Author: Maldoror
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Two Halves: Circles + Chapter 14
The Moon In Your Eyes

"Lemme see. Cheese, fruit, bread, water... Sure, Jay, don't spoil us whatever you do."

"Keep the basket near the fire, Duo."

"Yeah I know, but I'm hungry. Man how old is this cheese?"

"... "

"Heero, relax, you're so tense you're about to start vibrating."

Heero scowled, but unfolded his legs out of the edgy coil they were caught in and sat fully on the blanket. Then he stretched out one leg, keeping the other bent, and leaned back against his hands, one of them a few inches from the mage-blade in its scabbard; he'd removed the weapon from his belt before setting out the blanket. His movement was one of tense unconscious grace, and it lifted the edge of his unlaced jerkin to let moonlight play on the pendant glittering on a hard chest... Duo realized he'd been holding a piece of bread and none-too-fresh cheese an inch from his mouth for the last five seconds and swallowed, putting it down hastily before Heero could notice.

But then again...

He'd had time to think the past week. Oh sure he'd been busy getting the next blasted circles ceremony ready, and also studying the more important fiend problem with G. But in the small cell of Jay's compound which he'd been gracefully allotted -Jay held little truck with nobility, he'd had at least two princes at his beck and call for too long- he'd had plenty of time to think, especially when sleep had been illusive. He found himself trying to reach out with a tentative mind, feeling along unfamiliar ties that Quatre said linked him and Heero together. He thought he could tell when his husband was sleeping, and he felt he would know if he'd been attacked. It'd still been a relief to see him show up two nights ago, with Zechs and a few guards in tow, a few days after Duo arrived.

Tomorrow they would finish preparing the circles, and... there might be some development on the fiend front. Things would get busy again. So now was definitely the time...

"Heero?"

"Hn."

"... nice picnic."

Duo glanced around nervously, trying to gather his thoughts. It wasn't easy, he was feeling some of Heero's tension, out here and exposed as they were. Wufei had protested to all that would be willing to listen that the circumstances were not right for a moonlight picnic, just the two of them, without any kind of guard or protection. But Quatre had argued just as loudly that the Wastes were quite safe, being Jay's domain, and that the two newly-weds should really have an opportunity to be alone. A romantic picnic was just the ticket. He'd actually said that. Romantic. Duo thought he was going to die and it'd been an hour before he could bear to look his husband in the face. Talk about avoiding the issues...

Duo let his eyes roam as he flinched in recollected embarrassment. The dramatic, rocky scenery looked particularly surrealistic under the moonlight. The ochre rocks were painted with silver and umber shadows, mica glistened like small earth-bound stars. The fire they'd built brought life and colour to closest of the peaks and crags around them, a flickering ghost of existence.

"Heero... since it's just the two of us here... maybe we should talk about a few things."

Cobalt blue eyes, nearly black in the darkness, flicked at him quickly before returning to the rocks. "Like what?"

"Well... us."

Eyes on him again, narrowed slightly, weighing him, with a slight sign of surprise. "We... have to take care of the problem first, otherwise-"

"No. I mean, sure, we have to figure out why things blow up whenever we get too close and, er, in-involved, but that's just a side-effect and I want to know just what the hell is going to happen if ever we get rid of it." Duo swallowed, realizing his voice had gotten a bit loud at the end, echoing against hard jagged rock around them.

He immediately realized that the obvious repartee would be, 'well, what do you think will happen?' and he would have been hard put to answer that. But Heero didn't say it; he gathered himself up, arms clasping his knees, the fire sparking a few dashes of deep indigo in the darkness under his bangs as he watched it dance and flicker.

"Duo... before you say anything, or... I... have to... "

"Heero, I'm not going to curl up and die or start screaming like a girl if you say something wrong, or odd. I'll just ask you to explain, and I'll give you all the time you need, so please stop acting like talking is a newly discovered art form?"

Heero scowled at him before turning the glare back at the fire. "That's easy for you to say."

"Okay, I'll take up that challenge!"

"What?"

"You were about to say something about how stunted your emotions are after all your training with Jay."

"... "

"You were going to say that you don't know what you want, though you're sure that you don't want to hurt my feelings, this has nothing to do with me, and so on."

Heero had turned his face towards him and his eyes were wide in the moonlight. Duo snorted and reached into the basket for the flask of water.

"You were probably going to add something about being willing to try anything I felt like -you were going to suggest that if you know what's good for you, that is!- but that I have to understand that you may not be able to respond fully to my wishes and something lame to finish, before asking me what I had in mind exactly. How'm I doing so far?" He took a swig from the flask.

Heero stared at him in amazement from behind the rampart of his knees, then shrugged. "Pretty good except you forgot about your mistress."

The fire hissed under a small shower of water as Duo coughed and spluttered.

"My - cough- my what?!"

"Your mistress. I may never be able to respond- well, in fact you may not want to-"

"My what?!"

The fire flared and roared and Heero leaned back in alarm. Duo snarled under his breath and hauled in his temper before he caused any damage.

"Okay this I got to hear, what do you mean my mistress?! I don't have a mistress!"

"Maybe you should."

"What?" Duo gaped.

"It's a fairly accepted practice in a political marriage, Duo. Especially between two men. We're not expected to... I don't expect you to be celibate, you shouldn't have to-"

"I can't believe I'm hearing this! Are you saying you're going to have a girl on the side?"

Heero scowled. "No, but I do not require it."

"And I do?!"

"If we're having this conversation now, Duo, it's because it appears you have normal desires for - we were talking about sex, right?"

Duo felt he was the one to combust this time, but it was only an impression, his clothes weren't smoking. "Er, yeah, maybe, eventually, I mean, that's sort of where kissing like that leads to... "

"I have very few desires for any kind of physical intimacy, anymore than I have desires for anything else; it's one more fall-out from Jay's war over my control, my emotions." Heero stared blankly at the fire. "I can't even tell you if I prefer men or women. The... former I think, but I might be influenced by living with Trowa and Quatre for so long. But whatever my problems are there's no reason to stop you from enjoying a physical relation."

"But what makes you think I'd want a mistress?!"

"You've already had several."

Duo's jaw hit the ground hard. He gaped in silence for a few seconds.

"There's no reason to be embarrassed about it." Heero said gently and his eyes on Duo were straightforward. "I understand-"

"I tumbled the kitchen maid when I was fifteen, that hardly constitutes a harem!" Duo snapped, confusion and annoyance allowing honesty a clear path through the embarrassment.

Heero stared at him. "That's all?"

"Well excuse me if I was a bit too busy surviving the trials and plotting the downfall of Septim to chase any skirt that-"

"I thought... " And suddenly Heero ducked his head against his arms. Duo stared, wondering if his husband was mortified at his assumption. But then the blue eyes lifted, dancing in the light of the fire with the closest expression to amusement Duo'd ever seen in them.

Heero was visibly trying to control a smile. "All those... enthusiastic, blue-blooded Lin ladies throwing themselves at you left and right, and... the kitchen maid?"

Duo couldn't stop himself from grinning, the unique look of merriment in Heero's eyes was making him tingle all over and brightening the night more than the moon ever could. "Hey, she was nicer and had more class then all those others put together!"

"I believe you. Hearing them go on about it, though, it sounded like you were going to marry one or the other any day. I felt pretty sure there was some exaggeration but I assumed you'd been with some of them at least."

"Oh please, those over-bred dolls? Very much not interested!"

"Oh... " Heero's eyes became serious, though the half-smile lingered on his mouth. Duo thought it looked good on him. "You... the concubine doesn't have to be female of course, you know that."

That brought Duo back down to earth with a crash. "What? What's with you! I don't want anything on the side, thank you very much."

"But Duo... we-... our marriage may never go beyond-"

"Love, respect and friendship, I know that. Doesn't mean I need to chase any men or women besides that, I do have some self-control you know!" Well apart from accidentally blowing things up. "I never chased anybody since I was fifteen anyway. Man, I spent so much time trying to stay alive in my youth, I, to be honest, I don't even know if I prefer men or women myself, I mean, the kitchen maid was nice, sure, and I've never really-"

"You... don't know." Heero was looking at him with sudden intensity, as if understanding something else behind those words.

"I'm just saying I've not had that much experience, really, no shame there, I was too busy with more important-"

"Has this... anything to do with magic?"

Oh gods!

Duo shot to his feet and took a few steps away from the fire, mind screaming. "Wh-what?"

"Duo, come back here."

"What kind of- what-what could any of this have to do with magic?" Duo knew his voice was unnaturally high, but he couldn't bring it under control.

"Duo, come back to the fire." Heero said, the urgency of his tone cutting through Duo's rising horrified hysteria. Duo staggered back, eyes fixed on the flickering light. When Heero patted the ground invitingly besides him, the sorcerer's legs almost buckled beneath him and he sat down with a thump.

"I... how... how do you know about... "

"Oh Duo." At the gentleness and kindness in the normally abrupt voice, Duo felt his gaze reluctantly meet his husband's. Heero wasn't smiling and his eyes were steady and understanding. "You forget that I spent six months serving you as captain Yuy, and Trowa and I lived in the servant's quarters all that time."

"What?" Duo stared in confusion, trying to understand what that had to do with-

"It's... don't take this wrong, it's something of a joke. What's the most boring job in Lin? Being the concubine of a powerful mage. Their masters will always be more interested in magic than they'll ever be in sex."

Duo's emotions crashed into shards of confusion. Embarrassment - a joke in the servant's quarters, oh that was just great!- mingled with relief - apparently, he wasn't the only one.

Heero seemed to be following his thoughts. He was frowning slightly but his eyes were still warm and kind. "You hadn't-... you didn't realize this was a general problem? Why do you think most of the greatest sorcerers are single, even though Lin is so concerned about having powerful children in the next generation? The king has to be the exception, of course, I'm pretty sure your council will be throwing a few girls your way sooner or later, but they won't be surprised if you, er, don't have many heirs."

Duo sunk his head into his hands. "It's not... it's not the same thing! I mean, I liked the kitchen maid. We had a good time!" Yeah, twice. "It was... I was just too busy after that to... "

Then his fundamental honesty kicked in. "Look, it's not the same thing, but yeah, after you've used the kind of magical powers I have, most physical pleasures seem a bit tame. That's all. Hell, the only reason I'm not a runt like G and Septim is because Wufei spent our entire adolescence forcing me to eat properly and take some time out to exercise and such."

"I know. I don't have that particular problem since magic feels like its tearing itself out of my every fibre and taking every last drop of blood with it." Heero said grimly. "But I think I can see what it would be like."

Heero leaned back, arms still around his knees, eyes lost in the fire. "To tell you the truth, I... wouldn't have suggested a mistress if you hadn't said anything first. I assumed we'd have ample time to figure out our problem without it becoming much of an issue. I'm even surprised you raised the subject."

"I raised the subject because you are constantly on my mind, day and night, and because kissing you is like magic."

Heero froze, body caught on the frontier between fire and moonlight. He raised his head cautiously, expression bewildered, almost apprehensive. Duo stared back without flinching or hiding.

"I don't know where this might lead." Duo said, slowly and carefully. "I don't know if either of us want to go anywhere with this. You may not even feel-... but I do. And I want to know what it's like to... to be with you, to hold you, to... I want to find out. I know you don't have any desires on the subject either way but I'm hoping that when we can actually get together and at least kiss one another without causing major disasters, maybe, well, maybe you'll find you feel the same."

Heero dropped his eyes, visibly confused and torn, unable to promise, wishing he could.

"Duo... I just don't want you to get any... expectations. Your experience so far was with women. One woman. You may not like... Men... do things a bit differently."

Duo noted with interest the faint crimson stain on his husband's cheeks that had nothing to do with the firelight. Heero's eyes were serious and his expression grim though.

"Been doing a lot of eaves-dropping on Trowa and Quatre, have you?" Duo quipped, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

"No." Heero scowled. Then he ducked his head, and glared at the fire above his arms still clasping his knees. "I... I was thinking about these things after we... after that time in Sanq. I thought it would be a good idea for at least one of us to have the appropriate information." Heero's tone was practical, though his cheeks were still red and he was scowling. "So I took it upon myself to gather that information in case... in case it was needed. So I... " The scowl turned downright sour. "I had a long conversation with Quatre." He muttered.

Duo, who'd been leaning forward to catch the low words with aching curiosity, nearly tumbled into the fire.

"You-you talked to Quatre? About that!?"

"Hn." Heero's expression could have turned milk into cheese but he seemed to need to elaborate. "I didn't think Trowa would be... quite so informative."

"Heero... " Duo's voice was faint as he stared at his husband. "You... you really do love me... "

Heero ducked his head again and buried the scowl into his arms. "Apparently I do." He grumbled.

"Man... " Duo's heart was doing somersaults. "Well, at least that way we can compare notes."

A cobalt eye twitched in his direction above the rampart of a leather pauldron. "Notes?"

"Yeah. It's good you got a, er, first-hand account, it's probably more exact than what I read in the books."

Two blue lances pinned him to the rock. "Book?" Heero whispered.

"Oh yeah." Duo shrugged. "We have books on every subject you can imagine, and quite a few you can't, in the Library." He'd spent a very entertaining and informative afternoon there on his return from Peaksnought, for pretty much the same reason as Heero; the desire for more information, 'just in case'. "Some of it was a bit, well-" He'd stuck to the primers on the subject after taking a panicked look through the more advanced volumes and why was Heero looking at him like that?

"There's a book on this subject?" Heero's words were a hiss.

"Er, yeah, several-"

"There's a book!?"

Duo swallowed and nodded convulsively.

"I spent four excruciating hours talking to Quatre about this and there's a book!?" Heero's voice struck echoes from the surrounding rocks.

Duo had never seen the ice-cold Heero this upset, but he couldn't help himself. The chuckle erupted from behind the hand that was trying to restrain it. Heero's eyes and anger suddenly focused on him which was about as comfortable as being put on the rack but he couldn't help himself, the vexed expression just fuelled his laughter until he was shaking helplessly. Heero growled and that only added to it. Duo shook, powerless to stop, trying to wave a trembling hand in apology.

Then Heero's scowl crumbled into chagrin, then into a rueful smile which, seeing Duo roll backwards clutching his sides in despair, broke into a rare smile.

"Okay, laugh it up." He muttered, grabbing a flailing hand and hauling the sorcerer forward to sit again. Duo gasped and tried to stop, tears beading at the corner of his eyes.

Duo leaned against the hand in his, panting and still unable to speak, and gave it an apologetic tug. Heero gave him a rueful tug in return which, due to his strength, tumbled Duo nearly against his side. They grinned at each other for a few seconds, faces inches apart.

He was thinking about this, Duo reflected, as their smiles began to fade, their eyes caught in a web of moonlight. He cared enough about it to talk to Quatre, Duo thought as he traced every drop of lunar silver in his husband's irises. Whatever he says, he's obviously not that indifferent to this... .Duo found himself tilting his head as he focused on Heero's lips, rougher and firmer than any woman's... He said he thought he rather preferred men... Their linked hands were pulling them closer though neither could tell who was responsible... Did Duo prefer men? He'd never felt attracted to one before, but he didn't particularly feel interested in women either... They were close enough now that they could feel the caress of each other's rapid breaths on their lips... In fact, he'd never felt like this for anybody...

"We shouldn't... " Heero breathed, mouth barely moving. His breath tickled Duo's lips and tongue.

"No... " Duo tried to lean back and no muscle responded. It certainly wasn't a conscious decision on his part to lean forward half an inch more.

"We'd put out the fire... if we... " Heero tilted his head a bit, eyes half-closed, lips still slightly parted.

Duo felt something almost like panic, but he didn't know if it was because Heero was, any second now, going to lean back or because the kiss was now inevitable...

Their lips were almost touching, Duo's heartbeat was a pounding of surf in his ears and his entire body but-

- Heero's hand tightened on his, his breath stilled, cobalt eyes flew wide in alarm-

- but he still heard the sound nearby, alien, out of place...

A clink of metal on rock.


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