Rattlesnakes + Part 3 (cont)

The waitress came to see them, looking like she was still waking up. Duo smiled up at her, and she got all rosy. Trowa wondered if he could smile at someone like that, but decided quickly that it would probably take a lot of effort.

Duo ordered a Guinness, and Trowa ordered a lemonade. The girl wandered off, sticking her pencil in apron distractedly, so it took her several tries to get it to stay. Duo groaned and stretched out over the table, his long arms pushing across the table so that the network of fingers he had intertwined nearly touched Trowa. "Man, my back is killing me today! I guess I should have stretched out after our workout yesterday!"

Trowa felt an alien stab of guilt, which left an unpleasant look on his face. "Sorry..."

"Don't be," Duo smirked up at Trowa, his arms still stretched out over the table. "I had more fun yesterday than I had with my best orgasm. I always wanted to run away and join the circus, but it never came to L2 when I was a kid."

Trowa fidgeted in his chair, his blood unsettled. "Me too."

Duo sat up again, slouching in his seat. "So, yesterday was good for you, too." His voice was sexy and suggestive.

Trowa blinked, and his eyes went down to his fingertips curling around the edge of the tabletop. "Yes, but I was talking about wanting to run away to the circus."

"Ach, at least you did get a chance to eventually. What a rush, man. That so is flying." Duo scratched the back of his head, making his braid twitch.

Trowa's lips twitched in what might have turned into a grin. "I know."

The waitress came to the table, carrying the drinks precariously. Duo's eyes were suddenly riveted to the flow of creamy stout jiggling over the rim of his glass. His face blanked out, and for a moment, Trowa thought Duo might stab the waitress with his blunt knife.

Instead, as soon as she got close to the table, Duo reached out and took the glass from her in a parody of gentility. He put it down carefully, his eyes riveted to the rim and the creamy top of his stout.

"So, honeys, what'll ya have?" She grinned at Duo as if she had not just threatened the sanctity of his Guinness.

Trowa spoke up first, ordering a soup and small salad. He didn't look at the waitress, and he spoke exactly loudly enough, by his estimation, to be heard. When she asked him to repeat what he said, he pursed his lips and furrowed his brow, offended by her lack of respect for his estimation of her hearing.

Duo ordered a grilled cheese sandwich, and substituted French fries for the potato chips.She sloughed off again, walking without picking up her feet.

Duo sighed, dragging his finger through the stiff creamy foam of the stout. He made a little smiley face, licking his finger when he was done. Trowa found the action of Duo's finger pulling out of his mouth slowly to be insanely pleasing.

Their conversation, or lack thereof, had eased through their continued interactions into a pattern that each man was comfortable with; Duo did not feel an overwhelming need to stay upbeat, as he knew that Trowa found that annoying, and Trowa did not feel an overwhelming need to feel guilty about not contributing to the small talk. Trowa did ask Duo what he was working on, which enabled Duo to fill the space in time between sips of his stout, which was disappearing rather quickly considering it wasn't noon yet.

The atmosphere of the bar and the established nature of the discourse conspired to make Trowa relax. He even leaned back in his chair, and crossed his legs. It was odd; usually, working days lingered through the hours like a guest you wish would leave but can't quite extricate. This quiet lunch was unsettlingly lackadaisical.

Their food came, and Trowa stirred his soup dispassionately, watching the whorls in the thick liquid. He even raised the spoon to his lips gingerly, actually enjoying the heat of it next to his lips.

He nearly dropped his spoon when the disturbing ringing began, and he glared at Duo, disgruntled as if he were being woken by an alarm.

Duo had to check a few pockets before he was able to find his cell phone. He opened it, and checked the incoming number before answering. Trowa noticed that he seemed to connect the call rather reluctantly, and that Duo's face seemed to be snarling.

"What? ...No, I can't... Well, I'm at lunch. ...Yeah, normal people eat, you know... No, that won't... I'm at the Abbey, but... This isn't... But why do you... Fine, do whatever the hell you want, you're going to anyway." It's not possible to slam a cell phone to disconnect, but from the force with which Duo pressed the button, it was clear that he was trying to do just that. He regarded his meal with the same forlorn _expression a child gives a recalcitrant vegetable that stubbornly refuses to eat itself.

Trowa sipped his soup, and waited patiently for Duo to tell him the Heero was coming.

"So, three guesses who that was, and your first two don't count." Duo picked up his Guinness, and drank it straight to the bottom, signaling the waitress before he was even done drinking.

Trowa put his soupspoon down in the soup. "Should I go?"

"Hell no!" Duo looked at Trowa like a kitten had just leapt from his mouth. "Heero wants to get away from Relena and Une for an hour, so he's coming to see me. Lucky me. But you don't get off the hook that easily, mister. Heero's no obstacle for anything we're doing."

Trowa pondered what Duo just said and how he said it long enough for the waitress to come and bring Duo another Guinness. Duo did the same thing again, tracing a pattern in the creamy foam and licking his finger clean before sipping it.

It was a nice habit.

Duo had picked his sandwich apart almost entirely when Heero stormed into the bar. He was wearing a navy blazer, with a green polo shirt under it. Trowa thought that he looked like a kid in a play pretending to be an adult, but he kept that observation to himself, stabbing a tomato wedge and biting off the end of it as Heero reached the table.

"You're drinking?" Heero pulled up a chair as he sneered at Duo. "Lush."

"Nice to see you, too, Heero. You look nice; Relena dressing you again?" Duo smiled cheerfully at Heero, and it underscored to Trowa how much happier Duo looked when he was not smiling at him.

Heero sighed, aggravated. "Where were you yesterday?"

"Why?" Duo went into a defensive posture immediately, shoving his shoulder in Heero's direction.

"I went by your place, but you weren't home. I thought Sunday was your detox day." Heero grabbed a fry from Duo's plate, acting as if he were saving it from the horror of being eaten by Duo.

Duo grinned. "Tro and I went flying."

Heero glared at Duo sharply. "You're not serious." There wasn't even a hint of a question in his voice.

"Completely," Duo replied blithely. Heero narrowed his eyes, looking from Duo's grin to Trowa's disinterest. "You aren't enough of a fuck up to jeopardize any chance you might have of getting your license back, are you?"

"Aw, Heero, I didn't know you cared." Duo pulled a fry out of Heero's thieving fingers, slipping it between his lips in a slow tease.

Heero's eyes were fixated on Duo's lips and his fingers as Duo cleaned them off thoroughly. There was a nakedness to Heero's attention to Duo that made Trowa feel like a voyeur. Shifting in his chair, Trowa focused on his salad, pretending that he was at another table entirely.

"Tell me you weren't screwing up again." Heero's voice was even and annoyingly patronizing, though there was something in his posture that suggested a hint of real concern as well.

Duo rolled his eyes, massaging his neck, irritated. "Tro and I went to visit some circus friends of his, and we went on the trapeze."

Heero's eyes stayed on Duo for several heartbeats until they shifted deliberately to Trowa. "Spent the day with the freaks and geeks, hm?"

"No, those acts aren't allowed anymore." Trowa calmly lifted a cucumber slice to his mouth. "It's inhumane to the animals."

Duo laughed softly, his eyes sparkling, watching Trowa. Trowa found himself smiling just a little in response.

Heero critically observed one then the other. "If you two are in therapy every week, how come you're both still so crazy? Isn't the doctor any good?"

"God, I hope we never find out." Duo shivered, and Trowa had an image of Dr. Clarkson touching Duo's skin, which made his stomach lurch.

"What?" Heero looked at Duo, confusion clouding his eyes.

"Nothing," Duo shook his head, "private joke."

Heero picked up a piece of Duo's sandwich glumly. "Whatever."

The waitress came by a moment later to ask Heero if he wanted anything. He glared at her as he scoffed at her offer of food or beverage, picking up Duo's Guinness as she walked away, to Duo's consternation.

Lunch at that point was an effort to Trowa, and with Duo and Heero eating off the same plate and drinking out of the same glass, the meal did not stretch out. Heero put money on the table for Duo, walking away after he did to evade any possible offer of thanks from Duo.

They walked back to Preventors' HQ leadenly, and Trowa kept his eyes on the way the sunlight reflected on the sidewalk. Duo pulled out another cigarette, ignoring Heero's judgmental sneer, and he managed to get through two whole cigarettes by the time they reached the corner closest to Trowa's door.

Duo smiled at Trowa as he prepared to say goodbye, a small hint of regret in the way he shrugged his shoulders as he did. Trowa turned up one corner of his mouth in response. Heero grabbed Duo's braid and gave it a sharp tug. Trowa frowned at the mistreatment of Duo's hair, his eyes narrowing at Heero.

"Come with me to the store. I need to get some supplies for Relena." Heero managed to ask a question and make it sound more like a dare.

Duo pulled his hair out of Heero's grasp. "I have to get back to work, Heero."

"You can stay late, right."

Trowa glared at Heero's petulance.

Duo rolled his eyes. "Like I don't have enough trouble with my boss!"

"What does he care? You do your work. Anyway, you need to shake off the beer smell, and I need your help. Let's go." Heero turned and started walking, completely sure that Duo would follow him.

Duo sighed, turning to Trowa. "I'll talk to you later, right?"

Trowa nodded, his _expression softening. Duo smiled brightly in response, leaning up quickly to kiss Trowa's cheek. The impression of his lips on Trowa's flesh felt electrified.

Duo caught up to Heero, who had stopped in his tracks. Heero kept watching Trowa with the same accusing glance even after Duo passed him.

That afternoon, Trowa reorganized the files on his hard drive, finding new and inventive ways to be sure that not even he would be able to untangle the web of files later. The image of Heero and Duo sharing a lunch so seamlessly warred with the image of Heero pulling on Duo's braid and biting him, until all of Trowa's thoughts were so jumbled, they refused to come out anymore.

After that, minesweeper was easy.


It was Thursday again, and again they were sitting on Dr. Clarkson's couch, and again Trowa had his arm around Duo. It would almost be routine by now, but Trowa found the experience of holding Duo to be so refined that it was never the same.

Duo was wearing greenish-brown cargo pants that were too big for him and a t-shirt that was too small, and had been slashed open across the front, revealing Duo's chest tantalizingly. He sat so that his back was up against Trowa's body, and his legs were tucked under him. Trowa had his arm across Duo's chest so that he could touch the skin available from the hole.

Dr. Clarkson was asking Duo about Heero, again, and Duo was purposefully misunderstanding his questions. Trowa wasn't paying close attention. Dr. Clarkson wanted to know if Duo knew what he wanted from his relationship with Heero. Trowa frowned, and put his chin on Duo's shoulder.

He liked the way that Duo's hair felt against his cheek, and the scent of Duo. Duo was so slim... Trowa almost worried about it. Duo wasn't using anymore, so Trowa thought that he should be gaining weight, but maybe not. Maybe that wasn't how it worked. And certainly Trowa wasn't the person to complain about someone else's eating habits. However, as a result, Duo fit snuggly in his arms. It felt like a fit, like he was made to be there, in Trowa's embrace.

Trowa knew that it was an emotional artifact of a physical pleasure; a person naturally felt like the person in their bed was the person who was meant to be there. It was a self-defense mechanism to maintain one's dignity. People were reluctant to admit they were just being whorish.

But Trowa wasn't even sleeping with Duo yet. There were two things there that bothered Trowa. One, he had a sense that he should be sleeping with Duo, that if Heero wasn't around, they would have already had sex. Heero acted territorial enough whenever he was around; surely that meant that Duo was fair game, open to a scavenger's attention if the predator that had captured him got distracted?

The second thing that bothered him was the assumption that they would have sex at some point. As if it were on the calendar, and they just hadn't gotten to it. Trowa enjoyed touching Duo, he enjoyed the kissing, but he was limited to the confines of this couch, and he was uncertain about when he had admitted to himself that he even wanted something like this with Duo, and that there might be a possibility that it wouldn't happen.

Lots of things that are only scheduled get canceled after all.

Trowa's arm snaked down lower and he put his hand over Duo's belly.

The problem was simple; Heero Yuy was currently in a position that Trowa desired. But, Heero was clearly not performing his role satisfactorily, or else Duo wouldn't dismiss the importance of Heero in his life. So, Heero was not an obstacle. Wasn't that what Duo had said?

Duo had also asked Trowa why they hadn't kissed. Implying that it was something that he had anticipated.

So, there was no problem.

Trowa's hand slipped down to Duo's hip.

Dr. Clarkson was rambling about something; Trowa only knew this because Duo was arching his back, pushing against Trowa's frame with more force. The therapist was getting distracted. But he was still talking.

Trowa filtered his voice out, and thought more about his problem.

There was a problem, because he knew that he and Duo were not going to be having sex tonight. Or anytime in the foreseeable future. He wanted to have sex with Duo. Duo did not appear to be offering any objection to the plan. There should be no problem.

Duo rearranged himself so he had one foot on the couch, and his leg was up, his knee knocking on the back of the couch. As a result, Duo's legs were spread wide apart, and his groin was completely open.

It seemed utterly natural for Trowa's hand to slip into the join between Duo's legs, and cover his groin with his palm. His heart started to pound in his chest, and Trowa could hear his pulse in his ears. Duo was breathing harder next to him, and with each heaving inhalation, his back was pushing against Trowa's chest.

The problem was that Trowa had never initiated a sexual encounter before; in fact, his experience was extremely limited. He had a few fumbling encounters with Quatre, none of which lead anywhere, and a couple of random events, usually with people who had come to the circus. He knew how to accept an invitation, but he did not know how to offer one.

His hand began to move over Duo's crotch, kneading the flesh slightly. Duo responded with a moan that sent electricity up and down Trowa's spine, enervating every nerve in his body. Duo's body was twisting next to his, and Duo's mouth was suddenly attacking his.

His hand did not move from its chosen position, but he had to rearrange himself to make room for Duo.

Duo's hands were on his neck, Duo's fingertips pressing into Trowa's skin, tracing the line of his jugular and jaw. Duo's tongue tickled his palette, and Trowa felt his appetite surge.

Duo was under him now, his hand still on Duo's crotch, still kneading, and the flesh under his fingers was no longer pliant. Duo was hard, and aching, if the noises he was making were any indication, and Trowa now knew quite certainly that Duo was loud in bed.

The thought drove Trowa just a little mad, and he pushed his whole body against Duo. Their bodies lined up, and Trowa realized belatedly that he was hard, too, and that his tightly compacted erection was rubbing against Duo's thigh. Duo's hands pulled out Trowa's shirttails, and his hands were now covering Trowa's flesh, one slipping back to try to explore the possibility of access to Trowa's ass.

Trowa used his teeth to gently pull on Duo's lips. Duo's eyes were half-lidded, and his braid was dragging onto the floor. Trowa had a very strong mental image of Duo's naked body under his, and he shuddered, putting his face against Duo's neck as he tried to restrain his body's impulses. Duo ran his hand up and down Trowa's spine, his other hand soothing the muscles in the back of Trowa's neck, and he was whispering nonsense in Trowa's ear, a soothing sound that could have been words if Trowa's brain was functioning well enough to interpret them.

The bell rang.

Trowa put his elbows down on the couch and pushed himself up a bit. Duo wasn't as ready to give up contact, and he placed feathery kisses on Trowa's chin and jaw, until he settled back, as contented as a kitten who had made off with a mouthful of food from the table.

Dr. Clarkson was panting, and the two men on the couch ignored him completely.

Getting up off the couch hurt a little, as a thousand little needs begged Trowa to stay put and feast. Duo sat up slowly, pulling his braid forward with a grin. He toyed with the end of it between his legs, and Trowa couldn't resist giving the tuft at the end a little flick.

They stood up slowly, forcibly relaxing their muscles as they did, trying to beat down the residual of their session through force of will. Dr. Clarkson couldn't meet their eyes as he handed them their forms, his downed eyes only making the bulge in his pants more noticeable. Duo sneered at him with disgust as he ripped his form out of the doctor's hand.

They loafed to the elevator. Neither was able to move quickly, and the lingering pace suited their foggy perceptions. Duo pushed the button, leaning his whole body in so his finger cracked, it was so extended.

Trowa enjoyed the burn of desire in his body; it made him feel alive, like he was actually awake and participating in the day. When he thought of the tease of pleasure tickling his nerves as just an appetizer, he could feel his heart pounding again. It was good to be excited about someone again.

Duo pushed the button for the lobby as well, casually leaning against the wall of the elevator. He watched Trowa from the corner of his eye, his body loose and his lips curling mischievously. "Hey Tro."

Trowa raised an eyebrow at Duo.

"You give good therapy."

The smirk on Duo's face opened up into a dazzling smile as Trowa responded to what Duo said. He moved with Duo as the doors opened. As they were walking out of the lobby, he replied quickly, under his breath, "I'm good at a lot of things."

Duo laughed out loud, his mirth echoing off the marble floors of the lobby.

When they got outside, Duo stopped to get a cigarette as always, but this time he jokingly offered Trowa one as well. The rest of the evening seemed to be protracted cool down, as Duo followed Trowa home, and they ate Chinese take out. Duo left early, joking that the only entertainment in Trowa's apartment was pornographic.

The way he wiggled his eyebrows when he said that made Trowa think that he wasn't referring to movies.

After Duo left, Trowa washed his dishes very carefully, scrubbing each surface several times, and rinsing each dish long enough to drown the porcelain. He then took a long, hot shower, moving the washcloth over his body in slow motion, marveling at the suds.

He sat at the window watching the alley for only a little while before he got restless, and he climbed into bed. He closed his eyes, and imagined things about Duo that made him feel lethargic, and eventually, he was surprised to wake up and see the morning light shining in the window.

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