+ Part 5
"If this life is some sort of karmic justice for my past life," Duo muttered as he mounted the steps to Heero's apartment, "I must have put baby bunnies in blenders and put them in baby formula."
"Duo, that image is very... disgusting," Heero said.
Duo started and saw Heero in the small alcove by the door, barely protected from the stiff wind. He was wearing a thick coat, hands stuck into pockets and looking as miserable as Duo felt.
"What the hell are you doing out here?" Duo wondered in shock.
"You're late and you didn't answer your cell phone," Heero replied.
Duo took out his cell and saw that the battery was too low to receive a call. He pocketed it and huddled in his coat as close to Heero as he could manage to escape the wind. "Sorry, traffic sucked. Were you going somewhere?"
Heero blinked. "No."
Duo floundered, confused. "Then why... Were you out here... waiting for me?"
Heero nodded, eyes on his feet and fall of chocolate hair obscuring his face. "I wasn't sure... I was worried..."
"Heero, standing out here freezing your balls off , doesn't make someone show up any quicker," Duo said incredulously.
Heero shrugged. "I think I was considering whether to look for you."
"Oh... well..." Duo said uncertainly, feeling painfully awkward. "Okay, I'm here. Let's go upstairs and thaw out."
"I can't," Heero admitted.
Duo stared at him. "Why not?"
"I left my keycard upstairs," Heero replied sheepishly. "I locked myself out."
Duo laughed. Heero looked up and smiled tentatively. "Love makes people morons, I guess," Duo said with exaggerated irritation. "Come on, big bad Gundam pilot. I'll get you back into your own home."
Duo leaned over and looked at the lock. "Hmph," he said and then grinned.
Duo took out his cell phone. It still had a little charge left. Opening the back, he used a small metal pick from his pocket to make a high frequency short as he held it close to the door lock.
"A little noise and a little jolt," Duo muttered and the door lock clicked open.
Heero frowned as he opened the door. "I'll talk to the manager about a new one."
"I'd do that if I were you," Duo grunted. "A senile grandmother could have gotten past that."
Too late, Duo realized that he was insulting Heero, who'd been locked out by that very device. "Uh," he stammered, "but you weren't trying to get in, were you? You were looking for me."
Heero sighed as he led Duo up to his apartment, but didn't reply. The entryway was warm and Heero's apartment was warmer. Heero shrugged off his coat and slung it over a chair back. Taking Duo's from him, he looked down and said, "Better take off your shoes. I'll lend you some of my socks."
Duo blushed as he pulled them off. It was stupid, but he was feeling shy enough to be uncomfortable about showing his bare feet. He was almost afraid that Heero was going to be critical of them. They weren't ugly, pale and a little blue from cold, but average as men's feet went. Remembering Heero's, Duo swallowed. They had been as handsome as the rest of him; small, narrow, oriental feet. Duo felt as if his were big and awkward by comparison.
After giving him the socks, though, Heero wasn't even glancing at Duo's feet. Instead, he was moving towards the kitchen. "Coffee, tea?" Heero asked.
"Coffee, black!" Duo called back as he settled on the couch and pulled on the socks. He found himself looking at them and smiling like an idiot. He was wearing something of Heero's and it made him feel oddly thrilled.
"I was thinking," Heero called from the kitchen, "that we could do something next weekend as well... go somewhere."
That was hopeful, Duo thought. It meant that he hadn't screwed things up completely yet. "Sounds good," Duo replied, feeling weird about talking to a kitchen doorway.
"Where would you like to go?"
"You can choose."
"No, it's all right. You choose."
"I'm up for anything."
"Yeah, that's good.... unless you don't like it?"
"No, that's fine."
Heero came back out of the kitchen with a steaming mug of coffee and a small cup of hot tea. "I put the steaks in the broiler with some vegetables. It should be done in about fifteen minutes."
"Good thing I showed up then," Duo chuckled as he took his coffee and warmed his hands on the mug. "You would have had a crispy couple of steaks on your hands otherwise."
Heero made a small sound of agreement as he sipped his tea and Duo mentally kicked himself. Stop talking about the lock, he told himself.
Duo looked at his mug, trying to find a way to recover from that blunder and saw what the mug said. "Sexy pilots do it on the wing?"
Heero looked embarrassed. "A gift from a roommate."
Duo blinked. It had never occurred to him that Heero might have had someone else in his life. "Someone I know?"
Heero shook his head. "She was unacceptable," he said with a grimace and took another sip of tea. "I decided that paying the entire rent was better than enduring..."
"Idiots in your space?" Duo finished and Heero nodded. It hadn't been romantic then. Duo felt relief.
Heero was watching him. Duo had been dreading this moment. Heero was going to ask him questions and Duo knew that his answers were not going to be pleasant conversation. It was a moment in which he had to decide whether being flip and evading was better than being truthful and letting Heero know what he was getting himself in to.
"I'm an orphan, street trash, to be exact," Duo said, deciding to not play twenty questions and just tell him. "My early life consisted of stealing and running with a gang. I was taken in by an orphanage, eventually, but they were all wiped out in a skirmish with rebels. I spent a few years running the streets again, doing what I had to, but then I decided to hell with it and stowed away on a sweeper ship. That's when I ran into my chance to pilot a Gundam. Let's skip the war, you know about all of that. After, I still had enough of the street in me to not fit in and to think the nearest flat surface was home. I have one, but it's just a closet with a bed and I don't go there a hell of a lot. I took the delivery gig because I call the shots and, as long as I drop off and pick up, nobody cares about the particulars. I couldn't get you out of my mind, though. I tried Preventers, because that's what you were going, but it made my skin crawl and I quit. Wu Fei thinks I'm a loser and I don't stand a chance in hell with you as long as I'm not saving the day somehow, so stalking you and just seeing you once in awhile, was something I decided was all I was going to get... so... imagine my shock... and here I am..." he ended lamely and then looked very hard at the steam in his coffee cup.
Heero was quiet and then he said softly, "I was an assassin when I was a child. After a hit went sour, I was told to make my own way. Dr. J found me and trained me. I've never known anything except killing and being a soldier. After the war, I didn't fit in. People told me that it was my chance for Peace and that I could finally live the life I had dreamed about, but... I didn't have dreams of anything except for being what I am, what I've always been. I was sick of killing, and I thought I might not want to do it again, but... I couldn't stand by and watch the world burn because I wouldn't act to save it. I think that I want to be an agent, doing this, for the rest of my life, but... I don't judge you because you were able to find another life away from it. Chang is wrong that it makes you less than what we are. I didn't say anything to you because I thought... I seemed to be everything that you didn't approve of."
Duo laughed and rubbed the back of his neck. "I guess... " He grew serious suddenly, understanding something about himself. "I think I said a lot of things because I was feeling like I didn't measure up. It made me feel better calling your types lame, square headed, drones-"
Heero gave him a mock glare, "You can stop, I understand."
Duo snickered and then he leaned back into the couch and slumped a little. He gathered the courage and then asked, "So, you want me to leave now?"
"Do you want to go?" Heero wondered tensely.
They looked at each other, then, and they saw the fear in each other's eyes.
"Doesn't matter?" Duo asked.
"Not to me," Heero replied.
"Me either," Duo affirmed.
Duo chewed on his lip and then asked. "Uhm, mind me asking why you're interested in me?"
"Your tight pants," Heeor replied straight faced.
Duo blinked. "That's kinky."
"Your ass," Heero continued. "Your long legs... your... personality."
"About time you got above my waist there, Yuy," Duo laughed.
"You're strong," Heero continued, "bold, and you're always... Howard said once, that you were always on top of the wave, never in the trough." He paused and then said in a low, uncertain voice, "You always made me look outside of myself and see things... differently... better..."
"I'm a loudmouth joker, you mean," Duo interjected. Heero smiled. Duo sighed, scratched his head and then said, "Well, I guess I like your eyes and the way you scowl. I like your hair and I like how you're always so damned sure of yourself. You're steady, capable, dependable, brave, honorable... and I saw you naked twice during the war and you are one hot sonofa... " Duo dipped his head and hid behind his bangs. "Was that too much information?"
"I saw you naked twenty three times," Heero admitted.
Duo came out of hiding to blink at him stunned. "Twenty three?"
"I was trying harder," Heero smirked.
"I was afraid of getting killed," Duo shot back and then grunted. "Twenty three?"
Heero nodded and then he was suddenly up and hurrying to the kitchen. Duo smelled burning meat at the same time.
"Duo?" Heero called out from the kitchen.
"Heero?" Duo winced as a stream of black smoke drifted out of the kitchen.
"I must have been your assistant baby bunny grinder in another life," Heero lamented. "Dinner is ruined. Go out or order in?"
Duo put his shirt over his nose to escape the smoke. "Put out the flames and we'll go out. Pizza?"
Heero came out of the kitchen and retrieved their coats. He stood very close to Duo and then plucked the shirt down from Duo's nose. Their eyes met and then Heero very slowly leaned in and gave Duo the briefest of kisses. He looked uncertain then, but Duo grinned.
"I still can't believe this is happening," Duo said. "I just..." He shook himself all over and then put on his coat. "Come on, before I decide that this is just some sort of elaborate Preventer operation to get me to... well, something..."
Heero relaxed visibly and smiled. "Tell us how you actually get anything delivered?"
"Har, har," Duo groused and then laughed at the fact that he was doing something that he had never believed would ever happen in his life time, share a joke with Heero Yuy... and a kiss.
Heero threw open a window and then they went out of the building as snow began to gently fall all around them. Heero reached out, snagged Duo close to his side, and held him there as they walked.
[part 4] [part 6] [back to Kracken's fic]