Author: FancyFigures
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em for free etc
Pairings: 2x4
Category: Romance, bit o' sap
Warnings: Yaoi, lime
Spoilers: None
Notes: Another move in Duo's life - another chance to make changes; but without losing the things that should remain constant. A tricky balance...
Feedback: If you liked it, PLEASE let me know!

For Dacia, as a welcome gift in her new home!

Home Sweet Home

The voice was high and shrill, and it wasn't just the quality of the cheap cell phone that was to blame. "Duo? Can you hear me? Christ, it's like it's snowing on the line...Your phone's been cut off! Did you forget to pay like last time?"

Duo sighed into the mouthpiece. A slight smile teased at the corners of his mouth, like it was a pleasure to hear the voice, whatever the tone; whatever the words.

"Duo? Duo! Look - let me call them, sort it out for you -"

"No!" Duo spoke quite sharply. He sighed again, though under his breath; he calmed his own tone a little. "No, it's fine, Quat. I just cancelled the account well in time."

There was a tense little silence on the other end of the line. "You're moving again, then."

"Yeah." Duo smiled fully; he looked round at the boxes around his feet. "Guess so! The lease ran out, and the guy's asking an amount for renewal that'd win awards for fantasy fiction. And my job finished last week. It's time to move on."

"Sure, fine," said Quatre, in a voice that said it was anything but. "And you were gonna tell me - when?"

"Hey, man..." Duo's protest was very gentle. "I would have called you. Don't I always?"

"Yes - you do. I admit that..." He could imagine Quatre nodding at the other end of the line, though he was sure it was a little grudging.

"But Duo - why didn't you call me before now? It's been a few weeks, I think... and I can help you out - you're not the world's greatest organiser on the domestic front."

"Yeah, sure," growled Duo. "So you'll come and help out like last time, because of your significantly better *organisational* skills -"

"Ah - Duo - no, wait, I didn't mean -"

" - and I'll end up with half my meagre china smashed, fourteen additional clauses in the lease, three utility companies fighting to the death for my custom, one of the removal guys with a hernia, and everyone else with a migraine. *Just* like last time!"

He imagined Quatre tossing his blond head angrily - pursing his lips. They were very soft lips; and also very firm lips. It was a good description of Quatre himself - two very contradictory sides to him. Duo sighed again, but he knew it was a fond gesture.

Quatre spoke again, a little more quietly. "Tell me where, Duo - and when. I would like to come and help you." His voice was definitely a little chastened. "I know what you're saying - I was a little too officious. I'm - I know I have a rather different approach to projects. But I'll watch myself this time. I promise." He waited for a response, but obviously didn't hear what he wanted.

"Duo? What is it, you want blood as well?" There was a slightly petulant, slightly amused sigh at his end of the line as well. "So shall I say *please*, then?"

I'm a sucker, thought Duo. The smile was still on his face. A sucker for a pushy blond.

~*~

Duo lifted the last box out of the hall, ready to move it along the corridor to the kitchen - and suddenly Quatre was there in front of him. Framed in the open doorway, lit by the late afternoon light.

"Hell's teeth -!" Duo swore, shocked. He was sweaty - his lower back was aching. He wasn't in the mood for company.

He'd not given the proper instructions to the removal firm, so they'd turned up early, and only sent the one skinny, aged employee. Duo had to pack half his stuff himself, and he forgot to start with the heavy, unbreakable goods first - and then it was to late to re-pack. He'd winced as he heard the crunch of each box being dropped awkwardly into the truck. He spent half an hour on his knees, probing under the decrepit old cooker, trying to ease out a dusty computer disk that he thought might hold his missing address book from last year. He found moth-holes in his favourite sweater from last winter, because he'd just bundled it into the wardrobe and forgotten about it in the better weather - and he'd never got through to the gas company before he left, so he reckoned he'd get hit with this quarter's bill whether he protested or not. And where the hell was the fifty dollars he'd hidden away for emergencies in a 'safe place'?

Then he'd sat beside the guy in the removal truck with his toaster in his lap and a poorly-stacked box of assorted cutlery digging into his neck, and lurched across town at something just below warp speed. It hadn't been a rewarding experience.

"Quat -" he gasped, pushing stray hair back off his damp forehead. "I didn't expect you until tomorrow -"

"I know you didn't," said the cool voice. Quatre looked tall and confident and - well - cool. He was dressed in what he would call a casual outfit. His jeans were about as casual as a tux; his boots looked like they'd just crawled out of the box. His tee shirt announced that 'My other car's a Gundam!' but there weren't many who were going to get the rather exclusive joke.

He looked fit and healthy and damned handsome. But then, he always turned heads wherever he went - whether he expected it or not. Duo was conscious of his own ripe body smell and the new rips in his clothes from the packing case nails and the unfamiliar corners of his new apartment, and he cursed the God of Disadvantage for picking on him.Quatre stepped into the hall and took the other end of the box. Duo felt the relief of the weight taken from him. The guy looked like Achilles, but had the strength of a young Hercules. Deceptive - that was another of Quatre's characteristics.

"You didn't expect me, Duo, because you told me the wrong day. Didn't you?"

Duo grimaced. Wondered whether he could get away with feigning innocence.

"Don't for God's sake turn on that 'I'm Innocent' act, Duo!" growled Quatre. "You forget I know it too well! No, you didn't want me around, wanted to do the whole damned thing on your own."

"Only partly right..." murmured Duo. They were struggling to manoevure the box into the kitchen.

"Huh?"

Duo let down his end of the box on to the floor, and straightened up with a crunch of joints. There was a quiet, tinkling settlement of items in the box that accompanied him. "That's partly right, Quat. This *is* my show, right? I'd like to try to handle it my own way. I think I can move Maxwell and his paltry possesssions without needing the massed armies of the Winner empire and their president-elect ..."

Quatre flushed, and Duo knew he'd been needlessly cruel.

Quatre flashed back at him. "I never said you couldn't, you deliberately misunderstand me, I think! Christ, why am I not surprised at that? But you've moved so often, and I've helped before, haven't I? I just don't see you going in for any kind of a plan, or advance preparation, and yet it's not an easy project, moving home. Whereas I've had plenty of practice with the family, with arranging and implementing some very complex moves for all of my siblings' requirements. Moving is the second most stressful thing in life, they say - "

He paused, seeing the grin broadening on Duo's generous face. The man's emotions were always so close to the surface. *Everything* about Duo was close to the surface, and that's what both thrilled and terrified him. It always had. Quatre didn't see the sweat and the dust and the ripped clothes. He saw - as always - the man who lived in all his daily thoughts.

"Missed you, Quat," murmured Duo's smile.

"What?"

"Yeah, I have. You don't have to believe me."

Quatre frowned, though his eyes sparkled with something he fought to hide. "But you rarely call. And we don't hang out together any more. Well - not often."

"That's what we said, though, wasn't it? I'm just abiding by the rules you set..."

"Not *rules*!" Quatre's voice sounded almost plaintive. "I just thought - it was better we had some time apart. For a while."

"So you said. So you arranged - so you implemented."

"OK," sighed Quatre. He knew where this discussion was leading - where it usually did. Today, he wasn't sure he didn't want to break the pattern. Maybe it was time. "So I suppose it came across like a set of rules. Well, it would to you! I prefer to say they were suggested guidelines."

"I did agree with you," Duo reminded him, gently. He was intrigued by Quatre's calm tolerance. It wasn't usually that way.

"We just - didn't seem to agree on anything any more."

Duo nodded, slightly. "Not even us."

"No... not even *us*."

"But then we never liked that sappy sorta stuff, did we?" Duo smiled encouragingly at him.

Quatre stared back. "No we didn't. Not our thing. That sappy stuff, as you called it. I remember."

Duo stared as well. He was very conscious of the aching emptiness of the room - of the hollow echo of their voices against the plain walls. He wondered what Quatre remembered of their time together - whether it was the noise, and the nagging conflict of their personalities, and the tension and anger of constant argument. Or whether it was the soft salty taste of skin; the whisper of shared amusement; the gasping cry of surrender in the middle of a night.

Not sappy stuff, at all. Poignant stuff - deeply emotional stuff. Stuff not easily shaken off.

They both felt their eyes hurting, and looked away at almost the same time.

~*~

"Let's get started, then," said Quatre. Duo imagined him clapping his hands together - pulling the pencil from behind his ear. "Where's your inventory?"

Duo rolled his eyes.

Quatre let out a breath, in a deliberately controlled way. "So - no inventory. How do you know if everything got here in one piece?"

"How do I know?" said Duo, his voice a little warm with warning. "I know it *didn't*, because I heard the crack when one the boxes got dropped, and thatwas the end of my last two china cups. But I know that what I packed, got here - because, one, there were only six boxes' worth; two, I helped pack it myself into the van; three, I travelled all the way here with it either in my lap, stabbing my ears, or sliding dangerously close to my kidneys every time we took a corner too sharply; four -"

"OK," sighed Quatre. "I get the message. I promised to watch myself, didn't I?"

"You can't help being a control freak," said Duo. When Quatre looked up sharply, he found the dark blue eyes were affectionate. He almost wished they'd been as insulting as the words. He didn't like the effect that look had on his stomach.

"So - furniture? There's only the table, those two stools and the kitchen unit in here -"

"There's a couple more chairs in the lounge. A small card table. Portable TV. A clothes rail in the bedroom."

"And -?"

Duo rolled his eyes again. Quatre groaned quietly.

"It's just furniture, Quat - most of what I had was rented or borrowed, so it was time it went back. I can buy more when I need it. I'm out most of the time, eh?"

"Phone? You'll need to get connected -"

"Later. I've got my cell for the moment."

"Services? You need to get the gas up, and a meter reading -"

"Sure," shrugged Duo, like it was probably the last thing on his mind.

"I'll call 'em when I need to. Weather's warm enough not to need heating. I got electricity and water." He stretched his aching muscles, his hands high above his head - one of the joints popped. Quatre watched the strong, graceful, masculine movement. His stomach was still playing up.

"Bed - " said Quatre, unthinking.

Duo grinned. "I got my bedroll in a box somewhere, Quat. That's all I need. And you know that's comfortable enough, eh?"

Quatre blushed. Duo thought how cute he looked - a tall, blond god fallen to earth, with the comic-book humour of pink shading high on his cheeks. Duo tried not to remember other cheeks - other pink blushes.

Quatre wondered why he hadn't remembered it was better he didn't visit Duo in the flesh too often.

"A cooker, though, Duo - surely - "

"I'm no gourmet at the best of times, Quat. I can eat out for a while. There are stores..."

A thought was lodged in Quatre's mind. Duo saw it arrive - knew what it was. Neither thought it was wise to broach the subject, but Quatre still did.

"What about money? How are you off? When does your job start?"

"Don't know," said Duo, slowly.

Quatre looked at the slight sheepishness in his expression - the sudden flush of embarrassment in his cheeks.

"Do you have a job at all, Duo?"

A rueful grin. "Ahh... no, not yet."

Quatre couldn't control the look of horror that dashed across his face.

For a fleeting second, Duo's expression tightened painfully. "Let's not go there again, Quat, OK? I've never failed yet to support myself. I have skills that other people only dream of -"

"And which are really gonna be in demand down at the stores -!"

Duo tsked, and Quatre bit his lip. "Cut the sarcasm, Quat. I'll get a job - when I need to. And I'll do my best at it."

"Of course you will!" protested the blond. "Dammit, Duo, I never meant *that* -!"

Duo looked at him carefully, and Quatre knew that he flushed. Duo's looks - *all* of 'em, even the harsh ones - had that effect on him.

His voice sounded hard and sad, even to his own ears. "You've got an answer for everything haven't you, Duo? For everything I can suggest, anyway. For everything that matters to *me*."

"But not necessarily to *me*," murmured Duo. He stepped over a pile of blankets in the middle of the kitchen floor, and touched gently at Quatre's arm. He saw the blond man shiver, and try to hide it.

"So - I promised to watch that as well, as I remember," said Quatre, a little tersely. "Judging you and your life by my standards. Expecting you to be different..."

"Do you want me to be different, Quat?"

"Of course I don't," sighed Quatre. "Yet I do. Oh - I don't know! You confuse me, Duo. I can't understand you."

There were more words between them that were being avoided, and this time nobody spoke them aloud.

Duo broke away on the pretext of finding the kettle.

Quatre stared at the box they'd dragged into the kitchen, and realised that it looked familiar. It was a packing case that he remembered lifting last time that Duo moved - when he'd been allowed to join him, and to help. When he'd been in favour.

Before he fucked up somehow.

"I know," murmured Duo, suddenly beside him with a lone, limp teabag in his hand. He never said that he knew what Quatre was thinking - but the inference was there. "Never got unpacked since the last move, that one. Gotta wonder what's in it that's so unimportant that I've never needed to look."

~*~

The kettle was boiling so slowly, and the single electric ring glowing so fitfully underneath it that Quatre felt agonies of frustration. Duo just sat on the other stool and browsed through a local paper that had come through the door.

"I'll go," said Quatre, standing up abruptly. "You don't need my help, or my hindrance, whatever you want to call it. I have plenty of other things to do. It was rude just to invite myself over - I'm sorry I interrupted you."

"You didn't," said Duo, quietly. "We're friends, remember?"

"I remember," replied Quatre. And that's why I'm going, he thought.

But Duo stood as well, almost as abruptly. They stood there in the kitchen, staring at each other. The kettle was puffing out some steam, half-heartedly; Quatre fought the urge to go over and move it to safety.

"I wanted this to be different, Quat," came the low, familiar voice. "I wanted you to see me settling in - everything managed OK. You don't need to worry about me."

"How can you stand it, Duo?" Quatre also fought the break in his voice. "No job, no goods. No support network - no advance planning -"

"Minimum hassle, Quat. I just concentrate on *me*, and where I need to be, and what I need to do. I know it's not for everyone -"

"It's a nightmare." The implication was there - *you're* a nightmare. Duo felt the pang of guilt, and regret.

He blurted out the words. "How can *you* stand it, Quat? How can you stand *me*?"

Quatre's eyes narrowed. Biting back a comment, he surrendered to the need to turn off the hob and put the kettle out of its misery. He found himself looking for mugs; for coffee; for some other distraction.

But Duo was continuing; his voice was thoughtful - almost surprised. "I think I was meant to be watching my own behaviour as well. I think I made promises, as well. Huh?"

Quatre's expression was of wary gratitude. He turned back to face Duo, abandoning the refreshments that neither of them really wanted. "Yes, you did. You were going to watch yourself, as well. I didn't want you to be different, Duo -"

"No," smiled the other man. "I know that. Wouldn't work anyway, eh? But it wouldn't work with you, either. You are as you are."

"Yes -"

"And that's how I like you, Quat."

Quatre didn't breathe for a minute. Duo was looking at his mouth, and his stomach was extremely troubled, and he knew where *this* discussion was leading. He didn't resist, though.

"So..." said Duo, slowly, as if he were rolling his words around in his mouth to get the right and proper combination. "I can see that this isn't ideal -"

"You can?"

"Yeah. And I'm sorry about that - I genuinely am. I guess it wouldn't hurt me to be a little more responsible - it wouldn't hurt me to admit that just concentrating on *me* doesn't always get me to where I want to be. That sometimes I have to backpedal for a bit, and mop up a few mistakes. That sometimes I wish -" he paused.

Quatre's mouth opened slightly - he moistened dry lips. "You wish?"

"That sometimes I wish I had thought things out a little more carefully."

"Like the moving?"

"Uh-huh," nodded Duo, but that wasn't what he was thinking about. He was more concerned that he'd let the pushy blond talk him into a separation that he'd never wanted. That if he'd put some kinda careful thought into the whole thing, he might have been able to bring some compromise to the table - rather than a shrug and a surrender. It was a two-way street.

Quatre's face was a picture - a picture of a strange, shocked little hope. Duo hoped that's what it was, and not permanent piles from sitting on these damp, crappy stools that he was sure he'd thrown out after the last move.

"I can see things a little more clearly too, Duo," the blond man said, softly. Duo watched those soft/firm lips speaking. Quat spoke a lot of sense, of course. He knew it was plain cussedness that prevented him listening, sometimes... "I guess I can see that it's not the end of the world, not having a plan."

"No?"

Quatre's face twisted in a wry smile. "Guess that's something from a control freak like me, eh? Sometimes I like the carefree - the sudden. The spontaneous..."

"You do?"

"I do. With you."

Duo's smile was back again. So was one of the looks that infiltrated Quatre's defences like a rat under a fence. "I wanna do something fairly spontaneous, Quat, but I'm just not sure how close you are to that kettle, and you may wanna beat me off with it -"

Quatre took the step forward first, and kissed him.

~*~

Duo thought he may invest in a bed. After he got a job - and paid off a coupla debts. And took Quatre out for some food.

Whatever. He sighed, and rolled over on his bedroll, raising some dust and a nervous money spider from the nearest corner of his totally empty bedroom.

Empty, except that Quatre was there, clothing also in disarray; the same look in his eyes. And a couple of minutes ago there'd been the delicious echo of Quatre's cry of satisfaction, bouncing off the bare walls.

"Some things are always the same aren't they, Quat?"

"Guess so," sighed the blond. His stomach felt more settled now. So did a couple of other things.

"And maybe some things are better new, eh?" murmured Duo. His tongue was at Quatre's ear - his words tickled the hairs on his neck. His hand was still half inside Quatre's pants, and it didn't look like it was trying to escape any time soon.

"Uh-huh," Quatre agreed. "There'll be advantages, I'm sure..." He rolled over too, to put his face close to Duo's. "I missed you too, Duo."

Duo's smile was mischievous, but his eyes betrayed his nervousness. "Wanna go again? Us? Had enough time apart?"

"A fresh start?" Quatre sounded cautious.

"No - just a new place," said Duo, softly again. His voice was like it had been when he'd gasped Quatre's name into his kiss; when he'd let the insouciance and the carelessness fade into stark, vulnerable need. "We don't need to start again, 'cos we're already there. Just have trouble with the domestic front, don't we? Trouble working together - being together. Liking such different things - sharing such different attitudes to real life."

"Except the sappy sorta stuff," Quatre teased, gently. He liked the feel of Duo's fingers between his thighs. Very much.

Duo laughed lightly. "We feel the same about that, true."

"So - a new place," sighed Quatre, relaxing on to his back again.

"Yeah - a new home..."

"Home sweet home." Quatre's contentment was like a purr.

Duo kissed him.

"Very sweet," he murmured.

"Very sweet."

The End

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