see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer
Up in Blue + Part 2
Ways to Bleed
tradition of the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains
of the living.
Thump. Thump. Duo groggily opened his eyes. The trick from the
night before what was it? Matt? Todd? was naked beside him and drooling
on his 800 thread count sheets. Disgusting.
Thump. Thump. Somebody was knocking, no pounding, on his door on
a Saturday morning. Fuck! Alright already. He pulled on the same pair
of black jeans from the night before, buttoning them haphazardly. Todd,
that was it, his mouth still wide open against the pillow, snored loudly
but didn't wake. Duo smoothed his bangs down with one hand and absently
tightened the tie on the end of his braid. Then he straightened out the
cheap silver cross pendant that Quatre had given him back when the religious
symbol still held some meaning for both of them. The chain always managed
to get tangled up in the hair at the nape of his neck while he slept,
but he never took it off.
At last, peering sleepily through his peephole, Duo's violet eyes narrowed
at the sight on the other end.
With a grimace, he threw the door open wide.
"Duo." Miriam Maxwell McNally's make-up was immaculate as usual. She wore
a dove-gray suit with a strand of pearls at her throat. Her blonde-with-a-little-help
hair was teased into a severe style he had never seen before but was certain
had originally appeared on the head of another, more senior, Senator's
wife. Mrs. Capitol Hill, 2004.
Two matching sets of violet eyes sized each other up. Under that critical
gaze, Duo had to quash the urge to re-button his pants appropriately,
and then go put on a shirt. And tuck it in. Instead he stretched, ending
with his arms behind his head. His mother's eyes widened and for a moment
he thought his small display of yoga was causing her to choke on her own
tongue. 'Maybe she's finally kicking off...'
A startled yelp from behind him clued him in to the real reason for his
mother's alarm. A stark naked Todd was retreating, hands in the air, back
to Duo's bedroom.
"Mother, Todd. Todd, Mother," Duo remembered his all-important etiquette
as his mother visibly whitened.
She opened her mouth to speak, shut it, and then opened it up again. "It's
not enough that you choose this lifestyle..." She measured out
each word, biting off the ends. "You have to flaunt it in front of me.
What if Bayard had been with me?"
"You're the one who showed up without calling," he pointed out matter-of-factly,
matching her cold tone. "And The Senator wouldn't dare be seen here. He's
made that perfectly clear."
They took each other in for another long minute. Miriam cracked first.
Her words were meant to offer comfort, her cold tone was not. "Duo, you're
not happy like this. If you would just accept Jesus Christ into your heart..."
"What the fuck do you care if I'm happy?" It wasn't like Duo Maxwell to
lose his cool like this, but Miriam Maxwell was one of the few people
who knew what buttons to push. "What are you here for anyway? A god damned
campaign contribution? I'll get my checkbook." He stomped over the hardwood
His mother sagged against the doorway, as if her muscles had turned to
water. "Your father would be so disappointed. You're not acting like a
man..." She seemed to realize she had said too much, and stopped.
Duo froze. Then he turned around. Ever. So. Slowly. His eyes focused on
the woman in the doorway with a singularity that left room for nothing
"Get out!" he shouted, his voice ragged with emotion.
When Miriam McNalley's shadow darkened the door no longer, a now dressed
Todd tentatively stepped out of the bedroom. "You, too." Duo jerked his
thumb toward the door.
Todd scooted out without asking if they could see one another again. Good.
Duo would have said no. He always said no. He was legendary for saying
no. But it didn't stop people from trying. The more optimistic among his
one night stands lay face down on the mattress beneath him and called
it love. They shouldn't have. It felt good to sate his lust inside a different
man each night. It did. But underlying the moans, and the screams, and
the thrusts was always that same lilting mantra. Fuck you, Dad. Fuck
you, Mother. Fuck you, Bayard. Fuck you all. And in that sweat-slicked
moment when his lust came to fruition, he could believe for one crystal-clear
second that all the pain of the past would go away, seeping out of him
like blood from a freshly opened vein. In that one second, he was free.
Duo Maxwell lived for that second.
The huge apartment empty now, Duo fumbled with the phone, hitting #1 on
the speed dial. It rang once and then he heard his best friend's voice
on the other end.
"Quatre..." was all he could bring himself to say.
A deep breath on the other end of the line. "Your mother's been there,
hasn't she? Don't move. I'll be right there."
Quatre didn't bother to offer Otto any coffee before he left.
Quatre let himself in to Duo's apartment with his copy of the key. The
light in the front room was on but Duo wasn't there, nor was he on the
spacious leather couch or in the spotless stainless steel and glass kitchen.
Quatre's eyes fell on the 3x5 photograph of Mitch Maxwell that hung oddly
in one corner of the living room. If you weren't familiar with the room,
you might miss it. And it was not like Duo to keep such sentimental objects.
There rest of the décor was perfectly matched, with geometrically shaped
knick-knacks and objects d'art that had come as a set with the expensive
furniture. The place was a showpiece. But if you tried to find a touch
of Duo in the art hanging on the walls or the whimsical placement of a
chair, you wouldn't. Except the 3x5 in it's dollar-store frame. Quatre
remembered it sitting on Duo's bedside table at the rent-controlled flea-trap
where Miriam and Duo had lived when they first moved to Solomon. And in
the same spot in Duo's room at Bayard McNalley's Victorian in downtown
Solomon, it's cheap frame and its contents like an imperfection on the
antique furniture. The few times Quatre had gone to visit Duo's college
dorm, he remembered the picture perched precariously on the corner of
his tiny desk. And it had been one of the first things to go up on the
wall when Quatre and Duo had moved him into this huge uptown apartment.
Quatre paused a moment to really look at the picture for the first time
in years. It was so ever-present it had become a part of the background,
like the plant in the corner that you don't see until it wilts.
It could have been Duo standing there, leaning against the tail gate of
an old pickup truck, Quatre realized for the first time. Only instead
of the long braid, Duo's father wore his hair in a 70's shag. Mitch Maxwell
was brandishing a dark brown beer bottle, his head was thrown back and
he was looking off camera, as if toasting someone. His face bore the exact
same smug grin that Duo's often did. That look that said, "I've got you
right where I want you." Obviously not well off, the man in the picture
wore a flannel work shirt and tight blue jeans that were worn out at the
knees and pockets. Quatre realized for a moment that he had been running
his eyes over the muscles in Mitch Maxwell's thighs and gave a shudder
at the thought of being attracted to such a man, even for a moment. No
matter how much he looked like Duo.
The real Duo was in his bedroom, flung across the bed. He held a bottle
of Jim Beam in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other in what, if it
hadn't been Duo, would have seemed like a caricature of misery. Quatre
gently lifted the bottle out of one hand, and put the cigarette out in
an ash tray on the nightstand. Then he climbed into the bed with his friend
and snaked an arm around his shoulder, careful to adjust the braid so
that it didn't pull.
Duo nuzzled his face into Quatre's neck. For a moment, Quatre thought
his friend was being playful, until he felt the wetness glide down his
neck and pool in the hollow between his neck and collar bone.
"Take it like a man, son" he heard Duo mutter, hot breath skating along
his shoulder. And so he knew what Duo was remembering. And now there was
nothing to do but wait. They sat there in the dark room for hours.
Clinging together for dear life.
That night at Tangle, when Duo hadn't shown up and Wufei asked him, for
what must have been the thousandth time, why he let Duo treat him this
way, Quatre just shrugged, thought back to the sting of Duo's tears as
they trickled down his neck, and couldn't think of a thing to reply.
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