Story: FLAVOUR NO. 7
WINNER 1ST PLACE: Traditional Pairings, SweetlySour's Jubilee Contest 2003
Author: FancyFigures (fancyfigures@hotmail.com)
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em for free etc
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4
Category: POV, romance, fun in the sun!
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon
Spoilers: None

Notes: Duo's annoyed at Heero's lack of response to all the normal delights of a day at the beach. Even his own all-time favourite – ice cream….

Feedback: If you liked it, please let me know!

Flavour No. 7 + Part 1

Maybe it was the photo that put me in such a foul mood. Or the lack of ice cream. Or the weather that day that was so damn hot anyone might be forgiven for losing their temper! But then - that's why I'd suggested the trip in the first place, wasn't it?

"Look at the face on him!"

I was leaning over Quatre's shoulder, peering at one of the pictures he'd taken of us. He had one of those instant developing cameras; I love 'em. Quick snap, immediate embarrassment! This one was of me and Heero - me with a daft grin, squinting into the sun, arm clutching a ridiculous bucket and spade. I had on a cap that barely held my braid in place, with a grinning crab logo on the front. Either it was a fashion that might catch on, or else I just looked a moron. And Heero stood beside me, face turning away in disgust as the camera had clicked - just squinting. No summer clothes, no beach accessories. What a jerk! Quatre sighed, shuffled it under the other, brighter photos.

"He doesn't like his photo taken, Duo..."

"He doesn't like, he doesn't like -!" I chanted, spinning away from him. "What does he like? He doesn't like the sun, the sea, the food, the planet -"

And me, me, me, I thought privately. So - what was new?

We were at the beach, stood on the pier, and I was determined to enjoy it - I love the sound and the smell of the sea, the bustle of people there solely to enjoy themselves, the sound of gulls, the ice cream... It was the hottest day we'd had all summer. I'd moaned and cajoled and nagged until they all agreed it'd be good to take a day away, to go to the beach. Look at the sky, I said, think of the warm sea, and the clear fresh air, and the ice cream... And we were here at last! Even then, to get them all out of the house, I had to clear up the kitchen, find spare shorts for Trowa, and hide Heero's laptop - well, strike that last one, I haven't confessed publicly to that yet. But it was everything I wanted - heat, fun, plenty of barely dressed guys and gals, making me even hornier than I usually was. And even the kids - I'd just spent the last half hour playing soccer with a bunch of 'em, and donated my newly acquired beach ball to them when I'd had enough. They'd lost theirs in the sea. And I'd started out on the quest for the best choice of flavours in - you guessed it, I'm kinda obsessed with it - ice cream.

Yeah - how often did we get a day off, when we could just jump in the van and get away from it all?

The others were peering at the photo as well. Quatre looked perfectly turned out, as always, with a natty sunhat that matched his shorts suit. Trowa stood a little to the back of him at all times, but you somehow still knew he was there, y'know? He had that kinda presence. I will say he looked pretty good in my spare shorts, though his legs could do with some tanning. Wufei was fretting that he was missing valuable sunbathing time; he was already peeling off his shirt, stretching out his muscles in the sun, like some kinda luxuriating cat. God knows where 'Heero the SuperSulk' had got to.

"You're just picking a fight, Duo," Quatre was saying. "We can't all be like you, finding our way round anywhere we go -"

"Flirting with anything in sandals," snapped Wufei.

"Eating anything in sight," smiled Trowa.

Hey! Me? Quatre was still talking through their totally undeserved insults.

"Duo, I think you care more for him than you let us believe. Heero just needs time to settle into different situations."

"He needs to be occupied," Wufei grit out from clenched teeth. "He has no need of outings like this."

"He needs to relax," said Trowa, quietly. "It'll be good for him."

I shook my head at the lot of 'em. Enough was enough!

"Relax?" I growled. "Man's a professional prude. He's welded to his laptop, that's what he is. What he needs is to lose that joystick that's rammed up his a-"

"-and I think ice cream is an excellent idea!" butted in Quatre, with an outrageously simpering grin. "That's what you were saying, wasn't it, Duo?"

Of course I wasn't, but I also wasn't a total idiot, and I realised that Heero was standing behind me a fraction of a second after the others did. I shut up at once. Though, of course, any mention of ice cream always overrides anything else I may be thinking or saying at the time.

Wufei threw his eyes up in that way he has and pulled his hat down over his face. "I shall find a spot on the beach and see you later."

Quatre gabbled on. "Do you know, there have been scientific studies that prove the beneficial effect of ice cream? It helps relieve stress, brings a feeling of well-being. It's the coldness, and the smoothness, and the pure luxury of eating a cone-"

"Hn."

That was Heero's response, as if Quatre hadn't spoken. He was staring at me in a weird way, so I expect he'd heard some of my ranting on, but talk is free, isn't it? I felt a little mean, though.

"I'll go get some, shall I? My treat. We could all use some well-being. Where are you guys gonna be settling?"

I could see Wufei laid on his towel, already snoring. I wanted to be in the same position myself. Quatre and Trowa flashed a look at each other.

"We're going to find somewhere less crowded, OK? Why don't you and Heero have a look round, find a good place for us all to meet up, and get some some ice cream in, say, thirty minutes-"

"Say, an hour," murmured Trowa, his hand not-so-discreetly at Quatre's ass. Jesus, the sun musta got to the two of them, groping like that in a public place! And - wait a minute - didn't that leave me with Mr Misery himself? Alone?

+

Two seconds, that's all the time I stood there, mouth open like the fortune-telling puppet on the pier - and that was all the time it took for them all to melt away from sight. And I was left standing - as I forecast - with Heero.

"I don't like ice cream."

Huh? Who spoke? I knew, of course, it was Heero.

I sighed.

"OK, so I won't buy for you. I'm not gonna force it down your throat, am I? Let's go and find somewhere away from the pier."

I couldn't believe he was enjoying the noise and the people around, and, sure enough, he followed me readily enough.

The beach stretching away from the pier steps was crowded, but on the other side, there was nothing but the breaker wall and driftwood buttresses. Heero was looking in that direction, so we walked down on to the beach, with me dragging the bag of towels and the damn bucket and spade that I wished I'd never seen, and we set out on a path back under the pier. Gradually the sunbathers and the families were left behind us. I hopped over a low, damp, driftwood fence, and we came to a patch of sand and pebbles that was the last of the beach before the breaker wall. There was no-one in sight, though I could still hear shrieks and calls from the other side of the pier.

It was a naturally secluded spot - I suppose it was partly shaded by the tall, wooden supports of the pier, and had very little beach area, so it discouraged the holidaymakers. But there was plenty of room to put out a towel or two. The sand here was untouched by footsteps, and the tide still a way out. The edge of the sea lapped at a couple of rock pools. It looked pretty, as good as any of those Caribbean beaches in the travel programmes on TV.

"This place is good," said Heero. He'd been silent for the last few minutes, so I jumped.

"Well, there's no-one here, is there? It's kinda boring-"

I admit it, I was stroppy. And then I caught sight of his face, and I was shocked. He looked forlorn - almost pleading. I suppose this trip really was a trial for him. I never thought it through - just thought he was some kind of a Super Party Pooper. Yo, Mr. Sensitive Maxwell. You should give a little, OK?

"That's fine, then," I said. "We can settle down here, get some rays, just chill for a bit. Then I'll get the ice cream and find the others."

But things remained awkward between us. I laid out a towel, sat myself down, found some sunoil in the bag that Wufei hadn't pinched already. I'd been in such a good mood when we started out, and I was determined that Heero wasn't going to spoil it for me. After all, we rubbed along well enough back at base, at work 'n all. What was different here?

"Heero, relax a bit. Take off your vest. Lie down and have a nap. Have a paddle."

Even as I said it, I visualised the ridiculous picture of Heero, paddling in the sea. Duh!

"Is that what you're going to do?" he said, totally straightfaced.

"Ahh - yes, I guess so. That's what people do at the beach."

He still had that funny look in his eyes, like on the pier earlier. Vivid blue, searching eyes. His eyes were great. Glaring, but great. I felt rather hot, and I wasn't entirely sure that it was just the sun.

"And it's good, Heero - I enjoy it. I don't need you looking down your nose at me like you do."

He shrugged, but there was a slight glimmer in those eyes now. Might have been a warning, if I'd bothered to pay attention. But I was getting angry again! Damn him, how come he gets me so mad?

"So let's agree to relax in our own ways, OK?"

I stood quickly, determined to keep my nerve and to make him suffer his afternoon with me. I hooked my arms under my vest, and peeled it up and over my head. The sun was hot and immediate on my bare back and I stretched out my arms, welcoming it. My shorts were cute, but they were tight on my butt, and I flipped the top button for comfort. There was no response from Mr Misery. Bet he'd prefer the obedient, silent company of his laptop. Tough rocks, buddy, I thought to myself.

I kicked off my short boots, wriggling my bare toes, and lay down on the towel. Face down was best, so I wouldn't have to look at him for a while, and I rested my head on my arms. I sighed. I could feel my muscles relaxing, my heart slowing. There was nothing to nag at me here; no plans, no nerves, no missions. And it really was secluded, there was no-one else around as far as I could see. There were soft, echoing sounds from the pier above, children's voices at the sea edge far away, cars arriving and leaving.

"Why do you enjoy this, Duo?"

"Huh?"

I groaned at being disturbed, but I pulled myself back up to my knees, and leant back on them, staring at him. He was still fully dressed - surprise, surprise - in vest and pants. He'd just sat himself down on a towel, his back against a clump of dry rocks, and there he'd stayed. While I'd tossed about and grumbled, and thrown a few rocks to one side, and wriggled out a couple of depressions in the sand for my feet. And then settled for sunbathing.

He watched me swing the braid back out of my face. I thought I saw his eyes flicker to my waist, and the open shorts, but I know I was just imagining that.

"I like the sun, obviously - and the sea. I'd like to spend more time at the sea if I had the time. I like the idea of something that's completely out of my control - something that can be fierce and soothing at the same time. Something that's awesome, and yet beautiful..."

Heero tipped his head to the side, like he was trying hard to understand a foreign language.

"Beautiful?"

"Yeah," I sighed.

"Beautiful..." he said again, but it didn't sound like a question this time, and he wasn't looking anywhere near the sea. Just staring at me. I cleared my throat. He asked, didn't he? So I'd tell him.

"It's a freedom as well, isn't it? From the job, from being a Gundam pilot."Cos that's not what we are today- no, we're just guys having a laugh, enjoying the company, nothing different from anyone else here. I can play football with the kids, I can joke with the girl at the kiosk and ask her out, I can eat ice cream and hot dogs. It's great. I can be a different Me."

"A different Me..."

"Ohh Heero, I know you didn't want to come," I groaned. I rolled back down on to my stomach. "Look, man, just make the best of it, will you?"

I don't want you to be miserable, I thought fiercely to myself. Don't you know that? Are you so completely out of touch with real people that you don't see how confusing you are to me? He was silent again, and I knew I'd said something wrong, as usual. And - also as usual - I didn't know what it was.

I sat up again, restlessly. I couldn't see him without turning round, but I knew that Heero was just sitting there, watching me, with that inscrutable look on his face. It set off an itch in me that I had to scratch somehow. And in that soft, background swell of noise that was the rest of the world, I could hear something calling me...something edible!

"I can't wait for the other guys to get ice cream. What flavour d'you want?"

"Hn..."

"Oh yeah, I remember, you don't like ice cream."

"I will try one."

I looked over at him, surprised. And as I did, he reached across his shoulders, and peeled off his vest. He threw it down on the sand, and glared at me - it seemed almost like a challenge, rather than a matter of personal comfort.

For almost ten seconds I was speechless - a personal record. The first reason was my surprise that he was really going to try to join in the spirit of things. Second reason was because his bare chest was just so tasty that I almost forgot the ice cream! I'd seen it, of course I had; we shared a room, remember? But I spent so much time deliberately not looking that I'd never had much chance to admire it properly. And that's what it needed - admiration. He was slimmer than I was, about the same height - but his shoulders were much broader in proportion, and the sculpted shape down to his pecs and his chest was something to behold. Made me wish I spent more time on the weights. And a perfect six pack - muscles on muscles, and not a spare piece of flesh carried anywhere. His skin colour meant that he didn't look that pasty colour that Trowa did - and where the sun came over the breaker wall, it caught his profile and bathed his naked flesh in a golden glow.

Oh shit, I thought, ruefully. I wondered if he'd take off his pants as well. I wondered where the hell my thoughts were leading me. To torture and death, I daresay.

"I'll go get it now," I said hurriedly, and scrambled to my feet.

[part 2] [back to Fancy Figures' fic]