Rattlesnakes + Part 7 (cont)

~*~

Duo's feet were on the chair next to him, his big boots filling up the seat easily. Duo was sitting directly across from him, so Trowa's legroom was severely limited, but he didn't mind. Duo stretched out over his chair, smoking cigarette after cigarette as they waited for the food to come to them.

It was one of those chain restaurants that were the same all over the world, and even in the colonies. The wait staff was dressed in colorful, cheerful outfits and were forced to smile their entire shifts. The food was good, and plentiful, and relatively cheap, but none of that mattered.

Duo took a sip of his gigantic margarita, licking the salt off the rim right before he swallowed.

"This is getting intolerable."

Trowa nodded and he swirled his drink around using his straw. Therapy today had been less than fun.

"Fucker actually came. I can't believe that."

Trowa closed his eyes and shuddered involuntarily.

"What kind of mental health professional has an orgasm right in front of his patients?"

Trowa bent his head down, and sighed quietly.

"It's amazing how something that can be so sexy when it is one person can be so *repugnant* from someone else." Duo's lips were curled in disgust as he spoke, his fingers moving erratically, making strange patterns in the air with the smoke. "I mean, I could watch you come all day long, but that... that was the worst thing I've ever been forced to endure."

Trowa was certain that Duo was not exaggerating in the least bit.

"We could so get his license revoked."

Trowa nodded absently, his eyes drifting to stare unfocusedly over Duo's shoulder.

"I feel unclean."

Trowa smiled at the tone of Duo's voice.

Duo sighed, and stamped out his cigarette. "Sometimes I think it might be easier to just talk to him, and then I think, fucker actually came in front of us, and then I just stop caring." He took a long drink of his margarita.

Trowa picked up his drink, just an iced tea, but still soothing. "It's not going to last forever."

Duo's expression darkened. "Yeah? I'm not so sure. No matter what we do, it's never enough. You might be able to convince them you aren't lusting for your razor blades anymore, but they'll never believe that I'm clean. And even if they did, how fucking long will it be before they let us get our licenses again?" Duo snorted derisively. "They'll keep me grounded forever, stinking bastards. And if you don't have a license to fly, you can't really *live* in the colonies. And if I have to spend the rest of my fucking life toeing the line on this god forsaken rock, I'm gonna need some fucking *good* drugs, let me tell ya."

Duo's eyes were narrowed as he stared out the window. Trowa wanted to laugh, but he supposed that it wasn't really funny, at least not in the sort of way that you actually laughed at.

Their food came, but since neither young man was looking at the hapless waitress in her cute little polo shirt, she didn't bother trying to flirt with them.

They walked home side by side, Duo smoking like a chimney, Trowa keeping his hands in his pockets to keep them warm. It was dark by the time they left the restaurant, and the streets were filled with people trying to get where they were going quickly. Even though they were walking side by side down the busy sidewalk, they didn't bump into anyone.

It was actually a pleasant walk home, although Trowa wasn't sure if Duo was enjoying it.

Duo went straight up to the apartment, but Trowa stopped to pick up the mail. He spent the entire elevator ride up puzzling over the matching formal envelopes that were addressed to both Duo and himself.

The cream paper was thick and smooth to the touch, like silk in paper form. The engraved lettering was gold, with all the curls and embellishments one could fit into a few lines of address. On the front of the envelopes, there was no return address stamp, but Trowa noted the accuracy of the address, which included the most complete form of the postal code. On the back, the return address was engraved, and it was with a sinking heart that Trowa recognized the official seal of the Sanc Royalty.

Duo had left the apartment door ajar, and was already in the bedroom stripping. Trowa hated to miss that; Duo was able to make taking his clothes off sexy no matter what the situation was. Trowa took the time to close and lock the door, and check the vidphone for messages and calls. He scrolled through the days calls slowly, the envelopes in his hand.

Duo came into the living room in his boxers. Trowa kept his head down as he watched Duo move across the room, his narrow body precise and graceful in its near-nudity. Duo's braid swung back and forth, brushing up against his ass enticingly.

Trowa held out Duo's envelope resignedly.

"What's this?" Duo was already perusing his acquisition, taking away from Trowa the need to respond.

With no regard for the expense of the envelope, Duo ripped it open to get what was inside out. Tossing the torn envelope onto the coffee table carelessly, Duo began to read aloud.

"Her Royal Highness, the Queen of Sanc cordially requests the pleasure of your company for a celebration of peace and brotherhood at the Palace of the Sanc People, on the 24th of December, 206 A.C. Her Royal Highness will be delighted to host Her guests for the duration of their holiday. May the Joy of the Season breath in your heart as we commemorate the dedication and sacrifice of All the People of the United Earth Sphere, which has made the peace and prosperity we now enjoy possible!

"Fuck."

That was Trowa's sentiments exactly. His invitation was exactly the same. He hated parties. He hated the crowds of people and the forced social pleasantness of it all. He hated formal parties more than anything. And a formal party dedicated to celebrating his contribution to the war hosted by a contingent of pacifists sounded precisely like hell to Trowa.

"Should have known this was coming. Ten years and all. But damn, this kinda shit just makes me feel old." It was clear from Duo's tone and expression that his age was not the foremost concern on his mind, his eyes flicking over the invitation over and over again, agitated.

"We don't have to go." It was a perfectly reasonable solution to Trowa. Neither of them wanted to go, plus, Heero and Quatre would be there. He didn't want to see either. He wasn't too thrilled with the idea of seeing Relena, and possibly Zechs, either. And if the Catalonia bitch was going to be there...

Duo sighed. "There's gonna be tons of press there. Relena's probably been planning this for years, even. Hell, it's probably been in the frickin' news a billion times, and we just haven't cared. We have to go; we'll make her look stupid if we don't."

Trowa arched an eyebrow. "I don't think *we'll* be making her look stupid."

Duo grinned at him. "C'mon, Relena's not too bad... I mean, get her drunk, and she's just another girl who digs guy-on-guy action." Duo winked, smiling broadly. "But..."

"We really don't have to go." Trowa spoke quietly but firmly, looking down at the expensive paper. "I don't know what other plans we might have had for Christmas, but we could go to the colonies. We could meet up with the circus, and Catherine, and maybe see Hilde or Howard while we are there."

A pained expression crossed Duo's features. "I kinda sorta promised myself that I would fly myself back to the colonies. Well, anyway, you don't have to go if it really makes you uncomfortable. You can just say that you have prior plans with your sister, and I can go alone."

Trowa moved to stand next to Duo, dropping his invitation on the coffee table. He placed his hand on the back of Duo's neck, rubbing his thumb into the tightly corded muscles at the join of Duo's neck and shoulders. Duo leaned back into the touch. "Do you want to go alone?"

Duo's eyes were brilliantly conflicted. "Well, I mean, I don't want to stand in your way..."

Trowa leaned down, nipping gently at Duo's lips, parting them patiently. Duo sighed, and Trowa's tongue slipped into Duo's mouth, and they tasted each other until they were gasping for air. "Do you want to go alone?" Trowa's voice was now more ragged, and he noticed that he had his hands on Duo's skin.

Duo had his eyes closed. "I... I don't want..."

Trowa moved his hands down to Duo's waist, and pulled the other man up so that their bodies were flush against each other. Trowa put his mouth on Duo's skin, right above his collar bone, and he slipped his hands below the waistband of Duo's boxers, laying his hands flat on Duo's ass. Duo moaned as Trowa's lips moved up his neck. Whispering just below Duo's ear, "Do you want to go alone?"

"I... I..." Duo pushed his hands down Trowa's back, and clutched at the fabric of Trowa's shirt. "I kinda wanted... to get a tree, ya know? I just... I wanted..."

Trowa slid down to his knees, slipping Duo's boxers down as he did. He kissed Duo's hipbone reverently.

Duo's voice was little more than a murmur. "I want to spend Christmas with you."

Trowa smiled, and licked Duo's cock from the base to the tip, sucking gently as he got to the very tip. "Where?"

Duo moaned a little, and fell to his knees. He threw his arms around Trowa's neck and kissed Trowa wildly. "We should go to the stupid fucking thing. Hell, maybe we can fuck in the throne room; I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time."

Trowa laughed silently, pulling Duo's body close as he sucked on Duo's neck. "Fine. But I reserve the right to be put out by the whole thing."

Duo laughed out loud, and Trowa pushed him down so that he could finish the blowjob he had barely begun.

Duo's body arched sinuously on the ground, and Trowa wished he had taken the time to undress. He used his hands and his mouth on Duo, and a ravenous hunger fueled him, and Duo was accommodatingly quick to sustain him. Duo stayed on the floor, curling his body up, making satisfied noises of pleasure. Trowa got up and stripped on his way to the bedroom. He stood in front of the dresser, his clothes in his hands, and he forgot what he had intended to do once he got there.

Tired, with a small bubble of contentment clouding his thoughts, he dropped his clothes and landed on the bed. It wasn't fifteen minutes later than Duo climbed into bed with him, and not twenty minutes later than Duo was pushing into him.

Thirty minutes later, Trowa got up and took a quick shower, and when he got back into bed, Duo was in the window with a cup of tea.

Trowa did not go to sleep, but he did get into bed, and he watched Duo watch the alley, and smiled, thinking about spending their first Christmas together fucking in a palace bed.

~*~

There was the faint tapping sound of a bare foot nervously keeping a staccato rhythm coming from the dressing room next to him. The lights were bright, reflecting off the three mirrors obnoxiously. Trowa tugged at the collar of the jacket, his face contorted into an expression of absolute distaste.

He did not like dress clothes. Not many men did, really, but Trowa hated them with a passion that he would never be able to find the words to express. There were too many layers and buttons and useless articles like cuff links that served no purpose other than to add to the torment of being dressed up.

Also, his shoes were uncomfortable, but they were the only ones he didn't hate a lot, so he got them. He hadn't wanted to spend too much time at the shoe store.

This had been Duo's idea, but Duo had abandoned him in the men's section so he could ferret out something for his own ensemble.

Trowa didn't like the way Duo had said 'ensemble.' It had sounded too natural.

This whole Christmas party at the palace thing was sounding more and more like a bad idea with each detail Duo remembered that they had to cover. Making travel reservations was bad enough, but having to check with Relena's 'people' at each and every step to make sure their plans would fit in with Her Highness' expectations was enough to drive Trowa insane. More insane.

Duo was constantly jittery and on the move. And he was drinking more and more, going out at night and staying out until the morning, and he had been written up at work every day for the last two weeks.

Sighing, Trowa started to strip. He had no idea if the suit was good or not, but it fit well enough for him to justify not caring.

Trowa waited for ten minutes before a salesclerk came by to help him. The young man was so bored, he barely took a moment to look Trowa over. He smiled a little at Trowa, but Trowa was even more bored than the clerk, so that didn't really go anywhere.

Trowa hated spending so much money at once, but he also hated spending any time at all in a clothes store, so he was willing to take the lesser of the two evils, and get the hell out of there.

Duo had neglected to tell Trowa where he was going, so Trowa was left just waiting on the fringe of the men's clothes, his arms folded over his chest, his new clothes bundled on a hanger with a plastic bag over them, the end of the bag tied on the top of the hanger. The hanger was heavy, and it dug into his fingers as he held it, but he didn't fidget or try to make himself comfortable.

He hoped that Duo would be back soon.

People milled past him, almost oblivious to his presence. He was just another man, left in a store against his will. Trowa hated all of them casually, to pass the time.

Duo finally showed up about ten minutes later, carrying three large shopping bags. He looked tired, and cheerfully ready to slaughter the masses.

Trowa smirked.

"Get your stuff?"

Trowa held out the hanger wordlessly.

Duo grinned. "Good. Let's get the hell outta here, huh?"

They traversed the labyrinth of the department store, wound their way through the cars and the people in the parking lot, shoved their packages in the trunk, and got in the car.

Side by side, they just sat for a moment, not even moving to buckle up.

"Tro?"

"Yeah?"

"I like your new car."

"Yeah. It's ok."

"You hungry?"

"...I guess."

"Let's..." Duo's squirmed, and sighed quietly. "Let's go out of town. Picnic in nature, or something. Ya know?"

Trowa looked over at Duo for a moment. It was cold out. It was likely to rain, or even snow.

It meant that Duo wanted to spend the night with him, instead of going out.

He resisted the urge to sigh in relief, and nodded as he buckled up. Duo smiled back at him, and for a moment, Trowa felt warm.

They stopped in a grocery store before they hit the highway, and took off. Neither one knew where they were going, but they took the road that seemed to be closest, and the sound of the car over the asphalt lulled them into a sense of peace. The sun set quickly, and soon they were speeding down the highway in the dark.

Eventually, Trowa recognized an exit, and they pulled off the expressway. Fifteen minutes drive through the dark, suburban area, and they were at the entrance to a nature preserve.

It took only a minute to park the car, and Trowa weighed the pros and cons of leaving the engine running for all of thirty-six seconds before switching the car off. They sat in the dark for a several heartbeats, each staring off into the night.

"I like the dark." Duo spoke quietly, as if he feared being overheard.

Trowa nodded, though he wasn't sure that Duo could see him.

"I never lived anyplace with working lights until I hooked up with the Sweepers, when I was twelve. I always feel like the dark is... comforting." Duo's voice was hypnotically reminiscent, and Trowa felt like he could see the small buildings that Duo and his friends would squat in at nights. "I mean, colonies are never really *dark*, dark, but still... Neither is the Earth. There're always stars, and other buildings, and street lights..."

Trowa unabashedly watched Duo as the other man leaned forward to look up at the stars.

"The moon is pretty, isn't it?"

Trowa spared a glance at the moon, and smiled. "It looks dead when you are in space. Just another rock."

Duo smiled at Trowa, and Trowa wished that he could see it better. "Yeah. Exactly. Why are people afraid of the dark?"

Trowa shrugged. "Most people fear what they don't know, I guess."

Duo nodded slowly. "Do you?"

"Fear the unknown?"

Duo shrugged with one shoulder. "I suppose suicidal people kinda embrace the unknown, huh?"

Trowa turned away at the sound of Duo's voice. It was hard, and he found himself wanting Duo to cut him, break his skin. "I don't know."

"Do you want to die, Tro?"

From the sound of it, Duo must have been facing the window, and he probably didn't think that Trowa could hear him, but it wasn't that large of a car, and there was no other noise at all. "I... don't really want to live that much."

Duo swallowed loudly enough for Trowa to hear. "You deserve better."

Trowa pulled the grocery bag forward, and handed Duo his drink. Duo didn't take it right away, but as soon as he did, he opened it and downed half of the carbonated drink. Trowa set each of their victuals on the dashboard. He considered flicking on the interior lights, but if Duo was enjoying the view of the stars and the moon, he didn't want to disturb it.

They started to eat, Duo's eyes still on the night sky, and Trowa's eyes peripherally on Duo. Halfway through his bag of pretzels, Duo leaned over, and put his head on Trowa's shoulder.

Trowa moved his arm so that he could hold Duo's shoulders, Duo's bangs tucked under his chin.

"This Christmas party is gonna be a disaster."

Trowa couldn't agree more, but he said nothing. He rubbed his chin over Duo's head, smelling Duo's hair as he did.

He was definitely a night person.

~*~

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