Duo's eyes.

"Thanks, Q. Good to see you, too." Duo replied, letting sarcasm shade his voice. "I'm just tired, haven't been getting enough sleep."

Quatre replied with a cheery question, in a hopeful tone of voice. "Someone keeping you up at night?"

"Something. I've been busy, with work and stuff, catching up since I've been back." Duo huffed. He didn't think he'd mention how busy he'd been avoiding a certain person, the same person that figured in his nightly dreams, dreams he stayed awake to avoid.

It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Quatre the whole ugly story. Father Maxwell had always said confession was good for the soul. How could he tell Quatre he'd had a one-night stand with Zechs and then run away, hadn't been man enough to face him?

"Too bad." Quatre pretended to frown. "I thought maybe you and Justin..." His voice trailed off suggestively. Duo thought that if Quatre waggled his eyebrows at him he was going to strangle him, friend or no.

"Quatre, drop it." They hadn't even made it to their table yet. Duo sighed. "I've only just got back."

Duo looked forward to their lunches; sometimes with more enthusiasm than other times. Today it was with a bit less, even though he'd not seen Quatre for weeks. He tossed his Preventer's jacket on the back of the chair. This was probably going to be one of those times when he should have had sudden, urgent business to take care of.

Well, he thought as they were seated, he could run and he could hide but eventually Quatre would catch up with him, might as well get it over with. Quatre had that look in his eye.

"Soooo?" Duo looked blankly at Quatre. He wasn't going to make it easy.

"So...what?" Duo knew ‘what' but he wasn't ready to talk about it.

"So, how was your date with Justin?" Quatre wasn't going to waste anytime.

"Oh, well, it was….." Duo's voice trailed off as he realized he was about to tell a lie.

"I had to cancel. Something came up at work." Yeah, he'd had a sudden, urgent need to finish a report that wasn't due for another two weeks. Quatre didn't look entirely pleased.

"Duo." Quatre drew his name out into several syllables. Duo tried not to flinch at the disappointed tone and the raised eyebrow.

"Our schedules didnt't mesh. I've been really busy since I got back." Duo knew he was digging himself in deeper; might as well go for honesty.

"Look, Quatre, it's not that I don't appreciate it." Duo said, "I'm just not interested right now."

'And not ever going to be,' Duo added in his head. It wasn't that the guys Quatre introduced him to weren't great guys; they were, they just weren't what he was looking for; not that he was looking for anyone. Quatre was on a mission though.

"Duo, you have to move on." Yes, move on, get over it, get on with it. He'd heard this before. Quatre should have a sign on his desk that read "Matchmaker and Dispenser of Advice."

Duo suspected Quatre had someone on his staff tasked with the job of finding suitable dates for Duo Maxwell. That would be an interesting job description; he idly wondered if there'd be a big bonus for finding one that lasted more than three dates? Duo couldn't remember anyone that lasted longer than a cup of coffee. Quatre looked fluffy but he was tenacious, even in the face of so many failures he just kept on.

There was the blatant matchmaking and then there was the subtle stuff. "Let's have lunch, Duo." And someone would stop by the table to 'just say hello to Quatre' and be introduced.

"Stop by my office, Duo, I want you to look at some security ideas," and someone would bring papers in or coffee or..well you get the idea. Duo had no clue where these people came from.

Yes, somewhere, someone on Quatre's payroll had a job description that read "Procurer." And it wasn't just Quatre, although he was by far the worst. How his friends, mostly straight friends, knew so many single gay men Duo had no idea. But Quatre took it to new levels.

The waiter came with their drinks. Tea for Quatre, mineral water for Duo, served with a friendly smile flashed in Duo's direction. Quatre noted the smile and said, rather smugly.

"The waiter thinks you're cute." Duo rolled his eyes at Quatre.

"He just wants a bigger tip, Quatre." Duo grinned as he noticed Quatre's eyes following the waiter making his way through the room.

"Does your boyfriend know how much time you spend ogling other men?" Quatre's lips curled in an evil way that might have been a smile.

"He pointed Justin out to me. Does that answer your question?" Duo shook his head with a mock-sad expression.

"You two need to get a life." Quatre stuck out his tongue at Duo. They were so mature.

"We have one, and when you stop dwelling on the past and get one for yourself we'll leave you alone." Duo tried changing the subject.

"Where is your boyfriend?" Now Quatre looked amused.

"You don't remember?" Duo shook his head, how was he supposed to keep up with Trowa?

"He's in court to testify at that case he and your partner worked on while you were away, ....you do remember your partner don't you? Tall, blond, sexy, hot for you?" Duo stared at the table top.

"Quatre, you promised to stop." Quatre snickered. Duo felt the blood rising in his face. He didn't want to think about Zechs and he really didn't want to talk about him. Quatre saw too much. He was sure Quatre would understand but it was hard to admit what he'd done. He'd used Zechs because he was hurting and now he had to work with him.

"You're blushing. You know you like him, he practically drools over you, you can't tell me he's never asked you out….what's the problem?" Duo was sure it was getting hotter in the restaurant.

"We're partners. He doesn't. And he hasn't." At least not recently Duo thought, and Zechs never would again, not after how Duo had behaved. Duo couldn't let himself think about it.

"Anything more is in your fertile imagination." Duo put what he hoped was a serious, no nonsense look on his face. Quatre was studying Duo carefully, he had a wicked gleam in his eye, and that made Duo very worried about what he was up to.

"Speaking of people you work with....have you heard from Wufei?" Quatre asked. Duo was a bit confused by the apparent change of subject.

"Sure, 'Fei calls when he can, or emails. We've been at opposite sides of the 'sphere." Duo begin to think maybe Quatre was trying to confuse him.

"How is the Dragon? " Quatre's voice was still casual but something about it bothered Duo.

"He says he misses things on Earth." Duo replied. Quatre raised an eyebrow.

"He misses things on Earth. Oh, my. Is that all he said?" Quatre asked.

"Quatre, what are you talking about?" Duo said. Quatre shrugged and for a moment Duo thought the conversation might go somewhere safe, somewhere he could understand; probably too much too hope for, he thought.

"Have you spoken to Heero?" Quatre asked in a more serious tone. That was not what Duo wanted to talk about either. He stifled a groan.

"I just had an email from Heero." Duo answered brightly. He hadn't opened it, hadn't opened any of them. He'd emailed Heero exactly once since the wedding and had no intention of doing it again. Didn't listen to or answer the messages Heero left on his machine, either. Quatre didn't need to know that. He considered, Quatre probably knew already but maybe he didn't. Duo was waiting for another question about Heero so Quatre's next direction caught him off guard.

"You know," Quatre started out casually, a clear danger signal in Duo's mind, alarms were going off. "I heard the most interesting thing from a business associate of mine, about something that happened at Heero's wedding." Duo almost stopped breathing as Quatre continued in a rather conspiratorial tone.

"My friend heard that Zechs was absolutely fascinated by someone he met there. He also mentioned that Zechs was spotted with someone in a dark, quiet corner of the hotel, but his source couldn't see who it was." Duo couldn't quite meet Quatre's eyes, afraid of what he might read there. The more he thought about what happened the more ashamed he was of his behavior.

"I wonder who it could have been? I didn't see him talking to anyone but you. Do you know anything about it?" Quatre continued. Now Duo knew he was blushing.

"I'm not speculating about what Zechs might or might not have been doing at Heero's wedding, or any other time. It's none of my business." Especially since he knew exactly who Zechs had been cozied up with. Quatre was giving him a penetrating look.

Duo added, "I'm his partner, not his mother. I did talk to him, we talked about flying, and about the Preventers. Okay?" That much was true, he reflected.

"So you didn't see Zechs with anyone?" Quatre kept the pressure on.

"Quatre, I wasn't watching Zechs, I'd never even met him before. It was Heero's wedding. I was busy making sure Heero got married."

No, Duo thought, he hadn't been watching Zechs. He'd been too busy trying to avoid Zechs,at first; too busy trying not to be fascinated, attracted; then too busy getting Zechs out of his clothes. He wasn't going to think about it.

"So what did you and Zechs talk about?" Quatre was nothing if not persistent.

"I told you and why are you asking me about Zechs?" Duo snapped back, and Quatre smiled innocently, always a bad sign.

"I don't understand why you …" Quatre started and broke off as Duo interrupted him.

"It's bad idea to get involved with people you work with; even worse if it's your partner" He sipped his water giving himself a chance to get his voice under control. And Zechs wouldn't want anything to do with him now.'And who's fault is that?' the nasty little voice in his head inquired.

"Besides, I'm not interested." Maybe he should have said that first?

"He's not interested." Duo continued while the little voice pointed out, 'He was interested and you ruined it.'

Duo added in a rush, "I'm sure he's seeing someone. Not that I care."

Quatre had the grace not to laugh. But he flipped his menu up in front of his face so that Duo couldn't see the smile. The little voice was not so kind and laughed nastily.

'Yes, do keep telling yourself that, Duo.'

"You're nothing but a gossip, Quatre." Duo sneered as he opened his own menu and decided to ignore Quatre's snicker.

"Are we going to order? I'm starving!" Duo said, hoping to change topics. Quatre didn't answer, when Duo glanced up Quatre had dropped the menu and was looking towards the front of the restaurant, waving at someone behind Duo.

"Oh, good, Trowa's here!" Quatre was smiling, then he added in a fierce tone. "Be nice, now."

Duo wondered why he wouldn't be nice to Trowa. After all Trowa never tried to fix him up or gave him unneeded advice.

‘Damn,' Duo realized, too late, that it could only mean one thing. He'd managed to avoid seeing Zechs since he'd returned and now he was going to have to have lunch with him. Suddenly he didn't feel so hungry.

"Duo." Quatre said, pulling Duo out of his thoughts. "Don't forget about the cabin!"

"Yeah, sure, Quatre." Duo said, positive he'd figure out what Quatre was talking about later. 'Cabin?'

Quatre had to laugh although it was just a quiet, internal chuckle. Duo looked like some small, furry animal caught in the glare of headlights from an oncoming semi. Duo was almost clueless when it came to anything past friendship. Truly you didn't need to be an empath to know what Duo Maxwell was thinking. Zechs had his work cut out for him.

[ch. 2] [back to BleedToBlues' fic]