Duo knew there was something
he was missing. It annoyed the hell out of him, because he was one smart
guy! Though there were times he thought Heero Yuy was even smarter. In
different ways, of course...
"I just wanted to know how you felt, Duo." Heero's voice was very calm.
But soothing - like chocolate. Like velvet. Like a thick quilt could be,
at the end of a hard day... "You told Evans that tonight was nothing special."
"Well - that's just my way. Don't usually make a fuss with birthdays.
But I guess I'm pleased with the flowers. Yours. I like 'em."
Duo leant forward a little, and smelt them. They were glorious! He'd never
seen the way his nose crinkled when he did that. Heero had. Heero had
often noticed that.
"Look!" cried Duo. "No sneeze! I love 'em, actually. Gotta thank
you for noting my birthday, Heero, and for the fabulous display -"
"Feel anything else?"
Duo stared at him. Damn man was so persistent! Like a terrier. Like a
Rotweiler. Like - Heero.
"I feel - well, yes that's odd - I think a guy would feel - "
"You'd feel, Duo."
"OK - I'd feel - I do feel - rather flattered, actually.
And - yeah - special."
"Special?" Heero's voice was just a little less calm. His eyes sparkled.
"Mmm. Daft, eh? It's just a bunch of flowers. Just a friendly gesture..."
"Hn. Sure. But that's how it should be. That's how you should feel, Duo.
"Cos it's my birthday, y'mean?"
"If that's what you want to think..."
"Right..." Duo leant forward again, suddenly, and grasped Heero's
arm. It was like he wanted to touch him - then he didn't know how to go
further. There was a high, tight flush on his cheekbones. He squeezed
Heero's arm, and slapped at his shoulder in a mock punch. "You're a -
you're some kinda guy, aren't you, Heero Yuy? Great friend. Guess I don't
always appreciate you."
"That's true," replied Heero, and the flush was on his cheeks as well.
But his smile was genuine.
Duo stared for seconds too long. Heero's smile was wide, and rare, and
Duo's breathing felt strangely uneven. Don't appreciate you... he thought.
Don't bloody understand you, more like! He looked back at the flowers
- rolled the 'special' feeling around in his mind.
"So..." he murmured, slowly. "Now I'm stuck with nothing to do on a Friday
night, and it's another year to mark off on the calendar...."
Heero coughed slightly. His voice was even lower. "I've got time to kill.
Let's watch a movie here."
"That damn Samurai one again?" protested Duo. He sprang to his feet, his
contemplative mood swiftly passing. Back to something more familiar. More
"And you want -?" scoffed Heero. He slipped back into his role,
just the same. He stood up, and started to move back towards the lounge,
carrying the remains of the champagne.
"OK," sighed Duo. "So it's not my turn again for the Matrix trilogy. We'll
have to find something we both like."
Heero was looking at him, hard. "Guess we will."
Duo shook off the shivering feeling. Probably the remains of the hay fever.
"Sooo - you gonna do popcorn?" he asked, slyly.
They both slumped down on to the couch, legs relaxing, arms stretching
across the back. Their fingers touched, briefly. Then Duo slid his hand
back to reach for the popcorn, and Heero leant forward to set up the DVD.
Duo didn't speak again until the room had slipped into darkness - Heero
had killed the lights, as was their usual watching environment. Duo was
usually out of a weekend, but he found he was looking forward to the rest
of this evening. It was - well, this was all rather pleasant!
"He is rather too keen, y'know...Eager Evans...," he sighed. "He insisted
I reschedule to tomorrow night. Kept tapping my arm - making those puppy
eyes at me."
"Not good," said Heero. "It's not a pet you need."
"And when he laughs - it's like a hiccup! Christ, my jokes ain't that
"No, they're not," replied Heero. Duo could see his teeth glinting in
the dim light, as he smiled.
"Shut up, Yuy," he said, cheerfully enough. He took a mouthful of popcorn.
"You don't have to agree with everything I say!"
"Do I do that?"
"No," sighed Duo. "You always give me hassle. You argue with me. You tell
me I talk crap."
Heero was silent. His body had tensed up a little. He sat very still on
"But you listen to me," grinned Duo. "More 'n that puppy and his hot dog!"
"Sure I do," came the soft reply. "You don't always talk crap."
Duo paused. He wasn't sure what kinda backhanded compliment that was.
But it was warm and comfy on this sofa, so he didn't feel up to arguing.
And the popcorn was damn good! "If I didn't have you as my best friend,
Heero, what'd I do, eh?"
Heero was silent for a few seconds. Guess he reserved judgement.
"So - how is the spec going, Duo? Any further parameters?"
"Huh? Oh - you mean guys? Yeah - I guess I'm still looking..."
"You thinking of someone who will listen to you; spend time with you -
bring you gifts sometimes? Make you feel special?"
Duo laughed heartily, and the couch shook. "Yeah, of course! Who wouldn't?
You were right to show me that Evans needs some more work on that front.
Wasn't that what you were trying to tell me earlier?"
"Maybe..." sighed Heero.
Duo snuggled down against the cushions, and leant against Heero's shoulder.
"And that hot bod, of course! Can't do without that secret ingredient,
"No..." murmured Heero.
The DVD whirred into life.
Duo chattered on - the trailers were off and running. "You've known me
through all sortsa relationships, eh?"
"Yeah, that's true..."
"Remember that guy -" began Duo. Then he laughed. And so did Heero. Their
memories were at one.
"The tall one -?"
"- with the woolly hat -"
"- and the dungarees, yeah!" Heero grimaced. "And the one who coughed
all the time at the end of a sentence -"
" - and the one who tried to turn me vegetarian -"
"- and the one who kept stroking your braid when he thought you weren't
" - God, and the one who couldn't keep his hands off my crotch, even here
in the apartment in front of you -!"
"I remember that one, especially."
Duo turned, surprised at the harsh tone of Heero's voice. "You mocking
me, Heero Yuy? Poking fun at my cheap and chequered love life?"
Heero smiled, gently. Duo looked a little wary; a little crestfallen.
"The movie's starting, Duo. Try and resist the desire to talk throughout,
like you usually do."
Duo nudged at his arm, protesting half-heartedly, and slouched down into
an impossibly awkward position on the couch. Popcorn trickled out of the
bowl and down between the cushions. Heero knew that later on, Duo would
probably toe off his boots, and drape his legs over Heero's thighs, in
an attempt to make his lanky body more comfortable.
Heero still smiled, though the movie wasn't a comedy.
There were hours ahead of them. And another bottle of champagne in the
fridge, if they ran out of bubbles.
You're so thrilling
And I'm so willing
To care for you
Pussycat, pussycat, I love you
Yes I do!
You and your Pussycat face!
Saturday evening - and Duo's hay fever had developed into something else.
Heero rolled his eyes at the sniffs and groans going on in Duo's room.
He stood by the bed, a glass of water and some proprietary painkillers
in his hand.
"For God's sake, Duo -"
"Fug obb, Heero!" came the garbled voice from under the quilt. "Show subb
sympady, or gedda hell out!!"
"For God's sake, stop being such a baby!" snapped Heero. "And what damn
language is that, anyway?"
"Flu langidge," grunted Duo. He wriggled in his bed, and his head poked
up out of the bedding. His hair was hanging out of its braid in several
places; his cheeks were unnaturally flushed; his nose was scarlet.
Heero put a cool hand to his forehead. "There's some fever, but it's dropped
below 100 now. It's just a 24-hour bug. You just need sleep and fluids,
and to stop moaning."
"Need subb TLC..." grumbled Duo. "Subb cute bod to sponge me down, and
kizz me bedda..."
Heero's cool hand stilled. "Sorry, Duo, no go. I called off your date
for tonight. Evans - or Red as he said you called him. Was that his name?
Or the colour of his neck?"
Duo groaned. "Shuddub, Heero, I can't breathe 'nuff to slabb you."
"Slabb me?" snorted Heero. "Do you mean slap me? You and
"Did he cubb round?" came a little moan from Duo.
"Who - Red? No - he rang. To confirm a time. I told him you were
"He was - well, there were some interesting excuses in amongst the stammerings."
Heero fought back the smile, though only because Duo looked so very sorry
for himself. "Something about the fragile health of pedigree cats, and
the risk of germs, and something about other plans, and after all, he
didn't know you well enough to be some kinda nursemaid -"
"OK, Heero, that's enubb!" snapped Duo. "Subbtimes your honesty can be
a real bastard, y'doh?"
"And sometimes your abuse is as clear as a bell, Duo. Even through the
Duo stuck out a furred tongue, and Heero shuddered.
"Bet I look li' death..." groaned Duo. He seemed more distressed at that,
than losing his date.
"Yeah, you do," said Heero, bluntly. "Now sit up against the pillows,
and I'll fetch you a warm drink and one of your What Car magazines."
"Big time Saddurday nide..." muttered Duo, bitterly.
It was quite late. Duo kept drowsing. Heero had moved quietly in and out
of the room all evening. Duo's temperature was at a reasonable level again,
and his only complaint now was that he hadn't eaten enough all day, and
that his Saturday night was being spent in bed - alone.
"You think Evans would've been any company?" said Heero, calmly. He sat
at the small table in Duo's room, tapping occasionally on his laptop.
He'd tried to get some work done during the evening, but Duo had been
a demanding patient.
Demanding - that was Duo, all over.
"Doh..." sighed Duo. "Guess nodd."
"His hands are too clumsy to look after anyone," said Heero, pragmatically.
"You should see the pounding his keyboard takes."
"And he has a poor memory. How would he manage with rationing your painkillers?"
"Like you do..." it was almost a sneer from Duo. "So you're subb
damn genius Florence Nightingale 'n Dr Memory, rolled into wum..."
"Wum -? Yes."
And then Duo laughed. It was a heartening sound. Until he coughed. And
"Bedside manner leaves a lodd to be desired, Heero Yuy..."
"I wouldn't do this for anyone else, Duo."
"Yeah, too right!" Duo snorted. "Like the bedical profession would put
ubb with that prodigious, intolerant brain obb yours...!"
"I mean I'd only do this for you. Look after you."
Duo gave a weak grin. "Right... but we're fredds, aren't we? That's what
"You'd look after me like this?" asked Heero, suddenly. He sat down on
the bed beside Duo, who grudgingly wriggled his legs to the side to give
"You're never ill!" protested Duo. He'd never known Mr Professional Fitness
to have a cough or cold, or any other ache or pain. 'Cept me! grinned
Duo, to himself.
"Would you?" said Heero, relentlessly.
Heero's stare made his head start hurting again. He was rather too close
for comfort. Duo felt his temperature start to climb again - he reckoned
he needed more painkillers. Bet Dr Glare wasn't gonna release him any
more, anytime soon.
"Yeah," he admitted. "Guezz so. Never thought aboud it before..."
"OK." Heero seemed to relax. "So now I'd better sponge you down, eh?"
"Whadd?" gasped Duo.
"Your temperature's up again -"
"No - I bean - " Duo started to cough, as some strange visions plagued
his imagination. He tried to remember if he was wearing his pyjama bottoms,
or whether he'd bothered with them at all. He wondered why he wasn't able
to think clearly about such things. Why he thought it mattered.
But the damp flannel was very soothing on his forehead. He sank back into
the pillows, and sighed a bubbling sigh. Guess he could put up with this,
after all! Who'd have thought the head of HR - who made forty-two guys
redundant in the legendary Maintenance Massacre of '02 - could be so gentle-handed...?
"That's - very goob, Heero."
"Shut up. Lie back."
"OK..." Duo settled back again, and his eyes drifted closed. The flannel
stroked at his face - at his neck and shoulders. The quilt cover was pushed
gently away, and the warm dampness bathed his arms, and his sides. The
sweat had dried on his chest where he'd been tossing about in the bed;
now Heero's hands and the soft towelling were wiping it all away. He felt
the edge of something catch on one of his nipples. He winced, but it was
a pleasurable feeling. He felt the pressure from the other man's forearms
as he moved across his body; the occasional touch of his fingers on his
"Hodd..." he sighed. "So dabb hodd..."
"This is meant to cool you down, Duo," came Heero's quiet voice. A very
quiet voice. "Not heat you up..."
Duo thought, dreamily, that he liked this; rather a lot. That it was astonishingly
pleasant. That his body liked it as well. That he didn't have any
pyjama bottoms on tonight, and that if Heero pulled that damn sheet down
any further, he'd realise that himself, and then realise another rising
fact that was gonna be one symptom too far for the good 'Doctor'...
"I'm ill," Duo protested, weakly, his eyes flashing back open. "Dunno
if I'm hodd or cold, do I?" He met Heero's gaze - the guy's face looked
all flushed, like he was getting the bug himself! Duo dragged the sheet
back up round him, and shrugged off the flannel. "Pass us the PJs, OK?
Don'cha know thiggs 'r all upside dowd when you're ill..."
Heero stared, his eyes lit with something quite fierce; and then they
calmed again. He threw over Duo's pyjamas, and laughed. "You are incorrigible,
"Incorrig - huh? Wazzat?" Duo was shrugging awkwardly into the top.
Heero raised an eyebrow. He knew Duo was as articulate as he, with a fine
vocabulary. He just chose to play the fool..."Unquenchable, Duo."
"Who - me?"
"Hmm - though nodd tonight, Heero..."
"Vivacious. Thrilling. Beyond belief ..." The words trailed off.
Duo stared at Heero's face. Guy looked like he had a temperature of his
own! Something made Duo clutch his sheet like some kind of security blanket
- he glared back at Heero, his mouth pursing itself. Ready for another
flu-garbled witticism, if he could just call one to mind...
In the end, Heero spoke first. "You're trouble, Maxwell. But you're damned
Heero bit back the word that had nearly escaped. A very unmeasured word;
and he didn't really do unmeasured, did he?
"Deliberately annoying, OK?"
"Yeah," groaned Duo. "Thadd sounds like me. Pass anudda painkiller on
y'r way out, won'cha?"
Heero paused at the door, and looked back at the man in the bed, wriggling
into his pyjama bottoms under cover of the quilt, looking pretty ridiculous.
"Better build it into the spec, Duo."
"Someone to look after you when you're ill. To find you still interesting.
Despite the streams of foul stuff out of your nose -"
"Hey, thanggs for the su'port, Heero! Not! Like I said, you can
"- gedda hell out?" murmured Heero. He avoided the spray of scrunched-up
tissues that followed him out of the room.
He had a wistful smile on his face.
Duo was groaning in his sleep. He was troubled with a blocked nose, and
achy limbs. His dreams were strange, and vivid, and involved something
very wicked and enjoyable with a glass of hot blackcurrant, a wet flannel,
and some shadowy figure who knew Mr Right's brother - in a very biblical
sense. It all seemed strangely familiar...
Heero paused outside the room on his way to his own bed, and pushed the
door a little way open. Duo lay sprawled half out of his quilt, his pyjama
top thrown off again. One hand was tangled in the end of his braid. His
skin was flushed; his lips moist with his dream-speak. The pyjama bottoms
were twisted, and tugged down a little below his hips. There was a rather
interesting bulge under the thin fabric that drew Heero's eyes particularly.
Heero rarely noticed the clothes that Duo wore in the day. He knew there
were constant complaints at work from his department managers, that Duo
Maxwell never dressed appropriately. He just knew that he liked how the
longhaired man looked, whatever he wore. But he had to admit that he quite
liked this nighttime appearance. And the sponging-down had been a joy.
There was a grunt from the bed. Then a murmur. A very definite 'Heero'.
It wasn't even a call - just a sigh. Just a statement. Like Duo would
expect him there, when he woke up. And then Duo would take his usual pleasure
in filling in the rest of the conversation.
Heero moved quietly into the room, and looked down on his flatmate as
he snored. Inevitable, of course, with such a cold. But even with his
mouth open, and droning growls coming from every breath, Heero didn't
laugh at him. Or look disgusted.
He looked - fond. Perhaps he had the comfort of memories that had
sneaked a long, lingering look under a certain quilt cover.
Perhaps he had a temperature of his own.
And if my wishes
Can all come true
I'll soon be kissing your sweet little pussycat lips!
Pussycat, pussycat, I love you
Yes I do!
You and your Pussycat lips!
You and your Pussycat eyes!
You and your Pussycat nose!
Sunday night, and Duo had made a spectacular recovery.
"So he called, did he?" said Heero, a little sourly. He was marking some
pages in a journal, and jotting notes for work on Monday. "Scarlet O'Evans?
Un-gummed himself from his stamp collection?"
"Yeah - and I convinced him I'd been nursed free from my lurgy!"
Lurgy?? said the pained expression on Heero's face.
Duo was stumbling round the apartment, looking for a lost boot, half in
and half out of a smart, purple silk shirt. Heero stared at him, watching
his pale, bare chest lifting under the sensual cloth, the smooth skin
still glistening from his shower. Duo flicked his damp braid over a shoulder,
"Gave you full credit, Doctor Yuy! Y'know? I wouldn't feel this good if
it weren't for you looking after me! But I need some nursing of a different
kind now! Need some touchy-feely stuff. Going for a more direct approach..."
"You've reworked the spec?" came the sharp response.
Duo paused, one sock on his foot, the other in his hand.
"Look, Heero, I'm just out for some fun, OK? Just a bit of the ravishing
after all - if the puppy's up for it! He's not gotta lot going for him,
I know -"
"- but he has got the hot bod?" enquired Heero.
Duo stared at his companion's sharp tone. Heero was too analytical, sometimes
- damn man needed to get out more! Needed to loosen up, which he was sure
he'd suggested a hundred times before. Needed...
"A guy just needs some physical attention, y'know?"
"Yes," said Heero, devastatingly coolly. "I know."
"Right..." said Duo, slowly. He tugged on a jacket. Heero turned
back to his notes. Duo wondered if he should joke about asking Evans if
he had a brother for Heero - they could double-date!
At the last minute, some watchful guardian above persuaded him to keep
his mouth shut.
Midnight was long gone.
Duo had his boots in his hand, as he turned his key as quietly as he could,
and crept into the dark apartment. Then he fell over a pile of his car
magazines, swearing loudly and colourfully, so the whole effect was ruined.
A soft, square glow opened up along the corridor, and Heero appeared at
the doorway of his room. He was wearing only his sweat pants. He yawned,
though somehow Duo didn't think he'd been asleep for long.
"Call 911, Duo, and bring over the Fire Brigade - they make less noise."
"Sorry -" gulped Duo. "Just lost sight of the time - the pool hall, y'know
"The pool hall?" Heero rubbed his eyes, but leant easily enough against
the wall. He didn't look like he was going to go back in to his bed. "You
took your ravishee to the pool hall?"
"Ahh - well - " Duo looked abashed. He looked frustrated. He shifted his
body from one socked foot to another.
"Hot dogs one night...snot all over him and his gift...groping in a public
place the next -" muttered Heero, as he pushed himself away from the wall,
and started moving towards Duo. "I thought you had more class, Maxwell."
"Shut it, Yuy," growled Duo. "I wouldn't usually smack anyone after midnight.
But I'll make an exception for you, if you keep up those wiseass remarks
Heero was quite close to him now. He peered at Duo, looking for something
in his dark eyes. Duo gripped hard at his boots. Glared back.
Heero's next words were a surprise. "So you wanna talk? Drink? Eat?"
"Huh -" One of the boots slipped out of Duo's fingers, and hit the hall
carpet with a thud.
Heero looked at the speculative light in Duo's eyes, and he sighed. "Stupid
question. There's cheese in the fridge - I'll make some sandwiches."
They sat at opposite sides of the kitchen table. They often seemed to
end up here; it was a comfortable room. The boiler whirred softly as it
turned itself off for the night. The oven displays glowed in the dim room.
Neither of them had bothered to turn on the main lights. Even in shadow,
Duo's flowers still boasted their glorious colour, the vase now set in
a new position on the side of the worksurface.
Heero cleared a tight throat. "So what was it like?"
"Huh?" said Duo. He may have been deliberately misunderstanding Heero's
question. He may just have had a mouth full of cheese and tomato sandwich.
"The date," sighed Heero. His words were coming out rather stilted. "The
ravishing. The kissing. You did kiss, didn't you?"
"Yeah -" blustered Duo, spitting small crumbs over the table. "Like, of
course we did! He's really hot, isn't he?"
"So are you, Duo," said Heero, softly.
There was a small silence, while Duo stared, and Heero brushed the crumbs
off the table on to a plate.
"Well -" Duo drew a deep breath. His eyes looked a little wild. "I don't
think Evans thought so!"
"Hn?" Heero looked startled. "But at the pool hall -?"
"He wasn't at the pool hall."
"But you said - "
"I was there on my own. Have been, since nine o'clock. Just with some
of the guys."
"No. He left."
"Oh hell..." sighed Duo. "Got any more of that cheese?"