Shall We Dance
XII : Endless Waltz (cont)

+

The next day was Saturday. It dawned bright and clear with hardly a cloud in the sky. As Heero left for work that morning, he wished it would rain. Rainy weather would suit his mood so much better.

The day passed much too quickly, although he barely noticed. He felt like he was walking around in a fog. His whole body was numb, and his mind focused only on Duo. He knew he couldn't go to the party. He couldn't look at his beautiful dancer and say good-bye. He didn't think he could survive it. He left work with a heavy heart. The party would be starting in a couple of hours. He wondered who would be there. All the students from the dance school, surely. Duo would be so happy to have so many well wishers there. He wondered if the American would be sad when he didn't show up.

Heero couldn't bear the thought of going home to his empty apartment, so he headed to a local restaurant for a bite to eat. His order came, along with a bottle of sake. He pondered briefly about drowning his sorrows in the alcoholic drink, but then decided against it. The sake would only make him feel better for a little while. He'd still have to face life without Duo when it wore off, plus be left with a hangover. He didn't need that. He needed Duo.

Sighing softly, he only allowed himself to sip the sake as he picked at his food, suddenly not feeling very hungry.

+

The band was playing, the drinks were flowing, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. Duo stood off to the side, watching his friends and students dance. He'd just said his hellos to an older gentleman and his wife whom he had taught last year when he heard someone come up beside him.

"Good evening, Duo," Quatre said, beaming at him. Trowa nodded his greetings.

"Hi guys," Duo said, smiling. "I'm glad you could come. Are you enjoying yourselves?"

"Yes, very much. Thank you," the little blonde replied, pulling Trowa closer to him. "And you?"

Duo opened his mouth to reply when a wolf whistle interrupted him.

"Whoo! Maxwell, you look good enough to eat!" Hilde remarked, walking up to him and looking at him appreciatively. Quatre had to agree. The violet-eyed dancer was wearing a pair of tight black jeans and a deep red turtleneck. A gold cross hung from his neck and his hair was loose and gleaming in the low light of the dance hall. At Hilde's comment, Duo blushed almost as red as his shirt.

"Don't let Alex hear you say that or he might think you're hitting on me," Duo told her, winking.

"Don't be silly," Hilde replied, draping herself across Duo's shoulders. "Alex knows I hit on everyone." The music changed to a Latin beat and Hilde smiled. "Come on, Duo. Dance with me!"

Duo tried to protest but the short-haired girl wouldn't listen. As she dragged him out onto the dance floor, Quatre turned to his lover and smiled. "He looks so much better, doesn't he?"

"Yes. Though there's still sadness in his eyes." Trowa looked down at his blonde lover. "Do you think Heero will show up?"

Quatre frowned and looked at the door. "I hope so, Trowa. For both their sakes, I hope so."

+

Heero wandered the city, not wanting to go home, yet avoiding the dance district. He wandered in and out of stores, doing a little light shopping for some things he needed at home. He spent half an hour in a bookstore, idly flipping through the periodicals yet not really reading anything. He even went into a video arcade and wasted several hundred yen playing one of those mindless Street Fighter-type games. After losing yet another round to a skinny kid with braces, Heero decided to head home. He figured he could brood just as well at his apartment as he could on the streets.

+

Duo watched in amusement as Hilde bullied Wufei into dancing with her. Those two were kindred spirits even if they refused to admit it. Shifting his eyes to the other side of the dance floor, he saw Quatre and Trowa dancing lovingly together. He was glad his new friends had a place to dance. So many establishments frowned on same-sex partners, but this place was very popular with both the gay and straight communities. There were several other same-sex couples on the floor at the moment, dancing up a storm. Duo thought of his own dances with Heero and felt an aching sadness within him. For the umpteenth time that night, he looked toward the door.

"Duo-chan?"

Duo turned as Une spoke his name.

"The party is wonderful, 'neesan. Thank you," he said, smiling at her.

Une looked at him closely. "Don't worry, Duo-chan. I'm sure he'll show up," she said, trying to be optimistic.

Duo looked down. "I don't know, 'neesan. If I were him, I wouldn't want to come say good-bye either."

Une wrapped her arms around him. "Don't give up hope, Duo-chan. Never give up hope."

+

Heero entered his little apartment, put his shopping away, and then looked around. The events of the day suddenly caught up with him. He leaned against the door, breathing hard. It felt like a giant hand was crushing his heart. For the first time since he had gotten this place he looked around. Really looked around. It was a nice apartment with a great view of the city. It was small but comfortable enough for one person. The rent was very reasonable for this part of the city, and it was so close to his work.

His job... it wasn't something he enjoyed. He didn't dislike it, but it hadn't been something he'd always dreamed about. He was little more than a glorified number cruncher for the firm he worked for. The pay was decent enough, but the hours sometimes dragged on.

He slid down the door to the floor as he realized what he was doing. Leaving his job wouldn't be a problem. He was more than qualified in his field and getting a new one wouldn't be a problem. His apartment was nice, but he wouldn't miss it if he left. He wasn't that attached to it.

It wasn't home.

Duo was home.

His sudden epiphany left him dazed. He couldn't let Duo leave. Not without him.

'I wish you could go with me, but your life is here.'

Duo's words echoed through his mind. He had been so stunned when Duo said he was still leaving, he hadn't noticed their importance when the young dancer had said them. But now he did. Duo wanted him to go with him!

'...but your life is here.'

Heero shook his head. It was true, his job and his apartment were here, but his life belonged to Duo. He couldn't imagine living it without his braided love. He didn't want to imagine it. He could leave this all behind and not miss a thing. He wasn't tied to this place. He was tied to Duo.

His lips pressed together in determination, he pushed himself off the floor. He knew what he had to do. He rushed into his bedroom to change, throwing his work clothes on a heap in the floor. Work clothes... they were just clothes now. He hurriedly dressed in a nice pair of slacks and a simple blue shirt that brought out his eyes. He quickly ran a comb through his hair before bolting for the door. He glanced at the clock on his way out. It was half past ten. The party would probably be ending soon.

As he ran down the street, he prayed he wasn't too late.

+

"Duo-chan? It's time for the last dance," Une said gently as the lights in the dance hall were lowered. Duo sighed and shot one last glance towards the door.

"He didn't come," he said dejectedly as he allowed the taller woman to lead him to the center of the dance floor.

"I'm so sorry."

Duo gave her a small smile. "It's alright. I understand why he didn't. He didn't want to say good-bye." He paused a moment before adding, "I didn't want to say good-bye either."

Une gave him a sad smile. He knew she didn't believe him. They stepped out onto the middle of the dance floor. She brushed wisps of chestnut hair away from his face and leaned down to kiss him gently on the cheek. Her eyes glinted with mischief as she straightened back up.

"This is the last dance. Choose wisely." Then with a wink, she left him alone on the dance floor.

The lights had completely dimmed. Duo could see the shadowy figures of the party guests lining around three sides of the dance floor. He stood facing the doors to the hall and sighed wistfully. Despite what he'd said to Une, he wished Heero was there.

The band director stepped up to the microphone. "Ladies and gentlemen, we're ready for the final number of the evening. This time, let's have Duo pick his own partner."

A spotlight from above shone down, illuminating the beautiful dancer within a circle of white light. Another light began to pan slowly along the crowd. Duo searched the faces, hoping to find a pair of cobalt eyes under a mop of dark brown hair, but knowing he wouldn't.

The light made it all the way around. When it got to the end of the line, it began traveling back the other way. Duo sighed dejectedly and tried to find Hilde in the crowd. She was the closest thing he had to a friend besides Une. He would dance with her.

As the light slid past the double doors once more, a movement caught his attention. Duo stopped breathing as a familiar figure stepped inside. He took a hesitant step forward. Dare he hope? The spotlight operator noticed his movement and swung the light back toward the doors. Duo nearly cried out with joy as he saw Heero standing there with a smile on his face and heat in his eyes. He wanted to run to the Japanese man and throw his arms around him. But decorum held him in check. Slowly he walked forward, his eyes never leaving Heero's. When he was about two feet away, he stopped. They stared at one another for a long moment before Duo smiled and extended his hand.

"Shall we dance?"

Heero's face lit up. He took Duo's hand and led him onto the floor. He pulled Duo to him and waited for the music to start. Duo squeezed Heero's hand, happy to be in his arms once more.

The lights went up slowly as the music began. Heero stepped forward. It was one of Duo's favorite waltzes, but he barely heard the music. All that mattered was that he was in Heero's arms, dancing to their own private music.

As they danced, other couples began joining them on the floor. But Duo didn't notice. He clung tighter to Heero as they sailed across the floor.

"You came," the American said, his voice barely above a whisper. "I didn't think you would."

"I had to," Heero replied, whirling them around. "I couldn't let you leave without..."

"Without saying good-bye?" Duo asked when Heero paused.

"Without me."

Duo's breath caught in his throat. Tears began forming in his eyes as he struggled to contain the whirlwind of emotions coursing through his mind. "H...Heero?"

"I want to go with you Duo," Heero said softly.

"But... but what about your life here?" Duo asked, his voice trembling.

"Baka," his lover admonished gently. "You are my life. And I want to share mine with you if you'll let me." He stopped dancing in the middle of the floor to stare down into Duo's eyes. "I love you."

Duo flung himself into Heero's arms. "Of course I'll let you! I love you, too, Heero."

Heero bent his lover's head back and sealed their love with a kiss. They stood in the middle of the dance floor, clinging desperately to each other, oblivious to everyone around them. At that moment, the world contained only the two of them. Their lips and souls met and became one. Their future together was calling them, but for this moment it could wait. They were in each other's arms. Nothing else mattered.

And the band played on...

~owari

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