Illusions of Love + Conclusion (cont)

"Why is that?"

"Well, it makes you more human. I like hearing about what you like," Duo said.

Heero nodded. He would make a point of sharing his likes and dislikes more often.

"So you think we might stay here a couple of days?" Duo asked, licking some gravy off a finger.

"I'll leave it up to you," Heero said, his eyes riveted to the slide of Duo's tongue over his finger.

Duo tilted his head. He couldn't recall Heero ever being this accommodating. "Okay, we'll play it by ear."

Their conversation went silent and Duo's eyes soon drifted down to the table and his empty plate. If they were back together again, then why was it so difficult to talk? It seemed it had been far easier when they were still separated and arguing with each other. Making up was not as easy or as straightforward as Duo or Heero had hoped.

"Hey," Duo said, suddenly, looking up with an idea. "Tell me what you've been doing."

"You already know," Heero said, his brow knitting. "I was Sank's chief security advisor for the last six months."

"Yeah, but that can't be all," Duo said with a smile. "Relena mentioned how much reading you've done... what about stuff like that?"

"I've been systematically reading all the books in the Royal library."

"Anything else? Do any sightseeing? Relena must've taken you out on a boat cruise at least one day."

Heero took a deep breath. "I worked twelve to fourteen hour days, every day," he said, flatly. "Most days I didn't take a break, working until eight or nine at night. Then I'd have a light supper and go to the library where I read into the night until I fell asleep. There was no time for sightseeing or boat cruises or anything else you might call fun."

"Well, you don't have to get all huffy about it..."

"What we should be discussing is what you've been doing," Heero said, his features growing oddly intense.

"I was afraid you were gonna ask me that," Duo said with a frown. "Well, I'll tell ya, I was making iced cafe mochas with whipped cream and delivering books to wealthy, academic types. But you know what? I'm not gonna apologize for it. I took those jobs to support myself and I made a lot of people happy with those coffee drinks. Damn, they were upset to see me go...."

"Is that how you met Zechs?"

The question caught Duo off guard. He blinked a couple of times and repeated it in his mind. Had Heero just asked him about Zechs?

"Uh, yeah," he said, hesitantly. "I met him at the coffee shop. Rikk, my co-worker, used to call him the Ice Man..."

"How long were you together?"

"About two months... Hey, I don't see what this has to do with anything..."

"So Zechs came in for coffee one day and then what happened?"

Duo squirmed in his chair, uncomfortable with this line of questioning. "You know it's over between me and Zechs. I totally dumped him..."

"Then you have no feelings for him?"

"Well, we're still friends," Duo said. "Why are you asking me this shit? Zechs was the one who told me where to find you today. If it wasn't for him, I don't think we'd be sitting here together."

Heero considered the logic in that statement, but for some reason it was being overpowered by the emotions building inside him. He was jealous. He had been jealous, angry, torn to see Duo with Zechs, and to know that Duo had slept with Zechs. Suddenly, Zechs's taunt from the duel came back to Heero, He's been in my bed for the last two months.

"You were sleeping with him," Heero said, in an accusing tone. "Unless you were just whoring yourself, how could you not feel something for him?"

Duo's faced paled to a ghostly white as his jaw dropped open. "No," he whispered, shaking his head. "You didn't just say what I think you said."

Duo got up from the table, stumbling to his feet, and staring at Heero with wide, disbelieving and hurt-filled eyes. "You're a fucking bastard, you know that, Heero? A no good, fucking bastard." And with that, Duo turned and tore out of the hotel's dining room.

Heero was on his feet in a split second, realizing too late what a horrible mistake he had made. Shit, what had possessed him to call Duo a whore? He loved Duo. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with Duo. He would do anything for Duo... but there he had sat, playing the victim and calling his beautiful Duo a whore!

"Fuck," Heero said, his heart hammering so hard against his chest he thought it would leave bruises.

He was literally just seconds behind Duo, following the braid as it whipped around a corner and headed up the stairs to their room. Thank God for small miracles. At least Duo had not run outside and gotten onto his bike and taken off into the night.

Duo opened the hotel room door and slammed it shut just as Heero came onto the landing. Three steps and Heero was at the door, which was blessedly unlocked, and heading inside their room.

"Duo," Heero said, as he entered the room and closed the door behind him. Duo was huddled in a chair with his back to the room, his shoulders shaking. "That was stupid of me. I'm sorry..."

He walked over to the other boy and could now clearly hear that Duo was crying. "Please, Duo, you've got to forgive me. You can't imagine how it hurt seeing you with Zechs..." He put his hand on Duo's shoulder, but it was violently shrugged off.

"Get the fuck away from me!" Duo snarled between sobs.

"I was jealous. I shouldn't have said that. Can't you see how horrible it is for me knowing you were with someone else? And Zechs, of all people..."

Duo swung around, his eyes red and puffy with tears. "Horrible for you? What about me? You left me in Arabia! Left me to explain to our friends why we weren't together anymore. I had nothing! I wandered for months before settling in Boston... I was heartbroken! I hated you!"

"Is that why?" Heero asked, needing to get closer to the truth. "Is that why you went with Zechs?"

Duo shook his head, tears falling down his pale cheeks. "No," he said, his lips quivering. "I wanted to kill Zechs..."

Heero squatted down on the floor in front of Duo, his own eyes filling with tears to see Duo so distraught, so overcome with emotion.

"He said he wanted to get to know a Gundam pilot. So why not?" Duo asked with a shrug. "It seemed harmless enough..."

"Did he rape you?" Heero asked.

"NO!" Duo shouted, fiercely. "He was a gentleman and he won me over. That's all. He never did anything I didn't want him to do." Duo turned his face away, looking out the window to the evening sky. "I was lonely," he said, softly, ashamed to admit it, and remembering keenly just how powerful that loneliness had been. "I wanted companionship..." He turned his tired eyes back to Heero. "I wasn't handling missing you very well."

Heero nodded. "I didn't handle it well myself," he said smiling ruefully. "That's why I spent so much time working and reading on my own."

Duo sniffled as his tears lessened, and his chest warmed with Heero's words.

"Try to understand what it's like for me knowing there was someone else in your life, because there was no one for me after you," Heero said, his hand reaching out. When it was not pushed away, he placed it on Duo's knee. "I was true to you, Duo. I didn't want anyone else... only you. I love you and I'll do anything to keep you in my life."

With a shaky breath, Duo nodded. "I'm sorry," he said, putting his hand over Heero's. "I love you, Heero. I meant to tell you that before you left..."

A single tear blinked out of Duo's eye and Heero reached up with his free hand and wiped it away. "That's the first time I've heard you say it," he said, smiling.

Duo considered that a moment and then nodded. "Damn, you're right," he said, thrilled to have finally told Heero of his love for him and shocked that he hadn't sooner. "And it won't be the last time, because I do love you, Heero."

The love declarations were a big step for them, and each reveled in hearing the words from the other. They looked into each other's eyes and then leaned closer until their lips met in a soft kiss. Duo's lips tasted of salt tears and Heero found himself wanting more. It was a heady combination... the taste of Duo, the lager beer, and tears... a wonderful blend for their first kiss as reunited lovers.

When Heero kissed Duo again, something told him to keep it soft, make this slow and gentle for Duo. Maybe it was the moment, this room, the quiet around them, or perhaps the turbulence they had just come through. No matter the reason it felt good, and Duo was soon moaning his approval.

"This is nice," Duo said, his lips brushing Heero's. The smell and the touch of the other boy warmed his entire body. "You should kiss me like this more."

"Not a problem," Heero said, getting to one knee and leaning in to take his lips again. A couple more tender kisses and Heero pulled back, sitting on his heels. "Are you all right now?" he asked, noting that Duo's tears had dried.

"Yeah," Duo said, with a small smile, appreciating Heero's concern. "I think I understand what you were going through," he began, slowly. "But I want you to know something, Heero. You were always in my heart. What I did with..."

Heero's hand came up, gently covering Duo's mouth. "You said it's over between the two of you, and I believe you," he said, lowering his hand.

"But are you all right?" Duo asked, echoing the question he had been given a moment before.

Heero grinned. "I never knew I was the jealous type... but I'll be all right."

Duo smiled and pulled Heero to him in a loving embrace. "Good," he said, wrapping his arms around the other boy. "I missed this," he whispered in Heero's ear. "I missed you..."

Heero closed his eyes, absorbing Duo's words and the feel of his body. He ran his hands up Duo's back and felt a tiny shiver. "You cold?"

Duo nodded. The room was a bit cool. They released each other and turned to the fireplace, dark and wanting of a fire.

"I'll get it started," Heero volunteered, getting up and finding a box of kindling to help in the task.

Duo moved to the bed to get a better view of Heero bending over, and sunk deep into the feather down mattress. "Oh, very nice," he grinned, bouncing up and down. He suddenly had the urge to stretch and yawn, and realized just how tired he was. "Damn, I think I could fall asleep."

"Then why don't you?" Heero asked, glancing over his shoulder. Oh, Duo on that big bed...

"Well, 'cause this is our first night together," Duo said, sounding uncharacteristically shy.

This time Heero turned fully to look at Duo. "You had something special in mind for tonight?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. The fire was now growing nicely behind him, silhouetting the outline of his body.

Duo nodded, smoothing the comforter under his hand.

Heero got up from his squatted position and walked over to stand before him. "I haven't... since I was with you," he said, softly.

"Yeah," Duo said, seeing the slight worry on Heero's brow. "So you wanna now?"

Heero swallowed. Oh, did he ever. But he was a little nervous.

"You haven't forgotten how?" Duo asked, rubbing his leg against Heero's suggestively.

"I'm sure you'll remind me," Heero said. The words sent a tingle up his spine. Suddenly their last day together came back to him. He had teased Duo that he couldn't remember their lovemaking that afternoon, and Duo had said he would remind him. "We used to have a lot of fun in bed," Heero said with a grin.

"We sure did. So why don't you come on in?" Duo invited, patting the comforter.

Heero inched closer, bending over Duo... and then they heard a knock on their door.

"No way," Duo said, sighing. Another knock and he turned to stare a hole through the door. "Who could that be?"

As if on cue the intruder called to them, "It's Erik. You left your jacket downstairs."

"I'll get it," Heero said, going over to the door and opening it. The boy handed him the black denim jacket. "What about the other one?" Heero asked.

"What other one?" the boy asked.

"My friend's brown leather jacket."

"Oh, maybe it's still in the dining room..."

Heero looked back at Duo. "Get comfortable, I'll be right back."

"Sure," Duo said with a smile.

As the door closed, Duo hopped off the bed and quickly undressed down to bare skin. The room had heated and colored quickly with the warm glow of the fire, but it wasn't warm enough to be running around naked. Duo tossed his clothes onto the chair and dove back onto the bed, sliding under the comforter. He melted into the thick cushioned mattress, wriggling in the feel of smooth cotton sheets and fluffy pillows. It would be exquisite to have Heero beneath the covers with him, building their own fire with the friction of their bodies. Another yawn and cat-like stretch, and Duo snuggled in to wait for his lover.

When Heero returned only moments later with Duo's jacket, he found the other boy sound asleep. He smiled, setting the jacket down and walking over to the bed to take a closer look. Duo's breathing was soft from an easy slumber. The sight of one pink, bare shoulder, peeking out from under the comforter, told Heero that Duo had indeed made himself comfortable. He smiled again as he glanced up to the chair where Duo's clothes had been tossed haphazardly, and no doubt in a hurry. He would let Duo have his sleep. The stress and excitement of their reunion had surely exhausted him.

+

The road went deeper into the forest, the dark shadows of the trees surrounding him, closing him in. He was tired, so very tired, but he had miles to go. Up the mountain road he trudged, pushing his motorcycle alongside him, but never seeming to make any progress. His bike had become impossibly heavy, but he wouldn't leave it behind, forgotten by the side of the road to rust. He would find Heero and together they would share the burden.

"Heero!" he called to the empty road before him. Maybe he was just around the next bend? "Heero... this is too heavy. I can't do this by myself."

But there was no answer, and the more he struggled, the heavier the bike became until it began to slip from his grasp.

"No," he sobbed as he tried to tighten his hold. But the bike was slipping away. Falling, falling down the mountainside... "No!"

+

Duo woke with a start, his eyes flying open at the moment he had jumped over the side of the mountain after his bike. He wasn't falling, he was safe in bed. But where was he? This didn't look like his apartment...

As his pulse slowed, he remembered. He was with Heero in a tiny village just beyond the Sankian border. The pop of the wood in the fireplace brought Duo even more awake, and he leaned up on his elbows. Where was Heero? He looked to his side, but saw only an empty space beside him. Had Heero gone?

"Heero?" he called, looking about the room. His heart began to pound again. "Heero!"

The bathroom door swung open. "Duo?" Heero asked as he came into the room.

Duo blinked large eyes at the other boy. Fresh from the shower, small beads of water clung to Heero's bare shoulders and chest, and a towel was wrapped snugly about his hips.

"Did you call out?" Heero asked, coming to the bed.

Duo swallowed. "I thought you had gone," he said, warring with the irrational fear inside him even as his eyes lustfully drank in the boy before him.

Heero sat down on the bed, and seeing the fright in Duo's eyes, reached over and caressed his cheek. "I'm not going anywhere, unless it's with you," he said with a smile. "But you look as though you don't believe me," he added when Duo's features did not calm.

"I had a bad dream..." Duo admitted, but then shook his head. "I guess not all of me has realized I have you again."

Heero scooted closer, now taking Duo's hand. "It'll take time," he said, reasonably. "I'm still finding it a little hard to believe, too."

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