Author: Merula
1x2x1. AU.

Californication + Part 11

Heero stepped into the coffee shop and scanned the tables. No sign of Duo or Dorothy yet, but he was a bit early. He ordered a coffee and found a table.

He hoped it was going well. Good enough that Duo would feel like he was making it again... so that when Heero made his offer again, Duo might take him up on it.

Though really, at this point, he'd move out to the West Coast if Duo didn't want to move East... he'd put up with LA if it meant he got Duo.

How to ask though? He had a week; surely there would be a good time to bring it up...

The door to the coffee shop swung open and Dorothy sauntered in. The smile on her lips was that of smug satisfaction- Heero knew it well. His heart lightened.

Duo, following in her wake, looked stunned. Before he could wonder why, Dorothy caught sight of him and grinned like a shark. "Good offer," she said, which in Dorothy speak meant that it was something that most writers would kill for.

"Really? Did you take it?" Heero asked eagerly.

"Darling, please, we have other meetings this week. We couldn't commit so soon." Dorothy pushed Duo towards a chair. "Wait here until Heero and I come back, okay?"

"Okay," Duo nodded, still looking dazed. Heero, concerned, pushed his coffee over to Duo.

"Drink that. I'll be back as soon as I can."

"Okay," Duo responded again. Heero wanted to sit and question him, but Dorothy had him by the arm and was pulling him out of the shop.

"Relax darling," she said, sounding amused. "He's fine."

"He usually talks more than that."

"I'm sure," Dorothy smiled wider. "And he will again. He's just a bit stunned."

"But why?"

Dorothy stopped in front of the elevators and pushed the button. "I suspect that despite of the fact that you and I both told him that we liked his book, he wasn't really expecting the publishers to like it. He was thinking we were humoring him, and that the offers would be kind of a bone thrown to a dog- something to keep you happy, you see?"

Heero blinked. "He was?"

Dorothy nodded. "I think so. But the publishers made him a very nice offer, and I'm sure we'll see the same at our other meetings this week. He'll get better as the week goes on- you'll see..." She patted his cheek. "Right now though, you need to focus on your meeting, okay? Duo will be fine, stop fretting."

Heero rolled his eyes at her. "I'm not two years old you know."

"I know, but you are so cute when you're fretting over him. I can't help it." She laughed and Heero growled at her. "Now now, don't frown. I don't want you to scare the publishers... yet."

+

Heero didn't remember much of the meeting. His mind kept wandering back to Duo. He'd gotten a good offer- he had to know now that he could make it on his own... was now a good time to ask him? Or should Heero wait until he had heard a few more offers? When the meeting was over, Heero dragged Dorothy out of the offices and down the hallway.

"Heero," Dorothy said as they stood in front of the elevators, waiting for a ride down. "You don't have to hit the button six times." She sounded amused.

"It was only five."

"Right." She laughed. "Don't forget, we're meeting Sally and Une for lunch. Une wants to get a look at Duo."

Heero rolled his eyes at her. "Not if he doesn't want to go..." If Duo was still shell-shocked, Heero was going to take him back to the hotel.

"I'm sure he's fine now." Dorothy assured him. "You get him while I go grab us a taxi."

She was right. Duo was sitting with a paper and a cup of coffee, looking much more relaxed than he had an hour or so ago. Duo looked up from the paper when Heero got close to his table and gave him a warm smile.

"Ready for lunch?" He asked, unable to think of anything else.

"I'm starving," Duo laughed and got to his feet. "Your meeting go okay?"

"Of course," Heero smiled back. "Not nearly so fun as the studio ones though, I have to admit."

"I'll agree with you on that point," Duo opened the door and ushered Heero through it. Dorothy was waiting on the sidewalk next to a cab.

"Ready gentlemen?" She said and slid into the cab. Heero and Duo followed her in as she told the driver: "Times Square."

Heero blinked at the direction.

"We aren't," Heero raised an eyebrow at her as the cab darted into traffic.

"Yes, we are." Dorothy smiled. "We're going to Sally's favorite place," she said to Duo.

Heero groaned. He should've known...

"What?" Duo looked at him.

"My sister is torturing me. You'll see..."

+

Sally and Une were already at a table when they arrived at the restaurant. Sally grinned as her brother sat down beside her and rolled his eyes.

"You had to know I was going to pick this place."

"I knew you'd subject me to it at least once this trip."

"What's wrong with it?" Duo took the chair beside Heero and looked around at the cheerful décor. "I think it looks fun. Is the food bad?" He picked up the menu. "It looks like a lot of fried stuff..."

"No," Heero shook his head. "It's not the food." He raised an eyebrow at Sally. "You want to tell him?"

She laughed. "You need to relax Heero. I'll bet the guy doesn't even work here anymore."

"What guy?" Heero felt a light touch on his knee under the table. He turned and caught Duo's eye. Duo lifted his eyebrows in reply, his hand tightening a little.

"The one that hit on him during our last trip here."

"That wasn't being hit on. He put little messages on the napkins, a flag in my drink, and his number on the bill." Heero pointed out. "That was creepy is what that was."

Duo laughed. "Well, if he tries it again, I'll protect you."

"Gee thanks. That's what she said." Heero nodded at Sally. "And she gave him the number of my hotel room."

"He asked!" Sally protested. "And he was cute."

Duo cleared his throat.

"Not as cute as Duo though," Sally added. "Which reminds me," she leaned across the table with an evil smile, "how did you manage to pick up Mr. Porcupine here? Usually he scares everyone off."

"I plied him with pizza," Duo grinned.

"Pizza?" Une lifted an elegant eyebrow. "Must've been really good pizza."

At that moment the server arrived at their table. Heero was relieved to see that it was not the young man from last time, but an older woman. Duo grinned at him, his hand squeezing Heero's knee again.

After she took their orders and vanished, Sally asked Dorothy about the latest renovations on her home. As the three women chatted, Heero tried to look somewhat interested, but his mind was wandering again, studying the man seated next to him. Duo looked like he was following the conversation, his hand caressing Heero's knee, a faint smile curving his lips. He was more relaxed now, more sure of himself... maybe...

The food arrived, and Dorothy started a new topic of conversation.

"Don't forget," she raised an eyebrow at Heero, "the literary reception is on Thursday night."

"Do I have to go?"

"Yes," Dorothy smiled. "I don't know why you're complaining- all you ever do is stand in the corner and glower at everybody."

"It's not like it's a fun event," Heero retorted. "It's like dining with piranha. All the backstabbing, all the my book sold more than yours..."

Duo chuckled. "I remember those- worse than any Hollywood party."

"You've been invited too," Dorothy told him. "So you can join Heero in the corner if you like- or try to get him to circulate a little- either would be good. Just make sure you're seen and I'll be happy."

Heero rolled his eyes. "The things I do for you."

"All because of the things I do for you, sweet." Dorothy smiled at him. "Relax, it's Thursday, it's at the end of the week, and you can leave on Friday morning with a light heart to bury yourself back in the countryside."

Heero didn't snap back. The thought of that flight back on Friday morning depressed him.

+

The women bid them farewell at the door of the restaurant, Dorothy snapping out instructions.

"Two meetings tomorrow Duo- first thing in the morning, I'll come get you. Heero your next one is on Wednesday. Duo has two more that day- you have all of Thursday to yourselves until the reception..."

Sally kissed his cheek. "Dinner with us tomorrow?"

Heero felt guilty. "I can do more than meet you for meals."

"I'll collect you tomorrow for some shopping then while Duo's at his meetings, how's that?"

"Fine," Heero agreed. Sally gave him another kiss and climbed into the cab with Dorothy and Une. Heero turned to look at Duo. "What would you like to go do? Sightsee?"

Duo smiled and leaned close, his voice dropping to a whisper. "I want to find a cab and go back to the hotel room. I've already done plenty of sightseeing here- right now I want to be alone with you."

Heero turned towards the street. "TAXI!"

+

Duo was laughing by the time they got back to the hotel room. "I can't believe you told the guy you'd double the fare if he got us back here in 20 minutes or less."

"And here we are- 18 minutes later- back at the hotel," Heero pointed out as he unlocked the door.

"One might think you were in a rush to get back here." Duo laughed again as he followed Heero inside the room and closed the door behind them. "We have over three days left."

Heero pulled Duo close and kissed him. "It's not nearly enough time," he murmured against Duo's lips when he finished.

Duo gave him a startled look that quickly dissolved into a warm smile. "We'll see if you still are saying that on Friday morning..."

Before Heero could retort that he knew he would be, Duo leaned into him and claimed his mouth again, his fingers dropping to Heero's waist, working on the belt buckle.

Heero gave in for the moment, opening his lips and reaching up to unbutton Duo's shirt.

They took their time undressing each other, moving slowly towards the bed exchanging kisses and caresses, knowing that they had hours together, wanting to make every moment last...

It was hours later when Duo finally called a time out due to extreme hunger and grabbed the room service menu from the drawer beside the bed.

"We're not going out?" Heero asked, kissing Duo's thigh.

"Nope." Duo laughed and ruffled Heero's hair. "That's too long away from the bed."

Heero chuckled. "Good point. Maybe we should just place a standing order for dinner every night."

"Not a bad idea..." Duo scanned the menu. "What do you want?"

"Don't care."

"Ah, such an opportunity, and there's nothing weird on this menu." Duo laughed and tapped the menu with his fingertips. "Pizza and salad, how's that?"

"Good." Heero let his fingers drift up Duo's leg caressingly.

Duo picked up the phone and dialed. "Yes- room 201 please- like to place an order. Yes of course." He sighed and looked down at Heero. "They put me on hold- and their music sucks."

Heero smiled and inched a little further up Duo's thigh. Duo's hand tangled in his hair.

"Don't you dare-" he laughed.

"Just trying to entertain you."

"I appreciate that." Duo shook his head. "But we'll never get dinner if you start."

Heero lifted his head. "What am I supposed to do then?"

An odd expression crossed Duo's face for a moment. Then he shrugged. "If you don't have anything better to do... want to read the end of the book?" The words were rushed as if he half expected Heero to say no.

Heero mentally kicked himself. He should've asked sooner than this...

"Yes please." He let go of Duo and slid out of bed. "On your laptop?"

Duo nodded, his face slightly red. Heero went, grabbed his pajama pants and did a fast clean up first- he knew he'd want to be somewhat presentable when the food arrived.

When he exited the bathroom, Duo was off the phone and had booted up his laptop for Heero.

"It's here..." Duo bit his lip. "You don't have to read it now- the food will be here in about forty five minutes..."

Heero nudged him out of the way and sat down in front of the laptop. "You know I've been dying to read the end," he said, his hand catching Duo's for a moment and kissing his palm. "Thank you."

Duo's fingers squeezed his and then let go. Heero turned to the computer and let himself get caught back up in the world Duo had created.

When he reached the end and reluctantly turned away from the screen, he found Duo sitting at the small table, the food spread out and waiting.

"The food came?"

Duo nodded. "About five minutes ago." He smiled slightly. "The guy who brought it was a bit miffed that you didn't even turn around."

Heero got to his feet. "I didn't even hear him..." He went to Duo's side and pulled him up and out of the chair. "Thank you for letting me read it."

"You're the one that pushed me to finish." Duo was red again.

Heero kissed him, slowly and gently. "It was wonderful. No wonder you have so many offers. You know how rare that is right?" Duo's color darkened, but he squeezed Heero in a tight hug for a moment.

"Shall we eat?" Duo asked, letting Heero go.

"Do I want to know what kind of pizza you ordered?" Heero accepted the subject change and sat down at the table. "There's no duck on it, is there?"

"Nope, they didn't have anything quite that good on the menu." Duo gave him a mischievous smile. "So you'll just have to settle for the works."

"Darn," Heero rolled his eyes and reached for the salad.

Duo just laughed. Heero was glad to see him relaxed again.

"So, you haven't told me how the movie is going," he said.

"I've emailed!" Duo protested. "It's still in development of course- other casting, sets being built, all that good stuff." He took a bite of salad. "Ah- did I tell you that Zechs dumped that diva from hell?"

"Did he? Is he still in one piece?"

"Nearly. He did come in with a band-aid or two-" Duo laughed. "But his new girlfriend is taking better care of him."

"Really? What does she do? She's not another singer is she?"

"Oh no- he's dating his assistant."

Heero paused for a moment, pulling up his memory of the woman's face. "Ah right. She seemed nice- not the throwing things type."

"No kidding." Duo smirked. "I think she's a bit too good for him, but then so does he."

Heero chuckled. "Then hopefully he'll hang on to her tightly."

"Speaking of hanging on tightly-" Duo lifted his eyebrows. "You remember Relena of course?"

"Of course."

"Remember her bodyguard?"

"The man who didn't talk."

Duo laughed. "That's the one. They're getting married."

"Does he know he has to speak at the ceremony?" That made Duo laugh harder.

Duo continued to entertain him with gossip for the rest of dinner. Heero relaxed back into his chair and let Duo's voice wash over him, storing it up and saving the memory of this dinner together. After Friday who knew how long it would be until they were together again?

After dinner was over, Duo tumbled him back into bed and gave Heero another set of memories...

+

Usually Heero's business trips dragged and he couldn't wait to be home again. But the week flew by with Duo. They spent time with Sally, Dorothy and Une shopping or sightseeing and time on their own making love in their hotel room. There was not one moment that Heero was less than happy...

All too soon it was late Thursday afternoon and they were back in their hotel room getting ready for the literary reception.

Heero had still not found the perfect time to ask Duo to move in with him- or conversely- to ask if he could move to the West Coast. His time was running out and he had to find a way to do it soon...

"I hate these things," Duo made a face in the mirror as he tied his tie.

"So do I."

"So why are we going?"

"Dorothy is making us." Heero smiled. "Plus, it's being given by my publishers who are now your publishers... so we have to go make nice." Duo and Dorothy- well, mostly Dorothy- had decided that Heero's publishers offer had been the best one for Duo. They had gone and signed the papers that morning.

"For how long?"

"A few hours. Just hide out in the corner with me." Heero slipped his tie around his neck.

"And glare at people."

"Exactly." Duo shook his head and brushed Heero's fingers out of the way.

"I have a hard time imagining that," he said as he started to tie Heero's tie for him.

"Imagining what?"

"You glaring at people. You aren't a bit scary you know."

"I beg to differ." Heero lifted an eyebrow. "I once scared one of Une's paralegals so badly that she refuses to even file my papers."

"Really?" Duo grinned. "I will have to ask Une to tell me that story."

"I'm surprised she hasn't yet." Heero left the bathroom and grabbed his coat off a chair. "All ready?"

Duo pulled his coat on and sighed dramatically. "Ready as I'll ever be- promise you won't leave my side?"

"Of course I won't." Heero smiled. "You've survived dozens of Hollywood parties- and quite a few of these kind too I imagine. You'll do it again."

"Yeah, though this time I'm a 'comeback'- wonder if that goes over better in literary circles than in Hollywood ones?"

Heero stopped him right before Duo opened the door. "Don't be silly- you took an artistic break and went out west to work in the glamorous circles of Hollywood. You won awards. You are now condescending to come back and write novels."

Duo kissed him. "You've spent way too much time at these things Heero."

"I know it."

Duo smiled and took a deep breath. "Okay, let's go get this over with. I just have to keep telling myself that by this time tomorrow I'll be back home and that I won't have to come out here again for a long time... that should get me through the evening..."

He opened the door, and Heero followed him out into the hallway, heart sinking.

Duo wanted to get back to California- wanted to get away from New York and the east coast... Was he also looking forward to getting away from Heero?

[part 10] [part 12] [back to Merula's fic]