Author: FancyFigures
Disclaimer: I don't own 'em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about 'em for free etc
Pairings: 1x2
Category: Duo POV, romance, some angst
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon
Spoilers: None
Notes: Thanks, Dacia, for the 'Inspirational Words'!!
The weather is against the NewYear's holiday - and Duo's bittersweet memory of last year seems like just more awkwardness...

Written for The Maxwell-Yuy Addiction Winter 2003 Blanket Fic contest! (that's two fics, I know, I'm sorry!!!)

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

Slush Sucks!

...now...

"Slush sucks!" I groaned.

I knelt up at the window of the holiday cabin, and I stared gloomily out of the window. Like a kid, pressing his nose against the glass. Not that I could see a bloody thing. Just thick grey sky, and black, stripped stick-like trees. And rain doing what it does best - falling steadily and relentlessly. A wind whipping the tops of the bushes; dark puddles along the road down to the clubhouse. A coupla people struggling their way down to the restaurants and bars, wrapped like barrels in quilted coats.

"Look at it! Yesterday, all through the journey here, it was Winter Wonderland - today it's Muddy Havens, Slushville!"

There was movement from the man sitting on the couch on the other side of the room. He looked up at me from his magazine.

"It will stop raining. Snow is forecast again for tonight."

"But if it doesn't happen? How often are those forecasts right? If this keeps up, I can't see how we'll have our New Year's Party. It should be like it was last year - I want white slopes, and clean, clear dry skies! Glittering branches, and snowball fights, and mulled wine -"

Like last year, my mind echoed... OK, I grudgingly admitted to myself; not completely like last year...

There was silence from elsewhere in the room. Guess I was being a little too gushing. Guess I never learn to keep my mouth matched to the company I'm in, eh?

Then he coughed. I sighed. But I didn't turn round to face him.

"The snow will come, Duo..."

"Snow sucks..." I muttered.

"There's mulled wine at the clubhouse..."

"That sucks, too!" I snapped

"God, Duo!" My companion snorted with some frustration. "Is that your reply to everything? You never used to be so foul-tempered -!"

An awkward silence fell.

Damn right, though, wasn't he? My companion. My friend, however you want to define that word.

My friend Heero.

*

We were at Quatre's holiday cabin in the mountains. He'd promised us all a week of snow and ski-ing and New Year's fun. Wheedled at us, nagged at us, until we all agreed to join him there. We knew the place - we'd had a great time there, last New Year. The resort was luxurious and full of entertainment; there'd be a party most nights on site. There were trips out on sledges; music and minibar and spa bath in all cabins. What more could the guys want? Last year, we'd all agreed we'd like to go again soon. Perhaps a regular New Year event...?

So here was our first anniversary visit. Only Heero and I had made it here so far; we were waiting for the others to arrive. Quatre had flown out on some PR trip to one of his many business conglomerates, but he'd make his way here direct. Wufei was visiting family at his commune in the hills, but was also on his way. And Trowa would be locking up his midtown apartment and taking the train.

But despite the fact they were all great guys, I wasn't sure this reunion thing had been a good idea after all. Partly because I seemed to be in such a bad mood - partly because I wasn't sure we still had the same close friendship we had a year ago.

Well... some of us.

Anyway, the decision had been made for me, regardless - everyone else seemed really keen. And I was here, wasn't I? But I'd be damn pleased when the others turned up, to bring a little more Seasons' Greetings to the cabin.

I was pretty grumpy, I know - wasn't entirely sure why. Couldn't just be the weather, could it? I mean, I had two pairs of socks and my slippers on, and I still felt cold and miserable. I'd been so looking forward to seeing everyone, and celebrating New Year with my few, true friends - and I just wanted everything to go well.

I wished Heero hadn't arrived early; wished I hadn't done the same.

Yes indeed - very childish, eh?

That sucked, too. My behaviour.

I cleared my throat. Turned to look at him. Attempted to brighten my manner. It's what I'm good at, after all.

"So how have things been, Heero, in your neck of the woods? Busy at work? Out and about on the club scene? Hacked your way into the FBI yet?"

He grimaced a little. Stared at me like I was mad. "We saw each other last month, round at Trowa's birthday celebration..."

"Yeah, but I didn't get a chance to catch up on your gossip!"

"Whose fault was that?" he asked, pointedly.

I had no answer. We saw each other regularly, sure. But always in a group. Always at someone else's place. We rarely got left alone together.

I made sure of that.

But it looked like I hadn't been as subtle as I thought. The expression on his face was struggling with something - irritation, perhaps. It was a good face - a handsome face.
Tanned from a hot summer; blue eyes bright against the dark, unruly hair. Thick, lush lips pursed to speak...

"Duo, don't you think we should talk?"

"That's what we're doing, isn't it?"

He tsked. "It's - it's always awkward, Duo. I don't know what I can do - why you won't let me..."

"Don't flatter yourself, Heero," I sighed. "Praps I've just got that SAD disease, y'know? The one that means I suffer from lack of sunlight. The one that means I get mopey in the slush..."

"Baka..." he growled.

"...sucks," was all he heard from me in reply.

We glared at each other.

I guess he took the hint that the conversation was closed. He lifted himself from the couch with a small, angry sigh. "Gotta unpack."

"Sure." I turned back to the window.

I knew it had been a bad idea to come here. I could manage things back in the city; back among the familiarity and security of my life. But here, I could hear myself, reverting to sarcasm and bad temper and downright rudeness... I didn't like myself like this.

Nor could I say it was anyone's fault but my own. I stared out at the grey sky, willing it to clear.

Grey sucks, I thought. But I didn't say it aloud this time.

*

The phone rang a coupla minutes later. It sounded like Quatre, though the sound was dreadful, all hiccuping and hissing.

"Quatre?"

"Duo? Is that you? Thank God I got through! The signal is so bad -"

"Where are you, Quat?"

"God, I'm still -" crackle, " - and can't take off yet. The snow is so heavy, they won't let me risk the plane -"

"Try it here," I murmured, savagely. "Damn plane would probably float here -"

"Duo? What did you say? Sorry, the reception is so bad here, and everyone's running about like mad things." Crackle again. I heard Heero come back into the room, and when I glanced at him, he raised an eyebrow, questioningly. I turned my back. Quatre was still yelling parts of sentences into his mouthpiece - it always amazes me; modern technology can bounce a signal through space, but people still have to shout down a phone. "- might not make it there - Look, I know it's awkward, but please make use of everything you want - Duo, OK? - all your names at reception - all of the facilities - there for you all."

"Not make it?" I repeated, dumbly.

"Duo? Duo? Can you hear me? -" hiss, hiss - "slopes are even better this year - try the ski-ing again! - clothing and equipment in the cabin. I know you - not much of a chance last year..."

A laugh in the background, and Quatre turning to hush whoever it was. "Damn airfield -" he called down the phone, but the reception was already breaking up again.

"- call you when - Happy New Year!"

I put the phone down and examined my disappointment. "The snow's too heavy where he is. He can't take off - may not get here," I said. "To join us."

"That's a pity..." said Heero, quietly.

"Snow sucks!" I snapped. "But he says we can use all the facilities - and the slopes are even better than last year -"

My eyes met Heero's.

"Last year," he murmured. It was neither a question nor accusation. That was just the way I took it.

"Yeah," I snapped, rather too harshly. His eyes widened, but his mouth clamped shut.

"Anyway," I gabbled on, "Quatre says we must take advantage of it; get in some ski-ing -"

There was only the slightest of noises from Heero, but it spoke volumes. We both felt the same way about that.

"Yeah," I sighed. "Ski-ing sucks, too!"


...last year...

Guess you've picked up on my slightly testy attitude towards last year, eh?

So let me tell you a little more 'bout it.

Quatre had invited us all to the cabin for New Year - we all needed a holiday. And what a great place it was!

Only Wufei had been before - all the rest of us were seriously impressed by the facilities at the resort. And the weather had been on our side, as well! Fresh, sharp air that left clouds of steam when you laughed; bright, pale sunshine; deep, blindingly white snow; it was like off a Christmas card. Combined with the luxurious cabin, and unlimited food and drink and laughs, we had the greatest time. We relaxed happily together, largely due to Quat's perfectly-honed skills as social host. It was everything I always dreamed of for a winter holiday; we stuffed ourselves with the seasonal food; messed about in the snow; toasted marshmallows and all that sappy, sentimental, corn-packed stuff.

I loved it! At last - the chance to ski - something I'd never done before! I was so keen they couldn't open the door fast enough in the morning - they couldn't keep me from the slopes! They couldn't hold me back from taking everything at breakneck speed and with unbounded enthusiasm. Just like me, eh?

Sigh.

Like - I lasted all of two days before the accident.

I broke my ankle, didn't I? Took one of those slopes just a tad too fast, and ended up on my butt, with my left leg twisted awkwardly under me. Wondered why there was snow in my eyes, until I realised it was tears of pain.

I was carried unceremoniously off the mountain and back down to the doctor's, and once I'd been plastered up, from there to enforced rest at the cabin. Where Heero was left with me.

How come Heero? you ask. Was he my nurse?

Nah - is that likely? About as likely as Santa himself on the Atkins diet... No, it's just that as I fell, I'd grabbed out at the only solid thing I could find - which happened to be Heero, just sliding gracefully to a halt beside me, Mr Perfect Snow-Plough, coming to give a hand.

He gave a hand, all right - reached out for me as I lurched away from the earth's gravity, yelling all the time, and then caught me as I hurtled back down to his feet.

I broke three bones in his hand. Small bones, but painful ones - and temporarily debilitating.

The two of us sat in matching plasters for the rest of the holiday.

*

I was bitterly disappointed about the ski-ing, but I didn't think it was gonna be so bad. At least I had company.

It was the first time I'd ever spent concentrated time alone with Heero; outside of the familiar territory of the town where we both lived. I was sorta looking forward to finding out more about him; seeing what made him tick. Developing some shared interests...

OK, I knew I couldn't be questioned too closely on that. I already fantasised about 'shared interests' with Heero that had nothing to do with stamp collecting or fishing or... whatever. And more to do with his slim, strong body and fascinating-but-grim good looks. But that was known only to Me and my friend the Palm... and I'd never have let the man himself know it! He was so stern, so dismissive, so - so - not interested!

I knew that, even back then.

And I was right, wasn't I? He had no tolerance for me at all. He scowled at me for 24 hours solid, for spoiling his holiday. Heero invented the Eloquent Scowl, y'know. I could admire just how damn fine he looked while he was doing it - but it never held him back.

So the two of us got left back at the resort for most of the days, and we had to make the best of it. It was a fabulous place - only the best for Quatre! - and his cabin was right near the centre of all the facilities. So Heero was able to amble out for periodic food and drink and supplies for us all. But it galled the two of us, every morning, to see everyone else suited up, skis over their shoulders, aiming up the peaks for a day's exercise.

While we sat and grouched.

I thought we might at least have our disappointment in common. But we didn't seem to connect on many levels at all. He scorned my jokes, and wouldn't let me near preparing any food, even though he struggled sometimes with only one working hand and a cumbersome plaster on his arm. I found his habitual quietness unnerving, and his devotion to his laptop monumentally geekish! Like - who comes on holiday with their laptop?? So we clattered around the place rather uncomfortably. I drank hot chocolate until I looked faintly brown-skinned; he concentrated on developing one-handed keyboard skills. We both read every magazine going, about a hundred times. Even the gossip ones. And then I coloured in the black and white adverts, but that was just me, trying to pass the time.

Sometimes I caught him watching me, fingers temporarily poised over his typing. Or whatever he was doing. He'd stare me out, and then get back to work. I don't know why I blushed when he did that. It's not as if he was showing any particular friendship that I could see.

Annoyed me like hell, to tell you the truth. And I wasn't gonna put up with it! My only entertainment was scratching the itch inside my leg cast, and the choice of reading either the latest on the Danish royal family's exploits, or a selection of lurid historical romances that appeared to have been penned when quills were still in fashion.

And so I made him talk to me! I nagged, and I chattered, and I probed, until at last he weakened, and he began to open up. I demanded answers to my questions; insisted he gave me his opinion on everything from the weather to the size of Wufei's ski boots, but it had to be in more than four words. He snapped at me; he sighed at me; and then he seemed to surrender. He started to tell me what he liked; how he felt. It was tentative to start with. I mean, he was never gonna be the sort of guy who says 'life sucks', nor the sort of guy who stands out in the rain just 'cos it feels good on the skin of his scalp.

I've done both, y'see. It's just that I tend more to the former, nowadays.

But we watched some TV together, and discussed what we saw. He read aloud one evening, when there was nothing interesting on, and the other guys had stayed out late with their après ski celebrations. He was embarrassed at first, then belligerent, then he just relaxed into enjoying the sound of the words in the tranquil evening air of the cabin. He let me into the kitchen, and I cooked a coupla meals; he seemed to enjoy them. We laughed at some comedy film - we played some cards.

And I watched his still, confident features as he talked to me, and admired his strong, secure arms as they helped me get about the cabin. It was an increasingly fine feeling.

I helped him pull on his socks a coupla times; and in return, he helped me prop myself up in the shower, the leg cast needing to hang out of the way of the water. I did wear a modesty-saving towel, y'know! He huffed a bit with the effort, and worked very pragmatically, but I couldn't ignore his hands, tight on my half-naked body. The reality of the pair of us struggling away in the little tiled cubicle was enough to swamp me with pretty unsettling feelings. I was afraid he'd guess what reaction he was causing in me, so I decided after that I could manage on my own.

Once I let him braid my hair in the morning. I liked the feel of his fingers as they brushed against my neck; the sudden tug to my hair when he got too brisk, or the cast got in the way of his busy fingers. I found I was listening for him when he was in another room. When the other guys were back, and bouncing around the cabin, and calling and laughing and swapping ski stories - well, I found I was zoning out, and concentrating only on what Heero might say.

I found I was getting to like him. That I was discovering the person behind the persona.

I hoped he liked me, too.

*

How did we get left on our own on New Year's Eve? It was meant to have been the big Party night! We were gonna drag our finery on over our plasters, and all go down together to the clubhouse, to boogie and party-popper the night away.

The snow was particularly heavy that day. Quatre had been the first to shriek with joy, early in the morning, and then the others were up and about with equal enthusiasm, and inching desperately towards the door and the lure of the slopes. Of course they were sorry we couldn't join them! Of course they'd be back in good time to get ready for the party tonight!

They looked guiltily exhilarated. Is that combination possible?

By the time the late afternoon came, I think we both knew they wouldn't be back in time. One of the instructors had been round the cabins, explaining that the lift was out of action - that some of the skiers may have to spend the night up at the ski centre on the mountain. He struggled through the deep snow to reach us, the heavy flakes battering at his scarf-snuggled head.

I was pretty annoyed. I was pretty sorry for myself, actually. Heero hadn't been much company, as he'd been wrapped up in some book on HTML that he'd found at the back of the shelves in the clubhouse. I sat in my chair, wriggling my good foot across the floor for the TV remote, which had been left just out of my reach, and sipping at a particularly revolting purple liqueur. It was all that was remotely party-spirited in the whole cabin. We'd emptied the minibar some nights ago, and we were relying on going down to the club tonight for our entertainment.

But I was determined to get into the New Year mood!

And the liqueur was surprisingly potent. I felt quite flushed. When I accidentally kicked the remote further away under the couch, I think I giggled. Oh God, I thought.

The snow was falling, more and more steadily.

"Duo..." It was a strange, strangled little noise, coming from Heero's room.

"What?" Had he crashed his precious system? Found out that I borrowed his hairbrush last night? Seen a yeti -?

"I can't... I..."

Silence. I sighed, and burped a little. I put down my glass with exaggerated care, and dragged myself up on to my crutch. Limped to the doorway of his room.

Heero stood there, dressed in his own tee shirt and a pair of casual pants - but his good hand grabbed them awkwardly at his hip.

"What's up?" I said.

"I -" His face was flushed a dark red colour. I couldn't remember seeing Heero and Embarrassment in the same room at any time, so I didn't recognise it at first. "I - I'm stuck."

"Stuck?" I repeated, stupidly. I looked back down at the pants - saw that the zip was still half open. And yet the lower part of his plastered arm was pressed close to his crotch, and the muscles of the upper arm were tensed. Like he was holding the opening together. Like he was in some kind of pain or discomfort.

Like he'd got the soft edge of the cast caught in the teeth of the zip.

I mean, what would you have done?

"Stop laughing!" he shouted at me. "I can't - get the damn plaster free! And if I move the other arm off my hip to try and loosen it, the damn pants fall down, and I can't get the two things going together -" He stopped. I'd never seen Heero and Flustered in the same room, either, but I was seeing it now, and it was the best entertainment I'd had this miserable holiday!

"Let me help," I said, and started hobbling over to him.

"I don't think -" He started and stopped, and made some frustrated huffing noise.

"You want me to help, or you don't," I shrugged. "You stand there like a dork until someone else gets back, or you let me unsnag the cast, and you can get dressed properly. What were you up to, anyway? Getting changed again, ending up with your hands clutching your pants to your ass like that?"

"I - I thought we'd go down to the club - on our own..." he started to protest, even as he realised I was teasing him.

"Yeah," I smiled. It had been in my mind, too. The ski-boys had deserted us for the mighty mountain, so 'praps we'd desert them in return, and party on, regardless. "But I think the weather's gonna put paid to that, I'm afraid. There's gonna be no party tonight unless Santa comes and picks us all up on his sleigh. Here, let me do that -"

My hands were at his waistband already, teasing at the threads of lint that had got stuck. I saw his fingers clench as I tugged away at his groin area, but he didn't push me off.

"Nearly free..." I mumbled. I bent my head lower, to look more closely. The tip of my tongue snuck out of my mouth, like it does when I'm concentrating hard. I sucked on it. I thought Heero might be looking at it, and I flushed with my own embarrassment.

And something else.

My fingers were cold - that's what I told myself. That's why they fumbled a bit. Nothing to do with the fact that they were brushing up against the bare skin that peeked between his tee-shirt and the cloth of his pants. That I kept catching a knuckle in the small, soft dip of his navel. That I could feel the softness of a silky pair of boxers, the only barrier now between his nakedness and me. That I was so close to him that I could feel his hot breath on the top of my head, and see the movement of his chest under his shirt.

His skin was warm, and it shivered slightly under my touch. He had gorgeous skin. I'd seen patches of it, when he showered; when he was dressing of a morning. Dusky; smooth. Stretched over muscles, no surplus fat to be seen. I mean, I wasn't especially watching...

His smell was in my nostrils - clean hair, and a tang of cologne. I always smelt it, even when the place was full of all five of us, with rooms full of the aroma of sweat, testosterone and cherry soda, with a liberal helping of talc and hair gel thrown in for luck.

"Here we go..." I gasped, giving the last awkward thread a good yank, and the cast sprang back away from his groin, free of its prison. I staggered a bit, almost losing my balance, and Heero grabbed out with his good hand to catch me. Just like he had on the slopes. But this time I wasn't falling backwards. I was tilting, leaning, falling gently forwards... whatever you wanna call it, I tipped against his chest, and my own hand grabbed back at his shoulder.

We were centimetres apart. My face was burning. I could feel the heat reflecting off his.

His eyes were wide and dark.

His lips were moist; they were opening slightly, as if to say something.

So I kissed them.


...now...

I stood in the same room, a year later, and I thought I could still smell his fragrance, just as it was then. And the almost unbearable excitement that had coursed through me.

I even turned slightly, to see if he'd come back in - to see if he was standing close enough to me to explain the vividness of my memory.

He wasn't.

And then the phone rang again, thankfully distracting me. It was Wufei.

"Hey, Wufei man, where are you? Time's movin' on -"

It sounded like his damn phone was suffering the same problems as Quatre's, though Wufei always sounds kinda curt, doesn't he?

"There's been an accident, here, Duo - the wind is so high that a tree has fallen on the jeep. The road - blocked -" crackle, hiss. I was getting used to translating mangled conversations by now.

"Wufei? Can you hear me? Are you OK?"

"- fine, fine - no injuries - but -"

I could hear the swelling, rushing noise on the line, like a small hurricane. Like a gale was speeding things past him. I heard a curse.

"But, Wu -?"

"- Duo - may not make this evening - fixing jeep - wind has taken out the power lines - airport - not -"

"Not? Not?" I almost yelled in frustration.

"Can't get through - Duo - tell - " hiss, roar, " - Happy New Year!" And the line went dead.

And then Heero stirred behind me. I hadn't heard him come back into the room. He held a towel in his hands, obviously still unpacking. "Was that Wufei? Is he having problems, too?"

"Yeah," I groaned. "Sounds like Hurricane Chang up there. Guess he can't get to the airport - he may not make it here either."

"Another pity -" began Heero. "I guess -"

But I finished his comment for him.

"Wind sucks, too, eh?"

"Yes," he said. "So you say." I couldn't make out his expression. He turned and left the room again.


...last year...

The instructor from the club staggered round to the cabins again, through an even deeper flurry of snow. His hat was pulled fiercely down over his face; coat clutched tight to his body. His boots made deep pits in the snow, which were quickly filled up behind him.

He knocked on our door, and when I opened it, the wind shrieked its way past, bringing us a hallway full of white flakes and biting cold. I was right about the party - the resort offered its apologies, but all tonight's entertainment would be cancelled. He wanted to know if we had sufficient food and drink for the night, and if there was anything else we needed at the moment.

I nodded my head politely enough, and said yes, thank you for letting us know, and no, there wasn't anything we needed in particular. We'd sit tight for the night and see what weather the morning brought. I sounded very calm.

I closed the door after the guy, very carefully, and when I turned back, I was up against Heero again. He'd silently walked the length of the hallway, and was stood at my heels; it was a bit of a shock to find him there. The smell of him was all around me; it was intoxicating. He was breathing heavily, his warm skin shaking slightly against mine. He looked kinda unsteady; though I didn't think he'd been at the liqueur as well. Then he took hold of my shoulders, and pressed me back against the wall, his plastered hand a little clumsier than the free one. His body came after his hands, tight up to me, crushing against me from chest to thigh.

We kissed again. And again. We only stopped to draw breath, then our lips were wide and hungry again, lunging out at each other. Nipping the soft, swollen skin; licking and tonguing each other; hissing hot breath into each other. I could feel his heart hammering in his chest; I daresay he could feel mine, too.

God, he tasted good!

The snowfall filled the sky outside so that there was no distinction between it and the earth, even as we held tight to each other. We heard no wind, no creaking branches or squelching roofs; only our own harsh panting.

[cont] [back to Fancy Figures' fic]