Author: Caroline
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes

The Medallion: Part the Fifth
Splish, Splash

The walk helped Duo calm down. He no longer wanted to rush over to Relena's castle and strangle her. Well, he did, but walking in the crisp autumn evening air with Heero at his side - despite the clothing faux pas - put him in a much better mood. He could wait to strangle Relena at a later date.

They found a high-end consignment shop two blocks over and one down from the hotel. Heero had protested the need for his own clothes, but Duo insisted. Heero would be much less of a distraction if he were dressed - or so he thought until Mr. Sex on Legs stepped out of the fitting room in a pair of black jeans and a tight blue turtleneck. Duo had to lean heavily on a rack of clothing as Heero turned in a circle to model his new duds. The rack fell over, taking Duo with it. After extracting himself from the pile of designer hand-me-downs, Duo and Heero quickly paid for the rest of the clothing and a pair of ugly-but-serviceable tennis shoes they had picked out and beat a hasty retreat with the manager frowning daggers at their backs.

Heero seemed interested in the world around him. Duo had almost expected him to jump away from the traffic, screaming about magical horseless carriages barreling down the street. Heero rolled his eyes when Duo told him this.

"Just because I've been locked in a silver medallion for a couple of millennia doesn't mean I'm a complete ignorant," he'd said.

"Well, n-no," Duo stammered. "I just didn't think that you'd ... get out much."

Heero turned his head, his expression haunted. "Not much, but I did get out. Several of my mistresses liked the idea of sex in public."

Duo found his eyes wandering down to stare at Heero's ass. He wouldn't mind a little public sex at the moment...

No! His eyes snapped back up. He was not going to think of Heero that way. He'd been thinking about what a hellish existence Heero must lead. Demanded to perform on command. Trapped even when he was released. A slave for thousands of years, unable to have his own experiences, his own life... As gorgeous and desirable as Heero was, Duo was not going to take advantage of his situation. Morally, it really was the wrong thing to do.

Now if only he could convince Heero of that.

As they walked, Duo took note of restaurants and other places of interest they might visit during Heero's month-long stay. Zechs had generously given him a credit card and instructed him to use it. As much as he didn't like taking advantage of his friend's wealth, Duo knew he couldn't afford to keep Heero entertained for a month. And he figured Zechs did owe him for all those times he'd been subjected to the man's sister. A month's vacation was the perfect compensation.

As they walked, Duo asked Heero questions about his life before the curse. Heero had been born of a wealthy shipwright and a freed slave girl from somewhere in the Far East. He couldn't say for sure which country his mother had been from, as over the centuries countries had risen and fallen and borders changed. She had died when he was very young, however, and Heero had quickly taken up his father's trade. Duo didn't ask about the curse, even though he was dying of curiosity to find out more. Surely there was an "out" clause. Ancient, cursed objects always had some kind of riddle to be solved or conditions to be met. But surely, if there were, Heero would have mentioned it, maybe even asked Duo to help him break the curse.

He was desperately trying to find a polite way to ask how if breaking the curse involved deflowering virgins or animal sacrifice - or vice versa - when Heero asked him about his own life.

Duo shrugged. "Not quite as exciting as your history," he chuckled, then stopped as Heero scowled at him. "Sorry. Anyway, there's not much to tell. My parents died when I was seven. I was sent to a home for kids in a Catholic parish before being shuffled from foster home to foster home. I knew the only way out would be through school, so I studied hard, which is tough when you're constantly moving and switching schools. I earned a scholarship to a good university. Met Zechs, who helped me discover who I really was inside. Graduated, got a job. End of story."

Heero was quiet for a long time after Duo had finished relating the Cliff's Notes version of his life. Duo was beginning to feel squirmy, not liking the silence, when Heero asked softly, "Are you still in love with Zechs?"

Duo stopped. Duo thought about it. Duo tried to hold in the choking laughter.

"In love... with Zechs... hahaha..."

Heero looked confused which only made Duo laugh even harder. Air was becoming a precious commodity, so Duo grabbed onto a near by streetlight, bending over double as he tried to catch his breath.

"I didn't realize I was so funny," said Heero, rolling his eyes at Duo's antics.

"S-sorry!" Duo replied, trying to gulp in the sweet, precious night air. "I-I just ... tried to imagine ... anyone in love with Zechs." He drew in a deep breath before straightening. "Honestly, I thought I might have been at the beginning, but Zechs isn't the kind of guy you fall in love with. He's the kind of guy you have fun with, if you get my drift, which you do, being an incubus and all..." He pushed off from the lamp post and turned down the street, Heero beside him. "Zechs is my best - my only - friend. I'd move heaven and earth for him, and he'd do - and does - the same for me. But I'm not in love with him."

"You just talk about him with such great affection, I thought maybe the reason you didn't want me was because of him," Heero replied.

Duo stopped again, turning to look at Heero. "Does it bother you that I won't sleep with you?" he asked incredulously.

Duo wasn't sure but he thought he saw Heero blush slightly. "It's what I am, what I was made for."

Duo shook his head. "No! It's what you were turned into, against your will! These women who released you over the years, I bet none of them gave a thought to your feelings or happiness, right?"

"Well..."

"See? I am not going to do that to you. It's not that I don't want you, Heero, because oh my god, have you seen you? I'm just not going to take advantage of a situation you have no control over."

Heero stepped closer, into Duo's personal space, and placed his hands on Duo's arms, drawing the shorter man closer. "And what if I wanted you to take advantage of it?" he breathed, leaning in so that Duo could feel his breath against his cheek.

"Guh..." Duo immediately felt warm all over, feeling dizzy as all the blood in his body seemed to rush to one point, making him glad he was wearing his loose jeans. Damn, but he was tempted. So. Very. Tempted. With Herculean effort, he pulled himself away.

Heero looked disappointed. Duo was again tempted to give in, if only to get that look off Heero's face. But he was steadfast and determined to let Heero have at least one month of freedom.

"Hey, Heero, I'm sorry but..."

"There is no need to apologize," Heero interrupted. "I must do with whatever my mist... master wishes." He turned from Duo to resume his walk down the street, shopping bag swinging almost dejectedly in his hand.

Duo sighed, feeling incredibly guilty. But Heero would get over it. He just needed to get Heero's mind on fun things other than sex.

Although at that moment, Duo was hard pressed to think of anything more fun than sex.

They walked in silence back to the hotel, Heero taking in the sights and sounds around him, Duo trailing behind, trying not to stare at Heero's ass. Nothing good could come of that.

They entered the hotel lobby and as they stood in front of the elevator, a faint chemical odor floating down the corridor gave Duo an idea. He pressed his key card into Heero's hand and told him to go on upstairs, that he'd follow in just a moment. He waited until Heero stepped into the elevator, one eyebrow raised at him, before he hurried to the front desk.

A bored-looking clerk stood behind the desk, meticulously arranging a row of pens on the counter behind the high, marble top.

Duo stood there for a minute, frowning as the guy ignored him. He cleared his throat a couple of times before finally getting fed up and reaching to ring the little bell.

The bored man looked up. "May I help you?"

"Yes, I'm staying in one of the tenth floor suites," Duo replied, hoping to impress the man who exasperatingly didn't seem to care. "I was just wondering... how late is the pool open?"

"The indoor swimming facility is closed to children at ten o'clock. The lifeguard leaves at midnight, and the doors are locked at two."

Duo's eyes opened wide. "Wow. That's late. The pools at the Holiday Inn close at ten."

The bored man pulled his head back in disgust. "May I remind you, sir, that we are not the 'Holiday Inn,'" he said, as if the very name of that place could give him cooties.

Duo felt himself blush. He was so out of place in Zechs' world. "T-thanks."

He left the desk and hurried to the gift shop. Or boutique. He'd passed by it on their way out earlier that evening and had noticed the swim trunks in the window, on sale now that autumn was well on its way. Even so, Duo nearly swallowed his tongue when he saw the "sale" price. He could pay bills for a month for what one pair of trunks cost.

Still, since he wasn't exactly paying for it... He picked out a pair of dark blue for himself and black in a larger size for Heero, charged them to Zechs' account and hurried back to the elevators.

He found Heero outside of their room, fighting with the card key and the lock.

"I do not understand," Heero all but growled, as Duo took the key from him, trying not to laugh. "I put it in, the light turns green, I try the knob but it won't open."

"You have to pull the card out first," Duo explained, demonstrating the technique. He pushed his way inside, Heero following.

"Is this what is meant by the 'high tech' age?" Heero asked. "You have to work twice as hard to get something done?"

Duo laughed at that. "Technology is supposed to make things easier and more convenient, but sometimes it just doesn't work that way." He held out his package to Heero. "Here. Put that on."

Heero peered into the bag. "You have purchased me a black undergarment?"

The big lug. He looked so hopeful Duo hated to squash his dream. "No. It's swim trunks. There's an indoor pool downstairs that's still open for another couple of hours."

"Ah." Heero placed the bag on the sofa and pulled off his new shirt. Duo beat a hasty retreat to the bathroom to put on his own pair of trunks.

He emerged moments later, wrapped in the fluffy robe. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Heero. The trunks were slightly too small and hugged Heero's ass like a second skin. Duo reached up to push his own mouth closed before he could swallow any flies. He tossed the other robe at him.

"I thought we were going swimming," Heero said as he pulled on the robe.

"It's only polite to be mostly dressed in the hallways," Duo explained, not wanting to tell Heero the real reason - that he didn't want anyone else looking at Heero except him. He swallowed the green-eyed monster that had reared its ugly head inside him, grabbed the key card and pulled Heero out of the room.

The elevator deposited them in the lobby and Duo followed the faint scent of chlorine down the back hall and around the corner to a glass room. A wave of moist heat rolled over them as they entered the pool room, and Duo had to gasp in amazement.

The pool had steam drifting lazily toward the ceiling, indicating it was heated. Duo loved heated pools. A small foot bridge crossed the middle of the pool, separating the shallow from the deep end. At the far end, a loud, rumbling waterfall tumbled down a fake rock wall into the pool, frothing the water in the deep end. A separate hot tub area sat nearly beneath the falls where two older women were boiling themselves in contentment. Other than those two, Heero and Duo were alone.

Heero inhaled the warm, misty air. "This is paradise."

"It sure ain't the Holiday Inn," Duo replied, pulling off his robe. He blushed when he noticed the two old women eyeing him in appreciation.

"Don't look now, but I think those ladies are ogling us, Hee... what are you doing!?"

He had turned just in time to see Heero, sans robe, pulling his swim trunks over his hips, giving the two old ladies an eyeful. Duo lunged forward, grabbing the material and yanking it back up. His face was beet read and he could have sworn he heard one of the women say, "Darn it!"

Heero looked perplexed. "I thought we were to bathe?"

Duo shook his head. "No, no! We're going swimming. In a pool. With other people present. You keep your trunks on." He suddenly noticed how close he was standing to Heero and how his hands were still on Heero's hips. He pulled away quickly. "Uh... did none of your other... mistresses... take you swimming?"

"Yes, but never with clothes still on."

Duo hugged himself, sure his entire body was now blushing. "O-oh. I see. Well um... you have to keep your suit on in here or we'll get kicked out. Okay?"

Heero nodded. Duo turned jumped into the shallow end quickly, dunking himself beneath the water to get his hair wet. He'd have to shower again to get the chlorine out, but he needed to remove himself from temptation before he did something he'd regret later.

He broke the surface, breathing in the humid air and looked around for Heero.

The incubus was nowhere to be found.

Duo looked around. The two women were smirking at him from their perch in the hot tub. He felt something brush against his calf under the water. He whirled, but saw nothing. Then something yanked hard on his leg and he was dragged under the water. Surprised, he tried to draw breath, only to get a lungful of chlorine. He clawed his way to the surface, sputtering and vowing vengeance on incubus ass.

Heero floated a few feet from him, chuckling, a smirk permanently plastered on his face. Duo let out an unholy battle cry and lunged for him. Though, being in water, his lunge was in slow motion, and Heero dived below the water. Duo waited until the man came up for air, then pounced, sending a tidal wave of water at Heero's head. Heero retaliated and the two spent several fun minutes splashing and trying to dunk each other before Heero dived below the surface again, swimming for the deep end.

Duo followed, swimming underneath the little footbridge into deeper waters, striking out for the edge of the pool when he could no longer touch bottom. He wasn't the best of swimmers, and Heero swam like a fish. He felt something brush against his leg again and he kicked out. Heero popped up in front of him, grinning like a madman.

Duo made a face at him. "How did you get to be such a good swimmer if you've been trapped in a hunk of metal for two thousand years?" he asked.

"I was raised around water. I built ships. How could I make a boat stay afloat if I, myself, couldn't keep from drowning?" Heero replied, swimming in lazy half-circles around him. He stopped, treading water and glancing over his shoulder at the waterfall. "Want to go over there?"

Duo looked over at the water rushing down the fake rock wall. He shook his head. "That's too deep. And there's nothing really to hang onto."

Heero swam closer to him. "You can hang on to me," he replied, his voice low and husky.

Duo's breath caught in his throat. "Uh..."

"Come on."

Duo found it impossible to say no to the man. Which was highly troublesome. He nodded, then gathered his legs underneath him and struck out for the waterfall.

Heero swam next to him, watching him, ready to grab onto him if he faltered. As they passed the hot tub, the two old ladies were climbing out, wrapping thick, fluffy towels around them. "Have fun boys!" one of them called out as the two made their way toward the exit. Duo was glad his skin was already red from the heat in the room.

Heero pulled him the last few inches into the frothy, churning waters at the base of the falls. He pressed Duo's back against the pool wall, holding them both above water. The sensation of water falling on his head was amazing - different from being in a shower. It felt good. It felt even better when Heero pressed closer to him, his face inches from Duo's own.

Heero leaned in. Duo could taste Heero's breath on his own. He hardly dared to breathe as he stared into Heero's clear blue eyes, his hands clutching tight to Heero's shoulders to keep himself above water.

"Heero..." he murmured, though he could hardly hear himself over the roar of the falls.

Heero heard him, however. "Yes?" He moved closer. Their lips touched. Duo couldn't breathe. He tugged Heero closer, wanting to taste all of him. Just one little taste...

The door to the pool flew open and a gaggle of college-aged girls spilled into the pool area. The two men broke apart as their watery paradise was invaded by estrogen and barely-there bikinis. Heero looked as disappointed as Duo felt. But he didn't have time to react before one of the girls spotted them and squealed.

Duo winced and turned to doggie paddle his way to the edge of the pool. Heero swam next to him. "I believe it is time for a strategic retreat," the incubus said, ignoring the girls who were trying to get their attention.

Duo nodded. Or tried to and went under. Heero fished him out, pulling him to the edge. "Good idea," he said, wiping water from his eyes. "I don't do so well with girls. Especially those kind. They look like they wanna eat me."

Heero hopped out of the water and turned to pull Duo out behind him. He looked up as the girls started giggling at the sight of Duo being hauled out of the pool, the suction of the water threatening to pull his trunks down to his ankles. He hastily pulled them up.

"I don't think that's all they want to do to you," Heero said, eyeing the girls.

Duo stood and tried not to run for the door. "Come on. Let's go before I decide drowning myself would be the preferable option than remaining in their company."

They grabbed their robes and left the pool room quickly, leaving the cries of disappointment behind them.

[part 4] [part 6] [back to Caroline's fic]