see chap. 1 for warnings, disclaimers, notes
+ Chapter Five
"Though we're strangers
till now, we're choosing the path between the stars. I'll lay my love
between the stars."
- David Bowie, As The World Falls Down
Duo was in the backyard painting a rocking chair when the phone rang.
He dropped his paintbrush onto the tarp, scattering tiny droplets of dusky
blue paint, and ran to the kitchen to answer the phone.
"Duo! How's my favorite nephew?"
Duo smiled at the familiar voice, rolling his eyes at the all too familiar
greeting. "I'm your only nephew, Aunt Sasha."
"Well that doesn't make you any less of a favorite dear."
Duo chuckled. "How's my new uncle?"
"Stefan's well, complaining about the food as usual. Relena told me about
the back porch, and your new neighbor. Oh, hold on." Duo heard her hold
the phone away and talk to someone. "Stefan wants to know if the boys
are still mad at us for eloping."
"I don't think it was the marrying that ticked them off. I think it was
the suddenly becoming brothers that bothered them."
Sasha snickered. "They'll get over it. It's not as if they've all of a
sudden become related by blood." Duo could almost see the familiar smirk
on his aunt's face.
"It's a good thing they haven't, otherwise we might have a Greek tragedy
on our hands." Sasha guffawed and Duo couldn't help but laugh at the infectious
"But really Aunt Sasha, I think they're starting to get over it. Mil keeps
asking if you've called, and Treize gets all misty eyed everytime he comes
over and sees the wedding picture."
"Oh, did you put it right on the hall table like I asked? I thought that
would get to them." Her voice was filled with satisfaction.
"It works like a charm. Everytime they look at it I can just see them
start to feel guilty. So where are you now?" Duo peered out the window
as he heard the sound of an engine from next door. He got a brief glimpse
of a black jeep before it pulled out of sight.
"Alexandria, we met the nicest boy while we were out sightseeing. He's
around your age actually. Ever hear of the Winners?"
"Not the Winners, the famous, rich, royal Winners?"
"Those are the ones. He's the youngest son; do you know he has 29 sisters
and two older brothers? And to top it off he's the youngest of them all.
Be thankful Duo."
"I bless myself daily." He said dryly.
She laughed again. "So what's the new neighbor like?"
Duo thought about the strangely empty house next door and the exotic boy
who lived in it. Those dark blue eyes that seemed to see into every corner
of his soul. "Heero? He's
"Oh ho! Just hope he doesn't have a brother for Relena to marry." She
chuckled on the other end of the phone.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Duo frowned.
"Nothing, I look forward to meeting him."
"When are you coming home? It's been almost three months now."
"Oh don't whine. Give my love to the boys, be good, and I might just be
home sooner than you want me."
"I love you Sasha."
"Of course you do. I love you too."
Duo stood in the kitchen, looking out the window for a long time after
he hung up the phone. Puzzling over what his aunt could have meant about
Heero having a brother for Relena. Then it finally sank in and he groaned.
Surely, his aunt didn't think
Heero was just a friend. Wasn't he?
Duo turned from the display and glanced about the store. It was nearly
closing time and there appeared to be no one left inside except for Mr.
Mac and himself. He turned the sign in the front window over so that the
'Closed', was clearly visible to anyone who needed a few last minute hardware
items. "All set Mr. Mac." He yelled as he headed towards the back of the
store to drop off his apron and clock out.
"Good lad." The gruff voice replied from somewhere near the front. He
shook his head and chuckled. How Mr. Mac seemed to move so quietly had
always been a source of amusement. Except for that time he'd caught Duo
in that most embarrassing situation. But, Duo didn't want to think about
that again. It had taken him nearly a month to clean all the paint off
the ceiling. Though he had eventually learned to always check that the
lids were firmly on the paint cans. Before he started the mixer.
A few minutes later, Duo waved goodbye to Mr. Mac, and locked the door
behind him. The sun was already setting and few cars were about. Most
people were sitting at home getting ready for their evening meal. He sighed
and began trudging towards home. Idly he wondered what Milliard might
be making for dinner, and then he remembered Treize was coming over to
join them. He snickered softly, thinking of his aunt's call earlier.
"Something funny?" A familiar accented voice asked from beside him. Duo
turned to find Heero keeping in step with him and looking at him with
an undecipherable expression.
"I was just thinking of my aunt's phone call this morning. How did you
like Harperville College?" Unconsciously Duo slowed his pace, trying to
lengthen the trip home. He smiled sympathetically when he saw the scowl
on Heero's face. "That bad?"
"Let's just say I've had better days." Heero thrust his hands into his
pockets, and frowned down at the sidewalk.
Duo nodded, and they walked in silence for a block. Heero kept stealing
glances at the other boy, quickly averting his eyes everytime Duo turned
to look at him.
He'd had a dream last night. He hadn't dreamed in so long. In his dream
he'd been far away, in the sky it seemed. He'd seen the stars and felt
as if he could reach out and touch them. The blackness of space had enveloped
him like velvet midnight. He'd heard himself talking and had turned only
to find himself standing on an ocean and looking into a pair of crystalline
"Heero? Are you ok?"
Yeah. Sorry I was just thinking about
" He fished about
for a moment, trying to think of something other then star-shrouded nights
and walking on water with beautiful boys with braids
That seemed safe enough ground. "I was wondering if you were planning
anything further for it." He turned his head to find Duo grinning at him;
briefly, he wondered just what had been showing on his face while he thought
about his dream.
"I've already started on the furniture, it's going to look so cool when
I'm done. I just need to buy some more paints and a few different types
of brushes and I'll be able to get to the real work of it." They turned
down their street, and Duo saw Treize's car parked in front of his house.
Then he noticed the black jeep he'd seen earlier, parked in Heero's driveway.
"Is that your jeep Heero?"
"Yeah." Heero squinted down the street at his house.
"Mm?" Heero glanced over at Duo. "What?" Duo stopped in the middle of
sidewalk and Heero nearly bumped into him, catching himself at the last
"Would you like to come over for dinner?" For a moment Duo's eyes seemed
to hold another, less easily answered question. Heero blinked and it was
"You've got company, I shouldn't
"Nonsense, it's just my latest brother. You'll like him, he's got a worse
sense of humor than Mil." With that, Duo grabbed Heero's arm and began
towing him down the street. Heero didn't even bother to protest, he kind
of liked the feel of Duo's hand.
Treize held a silver frame in his hands, gazing at it with a peculiar
half smile on his lips. Duo grinned at the older man, recognizing the
expression. An elegant eyebrow rose, and Treize turned to face Duo, the
half smile expanding to a grin of pure enjoyment.
"Whatever possessed her to take a wedding picture standing on the back
of an elephant?" He asked almost proudly and started to chuckle.
Milliard poked his head out of the kitchen. "Duo said she swore it was
the only place she really wanted one taken. She always did have an odd
sense of humor." He ducked back into the kitchen, and the sound of dishes
and pots clattering and banging together could be heard.
"Look who's talking." Duo muttered under his breath.
Heero was completely lost. He looked at the picture in Treize's hands
and frowned slightly. He just didn't get it. Why would someone want to
stand on the back of an elephant for a wedding photo? And who was this
Duo noticed the confused expression and explained. "That's my aunt Sasha,
Rel and Mil's mom. She uh, she recently eloped." He glanced over at Treize
and tried to hide a smile. Then he pointed at the tall bearded man in
the picture. "That's Treize's father Stefan." He let that sink in for
Heero blinked, looked closely at the picture, and then looked over at
The man with the strange split eyebrows and ginger hair, nodded. "Yes,
my father is, though my mother was French." Heero nodded and then said
something in rapid Russian.
Duo blinked, it had been said too fast for him to translate it. He knew
a few words after being around Treize and Stefan for so long, but he still
didn't have more than a basic vocabulary.
Treize looked surprised for a moment then responded with a long burst
of chatter, his face becoming animated as he slipped into the familiar
Milliard poked his head out of the kitchen again and glared. "Do you mind?
I can't understand more than half of what you're saying, and it's bugging
the hell out of me."
Treize stopped in mid-sentence and looked embarrassed, then he smiled
sheepishly at the blond. "Sorry Mil, I know it annoys you when I do that.
I was only responding to his question."
"So? What did he ask?" Milliard came to stand in the doorway and leaned
against the frame, crossing his arms.
"I asked him how long he'd been living in America. And if he was able
to speak his father's tongue." Heero answered.
Duo looked surprised. "Oh, that makes more sense then," he said, flushing
slightly, "I thought
They all looked at the blushing boy, Mil raised an eyebrow. "It was the
tongue thing wasn't it Duo?" He grinned at his cousin, then nodded. "Yeah,
that got me too."
It was dark that night and the moon was hiding itself. Heero gazed across
the waters of the bay and thought about the boy sitting next to him on
the dock. He looked down and traced with his eyes the pale hand that rest
beside him on the wooden planking. Long slim fingers, delicate wrist,
the nails looking a bit ragged, yet smooth and healthy. A spot of blue
paint on the inside of the wrist. His eyes followed the hand up the slender
wrist, until it disappeared inside a large black sweatshirt. It took him
a moment before he realized Duo was watching him. He looked up and their
"Aren't you cold?" It was the first question that popped into his mind,
since the last thing he'd noticed before he'd realized Duo was watching
him, was how incredibly smooth the other boys wrist looked. Where as his
own arms were getting goosebumps. He shifted uncomfortably as Duo kept
staring at him.
"I guess I'm used to it. Do you want to go in?" Duo turned so he faced
Heero and leaned back against one of the pilings. He rested his hands
on his knees, and bent his head back to stare up into the sky.
No, I'm not that cold." Heero couldn't tear his eyes away from
the oval face aimed at the stars. He wondered if the sky would be reflected
in Duo's eyes if he were to look into them.
"Heero? Where did you learn to speak Russian?" Duo tilted his head to
the side and waited.
Heero took a moment to compose his answer, feeling a strange sensation
of helplessness wash over him, then just as quickly it was gone and he
answered softly. "When I was little my parents didn't believe in toys,
so they gave me books. They felt that I should learn useful things rather
then play. Then as I grew I traveled with them more often, they gave me
language books. The trips to Russia helped." His mouth drew into a thin
line and he stared off across the bay, refusing to meet Duo's eyes.
A soft "Oh." was the only response, and then Heero felt a hesitant touch
on his arm. "You are cold." Duo said somewhat accusingly. His fingers
idly rubbed at the small bumps on Heero's arm.
Then moving so he sat side by side with the other boy, Duo pulled off
his oversized sweatshirt and spread it over their shoulders. Heero held
perfectly still. Achingly slow, Duo's fingers moved down his arm and traced
a pattern over the back of his hand.
Heero twined his fingers with Duo's and looked over to meet the bright
amethyst eyes. Stars seemed to be reflected in their depths, and for a
moment, Heero was reminded of his dream from the night before. He shook
his head slightly and Duo's eyes became still velvet pools once more.
A long minute passed as they continued to look intently at each other.
Then, slowly they leaned in towards one another. Duo shivered as he felt
warm breath on his cheek, and his eyes slid shut. Soft lips met his in
a tentative touch, barely grazing. Abruptly the feather light touch was
gone and only empty, cold air remained, he shivered. Then glanced up,
confused. Heero stood facing the water, his back straight, his hands clenching
at his sides. In a surprisingly gentle voice he said "Go home Duo. It's
freezing out here."
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