Disclaimer: Again, I donít profit from this. I wish I owned them, but I donít. Alas.
Pairing: 1x2x1
Category: AU
Rating: PG
Warnings: Yaoi, lime, very mild language, potential cuteness and (don't choke on this) sappiness.
Spoilers: Not a one.
Note: This is what happens when you like people. They ask you for a fic that you'd never dream of writing on your own. *sigh* Dacia requested this, and the plot is her bunny. I just wrote the darn thing. Can you believe I wrote something even remotely sappy? I can't. And it's right in front of me.
by Blue Soaring

Falling Sideways + Part One

"Great shot, Duo!" Walker called from the sidelines as the basketball flew from Duo's hands and swooshed easily through the net.

The sun shone brightly in the spring sky, coaxing flowers to bloom and trees to blossom. An ancient ponderosa pine tree stood tall on the edge of the basketball court, its bark transformed into a muted golden hue with the passage of time. The younger, leafy trees surrounding it were dwarfed by its sheer height, standing like guards around a monarch.

"YEAH!" Duo shouted, jumping high into the air with his arm raised above his head. His braid flew out behind him in a great arc. "I am the greatest!!" Then he added a little victory dance once his feet were firmly back on the ground.

"Do you think he's delusional?" Quatre wryly asked Trowa. The two were walking over to congratulate the currently dancing boy.

"Definitely," Trowa wisely agreed, absently shoving his stubborn hair out of his eyes.

When they finally reached Duo, he was vigorously trying to get Wufei, his partner in the two-on-two game, to join him in his little dance. Wufei couldn't help but grin as Duo insisted that dancing was not hazardous to one 's health. Winning against Quatre and Trowa in basketball was just too rare to not enjoy.

Walker, a senior at Ascension High, grinned at Duo's antics and watched the group discuss the game. He turned around when he heard Heero's voice behind him.

"Duo won?" Heero asked, halting when he stood side by side with Walker. He had his knapsack slung over a shoulder, his hand resting lightly on the strap.

"Yeah, can't you tell?" Walker responded, jerking a thumb over his shoulder in the group's direction.

Heero nodded.

"They're finished now," Walker continued. "Go haul him off the court so the rest of us can have some game time."

"Excellent game, Quatre," Wufei said diplomatically when the blonde was within earshot.

"Quit it, Wufei. You're as happy as he is that you won."

"Yes, I am," Wufei replied with a smile.

"Man, oh man, that was great," Duo said, taking a deep breath. "Thanks, guys."

"No problem," Trowa said, shrugging. "We needed the practice."

"If you let them defeat you," Heero said, wandering over from the benches, "then you need more than practice."

Quatre made a face. "Thanks a lot, Heero."

Duo snorted. "I think we should be the indignant ones, huh, Wu?"

"I will show you indignant if you keep calling me that, Maxwell," the Chinese student threatened.

"My day just isn't complete if Chang Wufei doesn't threaten my life at least once," Duo sighed.

"Then your days must be very complete, Duo," Trowa put in. "That's the third time he's threatened you today."

"And that's only the ones we know about," Quatre added.

"Alright, that fills my daily quota of abuse. You ready to head home, Heero?" Duo said, turning his attention to the Japanese youth.

"I came to see if you were finished. The exam ended a half an hour ago," Heero said, nodding at the other three in goodbye as he and Duo started walking towards the benches.

"Later, guys!" Duo called out, walking backwards for a few feet and waving goodbye to the others. "So, how was it?" he asked, facing forward again.

"What I expected," came the answer. "Are you ready for the chemistry exam?"

"Uh . . ." Duo said, reaching down and gathering up his belongings. "Yeah, I think. I'll finish up my review this afternoon. Shouldn't be a problem. You coming over? I'll feed you," he added with a wink.

"You mean your mother will feed me." Mrs. Maxwell was an amazing chef, a fact that never failed to escape Heero's consideration.

"Either way, you get fed," Duo said.

"I can review at your house just as well as I can at my own," Heero replied, visions of chicken primavera parading through his mind.

They chatted easily as they walked the short distance to Duo's house, breathing twin sighs of relief when they stepped into the coolness of the front porch. Spring had a way of heating up quickly. Duo kicked off his shoes and bounded into the kitchen, Heero following him at a slower pace, his socked feet making no noise on the clean tiles.

"Hey," Duo said, seeing his parents seated at the small table tucked under the large kitchen window. "We're just getting a drink before we hit the books."

"Sure, Duo," his father replied, not looking up from the stack of papers he was buried in. "Hi, Heero."

"Hello, Mr. Maxwell."

"How was your exam?" Mrs. Maxwell asked.

"Alright," Heero replied, watching Duo go from fridge to cupboard and then back to the fridge again.

"That's good, dear. We're having pizza tonight, are you staying?"

Duo rolled his eyes, shoving a tall glass of something a bright lime color into Heero's hand. "Of course he's staying. All he uses me for is your cooking."

Heero shrugged.

Mrs. Maxwell laughed. "I'll call you when it's ready. Have fun studying," she added with an arch smile.

"Yeah, thanks a lot," Duo said, picking up his hastily dropped knapsack and flying out of the room, all the while muttering under his breath.

Heero gave Mrs. Maxwell a small smile, then turned and dutifully followed Duo as he trudged up the stairs to his bedroom.

"They're just like Pepe Le Pew and that cat he's always chasing," Mrs. Maxwell said, turning to her husband.

"I'm sorry?" Mr. Maxwell said, finally looking up from his work.

"You know, that cartoon," she said with a wave of her hand. "Where the cat runs like mad," she made her fingers scrabble across the table top, "and Pepe just follows along, always just behind her, but never rushing?" she finished, making her fingers do a loping half-run over the table.

"And which one's Pepe?"

"Heero is, of course. Can you see him scrambling and stumbling around?"

"No, I guess not," he replied. "That would be Duo."

"It's so . . . cute," Mrs. Maxwell said, her eyes shining.

"Helen, sometimes, I don't know about you," he said, turning back to his papers. "Just don't tell Heero you compared him to a cartoon skunk. All the cooking in the world wouldn't save you from one of his death glares then."

Mrs. Maxwell laughed again, the light and joyous sound filling the bright kitchen.

+

Dumping his books on the bed, Duo turned to Heero and said, "I'm gonna grab a quick shower first. Quatre was trying to run us into the ground." He started rummaging around in his dresser, grabbing a clean set of clothes.

Heero pushed Duo's books to the side and sat cross-legged on the bed, laying his drink on the nightstand. He dug out the thick chemistry text from amongst his things. "Hilde mentioned meeting her and the others at Scoops' later."

"Yeah?" Duo said, stopping in the doorway. "You up for it?"

Heero shrugged. "Why not?"

"Great! By the way, you're buying," Duo said with a wink. Whirling around, he headed off to the bathroom.

Snorting, Heero turned his attention back to his schoolwork.

+

Scoops had started off life as a small ice cream parlor frequented by the teenage crowd. Five years later, it had morphed into an odd combination of restaurant, dance club and sundae bar. The newer additions were built on, leaving the original parlor untouched. And the town's youth still flocked to it in droves.

"I've gone way beyond stuffed," Duo was saying as he and Heero wandered into the parlor that evening.

"Then I don't need to buy you ice cream."

"Did I say that?" Duo said, grinning. "You're getting me ice cream, Heero Yuy, and you're not getting out of it."

"If it's got anything to do with food," a voice said nearby, "you haven't got a prayer, Heero."

"Hiya, Hilde!" Duo called, craning his neck around until he spotted her through the evening crowd that had already gathered.

She sat in a large booth set against the windows, sipping on a milkshake. Beside her, next to the window, sat Wufei, who was involved in a highly animated discussion with Quatre, who sat across from them. The blonde was smiling as Wufei gestured vehemently with a hand, punctuating his point with a particularly vicious bite to one of his french fries. Trowa sat calmly next to Quatre, watching the exchange with quiet interest.

Hearing Duo's voice, Trowa nudged Quatre in the ribs, making him shuffle over so the others could sit. Heero slid in beside them on the cushioned seat.

"Scoot over, Wufei," Hilde said as she flicked a strand of dark hair out of her eyes. "Make some space."

"S'okay, Hil. Heero's getting back up anyway," Duo said.

Heero's eyebrow winged up.

"Ice cream," the braided boy reminded him.

Letting out a quiet sigh, Heero got to his feet.

"Can I have-"

"A waffle cone with Black Raspberry Cheesecake?" Heero finished for him with the small twist of lips that served as his smile.

"Man, you're too good," Duo said, sliding in behind Heero and taking the place he had just vacated.

"I know," Heero replied and set off in search of ice cream.

"That's so cute," Hilde said, her eyes gone dreamy.

Duo stopped halfway in the process of nabbing a fry from Wufei's plate. "Cute?" he choked.

Wufei pulled his attention away from his discussion with Quatre in time to see Duo's hand hovering above his fries. Slapping Duo's hand away automatically, he said, "What are Yuy and Maxwell doing now?"

Hilde laughed. "See, Duo? I say 'cute', and even Wufei thinks of you guys first."

"Shit, Hil, he owes me five bucks. He's just buying me ice cream to square up. And," Duo added, rolling his eyes, "THAT'S not cute."

"He has a point," Trowa said.

"It's more . . ." Quatre paused, searching for the right word.

"Honorable," Wufei supplied.

"Er . . . yes, thank you, Wufei." Quatre said. "More honorable than cute."

"Well, I think it's cute," Hilde insisted.

"You think what's cute?" Heero asked, returning with two cones full of ice cream. He handed one to Duo and took a quick taste of his own. "There was no Black Raspberry. That's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough."

"Mmmmm, cookie dough. Thanks, buddy!" Duo said, swiping his tongue across the top of his cone.

Wufei moved further inside the booth, making room for Heero to sit. The shorthaired boy settled comfortably next to Hilde, still looking questioningly at her.

"Your buying Duo ice cream," Quatre said, swiping one of Wufei's fries.

"Is nothing sacred?" Wufei suddenly asked. "These are MY french fries," he said, pointing to his plate. "Mine."

"Yes, they are," Trowa agreed, nimbly snatching another. "And they're very good."

"You're as bad as Maxwell," Wufei grumbled, pulling his plate protectively closer to himself.

"I owed him," Heero said simply.

"That's what I told them," Duo said, exasperated.

"Well, Duo, it's just logical," Quatre said, abandoning his theft of Wufei's fries to munch on his own banana split, "You guys are always together."

"Did you cover the concept of 'friends' in kindergarten, Q?" Duo said archly. "We've been friends since . . . since . . . geez, I think since we were born." Duo's face took on a comic, slightly puzzled look.

"I think the connection is prenatal," Wufei snorted.

"Ha, ha ha, Wu," Duo said, somehow managing to make a sour face and eat his ice cream at the same time.

"WuFEI," the Chinese boy responded automatically.

"Are we discussing Heero and Duo?" Relena said, strolling over.

"Again?" Dorothy added, appearing beside the honey blonde girl.

"Aren't you guys sick of this subject by now?" Duo said, affecting a slightly mournful tone.

"But we simply adore discussing your love life with Heero," Dorothy said, snagging a chair from a nearby table and indicating that Relena should do the same.

"Look, we don't have a freaking love life, Dorothy," Duo said, blowing out an explosive breath of air. "We're good friends, okay?"

"Heero doesn't protest nearly as much as you do," Relena said, turning towards the cobalt-eyed boy.

"Duo protests enough for the both of us," Heero said.

"True," Trowa agreed.

"Loudly, too," Wufei added.

"I give up," Duo said, throwing one hand into the air. "And you're no help, Heero," he accused, frowning.

Heero looked unaffected by Duo's rising ire. "They never listen, regardless," he said, shrugging. "Your ice cream is melting." He reached for a napkin.

"Ack!" Duo exclaimed, suddenly feeling the cold trail of melting ice cream oozing down his hand. He raised his arm and licked the stickiness away, making a small slurping sound. Then his tongue darted out again to catch the next bit before it could fall off the cone.

Heero blinked, then shrugged and handed the napkin to Hilde, who stared at it for a few minutes before handing it to Wufei.

"Anyway," Duo said, attempting to change the subject, "what's everyone's plans for spring break?"

"He's trying to change the subject," Trowa said to no one in particular.

"We'll let him, just this once," Relena said, smiling.

+

[cont]