Falling Sideways + Part 1 (cont)

+

The next evening found Duo back at Heero's home, standing in front of his friend and eyeing him critically.

Heero, for the most part, stoically tolerated his friend's obsession with appearance. He was dressed in black straight-legged pants and a midnight blue shirt that was trimmed in black. He thought it was perhaps a bit too snug, but Duo assured him he looked great. The sleeves were short, ending just above his elbow. Duo fussed with the neckline, finally leaving the collar gaping wide open. The trim lined the collar and trailed diagonally across his chest, following the line of the shirt where it wrapped around his waist and fastened at the side. A pair of dark boots was the latest addition to his clothing.

"It's missing something," Duo said, chewing on his lower lip. "You've got a silver chain around here somewhere, right?"

"On the dresser," Heero said, sizing himself up in the mirror.

Duo stepped up behind him after retrieving the chain and, wrapping his arms around Heero, clipped it around his neck. It rested at the base of Heero's throat, glinting in the light.

"Now that's perfect. Heero, man, you're looking hot," Duo said, taking a step back.

"We are ready to go, now?" Heero asked, turning away from his reflection.

"Sure." Duo stuck his head in front of the mirror, fiddling with his braid. He tugged a few wisps of hair loose, letting them fall softly around his neck and face. "Right, how do I look?"

Biting back a sigh, Heero said, "You look fine."

Duo had dug up a pair of tight black jeans and somehow managed to pour himself into them. He wore a dark red turtleneck with no sleeves and had coiled a black bracelet around his left forearm. Heavy dark boots with silver clasps completed his outfit. He looked, Heero thought to himself, much better than simply 'fine'.

"Just fine? Some boyfriend you are," Duo laughed. "C'mon, let's get this show on the road. I want to watch Dorothy fall flat on her face."

+

The dance was in full swing by the time the two friends made their entrance. Music swept over them in a forceful wave from the live band. Inside, the room was darkened, trails of small white lights snaking across the ceiling. Different colored lights sat atop each table and lined the counter where two waiters were dispensing drinks and snacks.

Duo scanned the floor, spotting Relena, Quatre and Dorothy dancing with the large crowd. A second sweep revealed Wufei and Trowa at one of the high tables, with Hilde headed that way holding two glasses. Tugging on Heero's hand, Duo led him over to the stools.

Heero blinked in surprise. Duo's hand was warm, mostly soft except for the slight hardness of a few small calluses. It fit in his hand perfectly, long fingers intertwined with his own. He flexed his fingers experimentally, noticing for some reason that Duo's nails were trimmed short.

Trowa caught sight of them, a slightly puzzled look crossing his face. Duo turned his body, shielding their clasped hands and slowly let go. Trowa's frown of confusion deepened. When the two reached the table, Duo acted as if he hadn't noticed the green-eyed boy's look.

"Hey, all," Duo said loudly, hopping up onto one of the stools. "Did we miss anything?"

Hilde set a glass in front of Trowa, then turned her attention to the braided boy. "Wow, Duo," she said, "you look amazing! What's the occasion?"

"Party time, Hil! Gotta look good for the party," he replied.

Trowa shot Duo another appraising glance and took a small sip of his drink.

"I think I'm dehydrated," Quatre said, coming back to the table with Relena and Dorothy. "I need water." He smiled at the two newcomers, then headed back the way Hilde had come.

"Heero?" Relena's eyes were wide.

Heero turned around, his expression questioning.

"You look wonderful, Heero! That shirt really brings out your eyes," she said, sitting down on a stool.

Heero shot Duo a smug look.

Trowa's frown returned.

Dorothy looked from Relena to Heero to Duo, then lastly at Trowa. Her eyes narrowed.

"Whoa, guys, lighten up," Duo said, glancing back and forth between Trowa and the light blonde girl.

Someone tapped on Duo's shoulder and he turned around, meeting the slightly wide eyes of Sylvie. Duo's mouth thinned and Heero's eyes went flat.

"Hello, Sylvie," Relena said. "Have you met Heero and Duo?"

"Uh . . . no," she said, her voice just loud enough to carry over the music. "Not really."

Dorothy looked hard at Heero, then opened her mouth to say something, but Hilde cut her off.

"Sylvie, meet Duo, he's the one with the braid, and Heero . . . his friend," she said after a short pause.

"I wanted to know if you'd like to dance," Sylvie said to Duo, visibly straightening her back and gathering her courage.

"Dance?" Duo echoed, a poleaxed look on his face. He glanced at Heero in confusion.

Heero started to shrug his shoulders, then thought better of it and gave Sylvie a dark look instead. "Alright," he mouthed.

Duo grinned. Heero had remembered that they were supposed to be acting like a couple. He cast a furtive glance at Trowa, wondering if the brown-haired boy had caught Heero's movement.

"Okay," Duo said, returning his gaze to Sylvie.

The girl smiled. Duo jumped down off his stool, walking with her to the dance floor. Along the way, she stepped closer to him, leaning in so she could be heard over the louder music without shouting.

"I'm sorry," she said, "I didn't mean to offend you yesterday."

Duo turned his head a fraction, looking at her face. "It's alright, we're used to it."

Sylvie shook her head. "No, I'm really sorry. I didn't know."

"Look, Sylvie, it's okay. I wouldn't have said yes to dancing with you if it wasn't."

Tension seeped from her shoulders. "Oh, good."

Wedging their way into the crowd, they started to dance. Duo dove right in, swaying his hips and moving with the beat. His hands traveled over his arms and down his sides, his braid curling itself around him as he moved. Sylvie started slower, but with an encouraging smile from Duo, began dancing in earnest.

Heero watched from his seat, wondering what the exchange was about. His brow creased as he ran the possibilities through his mind.

"Heero, you look positively green," Dorothy said, smiling at him and resting her cheek on her hand. She followed his gaze, watching Sylvie move closer to Duo while they danced.

Wrenching his eyes away from Duo, Heero grunted noncommittally. "Is there a reason you think that?"

Dorothy arched an eyebrow and glanced at the dance floor.

Heero gave her a frosty look, ending the trail of conversation.

Dorothy smiled and then turned to Relena, suggesting that they go dancing again.

"Am I missing something here?" Quatre asked, perplexed. He had returned with a glass of water somewhere between Sylvie's appearance and Duo's exit.

"Not particularly," Wufei told him, smoothing the material of his shirt.

"I've got to be missing something," Quatre insisted.

The song of the moment came to a sudden stop, leaving the room suspended in an instant of silence before the deafening applause erupted. The band started up again, this time playing something slower. Those on the dance floor paired off.

Duo gave Sylvie a questioning look, which she answered with a small, uncertain smile. Stepping forward, Duo rested his hands on either side of her waist. After a second's hesitation, she clasped her hands around the back of his neck.

Heero was talking to Trowa, who halted mid-sentence when he caught sight of Sylvie inching slowly but surely closer to Duo. Heero followed the direction that he was looking, noted that Duo actually was quite a good dancer and then did a mental double take. He was sure a boyfriend wouldn't be pleased with that development.

Heero easily stepped down from his stool and made a beeline for Duo. The longhaired boy's back was to him, but Sylvie saw Heero bearing down on them from over his shoulder. A look of confusion crossed her face.

"Duo?" Heero said, leaning close to his friend's ear.

Duo almost jumped out of his skin. Heero's voice was very low, breath hot against his ear. "Yeah?" he replied, turning his head. Suddenly Heero's face was very close to his own, and Duo was stuck by the fact that his eyes were a startling cobalt blue.

Frowning, Heero jerked his head slightly, indicating that he wanted Duo off the dance floor.

"Sorry, Sylvie," Duo said with a sheepish smile, releasing her. "I'm being stolen."

"That's alright, thanks for the dance," she said, stepping back. She smiled at Heero and received another blank stare.

Duo elbowed him in the ribs.

Surprise registered on Heero's face for a split second before it settled back into a scowl. Then his expression softened and he nodded to Sylvie. She looked relieved.

Heero led him away from the floor, first heading to the long bar and getting two drinks. Somehow, they ended up in a slightly out-of-the-way corner, attempting to have a full conversation without yelling.

"What'd ya do that for?" Duo asked, making a face. "I was having fun."

"Trowa froze when he saw you dance with her like that," Heero said. "I assumed that I was supposed to have a problem with it."

"Oh, that makes sense. Geez, Heero, I didn't think you'd be the jealous type," he laughed.

"Dorothy also called me jealous."

"Great, I've been dating your for less than a day, and everyone thinks you' re a jealous monster."

"No, if I was jealous, I wouldn't have let you dance with her in the beginning," Heero countered.

"Ooooh, so now you 'let' me dance with her?"

Heero glared at him.

"Quit that, I'm only yanking your chain. Ya know, I didn't think we'd be so obvious about this couple thing, but I think it's working pretty well. Relena's watching us like a hawk now," Duo said, his eyes focused on a point just to the side of Heero's head.

"Relena's always watching us like a hawk," Heero amended.

Duo smiled, agreeing. "Trowa froze when he saw me dancing with Sylvie like what?" he said out of the blue.

"When she moved closer to you."

"Yeah, that." Duo tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. "She was gettin' pretty close, wasn't she," he stated. "Hey, she's watching us now."

"Why?"

"I dunno, maybe she expects a show."

Heero grunted.

"I think we should give her one."

Heero decided grunting wasn't a sufficient response to that. He was still in the process of finding a suitable one when Duo's arms snaked around his waist.

"What exactly are we doing?" Heero said, giving Duo a hard look.

"Givin' her a little show. This looks like a corner you'd drag your date off to for a bit of fun. Pin me against the wall."

Heero blinked. "What?"

"Put your hands on the wall just above my shoulders and lean in to me a little. Trust me, it'll look good," Duo clarified with a long-suffering sigh. His hand was idly trailing over Heero's side.

Planting his hands firmly on the wall and bending his arms a little at the elbow, Heero took a step forward, bringing the full length of his body into contact with Duo's. The other boy's face was mere inches from his own.

"Whoa, Heero, I said a little," Duo almost squeaked, his hand stilling. "Never mind though," he said, clearing his throat, "this'll work just as well or better. I think Relena just fell off her stool." He snickered softly to himself, using Heero to shield the action from the others. "Man, you're good at this snuggling bit."

Heero turned his head to the side slightly, catching a glimpse of Relena out of the corner of his eye. "What now?" he asked, flicking his gaze back to Duo.

"Um," Duo said, a small puff of warm air brushing past Heero's cheek, "I think this is the part where you kiss me."

The shorthaired boy's eyes grew a little wider.

"I think that's being a little too obvious, though," Duo was saying, seemingly unmindful of Heero's expression. "Not that being crushed into a wall by you isn't, but you know what I mean. Besides, in their minds, we've been going out for more than half our lives already and this is the most they've ever seen. Having a make-out session now would be too much, too soon."

"Tell me what we're supposed to do NOW," Heero almost growled. He hadn't even considered the idea that this plan would involve kissing. Maybe mild touching, but not kissing.

"We could have our own slow dance right here . . . no, wait, Q's lookin' around. I think he's trying to find us," Duo said. "Let's go back."

Heero stepped back, giving Duo room to breathe. The front of his body was suddenly cold. Duo absently straightened his shirt, and then they wandered back to their group of friends for the rest of the night.

+

"Hey, that went better than I thought it would," Duo said as he set up the cot he used whenever he slept over beside Heero's bed.

They had eventually left the party with everyone else, walking to the various points in town where they usually parted company. Duo had made sure to brush Heero's hand at least once along the way, not bothering to see if anyone had noticed. When they had parted ways with Hilde and Trowa, the latter was staring at them through slightly narrowed eyes.

"Perhaps we were too obvious," Heero said, pulling down the covers on his own bed and tossing Duo a pillow.

"I thought about that, too." Duo fiddled with the string on his pajama bottoms, tying it into a looser knot. "The way I see it, it was a party, after all. Everyone knows people slip up when the lights are low and the fun starts. Monday we'll go back to being the way we were, with only a few changes."

Heero sat down on the edge of the bed and gave Duo a slightly expectant look.

"Well," Duo said, sitting cross-legged on the cot, "we . . . I mean ME, since you never do anyway, won't protest nearly as much or as loudly as usual. We should probably throw in a few of those lingering touches and looks and all that jazz."

"I missed Relena falling off her seat," Heero said, somewhat wistfully.

"I'm telling you, it was priceless. Next time, I'll pin you to the wall and you can watch them keel over like dominoes." A slightly evil grin spread itself across Duo's face.

Heero shot him an amused look and crawled underneath his sheets. "Goodnight, Duo."

"Night, man. See you in the a.m."

Clicking off the lamp, Heero lay flat on his back, mulling over the day's events in his head. When he got to the part where Duo was pressed up against him, he stopped. Then he went back over it again. The room was quiet except for the sound of the occasional car going down the road until a muted, "Heero?" reached his ears.

"Yes?" the shorthaired boy asked.

"Can I have pancakes for breakfast?"

Heero grunted an affirmative.

"Thanks, man. Night."

Heero went back to his quiet contemplation, listening to Duo's breathing grow steady and slow. Eventually, he drifted off to sleep, wondering what it was he had gotten himself into.

+

Heero awoke with a start. Duo was leaning over him, grinning like a madman. "Aw, shit. You woke up. I was going to jump on you," he said.

"You're hungry," Heero stated dryly.

"Starving," Duo agreed. "I need my pancakes."

"Go make them."

"Hey, I'm the guest here, you're supposed to get up off your lazy ass and make my breakfast."

"I'm busy."

"Doing what?"

"Sleeping."

"No, you're not. You're talking, so you're wide awake."

"I could be talking in my sleep."

"You do it very well. Get up and feed me."

Sighing, Heero tossed the covers aside and stood. He stretched, curving his spine in a smooth arc.

Duo was tapping his fingers on the doorframe, waiting impatiently. "C'mon, man, I'm hungry!"

"Alright, alright. Go."

Duo dashed out the door and thundered down the stairs to attack the unfortunate kitchen. His sleep-messed braid bounced merrily along behind him, and Heero was surprised to find a genuine smile on his face. Then again, it really wasn't all that surprising. Duo made him smile quite a bit.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Trowa: That was different.
Blue: I just said that. Several times.
Duo: *thoughful* I think it was almost . . . cute.
Heero: *quietly* A skunk?
Blue: I told you, it's not my plot bunny! It's Dacia's! I'm in the middle of writing this nice little lemon for Sharon, in the interest of converting her to Blueism.
Quatre: Blueism?
Heero: *slightly louder* A skunk?
Blue: Yep, Blueism. Basically, if you like lemons, especially mine, you've already joined. *laugh* It's an ongoing joke.
Heero: *insistent* A skunk!?
Blue: *frustrated* Yes, a skunk!! *pauses* Oops . . . .
Wufei: You continually do this to yourself, you know.
Blue: *glancing around for support and/or an escape route* Oh . . . shut up and help me.

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