see chap. 1 for notes, warnings
AN: Right, now the twists start to unravel and the fluff starts. You are warned...
+ Chapter 9
The commlink crackled. *Can I... come over?*
"Hn." Heero noted with a flicker of surprise that Duo sounded somewhat subdued. Normally danger and adrenaline brought out the hyper-active jester, if not the laughing murderous Shinigami.
Deathscythe extended a hand towards Wing in a gesture like an entreaty. Heero kept a distracted eye on the outdoor monitor and saw the Gundam's hatch open and a lithe black figure scramble up the torso to the shoulder, run down the arm and jump to Wing's cockpit. Heero hit the hatch release and finished checking systems. He glanced up again at the uncharacteristic silence.
Duo was hanging back a bit, a few feet away, looking at him with a grin. Heero frowned, he recognized that expression. It was the mask Duo wore with others, the one that meant he was unsure about something, defensive. Running and hiding. Oh right, the circuit... Or was it something else?
Duo watched the strong fingers flicker over the final commands of a systems check, and the frown that wasn't only due to concentration. He could feel himself retreat behind the jester, as if that would stop him from getting hurt-...
No wait a minute.
That wasn't right. This was Heero. If he had any reserves about their relationship, he'd have come out and said so, hell, he had done so in the past. Duo always knew exactly where the limits were with Heero, what was allowable and what wasn't, and even if he occasionally let his enthusiasm get the better of him, Heero also knew, fundamentally and to the core, that Duo could take things such as the war and their missions very seriously, and wouldn't voluntarily cross any lines. If he did... Heero would tell him straight up and to his face and if possible give him a chance to fix things... So maybe this was still salvageable, if he played it straight. If not... he'd take it straight too. He didn't feel like games right now.
Duo relaxed slightly, dropped the mask, and balanced on a console board, still a good distance away, as far as he could manage in the small cockpit. "I... had an interesting conversation with Wufei just before the evac."
Heero had flinched ever so slightly, and he was scowling. "I can imagine. I wanted to talk to you first but he beat me to it. I'm sorry."
He glanced over at the 'thump' of Duo falling off the console. "Don't injure yourself, baka."
"Ahhh... " Duo rubbed his rump and stared at his lover. Heero? Sorry?! "What-"
"I made a mistake." Heero said in clear clipped tones. Duo hesitated, then pinched himself. Ouch. Okay, so maybe his ears were damaged...
"I was... distracted, and I accidentally said something to Chang that indicated we were no, to be precise, I didn't say that much but he misinterpreted it as my complaining that you were pursuing me."
Duo had a quick flash of what this might look like to the casual observer as Heero explained. Duo still flat out on his rump in case the world started to spin like a merry-go-round- silent and listening, Heero explaining things and using more than three words to do so. This is us, Duo suddenly thought. I never realized just how different we behave together, compared to the jester and the perfect machine we are with the others. That's what we have together, more than the sex, or the partnership in the face of the enemy. It's the opportunity to be ourselves when no-one else really needs us to be.
"Uh? Oh yeah, I... that sounds about right. Er... do you know if Wufei has the hots for you?"
"I take that as a no. Oh boy. I kinda misunderstood him. And him me."
"K'so. What did you tell him?"
"Well... " Duo scratched his chin. "Nothing compromising, and he was too busy threatening me to really listen." No one listens to me much anyway, they mostly just tune me out. Except for you. "I insulted him pretty thoroughly but he's used to that... But he was okay in the end."
Heero stared at him with something like admiration. "Explain. What could you tell him to be 'okay'?"
"Hmm, made a promise that I wouldn't approach you until you made the first move, far as I can recall."
"What?" Heero started. "Why did you say that?"
"'S a bit complicated. I, ah, thought Wufee might be interested in you himself."
"Hm, something he said, and, well, I kinda overheard part of your conversation with him in the yard. But not all of it. Obviously."
Heero's eyes went blank. "I don't see what part of our conversation could have led you to believe-... " then he hesitated.
"Well actually, I think it might have been on my mind anyway." Duo muttered, more to himself. "We're all pretty hormonal and Wufei is such a tightly wound spring, and he really does admire you a lot... I guess I kinda drew conclusions. When in fact he was being straight, he was trying to warn me off for real, he really does think you don't want anything to do with me anymore. No wonder he was so-"
Heero came back from his replay of his conversation with Wufei to stare thoughtfully at Duo, still sitting on the floor.
"Anymore?" The precise Heero caught the odd word out in what others would have dismissed as rambling. "Chang doesn't know we're involved in the first place."
"Ahh yeah, that's what I meant of course." Duo said, just a bit too quickly, and lifted his head to find himself pinned by cobalt blue eyes. "Erm, yeah, he talked, I talked, he threatened, I laughed, I jumped to some weird conclusion, all pretty much the same old same old."
"And did your conclusions lead you to think he was right? About me not wanting anything to do with you anymore? Is that why you were... " he waved a hand at the entrance hatch, and Duo's display when he'd entered. Heero wasn't good at putting names to emotions but from the way Duo was acting shifty he thought he didn't need to this time, they both knew what he was talking about.
"Oh babe, of course I didn't-" Duo abruptly shook his head and looked down at his feet. After a few seconds, he said, quietly. "Yes, I wondered. He said... he said some stuff that was true, and you were pretty mad at me. First I make you drop that circuit and then I get you so upset you accidentally spill our fling out to Wufei. I guess I am kind of a distraction to you. I always wondered if-"
Duo gasped as two strong arms grabbed him and lifted him up and a steely body pinned him against the wall. Lips were a firm pressure against his mouth, a hair's breath from a bruise.
What the-! Heero never took the initiative like this, not without a hell of a lot of preparation.
"Whaaa." Duo mumbled incoherently as his mouth was abruptly released.
"Keeping your promise. Remember? You promised Chang to wait until I made the first move." Heero was looking at him seriously, cobalt blue eyes inches from his own.
"Eerrrrr yeah." Duo wondered if he'd entered the twilight zone, and what he could do to stay there. Then a rough shake to his shoulders brought him back to the real world.
"You are a distraction. You do occasionally make mistakes. And I find that since I've allowed myself to... become involved in our relation, I am distracted, and I also make mistakes." Duo's mouth went suddenly dry and his heart quivered. "But I think you allow me to get in touch with a part of myself that makes me better. As a soldier and... otherwise. And besides, if these past three weeks are any indication, it would be more distracting to do without you. It is up to me to make sure that I do not let any influence you have on me sidetrack me or make me commit a serious mistake." The hard jaw jutted with resolve. "I will just have to work harder to overcome the weaknesses inherent to this type of relation, to better benefit from-"
Duo had tugged him into a hug. "Forget it, babe, you couldn't be any more perfect if you tried." He whispered.
"I disagree." Heero grumbled against his shoulder, but returned the hug. And then some.
Duo wondered if this was wise, to start getting touchy with the perfect soldier without disarming his reflexes first. He wondered if maybe Heero hadn't disarmed himself this once. He wondered just how many steps towards humanity Heero had taken without him noticing. Then he just wondered how comfortable the command chair was exactly...
The communicator chirped and the monitor switched on. They both stiffened until they realized they were out of line of sight.
*Heero? Damn it where are they?*
Heero was back in the command chair in a heartbeat. "Here, 04."
*Heero! I was starting to worry, I can't get a hold of Duo-*
"We're both available, have you found a place to regroup?"
*Yes, I'm sending you the coordinates now. It's that place I mentioned a couple months back, the airfield.*
"Acknowledged. We should be there in about an hour."
*See you soon. Over and out.*
Heero began entering coordinates into the flight computer, pushing his bangs from his eyes in a way that looked a bit tense. And frustrated.
"Damn hormones, uh?" Duo grinned through his own disappointment as he straightened his clothes. If he remembered Quatre's description, the place only had two bedrooms and Wufei would insist on sharing with them for quite some time, he was ready to bet. Just what he needed, a foul-tempered Chinese chaperone with a very sharp katana.
"They can be... distracting." Heero admitted dryly as he entered the last numbers, then he glanced up. "Which reminds me... If we are so badly affected, I can't help wondering... if the others might not be having similar problems."
"Well you know, I do think Wufei is reaaally-"
"I was thinking about Barton."
"Trowa?!" Duo sank down on to the armrest of the command chair, staring. "Er, Heero, there's no way that Trowa has a thing for you."
"No, but I wonder if he's not developing an interest in you." Heero said point blank. Duo gaped. "He was observing you very closely for a long time earlier with a strange expression on his face."
"It must have been strange if you noticed." Duo said with slight lack of diplomacy but considerable accuracy. "Hm, that was because I was teasing Quatre. I think. There's no way Trowa would fall for me."