Author: Merula
1x2x1. AU.

Californication + Part 9

Heero was used to being on a plane. He sat beside the window, made himself comfortable, signed things for the crew, got a soda, turned down the offer of headphones for the movie, all the routine things he normally did on a on a flight.

Usually he used his flight time to plot out stories, make notes, read other people's books, anything to keep himself too busy to sleep. He never wanted to have one of his nightmares in a public place.

This time however, he just sat and stared out into the darkness.

He had been dreading this trip. He had expected to hate every minute. He had expected to come home with more nightmare fodder for his books and a resolution never to let Dorothy talk him into one of her 'vacations' again.

He had not expected to fall in love.

It sounded stupid. He'd only just met Duo. They had only spent a few days in each other's company.

People had casual flings all the time right? One night stands, weekends away...

But he didn't like to think of those terms, didn't want to classify his weekend like that.

He had been so comfortable around Duo, enjoyed his company, liked to talk to him, been enraptured by his writings... and then the sex on top of all that...

When he'd asked Duo to join him, offered to help him, he'd come close to begging. It had hurt when Duo had said no, but his reasons had made Heero admire him more even as his chest had hurt at the idea of leaving Duo behind.

He was stupid, he knew it. Developing an attachment to someone he'd just met? Especially to someone like Duo who could have anyone he wanted... foolish.

But he couldn't help it. He hadn't even realized he'd gotten that attached until Duo had said no and his heart had frozen in his chest, only to warm again when Duo had promised to keep in contact.

Delight over what would no doubt be one or two emails was just ridiculous.

He was still brooding when the plane landed. On his drive home he forced himself to think of other things. Dorothy for one- she'd no doubt want to talk to him about the contract and his next book. His sister also needed to be called; it had been too long since he'd talked to her.

His house was waiting for him, exactly the way he'd left it- dark and empty of life.

Heero tossed his keys on the hall table and flipped on the lights. He dropped his suitcase off in the bedroom and made his way to his office. He flipped the lights on in there and hit the playback button on his answering machine as he waited for his computer to boot up. He turned on the stereo, trying to dispel the silence that seemed to echo throughout his house.

"Heero, it's your sister. I know you aren't home, but call me when you get back."

Heero smiled. Of course. A few more messages played- one from his publishers, one from the local news agency, another one from the publishers wondering if he really did sign the contract to make a movie and could he come in to discuss movie tie-ins?

That was fast.

His computer finished booting up and informed him that he had three messages waiting. At a guess, they were all from Sally. She always forwarded those joke emails to him. Sure enough, two of the emails in his box had 'FWD' in the subject line, but it was the third that made him lean forward in his chair.

It wasn't from Sally, and it had 'miss you' as the subject.

He clicked it open and read:

Hey Heero!

I hope your flight was good and all that. I'm hoping too that you were serious about the email thing, because after I dropped you off at the airport I thought of six different things that I wanted to tell you, and three restaurants I should've taken you to- not that I could do that over email, but I can tell you about them, right? And then when you come back out here for the premiere you'll know where you want to eat.

Of all the things I wanted to tell you, the most important one is that I miss you- which I know is weird because you were only here for a few days, but that doesn't make it any less true. I think I'm going to be pushing Zechs to get the damn movie made so we can have a premiere and get you back out here- or maybe I need to call your agent and ask her to schedule some book tours for you on this coast.

You just left, but I already miss you and want to see you again- and that sounds trite and bad, but I can't say it any other way.

Sending this before he can hit the delete key,

Duo


Heero discovered that he was smiling.

He hit the reply button on his computer.

Duo-

I was very serious. I miss you and want to see you again too. Get your book finished so you have to fly out here to the east coast to meet with publishers.

Heero


He sent the email and then yawned. He was tired. He powered down the computer and left the office, turning off the lights, but leaving the stereo on, letting the music fill the house with sound.

He reached his bedroom, pulled off his clothes and fell into bed.

Only to wake up a few hours later drenched with sweat, his heart pounding in his chest, throat sore from screaming.

He'd forgotten about the nightmares.

Duo had kept them away, and for a moment Heero considered going to the phone, finding his number and calling him, wanting to hear his voice...

But a glance at the clock told him that it was too late. Duo would be asleep.

Heero forced himself to lie back down, made himself relax.

In a few minutes he'd get up and go to his computer, start to write, transmute the nightmare into another chapter in a book, make it something he could deal with...

He shivered and pulled the blankets tighter. What magic did Duo possess that made the nightmares vanish? Heero thought about how it felt to be in Duo's arms, the soft comfort of a warm body beside him, the sound of breathing in his ears...

Heero fell asleep again.

He awoke several hours later, the dawn's light slipping through his blinds and making him blink.

He sat up and looked at the clock, dazed. How had he slept so long? He'd gone to sleep, had a nightmare, thought about getting up, thought about Duo...

Had just the memory of the other man been enough? What would he do when the memories faded?

He pulled himself out of bed and dug out his workout clothes. A run first, then he'd come home and call people, check his email again, and then get to work.

He found himself in his office though, checking his email before he left. He chided himself for being so stupid, but then felt triumphant when he discovered another email from Duo.

It was short, but it made him smile.

Heero-

I'm working on it. I think though, that we need to consider some vacation times. Really soon.

Miss you.

Duo


Heero typed a quick affirmative reply, and then went for his run.

When he came home, he had two messages on his machine. One from Dorothy and one from his sister. He called his sister first.

"Heero!" Sally's voice warmed the minute he said hello. "I'm so glad you called! Doro said you agreed to a movie deal! What happened to you out in California? Did they put something in your food? I hear they eat weird stuff out there!"

"The weirdest thing I had was a bite of Peking duck pizza," he assured her and she laughed. "Seriously, though, it was a life-changing weekend."

"I'm sitting down, the kids are playing a video game, and I have some time. Tell your big sister all about it." She instructed, and so Heero did. He told her about meeting Duo at the airport and went from there.

Sally was an excellent listener. She always had been, and so Heero often ended up telling her more than he intended. He rarely regretted it. This time, he did some serious editing; he didn't want to get quite that personal with his sister.

"He sounds lovely," she said thoughtfully, when he'd finished. "You know, I was worried when you started- but he sounds very... what would the word be? Reliable? Trustworthy?" She laughed. "As long as he doesn't turn around and sell the story to the tabloids, I might just consider him worthy of my little brother."

"He won't do that."

"I'm sure you're right. I can't believe he turned your offer down though. And it's a pity; he is a wonderful writer- remember- you gave me those books of his to read. It's awful that that horrible reviewer has so much power." Sally sounded mad. "Maybe I need to talk to my editor about it."

Sally worked for a high-profile news magazine. They specialized in digging up stories and exposing the bad guys.

"It wouldn't hurt." Heero agreed. "I'd just like to see him taken down a peg or two. I'm sure Duo's book would do well if it was published..."

"He might have to do it under a pseudonym, but it would be worth a try. Are you going to pull some strings for him?"

"I don't know if I should."

He heard the smile in Sally's voice. "I know he said no, but Heero, it can't hurt to at least try to get someone to look at it. He might send it in and they'd toss it just because of his name. Ask your editors and publishers about it- and Doro too."

"I might just do that..." Heero said thoughtfully. It couldn't hurt just to ask them to look at it. He was sure they would like it once they read it.

"I think you should. I can't wait to meet this guy though. Any chance of him at least visiting?"

"I hope so. He said something about it in his email. I hope I can convince him to make a trip... or I'll go back."

Sally laughed. "If you could hear yourself. I'm glad to hear you sound like this. You've been so lonely for so long."

"Sally-" How did she know?

"You have." She said, her tone suddenly serious. "I hope he's the one for you."

Heero had to think of a reply that didn't give away too much more. "You are too romantic."

"You'll get that way too." Sally chuckled. "Anyway, on to other topics. Doro told me that you have a meeting with her and Une in NY in about a month. Think we could meet up there?"

"I do?"

"You do." Sally laughed again. "Check your calendar."

Heero looked at the one hanging over his desk. "There's no meeting."

"Ah, so she hasn't told you about it yet. Either way, want to meet up? The kids are on one of those camping field trips that week and I want a break."

"I'd love to see you."

"That's the right answer." Sally blew him a kiss over the line. "See you in a few weeks! And then I want all the other details about your Duo."

"What kind of details?" Heero asked suspiciously.

"Oh, I think you know!" Sally laughed. "All the ones you left out!" She hung up, still laughing.

Heero shook his head and dialed Doro's number. He obviously needed to catch up on his schedule.

+

Heero was never sure how he felt about New York. Some visits he enjoyed himself, and other ones left him swearing that he'd never return. He got into town too early to check into his hotel, so he went to a café and plugged his laptop in to get some work done.

His new book was progressing well, but every time he opened the file up, he thought about Duo's book. Was he working on it? His emails assured Heero that he was indeed doing just that, and Heero hoped it was the case.

Checking his email, he discovered another message from Duo. It wasn't unusual, they exchanged emails several times a day, usually about inconsequential day-to-day stuff, but other times they shared stories or bits of writing or things that they had found and thought the other would like. They called each other occasionally, the time zones made that difficult, but Heero didn't care. Duo's voice in his ear was more than worth the hassle.

All the emails and calls did was increase his desire for the other man. He wanted to see Duo, be with him... Heero sighed. He'd like New York a lot better if Duo were here with him.

He emailed Duo back, worked on his book for a bit and then went to check into the hotel.

There was a message from his sister waiting for him when he checked in. She had checked in and was on her way to do an interview. Could he meet her afterwards for drinks?

Heero shook his head. Sally had claimed to want a week away, but of course, if there was an article to do, she would focus on that first. He was glad. Typing up her interview would keep her somewhat busy and less inclined to drag him out on shopping trips.

He hung his clothes up neatly in the closet. He had several meetings with his publishers this week. The movie deal had made them all excited and wanting to talk about how the movie could be used to promote the books. They wanted to talk about his latest book and the book tour. He'd have to show them what he had so far of the new one.

And there was that 'literary reception' thing that his publishers were throwing. Doro had deliberately scheduled this trip so that he'd have to go. He hated those things.

At least Sally would be there. He was looking forward to seeing her again.

+

He walked into the restaurant at the time Sally had told him to be there and scanned the crowded bar for his blonde sister.

He finally spotted her in a secluded corner booth. He weaved his way through the crowd, trying not to bump into anyone. Sally looked up and saw him. She slid out of the booth when he got close to it and gave him a tight hug.

"I'm so glad to see you!" He hugged her back and kissed her cheek. "It's been way too long!"

"I'm glad to see you too. Did you finish the interview?"

"Just about!" She said cheerfully. "I'm sorry that I have to do some work this week, but the story just dropped in my lap, and the guy I needed to talk to is only in town for a few days." She turned him towards the booth.

Heero felt his eyes widen.

"I don't think I need to introduce you?" Sally asked with a mischievous smile.

"Duo-" he said and the man in the booth got to his feet, smiling.

"Heero," he replied and hugged him. "Thought I'd surprise you."

[part 8] [part 10] [back to Merula's fic]