Author: Merula
1x2x1. AU.

Californication + Epilogue

Heero shifted uncomfortably in his seat. It wasn't the flight that was making him nervous- over the last year or so he and Duo had made several trips out to the West Coast and back, trying to find a comfortable balance between their two homes. It was the reason for this trip that was making him nervous. The movie was finally finished- the premiere was tonight.

He was not looking forward to sitting through it.... But he had to go to the premiere. It would look odd if he wasn't there, he knew that. His fingers clenched the armrest as he looked out the window at the clouds.

Duo reached out a hand and placed it on Heero's. "It's going to be okay," he said softly.

"I still don't understand why I have to sit through the movie- can't I hide out in the back of the theater?" Heero tried to keep his tone light. Duo wasn't fooled.

"Because you have to be able to answer questions about it afterwards." Duo's fingers tightened on his. "You'll be fine. You haven't had a nightmare in months..."

"Only because you've been there. When you were off on that book signing tour..." Heero bit his lip. That hadn't been a good time.

"I know," Duo lifted their hands, brushed Heero's knuckles with his lips. "It was bad for me too. Think how many times I had to call you in the middle of the night..."

It was Heero's turn to squeeze his lover's hand. "I know... and I know that I'm being silly. What happened to me was a long time ago- I should be able to let it go..."

"Heero." Duo used his free hand to pull Heero's head close to his, resting their foreheads together. "What did you say to me when I told you that I should be over my family's deaths?"

"That's not the same-" Heero protested. "You saw..." he cut the words off, inwardly smacking himself. The last thing he wanted to do was bring that memory to the forefront of Duo's mind. "My uncle... just had some very bad ideas about how to discipline a child."

Duo sighed again, clearly not agreeing, but also not wanting to bring up Heero's memories anymore than the movie already would. His fingers caressed the nape of Heero's neck. "Maybe we should've taken Quatre up on that advanced screening," he said, returning to the original subject. "We should've come out earlier, instead of on the day of the premiere..."

"You had that TV interview," Heero reminded him.

"I could've tried to reschedule it." Duo frowned.

It wasn't an easy thing trying to keep their schedules coordinated all the time, Heero thought. Dorothy had recommended that they start using an assistant. He'd dismissed the idea at the time, but now... well, he'd call her once they were on the ground. She was already in LA with Une hammering out some details with Quatre's studio over the next movie. Heero thought they should wait to see how well this one did first, but everyone seemed confident in it. Except for himself of course...

He took a deep breath, summoning a smile for his lover. "It will be okay. We'll just sit in the back row, right by the door. And if I dash out... well, think of the publicity! People will flock to see a movie that scared the writer." He squeezed Duo's fingers again and then let go, leaning back into his seat. "We're almost there."

Duo let him go, a faint line forming between his eyebrows, but he didn't say anything. Instead, he leaned back in his own seat and scooped up a magazine from the pouch in front of him. "Did you see this?" He asked, handing it to Heero with a faint smile.

"What?" Heero looked at the magazine. It was a gossip rag, and not one of the better ones.

"Go look at 'contributing writers....'" Duo smirked.

Puzzled, Heero did so, letting his eyes scan the list of names. There was a familiar one right at the end... but it wasn't...? He looked at Duo. "This isn't?"

"Oh yes. Our dear Mr. Roth is now a caption writer," Duo chuckled. "I told you'd he'd find another job in publishing somehow."

"I'm frankly amazed they even gave him a job." Heero rolled his eyes. "Unless they thought his notoriety would give them some more readership."

"Well, you have to admit Sally's article did start a little swell of publicity for him."

"A little swell?" Heero arched his eyebrow. Sally's article was the match that lit the explosion. Once it was published more and more people- not just writers, but hopeful critics and others in the industry had come forward to share their stories. Roth himself had been besieged with reporters; some of the people he'd made his offers to had filed sexual harassment suits. The major media had picked up the story with all of its vengeful enthusiasm and shook it until the next scandal broke. "You have a talent for understatement."

Duo slipped the magazine back into the holder with a smirk. "I know. I should be more grateful- it did help with my book sales."

Heero lightly slapped him on the back of his head. "Hardly. If your book was a flash in the pan kind of thing it still wouldn't be on the bestseller lists." He smirked. "Something that I'm sure Quatre will want to talk to you about..." Quatre had mentioned something of the sort when he'd talked to Heero last week. Heero suspected that there would be a mini-ambush sprung on Duo sometime during their stay.

Duo gave him a suspicious glance. "Do you know something I don't?"

Before Heero could answer, the flight attendants came over the loudspeaker and advised the passengers to prepare for landing.

Crap. He tried to push aside the thought that once they landed they'd be closer to the start of the movie... He needed to take this in steps. Focus on getting off the plane, calling his sister- Sally and her family had arrived in California earlier in the week so that they could take the kids to Disneyland. Maybe tomorrow he and Duo could join them there.

That was it. Focus on other stuff....

"Back home," he said to Duo with a smile as he belted his seatbelt.

"Hm," Duo nodded. "I wanted to talk to you about that."

"What?" Heero felt a slight rise of panic. Duo couldn't mean...

Duo knew him too well. "Don't look like that. I told you when I moved in you were stuck with me- that hasn't suddenly changed." He sighed. "I like California and all, but since we have been dividing up our time between the two coasts... I was thinking I wanted to move up mine a little."

"Seattle," Heero guessed. It was Duo's hometown after all.

"Yeah. When we were there for that signing I realized how much I missed it. I didn't want to say anything, but Quatre has those new guys to do the scriptwriting work, and we don't really need to go back and forth anymore... I'd miss the guys and some of the stuff..." Duo huffed out a breath.

Heero thought about it as the plane began to descend. Chances were that Quatre would talk Duo into the movie- and Duo would want to spend some time working on it with his friends. Plus there were things about California that he'd come to appreciate...

"Why not just get another place up there?" He asked.

"Split our time between three?" Duo lifted an eyebrow. "Doesn't that seem excessive?"

Heero shrugged. "It's not like we have to spend time in all of them equally," he pointed out. "Just move when we want a change of scene. Besides- I've gotten a bit fond of California."

Duo laughed. "It's the pizza, isn't it?"

"And your friends." Heero rolled his eyes at him. "Crazy as they are, I do like seeing them you know. Besides, we can always see how it goes. If it turns out we spend less time in one place, we can sell whichever place that is- right?"

Duo considered that for a moment. "I guess you're right." He smiled. "I like that idea- I just didn't want to drag you around all over the place..."

Heero smiled back at him. "As long as I'm with you, I'll be okay." Duo's smile warmed even more and Heero realized that he wasn't worried about the movie anymore. Duo was with him, so he'd be okay.

(end)

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