by: Caroline

Shall We Dance
VIII : Cha-cha-cha

Heero clutched tightly at the hand strap dangling from the ceiling as the train shuddered along the tracks. He stared out the window, marveling at how beautiful the city looked at night. He smirked at the irony. A few months ago he would have found no joy in watching the glittering lights of the city rush by. But since meeting Duo and learning to dance, he began to find happiness in even the simplest things. Since the long-haired American had danced his way into Heero's life, he'd found joy in living again - something he hadn't felt in a very long time.

And the last few weeks... oh, the last few weeks had been almost like a dream. 'If it's a dream, I hope I never wake up,' Heero thought as he moved aside to let someone pass. Ever since the night they'd first kissed, Heero and Duo had spent every possible moment together, going on secret dates, grabbing stolen kisses on stairways and in alleyways... and in Duo's upstairs dance room. Heero smiled as he remembered their shared moments in the upstairs room, dancing, kissing... touching.

He swallowed hard as he thought about what had transpired in that room two nights ago. They'd been dancing and drinking... and then Duo had blushed at something Heero had said. Heero, feeling rather hazy from the alcohol, had been overcome by how beautiful the American looked when he blushed. He'd drawn the lithe dancer to him, thrusting his hands into the loosely braided hair, and attacked Duo's mouth with his own.

Perhaps it had been the brandy, or perhaps he had simply been tired of denying himself the pleasure of tasting Duo's skin - whatever it was, the kiss had escalated until Heero had pushed the young dancer down to the floor, unbuttoning the loose shirt Duo had been wearing. He'd slid the garment off one creamy shoulder and kissed his way down Duo's swan-like neck. The violet-eyed boy had tasted so sweet, his groin ached just thinking about it. Hurriedly, he moved his briefcase in front of himself so he wouldn't embarrass himself in front of everyone on the train.

They'd come so close to making love that night. Heero knew he wouldn't have stopped himself if Une hadn't come home a few minutes later. He chuckled silently to himself as he remembered their panicked scramble to get off the floor and straighten Duo's clothing before she came up the stairs. Of course, it hadn't seemed quite so funny at the time...

Heero sighed. In a way, he was glad Une had interrupted them. It wasn't that he didn't want to make love to Duo - on the contrary, he wanted to, very much - but he was still feeling guilty for not telling the boy he was married. He wasn't exactly lying to Duo, but he still felt like a total heel for hiding the truth. But every time he gathered up his courage to tell him, one look from those wide, expressive violet eyes and he was lost. He remembered all the pain Duo had experienced in his short life, and he could not bring himself to add to it. He would not allow himself to bring sadness to those eyes he loved so much.

Those eyes - Heero had never seen so much life in them. Hilde too, who had known Duo for a long time, had remarked on the difference. The boy didn't seem so sullen anymore. He smiled a lot more often, and he no longer spent time gazing sadly out the dance studio window. He had changed, definitely for the better. He seemed stronger and more confident in himself and in the people around him. And Heero was glad for whatever part he had played in helping Duo believe in himself.

The train ground to a halt, and Heero threaded his way through the crush of bodies to get off. He walked down the stairs of the platform to the street, suddenly feeling nervous. He hadn't seen Duo since the night in the upstairs room, and he was suddenly afraid of how the boy would react to him after their aborted attempt at making love.

He crossed the street and was about to turn to go up the flight of stairs that led up to the studio, when a large body bumped into him. Heero moved aside, ready to apologize, when he recognized the man. It was the 'groping hands guy' as Duo had called him once. Tanaka. As the man shoved by him, limping, Heero noticed his face was red in anger. From the way the man was grinding his teeth in suppressed rage, Heero could surmise that something had happened. And he'd been coming from the direction of the dance studio.

Imagining all sorts of horrors that could have befallen the American at the hands of the enraged man, Heero took the steps up to the studio two at a time. He burst through the door and quickly took in the surroundings. Wufei and Trowa were standing nearby with unreadable expressions on their faces. Quatre and Hilde were on their knees in front of Duo, who was sitting on one of the benches with his face buried in his hands. The young dancer's shoulders were shaking violently. The urge to run over to the American and take him in his arms overrode his urge to go after Tanaka and pound his face into the pavement for daring to hurt his Duo.

He hurried over to where Duo was sitting, unceremoniously shoving Quatre out of the way. He reached out slowly so as not to alarm Duo and brushed chestnut bangs away from the boy's face.

"Duo? Are you alright?" he asked, fear pooling in his gut.

The braided boy looked up... and laughed. Heero sat back on his heels, stunned and somewhat embarrassed. Duo hadn't been crying... he'd been laughing. Looking around, he could also see the amusement in Quatre's and Hilde's eyes.

"Anyone care to tell me what happened," he asked flatly, "or am I not allowed in on the joke?"

"Oh, Heero! You should have seen it," Hilde said, standing up. "The look on Tanaka-san's face was too priceless!"

"I wish I'd had a camera," Quatre joked, holding his sides from laughing so much.

"Me too!" Duo exclaimed as he gasped for air. "I would have had it framed and put on the wall."

"Will someone please tell me what's going on?" Heero asked feeling very confused.

"Ah, Heero, well, Duo was giving Tanaka-san his lesson as usual," Hilde began. "And as usual, the guy's hands were all over the place."

Heero looked at Duo.

"I couldn't take it anymore," Duo told him, grinning. "I told him that he either had to keep his hands where I out them or he could leave."

"That's when the pig really started to get fresh, telling Duo to stop being coy, that he knew what Duo really wanted."

Heero once again felt a surge of anger wash through him. "Didn't any of you guys stop him?" he asked them accusingly.

"We'd just walked in the door when it happened," Trowa explained. "I was going to say something, but all of a sudden, Duo pushed Tanaka away and told him to leave."

Hilde snorted. "That's the polite way of saying it."

Heero looked back at Duo. "What happened?"

"He touched me somewhere I didn't want to be touched, so I kneed him in a place he didn't want to be kneed."

"In other words, he grabbed Duo's ass, and Duo kicked him in the balls," Hilde said, still giggling.

"Hilde!" Duo exclaimed, flushing at the girl's straightforward mannerisms.

"It's true, Duo! And about time too," she said seriously, looking into his eyes. "Une-sensei and I had been worried about you. You've never stuck up for yourself. Do you know how it hurt us to sit back and watch that man paw you every time he came around?"

"Why did you never say anything?" Duo asked.

"Because, Duo-chan, you would have told us to stay out of your business, that you could handle it even though we knew you wouldn't," Une said gently as she walked up to them. Heero hadn't even been aware that the tall dancer was even there. "You had to stand up for yourself."

"Our Duo's a changed man, Une-sensei," Hilde teased, winking at the braided dancer. "All grown up and fighting off dirty old men."

"Hilde!" Duo protested again, flushing. Heero fought off the urge to jump the American right there. Duo really was too adorable when he blushed.

"Well, now that we have gotten the unpleasantness out of the way, shall we get started?" Une asked, looking at him.

Heero nodded, then looked at Quatre and Trowa. His brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you two doing here? It's not Wednesday."

Quatre grinned. "We're here to pick up a few pointers. Trowa's entering the competition too."

"Sugoi!" Hilde exclaimed, clapping her hands. "But... you can't be his partner..."

A pained look passed over Quatre's face for a brief moment. "I know. But we've recruited Trowa's sister Catherine for the competition. She's a gymnast, but she can dance really well. And Trowa wants a chance to test out his new skills." He flashed them a grin. "I keep telling him he doesn't have to prove anything, but he insists."

"I think it would be fun, mi amore," Trowa said softly, giving his small lover a squeeze. "And with you rooting for me in the audience, I know I'll do my best. I want to make you proud of me, love."

"You already have, Trowa," Quatre said softly, looking deep into the taller man's eyes.

Heero fought down a surge of jealousy. Not over Quatre, but over what he and Trowa had: an open and loving relationship. He would sell his soul to have that with Duo.

Hilde watched the two lovers and sighed dramatically. "Ahhh. Young love."

Duo looked at the girl. "You look pretty chipper today yourself, Hilde. What's going on with you."

To everyone's surprise, Hilde actually blushed and looked away coyly. "I've met someone."

"Oh wow Hilde! That's great," Duo said cheerfully.

Hilde laughed and spun around in a circle. "It is! His name is Alex and... oh, he's dreamy." She turned abruptly to look at Duo sternly. "But he's mine and don't get any ideas!"

Duo laughed. "Daijoubu. I don't think that'll be a problem, Hilde," he said, shooting a shy glance toward Heero.

Hilde looked at the two of them for a moment before a big, silly grin broke out on her face. "Ehhh... looks like I'm not the only one with a special someone in her life," she said, giving Heero a conspiratorial nudge and winking at him.

Heero felt a blind panic sweep through him as he glanced at the others. Quatre, Trowa and Wufei knew he was married. If they were to say anything to Duo before he could... Heero didn't want to think of what might happen. Fortunately the other three seemed to be listening intently to Une as she drew a chart on a nearby dry-erase board. Heero sighed in relief. That had been close. But it enforced his decision that needed to tell Duo and soon, before the violet-eyed boy heard it from the wrong person.

Une beckoned them over to the board, getting them back to business. "Listen carefully," she said, gesturing to her diagrams. "To win, you need to stand out and to dance well. With anywhere up to ten couples on the floor at once, you're lucky to get ten seconds from the judges. This is the basic quick-step format." She pointed to a spot on the oval shaped drawing. "You enter from here. Start with an initial sweep past the crowd... then alternating scissors, followed by a side-chassé. That should bring to about this point. Once there, change direction to a running finish and natural turn..." They listened to Une map out their routine for several minutes before it was time to try in person. Trowa used Quatre to practice on while Heero worked with Hilde. They did the dance over and over until at last, with a sweeping finish, everyone in the room burst into applause. Duo ran up and took one of Heero's and Hilde's hands in his own.

"You did it!" he exclaimed, eyes bright with excitement.

"Don't get too excited," Une admonished them. "We'll need to work on that repeatedly until you feel like you could do it in your sleep. But take a break for now. Grab something to drink, and I'll work with Hilde and Wufei in a few minutes. Heero, we'll map out your waltz routine next time."

Heero nodded, grateful for the break. As good a shape as he was in and dancing still made him work up a sweat. Quatre and Trowa moved to the far end of the room to work on Trowa's routine while he sat down to watch Une instruct Hilde and Wufei. So engrossed was he at watching the two strong-willed dancers battle for control during their rumba, he didn't see Duo sit down next to him until he felt a pair of eyes staring holes in him.

Heero felt the familiar warmth creep through his body as he looked at Duo. "Nani?"

The American gave him a cheeky grin. "Since the other two are busy, why not work with me for a while."

Heero nodded mutely. He'd have to exercise all of his self-control with Duo in his arms. Just looking at the boy kept reminding him of their last night together.