Falling Sideways + Part 1 (cont)

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Leaving the bustle of Scoops behind, Heero and Duo slowly made their way back home. The evening had cooled off, a small breeze ruffling Heero's perpetually messy hair.

"Doesn't that bug you AT ALL?" Duo demanded, kicking viciously at an unoffending rock and sending it flying.

"Yes," Heero admitted. "It annoys me very much."

"Then why don't you SAY something?"

"It never deters them," Heero said, tipping his head back and staring up at the starry sky.

"Maybe it would if you agreed with me for once," Duo huffed.

"Maybe, but I doubt it."

"Yeah, you're probably right."

"I always am," Heero said with a perfectly straight face.

"Uh huh, sure you are. I just let you think that," Duo replied, grinning. He tucked his hands into the pockets of his jeans.

Heero gave him a small shrug. "If it makes you feel better."

They finally arrived at the fork in the road that marked where they parted ways. Duo reached up and scratched the back of his neck, then stretched.

"Well, Heero, I'll catch you tomorrow at lunch," he said.

"I have to get my literature paper after class, before I meet you for lunch," Heero replied.

"I'll save a spot for you at a table then. Wouldn't want you to miss Friday 's Lunch Surprise," Duo added with a snicker.

Heero gave him his characteristic half smile. "See you then."

"Later, Heero," Duo said, smiling. He waved once, then turned and headed down the road that would bring him home.

+

Noon on Friday found Duo sitting in the lunch room of his school, absently shoveling fries into his mouth. Relena plunked her tray down on the table, then seated herself across from him.

"Duo, where's Heero? I haven't seen him all morning," she said, pushing open the small carton of milk on her tray.

Swallowing a mouthful of drink, Duo said, "He said he was picking up a paper from one of his classes." Lifting his wrist, he glanced at his watch. "Gonna miss lunch if he doesn't hurry up, though."

"You never said yesterday what you two were doing for the break," Relena said.

Quatre showed up at Duo's elbow then, literally flopping into a chair. His head fell forward onto the table, cradled by his arms.

"I don't like chemistry," came his muffled voice.

"Q?" Duo said, his eyebrows shooting up as he poked the other boy in the arm.

The blonde turned his head just enough so that one blue eye peeked out from under the fringe of his hair. "That was the worst exam so far this year."

"Oh, man, don't tell me that," Duo moaned. "If you found it hard, it's gonna be brutal."

"You'll do fine, Quatre," Relena said, offering him a cookie from her tray. "You always do."

"Thank you," Quatre said automatically, gratefully taking a bite of the cookie. "I really need a long weekend."

Duo glanced at his watch again. "I'm gonna grab a bite for Heero, he's running really late."

"Okay, Duo," Quatre said as the braided boy got to his feet and headed towards the front of the cafeteria.

"Hey, Pagan," Duo said, waving at the head chef once he was close enough.

"Duo, hello!" Pagan smiled, his bushy eyebrows rising just a little. "Where 's Heero today?" he asked, turning off the heat lamps above the now empty racks.

"Running late in class," Duo said. "Can I bug you for a little something for him? I think he's going to miss lunch."

"Of course," Pagan said, reaching down and emerging with a Ziploc container. "What do you think he'd like?"

"Knowing Heero, a bit of the Chef's Salad would be great."

"He's very lucky to have you," Pagan said, filling the container with salad and wrapping a fork up in a napkin. "Most boyfriends aren't that considerate." He handed Duo the container and napkin with a smile.

Duo sighed inwardly. "Nope," he agreed, foregoing to remind the aging cook yet again that he and Heero were nothing more than very good friends. Grabbing a small packet of salad dressing, he made his way slowly back to the table.

+

"Thank you, Mr. Dermaile," Heero said on his way out the classroom door. He glanced over at the clock on the other side of the hallway. If he hurried, he might be able to get at least something from the cafeteria before it closed.

Right outside the large double doors, he ran into Quatre, Relena and Duo, who were on their way out. Duo waved goodbye to his friends, then walked over to meet Heero.

"Hey, Heero," Duo said in a slightly subdued voice. "Grabbed you a salad, figured you'd be hungry."

Heero smiled his little smile and gratefully took the salad Duo offered him. "I'm sorry I missed meeting you at lunch."

"S'okay, man." Duo jerked his head towards a clear space near the wall. "You wanna sit down to eat that?"

Heero nodded, moving over to where Duo had indicated. He sat down on the floor and poured the dressing over his lunch. Duo flopped against the wall, then slid down beside him, drawing his knees up and resting his head on them.

"I heard the chem test was nasty," the braided boy said, watching Heero eat.

"Not really," Heero said between mouthfuls. "Are you worried?"

"Naw, guess not."

"Is there something wrong, Duo?"

"I asked Pagan for your lunch," Duo said, letting his eyes half close.

Heero nodded, understanding now. "He said the same thing to me last week."

"I think we should make tee shirts," Duo grumbled. "Mine would say 'No, I am not Heero Yuy's BOYFRIEND'. Same thing for yours, just stick my name in there instead."

Heero snickered softy, imagining what it would be like walking around wearing that. "Relena would say we were protesting too much."

"I'm about to have a freakin' rally, Heero," Duo snorted.

"Carrot?" Heero said, offering his friend a bit of salad.

"Thanks," Duo said, crunching through the vegetable.

"Is that them?" a female voice whispered nearby.

"Oh, yeah!" another one answered loudly. A chorus of shushes followed her outburst. She giggled, trying to cover her laughter with a hand.

"Oh my GOD," the first female said. "They're gorgeous!"

"Would you keep it down, Sylvie?" a third voice chimed in.

"Sorry," the first girl, Sylvie, said, not sounding all that apologetic.

"She's right, though," the second girl said. "Together, they look even better! Just THINK about it."

Duo groaned loudly.

Heero looked up, leveling a cold glare at the threesome. One visibly paled, while the other two quickly busied themselves with their books.

"That's it, I'm going to class," Duo said, getting up off the floor and brushing off his jeans.

Moving his gaze back to the longhaired boy, Heero nodded. "Good luck on your exam."

"Sure thing. Later." Duo slung his bookbag over his shoulder and made his way passed the trio of girls.

The girl named Sylvie gave Duo a small smile but only got a curt nod in return. Discouraged, she glanced back at Heero, who was finishing off the remainder of his lunch. The dark glare she received from him made her physically shrink away and quickly avert her eyes.

+

"Oh, hello Heero!" Mrs. Yuy called, seeing the boys walking up the driveway once classes were finished for the day. "Hi, Duo, honey. How was your day?"

"Not so bad," Duo replied, smiling.

"The exam was fairly easy," Heero added.

"Good, good. Go on inside, there's some Pepsi in the fridge. And I think Odin brought home some junk food for the weekend," she said, adjusting her purse strap on her shoulder.

"Man, I totally forgot it was Friday! Thanks, Mrs. Yuy," Duo said, going in the front door ahead of Heero.

"See you when you get back," Heero said to his mother, helping her balance the laptop case and pile of folders she was carrying. The shorthaired boy moved to follow Duo once she had everything safely in the car.

"One moment, Heero," she said, closing the back door. "There's a dance party at Scoops tomorrow. You should take Duo, he likes that sort of thing." A knowing smile creased her lips.

Heero rolled his eyes a little, a gesture more likely to come from Duo than from him. "We're friends, Mother," he said, his expression settling back into his usual glare.

"Oh, I know, I know, dear," Mrs. Yuy replied, patting him on the shoulder and getting into the car. She gave Heero the once over, then said, "You know, you could pick up some new jeans or something for the party. You look good in black. What about that blue shirt you have?"

"I'll see you when you get back," Heero said again, giving her a quick peck on the cheek.

"I'll be home by Monday. When was the last time you and Duo went on a real date, anyway?"

Heero resisted the urge to scream and instead calmly walked back to the front door, waving goodbye as she backed out the driveway.

Duo poked his head out the door questioningly. Heero plucked the cookie he held from his hand and quickly finished it in two bites, staring after the car with an annoyed look on his face.

"Hey, that was my cookie!" Duo said resentfully, stepping back inside so Heero could get through the door.

"And now it's not." Heero closed the door harder than was really necessary.

"Yikes, sorry man, you want this one, too?" Duo asked, holding out the cookie he had in his other hand.

"She believes I should take you on a 'real' date," Heero said, leaning against the doorjamb and crossing his arms. He frowned harder.

Duo's eyes grew comically wide and his face broke out into a huge grin. "You mean we've already gone on a not-real date?"

Heero snorted. "Apparently."

"Whoo, boy, this is getting worse and worse," Duo said, scratching the back of his neck.

"Did you know about the party at Scoops on Saturday?"

"Yeah . . . I think I did. Oh, yep, I told Relena we were going." A pause. "We are going, aren't we?"

Sighing, Heero toed off his shoes and wandered into the kitchen, digging around in the pantry.

"It really is bugging you as much as it is me," Duo said, perching on a stool.

"Of course it is." Heero emerged from the pantry with another cookie, holding it between his lips while he poured a glass of Pepsi for Duo and milk for himself.

"You're hot an' all, Heero, but I don't know why everyone has this obsession with us dating. Even our parents, for cryin' out loud."

"Are you asking me why?"

"Guess not," Duo grinned. "So, what are we gonna do about it?"

"Denial is getting us nowhere," Heero said thoughtfully. "What if we simply ignored it?"

"You might be able to do that, but one of these days, I'm just gonna throttle someone." Duo narrowed his eyes, furrowing his brow as he mimed the action in the air.

Remembering how close he had come to screaming in the driveway, Heero agreed with Duo. "Point duly noted," he said dryly.

They sat in silence for several minutes, each turning over different ideas in his head. Suddenly, Duo snickered. Heero raised an eyebrow.

"Naw, s'nothing," the longhaired boy said, but then he chuckled again.

"You're thinking something," Heero said.

Duo pinned his friend with a look, a calculating gleam in his eyes. "We could just prove them right."

Heero's brow furrowed. "You want us to date?"

"Not really," Duo said quickly, "but wouldn't it give them a turn if we only acted like it? After all these years? Dorothy would have a coronary."

While the image of giving Dorothy Catalonia temporary heart failure was amusing at the very least, Heero shook his head. "How would we act like a couple?"

"Geez, according to the majority of the population, act like we usually do. Maybe we could throw in a few moon-eyed looks, just for good measure," Duo said, giving Heero a mocking demonstration.

"If you look at me like that in public, I'll laugh at you," Heero said with a small, wry smile.

"Well," Duo waved his hand in the air dismissively, "I'd probably fall over laughing at myself," he admitted. "I think it'd be funny to fool them, though."

Heero took another bite of his cookie, chewing thoughtfully. "They are already talking about us . . . ."

"So, let's give 'em something to talk about," Duo said, winking at his friend.

+

"Now," Duo began, reclining comfortably in a large, plush chair in Heero's room, "we should really have a game plan for this."

"Agreed." Heero sat on the floor next to his bed, legs stretched out in front of him.

"So, what's the plan?"

Heero blinked, staring straight ahead. His eyes flicked over to Duo's face. "You don't have a plan," he stated.

"Nope, not a clue. Okay, I've got a clue. I'm thinking the party tomorrow will be a great opportunity."

"For?"

"Us, Heero!" Duo said, rolling his eyes. "See, we hang around all the time anyway . . . all we have to do at the party is act like we're together. Maybe hold hands when we think no one's looking but we know they are. . ." Duo trailed off, scrunching up his nose.

"We act like a couple that doesn't want to be known as a couple, so we attempt to hide it, but we want them to think exactly that, so we arrange for them to see us?"

"Right on target!" Duo beamed.

"I'm almost sure I should be afraid," Heero murmured.

"C'mon, Heero! You got the idea in a nutshell. We get to sneak around an' everything!"

"Sneak around doing what, exactly?" the shorthaired boy queried.

". . . gazing deeply and adoringly into each other's eyes, waxing poetic about the beauty contained therein?"

"They're blue-violet."

"Huh?"

"Your eyes," Heero clarified. "They're blue-violet."

"Really?" Duo said, an odd look on his face. He got up and stood in front of Heero's full-length mirror. His nose almost touching the glass, he peered intently at his reflection. "Look at that, they are kinda purplish."

Turning back to Heero, Duo absently toyed with the end of his braid with one hand, resting the other hand on his hip. "Why'd you tell me that?"

"I was under the impression that it was something your boyfriend would know," Heero said casually.

"Have you been reading romance novels?" Duo asked, narrowing his eyes.

"No, I haven't," Heero replied flatly. "Hilde and Relena spend a vast majority of their time discussing eye color."

"Seems like an odd body part to be fixated on," Duo commented.

"Hilde is obsessed with something else," Heero said, resting one arm on his bed and leaning back.

"Yeah, what?"

"Your ass."

"My what!?" Duo exclaimed. Then he started to laugh. "My ass, huh? What do you think, Heero? Is my ass my best feature?" he said, turning around and throwing a sexy look over his shoulder.

Heero made a show of indecision, making his friend laugh even harder.

Finally, Duo said, "Well? Or are you going to make me stand here all day, just so you can stare at my butt?"

"I can't decide," Heero said.

"Whaddaya mean, can't decide?"

"Your ass is very nice," Heero replied, deadpan, "but I think your legs are better."

Duo collapsed in his chair, tears leaking from his eyes as he struggled to gain a breath through his laughter. "Oh, shit, Heero, you're a hoot! This is gonna be fun," he added, dragging out the last word. "Now, what are you wearing to the party? My date needs to look good."

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