Author: Caroline
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes

The Medallion: Part the Sixth
Cotton Candy Kisses

The next week passed by quickly. Duo slept most of the day in order to stay awake and keep Heero company during the night. Heero appeared like clockwork each night after the sun had set, though Duo never saw him. One moment he'd be staring at an empty room, then he'd blink and Heero would be there. He was mildly disappointed. He'd hoped at least for a little smoke or a flash of light.

Some nights they gorged themselves on room service and went through the room's library of pay-per-view movies. Other nights they would venture out into the city, though never far from their hotel and never to a place Duo was familiar with, for fear Relena might find them. They tried several restaurants, found an out-of-the-way arcade where Heero discovered a newfound passion for skee-ball - Duo had to literally drag him away after five hours of tossing the damned little wooden ball into the rings, and attempted to have drinks in a bar, which turned out to be a bust when mobs of women surrounded them and kept forcing their phone numbers into Heero's crotch.

Heero, thankfully, had stopped trying so hard to get Duo into bed. Duo was both thankful and disappointed. He wasn't used to having another man (other than Zechs) try to seduce him, and to be honest, he rather liked the attention. But he was determined to give Heero this little bit of freedom from his curse. Besides, Heero was quite fascinating to listen to, and when asked, he would regale Duo of his life, the things he had seen through the centuries (which was sadly very little as he was seldom let out of the bedroom) and the people he had met. But try as he might, Duo could not get Heero to talk about the curse. Heero only shook his head and said it was impossible to break before changing the subject.

Zechs had called Duo once during that week to see how things were going. Duo filled him in and had asked about Relena. Zechs had gone deadly silent, which let Duo know all was not well at the Peacecraft Palace.

"She's hired six different private detectives," Zechs had told him. "Of course, four quit immediately when she went into shrieking harpy mode. I've paid the other two off to look the other way. But she does have her own, private staff, so it's wise to stay where you are and not go back to your apartment, at least not for a while."

Duo hadn't been really happy to hear that. As much as he was enjoying the plush decadence of the hotel, he missed his tiny apartment, and still felt extremely guilty over using Zechs' (and even Relena's) money to be living in the lap of luxury. Zechs had assured him that even had he and Heero stayed a year, he'd never notice it on his bank statements, but Duo had always worked hard for what he had in life, and didn't like living off someone else.

But he didn't really have any choice at the moment, and he didn't want Heero to have to go back to Relena. So he was determined to make the best of the situation.

And that particular evening, making the best involved dragging Heero down to a boardwalk carnival he'd found the day before, when he'd taken a walk during the late afternoon daylight hours, waiting on Heero's arrival.

Heero was skeptical as they walked up to the lighted boardwalk, the air full of the screams of teenagers, calliope music and delicious smells of vendors selling their wares. "What is the purpose of this place?" he asked, hanging back a little.

Duo grinned. "No real purpose. Just fun. There's rides and games and the food... Oh man, you haven't lived until you've tried cotton candy!"

Heero looked at his master, one eyebrow raised. "You can make candy out of cotton?"

Duo laughed. "No, it's just spun sugar." He took hold of Heero's arm and pulled him towards the glittering lights of the midway.

Heero allowed himself to be led, his eyes wide as he took in the sights around him. Duo felt strangely pleased to be able to show him something new, something he would never have known as a bedroom slave. He was determined to show Heero everything there was about the carnival. He wanted Heero to have a few good memories to hold onto after...

He swallowed an unexpected lump in his throat. He knew Heero would be gone in three weeks. But he was really coming to enjoy the man's company and, even though he did missed his job and felt like a leech living off of Zechs, he found he liked being stuck in the hotel with Heero. Heero was fascinating, interesting to talk to and paid rapt attention to him, something not even Zechs had done much when they were "dating." Though, thought Duo bitterly, he wondered how much of that was due to the curse and how Heero had to obey whoever it was who had the medallion in their possession. But he wasn't going to spoil his short time with Heero. He liked the incubus. He'd never had many friends, and he now considered his cursed Phoenician a new friend.

Spying a stand selling bags of the sweet, sugary death, he pulled Heero to it, money in hand, and bought a bag of pink and blue cotton candy. He handed the bag to Heero while he pocketed the change. Heero turned the bag this way and that, frowning.

"This is a pillow."

Duo grinned. "It's edible. Trust me." He took the bag from Heero and untied it, slipping his hand inside to tear off a piece of pink fluff. "Open up."

Heero looked at him.

Duo rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on, Heero! Just try a little bit. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat any more."

Heero pressed his lips together, then sighed and opened his mouth. Duo pushed the piece of cotton candy into his mouth. Heero closed his lips over it, tried to chew, then opened his eyes wide in surprise as it dissolved on his tongue.

Duo grinned. "Like it?"

"It vanished!" Heero exclaimed, amazed.

"It does that. Feels kinda weird, but good at the same time." He took out another piece and popped it into his own mouth, rolling it with his tongue until it disappeared. "Want some more?"

"Please."

Duo handed the bag over to Heero, who dug in with glee. Duo watched for a moment, grinning like a lunatic escapee before letting his gaze be drawn away by shiny, glittering things. He loved little carnivals like this. He realized with a pang that, while he loved his job, he didn't really get out much. Zechs was usually the one dragging him places when he wasn't with his flavor of the week. Maybe he ought to try to change that after...

He squashed the thought before he could complete it. He didn't want to think about that now. He just wanted to enjoy Heero's company.

Glittering lights from above caught his eye. He grinned and turned back to Heero, taking his arm. "Come on!"

Heero blinked at him, his mouth full of cotton candy. "Ehr ah ee oee?"

"Chew. Swallow. Then speak," Duo replied, pulling him through the crowd.

Heero complied, licking his lips to rid himself of the sticky. "Where are we going?"

"There." Duo pointed up.

"What is that?"

"It's a Ferris wheel. It's fun."

Heero didn't look totally convinced, but Duo would not be dissuaded. He paused only long enough to buy some tokens before pulling Heero through the line and catching the last seat on the ride before the operator closed the queue and made sure everyone was strapped in.

As the wheel started to turn, Heero kept a death grip on the both the restraining bar and his bag of cotton candy. Duo laughed freely as they came over the top, the chilly night breeze playing tag with the loose tendrils of hair that escaped his braid.

They rounded the top, and Duo heard Heero gasp slightly as the city spread out before them, blinking like Christmas lights on a tree. "I love the city at night," Duo said loudly in an attempt to make his voice heard over the wind and carnival music.

"It's beautiful," Heero replied.

Duo turned to look at him, blushing as he realized Heero was looking at him and not the city. To avoid an awkward moment, he grabbed the bag of cotton candy from Heero's hands. Tearing a piece off, he stuck it in Heero's mouth.

Heero swallowed, then reached for the bag, taking a piece out to return the favor. Duo leaned his head forward in acceptance, then laughed as a gust of wind tried to blow the piece of fluff up his nose. Heero took advantage of the moment to shove the cotton candy into Duo's mouth. Duo smiled happily at Heero, the spectacular view of the city long forgotten as they fed each other pieces of the sugary treat.

The ride came to a halt as they came over the rise at the top. Heero pulled out the last bit of cotton candy and offered it to Duo, who shook his head.

"No, you eat it," he said, wadding the bag up in his hand.

"Are you sure?" Heero asked.

"Yes." Duo watched as Heero popped the candy into this mouth, watching his strong jaw move as he rolled the treat around with his tongue inside his mouth. He could see a bit of sticky sugar on Heero's lip. Heero's blue eyes focused on his own as the incubus swallowed. Duo's breath caught in his throat and he was helpless to resist the pull of that stray bit of sugar on Heero's lip. He leaned into the man, smelling sugar on his breath and feeling the heat from his skin warm his own wind-chilled cheeks. His breath caught again as he closed that last little distance, pressing his lips lightly against Heero's, drawing back slightly, then pressing forward again, tongue snaking out to wipe away sticky sweetness.

He felt Heero sigh into the kiss, sitting still until he realized Duo was not going to pull away. Then he pressed his own advantage, opening his mouth so Duo could taste pink sugar and Heero's own sweet/salty flavor. Duo let out a soft moan, wanting to deepen the kiss, but hesitating. He was saved from making the decision by the motion of the ride as the Ferris wheel jerked forward to let off the next couple.

Duo's cheeks, already stinging from the wind, burned as he reluctantly drew away. Heero sat back, but Duo could feel the man's eyes on him. He didn't trust himself to meet Heero's gaze for fear he would be drawn back into those eyes and would be helpless to resist the man again.

He didn't trust his voice either, and Heero was silent as they rode the rest of the way down to the ground.

After they left the Ferris wheel, Duo dragged him onto another ride, then another, feeling relieved as the moment of awkwardness gradually faded. Heero liked the Pirate Ship, declared the Gravitron to be a modern-day torture device, and declined the Carousel. "I do not see the point in riding a wooden horse around and around," he'd said, when Duo questioned him.

"There's no point. It's just fun!"

But Heero would not be dissuaded. Duo let it go after the incubus expressed an interest in a nearby corn dog stand. He bought them each a footlong, then he and Heero walked to the end of the pier to eat their snack.

Duo sighed, nibbling the end of the corn dog as he looked out at the dark ocean, dimly illuminated by the half moon and a spattering of stars between wisps of clouds. "I love the ocean," he murmured, inhaling the salty air.

"I did, too, once," Heero replied, eyeing the corn dog before taking a tentative bite.

Duo turned back to Heero. "That's right. You used to build ships." He took another bite, and chewed thoughtfully. "Do you miss it?"

Heero shrugged. "Yes and no. It was laborious, dangerous, and we did not have the tools you have today. But I liked working with my hands, the sense of accomplishment when the ship was launched..." He chewed his corn dog, his gaze fixed not on the water, but on the passing crowd. He didn't seem to want to elaborate further, and Duo didn't want to press. He turned to lean against the pier, watching the crowd and wondering what vomit-inducing ride to drag Heero on next when a mop of blond hair caught his eye.

"Oh shit," he murmured, looking around, trying to find a place to hide.

"What is it?" Heero asked, concerned over Duo's sudden distress.

Duo froze like a deer in headlights, knowing that death by splatter was imminent, as the blond caught sight of him and called his name.

"Just an... old friend," Duo muttered to Heero before the blond and his tall companion caught up to them.

"Duo!" the blond said, stepping forward to give him a hug. "I haven't seen you in ages! You don't come to the clubs anymore. Where have you been hiding?"

Duo forced a smile. "Good to see you, too, Quatre." He looked up at the blond's companion. "Hello, Trowa."

The tall man inclined his head at Duo, his brown hair sliding in front his face as he did so.

Quatre slid his arm into Trowa's, leaning intimately against the tall man's side. "Trowa and I went to Shock Therapy last night."

"Did it help?" Duo muttered under his breath. Heero shot him a glance out of the corner of his eye, but Duo shook his head as the blond continued.

Quatre rubbed himself against Trowa, who seemed to take the action in stride, his face showing only the barest hint of emotion. "You should have been there, Duo. Tro and I were burning up the dance floor. The audience was eating it up. Tro could hardly keep his hands off me, couldn't you, darling," he all but purred, looking up at his lover.

Duo suppressed the urge to roll his eyes. "I'm sure you were the center of attention," he said flatly, once again squashing the little twinge of jealousy over the way Quatre clung to Trowa. They'd been out of university for five years now. He should be over his stupid schoolboy infatuation for tall, dark and silent.

"Yeah, sorry," Duo continued, forcing another smile onto his face. "Late night partying and early morning work hours don't really mesh well. And the loud music tends to give me a headache. I'm not the party boy I used to be, I guess."

Quatre laughed. "Oh, Duo. You were never a real party boy. Always so serious. You need to loosen up, let go of the rules and live a little."

"I have a job, Quatre. I have to work for a living," he said, biting his tongue before he could add, ‘unlike some people.'

"You haven't been at work lately though, have you? I called your office the other day to tell you to come to the club, but I was told you were on vacation." He wrinkled his nose toward the carnival. "Not much of a vacation destination, is it? You should have gone somewhere exciting, like Milan or Rio. Of course, it's not very exciting, is it, when you're on your own."

Duo sighed, shifting on his feet. "Look, Quatre..."

"Actually, I'm the one on vacation," Heero interrupted, stepping forward and slipping his arm around Duo's shoulders. Quatre blinked, almost startled, as if seeing Heero for the first time and realizing he was with Duo. "I asked Duo if he'd take some time off to show me around his city." He let his hand slide down to Duo's waist, pulling him possessively closer. "He was kind enough to take me up on my offer."

Quatre was now staring in open fascination at Heero. Duo could relate. When he wanted, the incubus practically oozed sex. Duo clutched hard at the corn dog stick in his hand, frozen in place, his body hot where it touched Heero's.

"I, ah... didn't know you had a... friend," Quatre stammered, looking Heero up and down as if eyeing a prime cut of meat. Duo bristled in anger.

Heero smiled. "I think we've moved beyond ‘friend' status, don't you Duo?" he asked, turning his head to nibble along the top of Duo's ear. Duo shivered.

"You should come to the club tomorrow," Quatre said, pulling away from Trowa slightly. "We're regulars. We could introduce you to a few people and..."

"I'm afraid we're going to be busy tomorrow," Heero interrupted again. "I have... plans for us tomorrow night." He leaned over Duo's shoulder and put his mouth around Duo's corn dog, sliding his lips down, down, down before biting off a large portion, slipping it slowly off the stick and into his mouth.

Duo's knees almost gave out from underneath him.

Quatre's eyes were open wide with rapt attention. Trowa's one visible eyebrow was slightly raised, which told Duo the man was extremely interested. And while studying the tall man's reaction to Heero's impromptu act of near-fellatio on his corn dog, Duo realized with a start that his heart no longer skipped a beat whenever he saw Trowa, that his little twinges of jealousy were just for the closeness the two shared. He no longer had feelings for the taller man, and hadn't for a while. That realization gave him a newfound strength.

He slipped his arm around Heero's waist and grinned at his friends. "Thanks for the offer Quatre, but Heero's in town only for a short while. Give me a call in a couple of weeks and I'll see if I can't make time for you and come down to the club." He turned his gaze to Trowa. "It was nice seeing you again."

He pulled Heero away from the stunned couple, tossing his nearly-gone corn dog into a trash can, grinning like a loon.

Heero finished up his own snack, letting his arm drop from Duo's waist, but keeping close to him. "Who was that?"

"Mr. Perfect Fucking Sunshine," Duo replied.

"Ah." He looked over his shoulder. "So which one is Perfect and which one is Sunshine?"

Duo laughed, clinging to Heero's arm as they walked to keep his upright. "Sunshine would be Quatre. He and I met our senior year at university. He's the only son and heir to a corporate giant. We were lab partners, and friend I guess you could say, for a time." He took a deep breath. "Trowa is Perfect. Or at least, I once thought he was. I met him at one of Zechs' parties after he and I were no longer involved. I fell hard for him, but I made the mistake of introducing him to Quatre, and the rest is history."

"Then why was Quatre acting that way?"

"You mean why was he kind of rubbing it in my face that he and Trowa are together?" When Heero nodded, Duo continued. "My theory is that, despite Quatre having been born into wealth and privilege, he is a very insecure person. I think, on some level, he is afraid that I maintain some kind of hold over Trowa. Which is just silly. He may not be the most expressive guy around, but if you knew him, you'd know how completely devoted to Quatre he is. But Quatre doesn't have enough self-confidence to see it. He's not like that around other people."

"And it doesn't bother you?"

"It used to. But not anymore. And I didn't think I realized that until tonight." He smiled shyly at Heero. "Thank you for that, by the way. You didn't have to pretend to be my boyfriend back there."

"Why not? For all intents and purposes, I am your lover, for now."

"But not forever," Duo said sadly, feeling pain in his chest. "And we're not lovers. Not like that."

"We could be," Heero said, slipping his hand into Duo's.

Duo tried to swallow the lump in his throat and squeezed Heero's hand. "I know," he said softly. "But I... I can't."

"Duo..."

"Aw, come on Heero," Duo cut in, tugging on the man's hand. "Let's not talk about this right now. I want to ride something else, and you owe me another corn dog!"

He heard Heero sigh before he nodded his head. "All right. Where to next?"

Duo made Heero ride everything in the park at least once, even talking him onto the Carousel finally with the promise of another bag of cotton candy. They splurged at the food kiosks and played some games, with Heero winning a small stuffed bear for Duo by knocking bottles over with a baseball. Duo felt like a school girl on her first date, but he was having more fun than he'd had in years. That was, until they stumbled off the Tilt-A-Whirl and he felt his stomach lurch.

"Duo?" Heero's face was filled with concern as Duo clutched at his stomach, moaning.

"Ooh... I don't think I should have eaten that third corn dog," he said, feeling positively ill.

"Do you want to sit down for a while?" Heero asked.

"No..." He could feel the contents of his stomach rising. He spied a nearby trash can, barely making it in time before he lost his dinner.

Heero rubbed his back soothingly until Duo stopped heaving. Duo stood, breathing deep, the smell wafting from the open trash can making his stomach clench again. "I don't feel so good," he moaned, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Heero slid his arm around Duo's waist. "Come on. Let's go back to the hotel."

He let Heero walk him to the street, where they hailed a taxi back to the hotel. He allowed himself lean against Heero, clutching his little bear as his stomach rolled and threatened to rebel all over the back seat of the cab. Fortunately, the hotel wasn't that far away. Heero helped Duo through the lobby, past the desk clerk who watched them limp to the elevator with a frown on his face. The motion of the elevator made Duo's stomach roll again, and he bravely held it in until Heero managed to get the door to their room open, thankfully on the first try this time.

Duo rushed to the bathroom, dropping to his knees in front of the toilet. He heaved until he had nothing left in him and he was left shaking, weak and huddled into an unhappy ball on the marble floor.

Strong hands lifted him up. He was too exhausted to move. "Come on, let's get you cleaned up and into bed," Heero said gently, pulling his stained shirt over his head. Duo let the man undress him, suffered through an impromptu sponge bath on the bathroom floor, then let Heero pull him up and half carry him to the bed.

He slid between the sheets, the cool Egyptian cotton feeling wonderful against his clammy skin. He felt the bed dip as Heero climbed in after him. He shivered again as a cold tremor shot down his spine and he instinctively rolled into Heero's heat. His stomach was clenching, and he whimpered in pain.

"Shhh. Sleep. I'll be right here," Heero murmured, folding his arms around him and rubbing soothing circles over his back.

"I may throw up on you," Duo moaned pitifully.

"And I'll be here to clean you up," Heero replied, stroking Duo's hair.

Despite the knots in his stomach, Duo fell asleep quickly. And when dawn came and he was alone in the bed, Duo curled around the pillow Heero had been lying on, inhaling the man's scent and feeling cold for an entirely different reason.

[part 5] [part 7] [back to Caroline's fic]