Rattlesnakes + Part 2 (cont)

There was a long pause. Trowa wasn't sure what the expression on Quatre's face was; he was almost curious enough to attempt a peak.

"Duo? Duo Maxwell?"

"Who else?" Trowa's brow furrowed in annoyance. He didn't like circular conversations.

"But... Duo? I don't even... I doubt he'd know anything about L2 policies, Trowa."

Quatre was being condescending again. Trowa knew he didn't mean to be, he just honestly didn't know when he was being a little prick. It was an upbringing thing, Trowa assumed. It never bothered him, normally, but for some reason, the fact that Quatre was looking down his nose at Duo rankled a little. He didn't bother to analyze why that might be; he just chalked it up to a vague sense of class-consciousness, and ignored it.

"Besides, I don't think... well, that is, I've heard that Duo..."

"I've been seeing him. You should talk to him. I'm sure he'd like that."

Trowa knew that he was leading Quatre to believe things that weren't true, but he was also being honest, even if not rigorously so, and he was enjoying the look he imagined to be on Quatre's face too much to care.

The pause lengthened, and Trowa released his grip on his cuffs so that he could try to pull up the ugly brown carpet again.

"You've been... *seeing* *Duo*? Duo *Maxwell*?"

The sheer incredulity in Quatre's voice made Trowa smile to himself. "Sure."

Quatre sputtered. Actually sputtered. Trowa hadn't enjoyed a conversation so much in years. Years and years.

"He used to run a business in L2, with Hilde. A salvage business." What had happened with that, anyway? Why was Duo with the Preventors? Trowa frowned a little, but kept it out of his voice. He realized that he and Duo were not close, but he was surprised that he didn't know this about the other man. "He must know some things."

Quatre choked a little. "That *may* be, but I don't think he would have any contacts that WEI would be interested in." Trowa narrowed his eyes, finding his hand balled up into a fist on top of the carpet. "At any rate, he certainly doesn't have a good reputation, if you know what I mean. There are... *rumors* about how he has spent the last few years."

Trowa started gripping his cuffs again. He spoke gruffly, and far too low for Quatre to hear. "There are *rumors* about me, too... Better hope no one finds out you talk to me, either, then..."

"I'm sorry?"

"Apology accepted."

"What?"

"I have to go, Quatre."

"Oh, but I haven't told you the funniest story about Abdul yet! See, he had to get..."

"I'm sorry. Bye." Trowa switched the 'phone off from the floor, and continued to sit, and let the darkness settle around him. It took a long time for him to unwind enough to let go of his cuffs. He thought about the knives in the kitchen. Then he tried to think about something else. He tried to think about putting in a disk, but the thought of watching porn made him physically ill, which made him think about going into the bathroom, which made him think about razor blades, which made him think about falling down in the bathroom in Catherine's trailer on L1, and the smell of blood, and then he thought about Catherine finding him there, and the guilt made him get up and fix himself something to eat.

He didn't bother to turn on any lights, so the only time he could really see what he was doing was when he opened the refrigerator door. He made a sandwich with ham and peanut butter. As an afterthought, he poured himself a glass of milk. He took the sandwich and the milk out to the living room, and ate in darkness on the couch.

He thought about Catherine more, which produced enough guilt for him to finish the whole sandwich and to empty his glass. She worried about him so much; she had so much reason to worry. She had been so good to him ever since he first met him, even when she never had reason to be nice. She treated him like the younger brother she had lost, and encouraged him to treat her like the older sister he had never had.

When he thought about her, and how she worried, the smell of blood was so thick, he could barely breathe.

If he called her, it would make her night. She would be so happy to see him reaching out to her like that. He should call her. Tell her he was thinking about her. He emailed her from work often, but it wasn't the same. When he couldn't hear her voice, he couldn't imagine her expression all that well. He needed to hear her voice.

He got up, and brushed the crumbs off his pants. He turned on the vidphone, and stared at the blue screen, waiting for vocal prompts.

"Find number - Maxwell, Duo."

The machine when through a search, and then produced seven results from the surrounding eight area codes, and a prompt for if the search needed to be widened. Trowa recognized Duo's address, so he selected that number, had it filed in his personal directory, and then dialed. Stepping carefully out of the line of the camera's eye, he waited.

"Oy."

Trowa examined his fingernails, even though it was hard to do by the light of the 'phone. "Duo."

"Trowa? Is that you?"

"Yeah."

"Well, where the fuck are you?"

"I'm here."

"Well, damn it, step where I can see you, or hang up. I'm not fucking talking to your damn wall."

Trowa had to repress the desire to smirk. It was a physically involving task to move the two steps away from the wall and in front of the 'phone. He hoped Duo appreciated his effort. "Duo."

"Tro." Duo smiled, relaxing. He looked worn out, like he'd just been working out, or something. Trowa could also tell from the way Duo smiled that he had been drinking. "Well, there you are. What's up?"

"Why are you with the Preventors?"

Duo blinked. "Um, you called me up to ask me that?"

"Yes."

"Ah. Another exciting night at Casa de Barton, eh?"

Trowa enjoyed the way Duo's eyes crinkled when he teased. "Of course."

"Well, great. But... well, that's kind of a long, boring story."

Trowa didn't believe that for a second.

"Let me ask you something first. What happened with you and Q?"

Trowa blinked.

"You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I was just wondering."

"Nothing happened."

"It's ok. You don't have to tell me."

"I just did."

Duo cocked his head in confusion. "Huh?"

Trowa shrugged. "Nothing happened. The wars ended, we went our separate ways... He called me from time to time, but that was it... And then he got married." Trowa had a harder time shrugging this time.

"Oh." Duo sounded truly disappointed. "That's too bad. I always thought..."

"Me too." Trowa hadn't planned on saying that. He certainly didn't plan on sounding so bitter. "I thought he was going to save me." Trowa picked at his thumbnail, his whole face bent down so that all Duo could see was his hair.

Duo smiled. "Quatre in cape, to the rescue, huh? Those damn superheroes never pan out, do they?"

Trowa looked up at Duo slowly, reassured when he saw that Duo wasn't teasing.

Then, he thought about it.

"You didn't answer my question."

Duo laughed, and it was a comforting sound. "I'm slippery like that, Tro." Duo winked, and it looked a little saucy. Trowa's lips turned up just a little bit. "See you tomorrow, eh?"

Trowa shook his head, and switched off the phone. He wandered into the bedroom, and sat in the window.

He decided that he wasn't looking forward to therapy, but it wouldn't hurt to make sure his nice pants were pressed.

~*~

The woman in the cube next to his started the morning with an emotional crisis. She spent the whole morning telling her terrible story of woe to anyone unfortunate enough to cross her path, calling every friend and relative she knew, and bursting into tears a total of four times.

Trowa could feel his head throbbing with every melodramatic screech, so he took off at eleven for lunch, and didn't bother to go back before therapy.

Daytime television was like a forgotten treat. The sheer wastefulness of it all attracted Trowa, so he spent the whole time sitting on his couch, staring at his tv. He missed the bus, and spent most of the time before the next bus pondering whether he should call for a cab, call the doctor's office to say he would be late, call Duo to tell him he would be late, or just wait. When the bus came, the whole question seemed mostly moot.

For some reason, the bus was as packed as it would be at rush hour, so Trowa had to stand in the aisle. He didn't mind that, but there were a group of teenaged girls who kept pointing at him and giggling, all blushing and winking at him. He stared out the window and tried to ignore them, but they made him feel so self-conscious, he got off the bus two stops early.

All in all, the session was nearly half over before Trowa turned the brass doorknob to step in, and neither Duo nor Dr. Clarkson looked very happy.

Trowa slipped in silently, but the other two men were staring at him all the same. He didn't bother to make an excuse for himself, or apologize, but he did nod slightly at Dr. Clarkson in greeting. Before he sat down, he took a moment to really look Duo over.

He was a sight to behold.

Duo's braid was pulled forward, and he was toying with the end as he glared at Trowa. He wore a black ribbed tank top that probably would have fit him perfectly when he was ten. The bottom of the shirt just barely touched the top of his faded black jeans, which were unbuttoned and folded down at the waist, and torn in the thighs and the knees. He wore sport sandals, which made the whole outfit and look so casually sexy it was nearly unbearably.

Trowa slipped right next to Duo on the couch, putting his arm around the other man and offering him a haven. Duo glared at Trowa for a moment longer before cuddling up to him, his hand snaking out to play with Trowa's tie, his braid still in his hand so that the rope of hair was draped half over Trowa's chest.

The weight of the hair was impressive, and so enticing that Trowa had to reach out and caress the plaits reverently. Duo smirked at Trowa from under his bangs, and put his head on Trowa's shoulder.

Dr. Clarkson cleared his throat, his narrowed eyes fixed on Trowa and the hand that was moving over Duo's braid. "So nice of you to join us, Mr. Barton."

Trowa smirked, running his hand down Duo's side. "I hope I haven't missed anything." If his tone of voice didn't clearly indicate what he was missing, his nose dipping into Duo's hair as he arms closed around Duo left no room for interpretation.

Dr. Clarkson's left eye twitched involuntarily. "I see you two are getting along well." It was a leading statement.

Duo grinned. "You were right, doc," Duo purred as he flung his legs over Trowa's. "Some things are more fun in pairs."

Trowa sighed silently, and brought Duo closer. Duo tilted his head to look up at him, and Trowa was suddenly awash in guilt. He and Duo were in this together, now, and he had abandoned his partner.

Trowa's lips touched Duo's neck, and he begged for forgiveness. Duo arched his neck as he accepted Trowa's supplication. Trowa slowly opened his lips, and let his tongue nip out to quickly taste Duo's skin. Duo sighed in appreciation. Trowa wasn't satisfied though. He had grievously erred. He needed to make reparations.

Trowa's nose brushed against Duo's ear lobe gently, and he breathed heavily through his nose so that Duo could feel it. His hand slipped to Duo's waist to trace the top of Duo's pants, letting his fingertips linger over the smooth, tight skin of Duo's abdomen. Duo's body thrilled at the touches, and he turned to face Trowa fully.

They looked at each other for a moment, their eyes flirting. When they moved together to kiss, Trowa felt Duo's forgiveness in the tender brush of lips, emboldening him to ask for more. Their mouths opened together, moving together, and then Trowa invaded Duo's mouth with his tongue.

The sensation of taste overwrought Trowa, and he felt his hands moving over Duo's skin only dimly. He didn't realize that his eyes had closed until he opened them again, and when he saw Duo's face, so close to his own, Duo's eyes partially closed as if he were in enthralled, Trowa felt a small fire in his belly that he had completely forgotten, so that he felt like he was discovering arousal once again.

Duo's body was liquid, molding to Trowa's as they pressed against each other. Trowa's hand was under Duo's shirt, running up and down Duo's back. Duo had one hand at the back of Trowa's neck, tugging at the short hairs at the hairline, and the other hand had unbuttoned a few of Trowa's buttons in the middle of his shirt, and was now exploring Trowa's chest. Trowa found himself heaving for air, but loath to separate from Duo.

Their noses touched, and Duo rested his forehead on Trowa's. All Trowa could see was the deep depths of Duo's eyes, which seemed both blue and violet. They had a quality that entranced, and made Trowa want to stare into Duo's eyes until his own dried up and fell out.

His hand was on Duo's thigh, and as he stared into Duo's eyes, he thought about Duo's dick. His own was hot and confined uncomfortably, but he was almost enjoying the delicate pain of being aroused in tight pants. His hand moved on Duo's thigh, inching closer and closer to his groin. Thinking about Duo's dick only led to more thought about Duo's dick, and more tightness in his pants, and more heat, which was like being set on fire after being left in the tundra for your entire life.

Trowa's hand stopped on the joint of Duo's leg and hip, his fingers splayed. He thought that his fingers were just a layer or two of fabric from Duo's dick and balls. He pulled Duo's face closer and kissed him again, sucking hard on Duo's lips.

The doctor's clipboard and papers fell to the floor, ignored by everyone in the room. Only the ting of the timer signaling the end of the session pierced the concentration of the three men.

Duo and Trowa relaxed their grips on each other, but stayed on the couch in each other's arms. Dr. Clarkson pulled his hand away from his crotch as if he might get away with it, and cleared his throat enough times to bring up a lung.

Duo sighed, and stretched his legs out lazily. "Hey, doc, before you sign our forms, would ya mind using some wet wipes? Ya know, for sanitary purposes."

Trowa chuckled silently, and leaned into Duo. The image of Duo's dick was still stuck in his head, and he was enjoying the hazy sensation of unfulfilled passion that was blearily working its way through his circulatory system. He had no desire to move anytime soon.

But Duo got up, pushing against Trowa's shoulders to leverage his way out of Trowa's lap, and then it wasn't as warm anymore. Dr. Clarkson kept his eyes down as he handed them their reviews. Trowa stood and stretched out slowly.

He was enjoying a rare good day.

Duo was waiting for him by the elevator, his trench pulled tightly around his body. They stepped into the elevator together. Trowa stepped to the side, and pushed the button for the lobby. Duo went to lean against the back wall. Duo watched Trowa pleasantly.

"The first half of that session was the worst. You do have a way of... passing the time."

Trowa didn't turn at Duo's teasing tone, but he did look over his shoulder so Duo could see his smile. "I enjoyed it."

"Mm." Duo tilted his head, and his braid slipped over his shoulder. Trowa remembered the feeling of the rope of hair over his chest, and his flesh tingled at the memory. "We should have *more* therapy."

Trowa smirked.

"My place or yours?"

There was a definite flirt in that question, but Trowa knew better than to think that Duo was offering more than dinner. They exited the building, and Trowa waited while Duo lit his cigarette. The thick, fragrant smell of it burned Trowa's nostrils in a homey way. "Yours." Trowa nodded in the direction of Duo's bus.

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