+ Part 4
The signal came all in an instant. The man attempting to shoot the hostages fell with a startled _expression and a hole in his head. As the other men brought their guns to bear on the shooter, Quatre was suddenly there, Trowa giving him cover as he rushed the hostages towards the wings of the stage. Men ducked and dived for cover.
Duo took a breath, aimed carefully, and fired up into the lights. One of the heavy lights came crashing down on the leader's head, smashing him like ripe fruit. There was a few more sporadic spurts of gunfire and then all was quiet as men began surrendering.
Heero was suddenly at Duo's elbow. He felt his presence and grimaced. "Didn't trust me, did you?"
"Not entirely," Heero admitted as he cocked back his gun and holstered it, "especially when I saw you put away the gun I gave you."
Duo shrugged, a nervous twitch, and he put on a grin that was every bit as manic as the grin of the man with the hole in his head. "I knew I didn't need it." He holstered his own gun, but he was slow to take his hand off the butt of it. "So... what are you going to do, arrest me?"
"Fine you," Heero grunted as he took back his specialty gun from Duo. "The men at the gates shouldn't have allowed you in armed. They, unfortunately, gave you permission by that failure."
"Aw, no fun for Heero today," Duo retorted sarcastically. He turned and eyed Heero. He was startled by the dark, almost pained, look on Heero's face. He grunted. "What? It's not funny if you start looking like a kicked kitten."
Heero's jaw bunched and then he was turning and walking away as he said, "I have to do mop up."
Duo frowned in confusion. He heard Quatre sigh behind him and say, "The plan was to get you two together to at least have a drink and a few words. I should have known better."
"Yeah, you should have," Duo grumbled, still watching Heero's retreating back. "That guy doesn't want anything to do with someone like me."
"You're right, Quatre," Relena's voice said. "They are incredibly stupid."
Duo turned in shock and saw Relena and Quatre standing together, looking at him disapprovingly.
"Stupid?" Duo glared and scratched his head. "I do believe that I'm the hero of the day here."
"And I do appreciate what you did, immensely," Relena agreed, "and I'm sure that those poor hostages will give you every honor for it, but, as far as your relationship with Heero is concerned-"
Duo was incredulous and then furious. "Stay out of my life, both of you! I don't need you to fix me up with 'Pole Up His Butt' over there. He doesn't like me, he doesn't trust me, and he thinks I'm a goddam terrorist!"
"And he's been in love with you since the war," Relena said as she lifted her chin bravely and met his temper head on.
Duo's mouth went open and then he shut it with a snap. "Women!" he muttered and then began to leave.
"Duo, listen," Quatre interjected quickly and took hold of his arm. His blue eyes were anxious and that kept Duo from shaking him off immediately. "You can't blame Heero for going into full agent mode in a situation like this. All unknowns are suspect, you know that, and you were a very large unknown at this gathering, as were all other last minute and unplanned arrivals. He's just doing his job."
"Just showing the 'love'," Duo growled derisively. "Why don't you and Relena go off and paint each other's nails and leave me out of your scheming?"
Qautre frowned and his grip tightened. "I know you're angry. You have every right to be." He looked around them at the confused and frightened crowd, at the agents pouring into the site, and Heero and his men taking the terrorists into custody. "Let's talk about this later. There are things that Relena knows that I think you should hear."
"Quatre!" Duo barked as he pried off his hand. "You can tell me all you want; that Heero has a photo of me covered in hearts, that he keeps a secret diary devoted to Duo Maxwell, or that he sighs a lot and says my name, but it doesn't fucking matter! He's not telling me anything except that I'm a suspect in his book. " Duo rubbed at his face wearily and then said, "I've tried to hang around him, maybe hoping... but he acts like I'm nothing more than some kid, some weirdo he knew from the war. Fei was right. I'm not in his class. I don't measure up. I'm not anyone who can stand beside Heero Yuy, agent and hero, and mean anything."
Relena made a disgusted noise. "It's even worse than you said, Quatre. Heero thinks he's too boring and rigid and Duo thinks he's not good enough. I've never seen such nincompoops!"
"Ninca-what?" Duo said in confusion and then shook his head sharply. " Okay, it's so easy for you guys, I'm sure. That's why you're still single, Queen Peacecraft, and you're still not living with Trowa, Quatre. Come back to me when you both have your lives straightened out."
Duo gave a cheery wave, though his face was anything but cheerful, as he cut into the crowd and made his escape. He had to pass several checkpoints, but his face and reputation earned him a quick once over and a thank you. He was nearly out of the last gate, when he heard Heero shout,"Stop him!"
Furious, Duo felt like running, felt like going stealth and doing what he did best, fading into the crowd and disappearing, but he stopped and stood waiting with his fists clenched and his head down. Men ranged themselves uncertainly in his path warily, not sure if there would be a fight or not.
Heero appeared at Duo's side, panting and hair tousled over his intense blue eyes. He stood for a moment in silence and Duo didn't look at him, ready to be told that he was going to lock up after all. Heero seemed unsure, nervous, and then he was pressing something into Duo's hand.
"Just.... Just think about it, all right?" Heero panted and then he was waving his men off. "He can go."
Duo looked around him as the men backed off and Heero walked back into the gathering. He made his escape first, calling a cab and putting it on Quatre's tab. It was only then, sitting in the back seat and hunkered low, that he unfolded the paper that Heero had given him.
'Let's talk', the note said in a neat, blockish script. 'Saturday, eleven o 'clock a.m.' There was an address, a nice neighborhood near Preventer headquarters.
Duo felt himself go white and his hand trembled, the note shivering under his gaze. He read the note over and over again. If it had been official, it would have been Heero's office. If it had been simply a talk to apologize, it might have been in a parking lot. This was Heero's home, Duo thought, and that said a lot of things.
Duo leaned back and closed his eyes, swallowing hard. He didn't dare hope, not yet, that Quatre and Relena might be right.
When Duo arrived at the two story walk up apartment building, he looked slowly right and left before going up the front steps. It was a nice little neighborhood, a place that might have been homey feeling to anyone but Duo. His 'homey' feeling had to do with trashy streets, cracked and water stained walls, and a bolt hole that no one could find. He'd come a long way from the streets of L2, but it was still in him, blood and bone. Places like the one he was in now, was the stuff of dreams and meant for other people.
Heero wouldn't live in a place without security. There was a camera at the door and a buzz box. Duo rang Heero's number and waited. When a green light flashed, he waved up at the camera and managed a nervous grin.
"Hey ya, Heero!"
"Duo, good," Heero replied, short and abrupt. He didn't sound friendly and Duo felt his nerves tighten with suspicion. A more reasonable part of his brain reminded him that Heero was on the side of the law now and a 'by the book' agent. Old habits died as hard as the memory of L2, though.
"Come up," Heero said and the door buzzed.
Duo opened it and found a narrow, carpeted hallway on the other side. A flight of stairs crawled up along one wall, and was carpeted as well, with pictures hung tastefully along every few steps. It looked as if he had walked into someone's home already and that made Duo even more off balance.
Heero's door was third from the top of the stairs and Duo gave a small knock. Heero opened it, smoothing a hand along the top of his messy hair and looking as nervous as Duo felt. He was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans, a white shirt, and he was barefoot. It seemed so casual and out of character for Heero, that Duo stood, stunned, unable to think of a single thing to say.
"Hello, Duo," Heero said and then stepped back and motioned Duo inside. "Please, have a seat."
Duo himself was dressed in black dress pants and a button down red shirt. It wasn't formal dress, but it was more formal than he was used to wearing. It was if they had traded places and they both weren't comfortable with the change. The thought made Duo grimace and Heero took the _expression to mean something entirely different.
"I'm sorry about the place... I'm not a very good decorator," Heero apologized uncomfortably.
Duo looked at the small apartment with its blonde wood floors, tasteful furniture, overstuffed leather couch, and whitewashed walls with pictures of forest scenes, and gave Heero a cock eyed look. "Heero, I feel like I'm in a freakin' magazine. You did great."
That surprised a smile out of Heero, but he was nervously rubbing his hands along his sides as well, as Duo sat on the couch gingerly. Heero asked, "Would you like a drink? Beer, wine, water?"
"I think Trowa left some behind the last time he visited," Heero remembered. "I'll get it."
As he went into the kitchen, Duo called after him, "Trowa visits?"
"We were close friends during the war," Heero called back. "We helped each other a great deal. Is Pepsi all right?"
"Sure," Duo replied and Heero reappeared with a sports drink for himself and a can of soda for Duo. Duo took it and Heero sat in a chair close by.
They fiddled with their drinks, looking down at them as if they absorbed all of their attention. Duo finally cleared his throat and said, " Uhm... so... is this social, or did you have a reason for wanting to see me?"
Heero bit his lip and then replied, "Social."
Duo took a sip of his drink, coming to terms with that answer and the flutter of his pulse. "What made you... I mean... after all that happened at the fundraiser, I didn't think that you would want me in your sights again."
"It's something Quatre said," Heero replied quietly. "And Relena. I thought about it and wondered... Things suddenly made sense.... You are not an idiot... or a fool... or someone who constantly gets lost in Preventer head quarters, so I couldn't understand why you wandered there so often, why you always seemed to be there, yet avoiding me whenever I tried to confront you. "
Duo colored and his hand tightened on his drink. Heero knew he'd been stalking him. He stood abruptly and put the can down on the marble coffee table in front of him. "Uh, yeah.... you must think I'm a freak, right? I won't do it again, I promise. I just... okay, thanks for doing this private. I'm going now. Won't bother you again."
"Duo!" Heero stood up as well. "Don't go."
Duo jammed hands into his pants pockets and looked very hard at the floor. "Do you want to punch me, or something? Cut off an ear? That's fair, I guess."
Heero looked shocked and then he sat down again. "Duo, sit," he ordered as if Duo were one of his agents.
Duo cautiously sat down. " Okay, sitting," he said in a small voice.
"Duo, can we..." Heero swallowed hard, blushed, and then stammered, "A date... Would a date be all right?"
"For when you can beat the crap out of me?" Duo frowned. "I've heard about anal, Heero, but usually guys just-"
"Duo!" Heero exclaimed in exasperation and Duo winced. "I'm not angry," Heero said in a calmer voice.
Duo looked at him, wide eyed. "You're not?"
Heero looked very serious. "No."
"Then..." Duo licked dry lips, dared to believe, and asked, "A date... like in an actual date... as in... we two going out for dinner, or drinks, or... stuff like that?"
Heero smiled in relief. "Yes, like that."
Duo sat silently, mind in shock.
"Duo?" Heero prodded.
"Could you repeat that?" Duo wondered in a small voice.
Heero suddenly chuckled and the tension broke. "Duo Maxwell... I... I've been wanting to talk to you for some time, but I never imagined that you would be interested in someone like me. I suppose I filed it under 'completely improbable' and never pursued it because of that. Now that I know that you feel.... well... I think you feel ... interest... then I would like to... go on a date."
"Are you sure this doesn't include kicking my ass?" Duo asked faintly.
"Yes, very sure," Heero assured him.
Duo blinked and then grinned. "A date.... What should we do?"
"What would you like to do?" Heero wondered.
Duo looked around the apartment. "Here; some steaks, some drinks, and some talk."
"I'd like that," Heero replied, smiling softly. "When?"
"Next Saturday," Duo suggested. When Heero looked disappointed, Duo said, "Hey! I gotta let this sink in."
Heero nodded. "Saturday, then."
They stared at each other, blinked, and then Duo blushed. "What now?" he asked. "Should I go?"
Heero looked confused. "I don't know..."
"Yeah, I'll go," Duo laughed and stood up. As he headed fo the door, he shot over his shoulder, "You're absolutely sure...?"
"No ass kicking," Heero assured him. "I'm sincere, Duo."
Duo turned at the door and looked at him very seriously. "I'm glad, Heero. Real glad." and then he was out of the door, down the hallway, and out onto the street.
Duo's cell phone beeped instantly. He looked at the number, sighed, and answered it. "How the hell did you know?"
"GPS," Quatre replied. "So?"
"So," Duo echoed derisively.
"Duo!" Quatre pleaded. "I am your best friend.
"Date, next Saturday," Duo relented and grinned when Quatre whooped for joy on the other end of the line.
[part 3] [part 5] [back to Kracken's fic]