author: trixie
see part 1 for notes, disclaimers, etc.

two quick notes. first off, just fyi, Relena's full name in this fic is Relena Peacecraft Darlian. why am i mentioning this? just so that, if when reading further on here, you encounter this name, you won't think, hey! that's not her name! you'll know already, in this fic, it is. why? well, remember that this is 10 years post-EW. in endless waltz, Relena was referred to as Relena Darlian - which made sense given that her mother was still alive and kicking. also, as far as i know, the Sanc kingdom had been destroyed. however, in the ten years post-EW, Sanc has been rebuilt (in some fashion), and Relena has taken on the role as Queen of Sanc. Therefore, to honor her birth parents, and to maintain the line of succession in Sanc, she is using her birth name as her middle name, but she retains her last name to honor her adoptive parents, and because she used that name in her political career. so, there ya go. ^_^

also, a **snuggle** for my ever-lovin' mistress, rithy, who was most helpful as i was wrestlin' with a line that just... it just wasn't right. she figured out what the deal was lickity-split. she's so smart. ^_^

warning!! slight quatre bastardization ahoy! oh, ok, it's prolly not *slight*... but it is how i see him. well, one way i can see him growing up, i should say...

Rattlesnakes + Part 7

It was a painful morning. More so than usual, although it was really a matter of perspective. Trowa had gotten drunk with Duo the night before, just because he had been bored watching Duo drink. All morning, he'd been staring at the monitor of his computer, his head aching and throbbing, his stomach queasy.

He hated drinking.

The worst part was that Duo got up before him, and was even *chipper*. It should be criminal to be chipper in the morning after drinking all night.

Each time the computer beeped to alert him of new mail, he jumped in his chair, but he ignored his inbox entirely. He figured if he could make it 'til lunch, he was owed a blowjob, and then after that, everything would be fine.

It took him twenty minutes to decide whether or not he *really* wanted to get up and get something to drink. Eventually, his vision swimming before his eyes made up his mind for him, and he got up to stave off the possibility of falling asleep at his desk.

The break room was full of most of his coworkers, as usual, but they seemed to be centered around one of the tables, so Trowa was able to slip in and get to the drink machine without being noticed.

He slid his credit card through the reader, and then pondered his choices. He could get something with caffeine, although rather than keep him awake, caffeine tended to just make him sleepy and anxious. He could get a carbonated beverage, or water. He really only wanted water, but he hated to spend two credits on water when he could just get it out of the tap, if the tap water didn't smell. And he swore that the tap water in his building had a *odor*. Water most definitely should not ever have an odor, he was sure.

He got the lemon-lime drink, and gulped it down quickly so that the burn of the carbonation on his tongue would be less noticeable.

Having made his momentous decision, he turned around, and actually heard what his coworkers were babbling on about.

"...with automatic everything, basically. I'm really giving this away."

"It's such a shame, really, you only just got the car."

"That's true, but ya know, it's just the way of things."

"Well, like I said, my cousin is shopping for a new car, but I think he wanted a convertible."

"Tell him about it anyway. I mean, I'm practically giving the car away at 3,000 creds."

"Why are you selling it so cheaply?" Everyone fell silent at Trowa's words, a small gasp from one of the secretaries signaling everyone else to back off slightly.

George. The man selling the car was George. George Something, although Trowa did not know nor care what his last name was. George worked in accounting, and he had worked for Oz, too. He had once overheard George saying something vaguely anti-colony when he was in the bathroom one day. When Trowa had come out of the stall, George was still talking, his dick hanging out his pants.

George's penis was perhaps the width of a pencil.

Right now, George's face looked exactly the same as it had that afternoon in the bathroom. After swallowing several times, he was able to speak. "Er, I need to sell it fast. My wife and I are having a baby, and she wants live with closer to her mom. I got a job in Anaheim, but I need to start next week, and..."

Trowa honestly believed that he had not asked for the man's life story. "Let me take a look at it."

George blinked and stuttered, his face white and his big, stupid eyes blinking rapidly. Casey, the woman who worked in the cube next to Trowa, stood up and smiled nervously at George. "Well, I got to get back to work. Hope things work out..."

Within thirty seconds, the break room was empty save Trowa and George.

George stared up at Trowa, and Trowa had to resist the urge to sneer at him. Downing the last of his drink quickly, he tossed the can into the recycling bin, and indicated that George should follow him with a nod of his head.

Trowa was halfway to the elevator before George caught up with him. "We can't... It's the middle of the morning!"

Trowa rolled his eyes surreptitiously at George's childish fear of authority. "We'll only be a minute. I want to look at your car."

George definitely didn't want to get into the elevator with Trowa, but he also didn't want to make the other man mad. They traveled down to the garage, with George's inane car chatter competing with the tinny music in the elevator for the Most Annoying Thing that Trowa Had to Endure at the Moment.

The man didn't even talk about anything pertinent. He mentioned the color of the car three times.

Trowa was forced to follow George to the car. He kept his hands in his pockets to hide the fists he couldn't help forming. He didn't care if George liked him or not, there was such a thing as being a professional. If he were in charge of the Preventors, jackasses like George wouldn't even get to clean the bathrooms. It was galling that a man like George was technically a superior to Trowa or Duo, in any sense of the word. The long stream of nonsense and blather flowing out of his mouth was disgusting. If he were an enemy in Trowa's hands, he would be spilling everything he knew about the Preventors in five minutes flat.

No wonder they beat Oz.

The car itself was utterly ordinary. Four door sedan, sunroof, somewhat sporty lines but still a sedan, with a 2.4 L four cylinder engine, two wheel drive, automatic, 155 horsepower, 156 torque, with leather seats, decent but not great cd player, power windows, seats, and mirrors, cruise control and alloy wheels.

Not bad for 3,000 creds.

Trowa didn't like tan interiors, though. And he preferred four wheel drive, really. He could knock a couple hundred cred off the price.

"Let me see the engine."

George shuffled the contents of his pockets around, making Trowa slightly sick, thinking the man was just trying to get a cheap thrill. Finally, George produced the keys, amid chatter about how new and nice the car was, and how he just had the interior cleaned.

Trowa poked around under the hood for a minute or two, ignoring George's nervous chatter about how he didn't know a spark plug from a fan belt.

And this man worked for Oz. They should have beaten those guys in a month.

Trowa shocked George by lying down on the ground and sliding under the car, using a flashlight to check the undercarriage quickly. He would normally have liked to do a more thorough once-over, but he was pretty sure George wasn't trying to trick him.

At least, he was pretty sure that George would answer a direct question. "So. Is there anything wrong with the car?"

George shivered a little, though he tried to hide it.

Trowa had no respect for a man that could be so easily intimidated, and he made no effort to hide his reaction.

George cleared his throat. "No, no, there's nothing... It's a great car. It's just... I bought it for my wife as a birthday present, but we can't afford a second car now that the baby is coming..."

Trowa crossed his arms over his chest, and looked away so that George would not be inflicted with another scathing look. "I'll pay you 2,750 credits right now for it."

George blinked stupidly for a minute, stammering and stuttering. Trowa could barely reign in his disgust; the man couldn't even close the deal with dignity. "Sure, sure, that'll... I mean, I was hoping for a little more, but... Well, we need the money, anyway, so..."

Trowa shook his head and turned around abruptly, heading back to the elevator. After a moment, George followed him, but Trowa was still ready to leave him behind as he waited in the elevator.

Duo was waiting for Trowa outside of Trowa's building at lunch. He hadn't bothered to change out of his jumpsuit. He was leaning on the side of the building, smoking. Duo was holding the cigarette at his waist, watching the people leave the building with something similar to disdain.

Trowa bit the inside of his lip to keep from smirking.

"So, how was your morning?" Duo smirked lazily at Trowa as he fell in step beside him.

Trowa shrugged. They were heading to the deli three blocks down the street. It was now too cold to eat outside, but they still managed to get some private time together, as the deli only had a couple of tables.

"I got a car today."

Duo said nothing.

Trowa put his hands in his pockets as he waited for the light to change.

"You bought a car? At work?"

"Yeah."

The light changed, but Duo didn't move, so Trowa waited for him.

"You own a car now."

"Yes."

"Why?"

Trowa shrugged. "It was a good deal."

Duo nodded, and took a long drag of his cigarette. "Ok. Wanna take the rest of the day off, go for a drive, and have sex in the car?"

"Yes." Trowa had been afraid that Duo wouldn't ask.

~*~

It was raining again. A winter rain, cold and messy, that made the streets dirty and difficult to navigate.

Duo was sleeping on the bed, his back bare since Trowa had left the sheets pulled down when he had gotten out of bed. It had long been his habit to watch the alley from the window in his bedroom, but tonight, he found himself watching Duo.

Trowa's back was pressed against the glass, and he could feel the cold of the rain pouring into him. Duo slept curled up, his knees pulled up and his hands tucked under his chin. From this angle, Trowa could see the long arc of Duo's back, with the bold tattoo, and the back of Duo's head. His braid was pulled forward, and was protected, cradled next to his body.

Sometimes, Trowa felt inexplicably romantic about sex. He disliked thinking about sexual matters in romantic terms, as it led to assigning feelings to something that had no true link to emotion, but he did find that there was symbolism to the act that could be strangely potent at times.

Duo would open his body to Trowa, open his legs, and let Trowa enter him. Trowa would do the same for Duo. Physically, there wasn't much they didn't know about each other at this point. But it might have been too soon for them to be living together. Ironic, that they could share each other's bodies, but they had difficulty sharing a bathroom or a refrigerator. It was only human nature, really. There was pleasure in the act of sex, but there was no pleasure to be had from having to fight for sink space in the morning, or from pulling yard-long hairs out of the drain to get it to unclogged.

Trowa wanted to touch Duo, to hold him, and to sleep wrapped in an embrace, but he felt cold and distinct. It was late, and he was feeling too philosophical for his own good. He should, and could, just get back into bed and be with Duo, but he felt distant.

There had been the argument over soap. The *discussion* of Duo's drinking. And Trowa was certain that Duo had purposefully deleted the message from Catherine.

Trowa knew what was going on. He would have to be slow not to see it. Duo wasn't in control of himself anymore, and it worried Trowa.

Duo went out two nights ago straight from work, and he hadn't gotten in until nearly 4 am, at which point he was so sick from drinking and from ecstasy, he had slept until Trowa had gotten home from work. Duo was missing a lot of work lately, and he was drinking more, and taking risks with drugs.

Trowa had been afraid that Duo had gone to be with Heero when he went out that night, but then Heero had called. Trowa listened to the message that Heero had left, and then deleted it, and the caller id record of the call.

Heero had been condescending and cruel, as was his wont, but Trowa could hear the desperation as well. For whatever reason, Heero wanted Duo back, and he was willing to do or say whatever was necessary to get him back.

It worried Trowa, because Duo was obviously trying to provoke him. When they were in bed tonight, Duo kept trying to get Trowa to go faster, harder. He had even suggested beforehand that they didn't need lube. And when they were done, Duo had made snide comments about Trowa's performance, suggesting that there was more to sex than just the same thing all the time.

Trowa knew that Duo didn't mean it. He could barely speak, he was so short of breath. And in his eyes, Duo could hide nothing.

Trowa knew that there was something that he couldn't give Duo, but he thought that the idea would be for Duo to learn not to need it anymore.

He couldn't hurt Duo. He wasn't opposed to games or kinks; he was not entirely innocent in that arena. And, he knew how to wield a whip, from working with the lions. But, with Duo... Trowa knew he could never get his heart into it.

Duo was vibrant, and alive. He knew how to keep going, even through the pain of life. Trowa admired Duo's perseverance. He didn't want to play any games with Duo.

Perhaps Trowa did feel something... romantic for Duo. Perhaps there was a reason that he felt like there was more than sex in their actions. Perhaps there was a reason why Trowa was so determined to be gentle, even when his lover was begging him to be rough.

Trowa closed his eyes, and leaned back so that his forehead was against the pane of glass.

In the kitchen earlier, he hadn't meant to explode at Duo. Such displays of emotion and temper were... rare for him. But Duo had kept at him, getting into Trowa's face over everything.

The words seemed to echo in the silent, dark apartment. They had echoed all through the night, when Trowa was rocking his hips, pushing in and out of Duo's pliant body. They had echoed as Duo fell asleep, insisting that he would clean up in the morning.

Duo had said that Trowa must be very lonely before, to be willing to put up with all of this just to get laid.

Trowa had taken Duo by the elbows and shaken him.

Do I look like Heero to you, Duo? Do I? Then stop treating me like him! I'm not the one who enjoys hurting you!

Trowa sighed, and opened his eyes.

The words kept echoing. He knew that Duo could hear them, too. That night, they had been as passionate as when they had first gotten together. After Trowa had shaken him, Duo was irascible. Trowa knew that Duo had heard what he had said, but actions were more impressive.

Trowa wanted to go into the bed and run his fingers down the line of Duo's spine, wanted to trace the pattern of Duo's tattoo.

Wanted forgiveness for his roughness, though he knew that Duo had enjoyed it.

"Tro? Are you gonna sleep in the window?"

Duo's voice shook Trowa, but Trowa stayed perfectly still. "I woke up."

"Come back to bed." Duo did not uncurl, but he looked at Trowa over his shoulder.

"I'm fine."

"I'm cold."

"Pull the blanket up, then."

Duo sighed. "Do you not like the view?"

"If you are cold..."

"I'm cold if I'm in bed alone. The blankets can't warm me."

"You are being childish."

"I just want to be warm again."

"Duo..."

Duo turned his face away. "I... don't enjoy arguing with you, Tro."

"Then don't."

"Yeah, I guess it's that easy... But you can sure be stubborn."

Trowa smirked.

"Come back to bed."

"Didn't you sleep alone when you were with Heero?" Trowa hoped that he had said that as quietly as he thought he did. He had wanted to only think it.

"You aren't Heero. Are you?" Duo's words were like thoughts, they were so quiet.

Trowa considered, and then stretched his legs out in front of him. He stepped quietly to the bed, and sat down on the edge. He reached out, letting his fingertips touch Duo's skin.

Duo shuddered, sighing.

"Go to sleep, Duo." Trowa spoke mostly to himself, but he knew in the dead quiet of the apartment at night, Duo would hear him.

"Come to bed, Tro."

"I'm in bed. Now sleep."

Duo sighed, and pushed himself back, so that he was closer to Trowa.

Trowa kept his hand on Duo's back until the alarm went off. Because of the rain, the sun wasn't visible, but they got ready in tandem, making it to the bus stop without any words being exchanged.

~*~

[cont]