By: Sintari
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Tangled Up in Blue + Part 7
Perfect Memory

Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.
­ Wally Lamb


Trowa's apartment was just a few blocks from Tangle, and he and Quatre walked there in silence, snow dusting them from the tops of their heads to the gloves sheathing their interlaced fingers.

A block from his apartment, Trowa disentangled their hands and wrapped one arm around Quatre's shoulder, pulling him close. "You're worried about Duo, aren't you?" he said. His voice was tender, not aggravated like Quatre half expected.  

Quatre moved away a little so that he could look up at Trowa's face. "I... It's just that, normally tonight I would have waited until he drank and danced himself out of his mind and then brought him home. But he just left with that guy without even looking back. He was acting like it was any other night. But..."

Trowa wisely refrained from commenting. He may have spent the last few years observing lions, but he had learned a fair bit about human nature in the meantime. Such as, humans were the only animals that lied to themselves. And while lions only fought with tooth and claw, humans were always coming up with new ways to hurt one another.

Quatre shrugged underneath Trowa's arm. "...But he seemed ok. In fact, I'm sure he's fine."  

Whatever he did or did not think of that last statement, Trowa kept it to himself. He just maintained the small smile on his face as Quatre talked himself out of worrying about his best friend.

"Besides..." Quatre had stopped and blocked Trowa's way on the sidewalk in front of the door to his building, a cheeky smile curving his lips. "I never had anybody else to go home with on Death Day before." Quatre slid his gloved hands into Trowa's back pockets. He arched up and touched his lips to his boyfriend's, the condensation from their breath mingling together as their mouths met.

Noses pressed together, Trowa breathed, "Come inside."

Like there was any question about that!

They raced one another up the stairs, Quatre not above throwing an elbow or two to impede the longer legged man's progress.  Trowa caught up with him at his door and, instead of inserting the key in the lock, pinned Quatre too the wood, hands on both sides of the blonde head.

Quatre leaned back against the door breathlessly, a huge grin on his face.

Trowa flexed his arms in a sort of vertical pushup, bringing the two men chest to chest. "You cheated."

Quatre tilted his head. "'Cheated' is such an ugly word. I prefer to say that I gave you a handicap."

Another miniscule flex of Trowa's arms and something deliciously, achingly stiff was rubbing against Quatre's hip. "I'd say you gave me two handicaps."  

All it took was the slight pressure, the smell of Trowa's soap, the sun-browned hand he could see out of the corner of his eye and Quatre's whole body was swollen and aching with desire. Barely brushing the underside of Trowa's jaw, Quatre's lips felt as if they had received an electric shock. Trowa's mouth found his and he was burning, burning. 

Trowa used one hand to fumble through inserting the key in the door and the only reason Quatre didn't go flying when it swung free of its frame was because Trowa's other arm had encircled his waist, pulling their bodies close.

A pivoting dance had them around the open door then onto the couch, where Quatre landed atop Trowa, one knee between the cushions and the couch back, the other between Trowa's legs. They helped one another out of wet gloves and coats, eventually tossing the sodden mess to the floor.

Trowa shivered as Quatre gathered his faculties enough to be able to slowly pull Trowa's zipper. The other man shivered, then jumped. "Cold hands!"

"I'll warm it up," Quatre whispered, his lips curving into a smile. Trowa looked down to see blue eyes staring up at him. Quatre had scooted back on the couch, his face now nuzzling Trowa's belly, his hipbones, his thighs still encased in his blue jeans.

"When?" The word was meant to tease but came out more like a gasp.

His answer was an impossibly warm mouth engulfing him.

After a night of anticipation, the experience threatened to be over all too soon. Quatre slowed down, prompting more of the cries and small noises his normally taciturn lover only seemed to make during the height of passion. He faltered a bit though, when one of those cries, the one that brought Trowa over the edge, reached his ears.

"I... ahhhh... god, I love you!"

Quatre froze for a minute and found himself having to catch up, to swallow quickly before allowing a mess.

He blinked a few times and then sat back, swiping a finger over his lower lip. "Bathroom!" he said breathlessly. "Be right back."

He planted a reassuring kiss on Trowa's forehead before practically tripping over his own feet to flee down the hall.

The walls and floor of Trowa's bathroom were all royal blue tile and Trowa had added a fluffy pale blue rug and toilet seat cover to round the room out. The decorations were unexpected additions to an outdoorsman's apartment, unless one knew the man personally. From the stories his boyfriend had shared of his childhood spent in foster care, Quatre had realized that Trowa had had to learn how to make a house a home quickly. Despite the cold day, Quatre found himself uncomfortably warm so he ended up sinking down, back to the wall, between the tub and the toilet, his knees drawn up to his chest and his feet on the fluffy rug. The tiles, with their painted blue perfection and pristine grout were reassuringly cool behind and beneath him.

He heard a muffled click as he sat and realized that he still had his cell phone in his back pocket. He took it out and weighed it in his hand. Trowa had said he loved him.  Had he meant it? Or had they just been idle words, uttered in the heat of the moment? Having so few experiences with real love, Quatre took every incidence seriously. Still a bit breathless, he turned his head so that his cheek pressed against the tile.

Before he could think better of it, he had hit number two on his speed dial. Trowa was number one, of course. Trowa had given him the phone. He, Quatre, was number one on Duo's speed dial, though. Why was he thinking about this?

One ring. Two. Three. Duo picked up.

+

If Duo's own decorating scheme was meant to be fashionably sparse, Heero's was downright Spartan. As the dark haired man walked him to the bedroom he didn't offer an explanation for the distinct lack of furniture and personal touches. Duo figured the mystery out for himself when he saw the neatly stacked boxes in one corner of each room. So he really was brand new in town.

They had made out like wild animals in the taxi on the short ride to Heero's townhouse. When Heero showed signs of surfacing for air, or worse, trying to speak, Duo had pulled him back down again. If he could kiss he didn't have to think. Duo didn't have to think about what he was about to do. How he had always secretly wanted to try it again. Why he had picked this time, this place, this night. Or why this night had picked him. Duo opened his eyes once and found that he could look through Heero's face as if he were transparent. He could see right through him to the streamers of city lights outside the cab window opposite him. Like Heero wasn't even there. Like he was in this cab by himself. Or in the dark barn, face pressed to the dirt, smelling gasoline and snakes and rotten hay.

Heero had led him by the hand into an upstairs bedroom. He had tried to speak again and Duo had again silenced him with his mouth. Shrugging, Heero was lifting Duo's shirt up over his head when the cell phone rang. They both automatically pawed at their pockets before realizing that it was Duo's. He looked at the caller ID.

"Leave it," Heero growled, reaching for one of Duo's now bare arms. His own fly was already unzipped, giving Duo a tantalizing glimpse of a dark trail and tented black boxers.

"Can't. Bathroom?" The one and two word sentences were all they both could manage aside from strangled panting.

"Fuck." It wasn't mad, more disappointed. Heero took a step back and ran a hand through his hair. "Over there."

Duo heard Heero's weight hit the bed heavily as he shut the bathroom door.

"Hey," he heard himself say softly into the phone. Heero had a huge bathtub with squared sides and even a step leading up to it. He found that he could easily situate himself on the corner of the tub, his legs crossed at the ankles and stretched along its outer edge.

"Are you alright?" Quatre's slightly tinny voice asked.

Duo forced his voice back to its normal volume and timbre. "I think it's the phone. What's up?"

"Trowa told me he loved me." Quatre's voice was normal, bland.

Duo had already plastered the fake smile on his face before he realized that there was no one there to see him.

"That's good," he said neutrally. Normal Duo would have said something teasing. The Duo who had decided to let Heero Yuy fuck him couldn't think of a single witty comment.

"I didn't say anything back," Quatre continued.

The words hung in the air. Duo wanted to say "Good. You don't need him." But the words turned to ashes in his mouth, stilled by a vision of himself grabbing Quatre by the nape of his neck, forcing him facedown onto the mattress, pinning him to the bed with his weight, ignoring his pleas to stop.  Stilled by the cold knowledge that sometimes he wanted that.

Sometimes he wanted it more than anything.

Duo realized he was hard again. He didn't try to determine whether the cause was Quatre's voice, how the bottle of shampoo he held loosely in his hand smelled like Heero or the vision behind his closed eyes. He didn't want to know. So instead he kept quite and so did Quatre until Duo thought there really had been some fault with the connection. Then there was a rush of words.

"I have to ask you something, Duo, and it's very important, so shut up and listen."

Shut up?

A slight exhalation of breath on the other end of the line. "Do you remember the first time you told me you loved me?"

Of course I remember.

"Let me think..."

In your backyard, in the snow.

"Duo, you really don't remember?"

He unconsciously twisted the loose tip of his braid around one finger. "Hmmm... The first time. How old were we?"

Fourteen.

"We were fourteen."

Duo feigned a speculative pause.  "Sorry, Cat, that was such a long time ago..."

Only you would drink a strawberry milkshake in the middle of February. That was back when you still craved strawberry shakes all the time, before you got sick that time at Dairy Baron and swore off them forever. We got to your house and everybody on both sides of the duplex was gone and you had forgotten your key again. We thought we were so cool for being able to go without hats and gloves in the dead of winter but I could tell you were regretting that milkshake because you were rubbing your hands together while pretending to look around, trying to be all discreet. We went around to the back door to see if we could break in like cat burglars. I offered to bust a window but of course you never would have let me, and I wasn't serious anyway. Some of your sisters' toys and shit were frozen to the ground out there and I kicked this little plastic tricycle thing because I was frustrated and it was fucking freezing.  It was about that time that the snow began to fall. You were apologizing, like you always do.  Like you could change the weather or something. You looked at me and at that moment I knew you would change the weather for me if you could. I knew it then and I know it now that you are the only person on this earth who has ever loved me.

You had snowflakes in your eyelashes.

I was wearing the denim jacket that had been my dad's before he died and was way too big for me. You were wearing that fluffy red coat that you said made you look like a fourth grader. You were right, too. I went over and I took both your hands in mine and put them in my coat pockets. Then I slipped my arms around you and put my hands up under that tomato monstrosity. I wasn't as tall then and all I had to do was dip my chin an inch and we were nose to nose. You balled your hands up into fists inside my coat pockets and smiled right at me. I wanted to kiss you, but somehow I knew that wouldn't be enough. So I said it. And you ducked your head against my shoulder and told me you loved me, too.

You had snowflakes in your eyelashes...

"No. No, I can't remember." There was a note of finality in his voice. "When was it?"

Back in Trowa's bathroom, Quatre pressed his cheek into the cool tile and closed his eyes. Hard.  He knew the story about Duo's mother and the deputy. Duo listening in the barn. After that day, Duo never lied. Never. "Um... not important. Just something I was thinking about. Actually, I should go.  I'm at Trowa's."

"Ok."

"Duo-" A pause. A catch in Quatre's voice.  One final chance to take it back.

Duo remained silent. If he spoke, he would force Quatre's face further into that mattress until there were no more sounds, until he went limp and unmoving. He realized that his hand was balled into a fist.

"Later then." The call cut off abruptly, as if, across town in Trowa's bathroom, Quatre had snapped the phone shut hastily. Before he could change his mind.

"Yeah..." But Duo was only speaking to the digital readout on the screen. He examined it, as if for clues. The digital readout flashed 00:01:30. A minute and a half to break a heart.  

+

Trowa was still lying on the couch when Quatre stepped hesitantly out of the bathroom. The tall man hadn't bothered to zip up and one arm was thrown over his eyes. He was so quiet that Quatre thought for a moment that he'd fallen asleep and he stood quietly by the head of the couch, contemplating what to do until the arm reached out and a hand grasped his leg. Upside down emerald green eyes were regarding him.  

"I meant it," the upside down lips said. "I probably should have said it a bit more romantically. But there you have it." Trowa folded his legs under him and became right side up just in time to be tackled into the back of the couch by Quatre.

After a few minutes on the couch, Quatre surfaced and saw that Trowa's eyes had gone dark with desire. "I love you, too," the blonde said, rolling the phrase around on his tongue. "I really do."

"Good," Trowa breathed. "Now show me."

+

"Can you... can you wrap my braid around your hand and pull my head back?"

"Yeah..." Heero muttered raggedly against Duo's ear.  He was rapidly losing his ability to utter coherent sentences and thought it was better that he didn't press his luck. So without questioning, he did as Duo asked.  The braid felt substantial and rope-like wrapped around his left hand. With his right, he grabbed Duo around the waist, grinding the leaner man's ass against his erection.

Duo let out a low moan. "Harder..." Then, "No, I mean with the braid. Wrap it around your hand one more time." Heero hesitated, stared hard for a few seconds at the smooth back in front of him, and then complied. Now Duo's neck was bent back at an almost painful angle, his face tilted up as if waiting for a kiss.

"Doesn't it hurt?"

Duo's voice was barely more than a whisper in the still room. "It's supposed to hurt."

+

Afterward, both men lay on their backs on Heero's dark blue sheets.

"You haven't been on a bottom in a long time, have you?" This question came out rather breathlessly as Heero's heart tried to find its steady rhythm again. It wasn't a delicate question, but something was nagging at him to ask it.

Duo, who had lit a cigarette, glanced at him out of the corner of his eye. "No." A pause. "Not in a long time."

Heero noted the flatness in Duo's tone and knew he had offended him. He turned over on his side and propped himself up on one elbow, unable to stop his eyes from raking Duo's lanky frame before focusing on violet eyes.

"That," he said slowly, "was some of the most mind-blowing sex I've ever had. You," he ran one finger from Duo's sternum to his belly button, "were amazing."

Duo smirked a little and sat up. "Just don't be telling people. You'll ruin my reputation." He stood and started pulling his pants on.

"I won't," Heero agreed. "If you'll come out with me on Friday night."

Duo turned to look at Heero over one shoulder. The other man was still sprawled out on the bed in all his glory. "I don't date."

Quick as a cat, Heero grabbed the waistband of Duo's jeans, pulling him roughly back down to the bed "Yeah, and you're not a bottom either," he growled. With one motion of his arm, he had Duo turned over and flat on his back on the bed. "Who said you could put your clothes on? We're not finished here."

Duo was glaring at him angrily, but then, like before, his features suddenly transformed into that dreamy expression. The niggling doubt that had lingered in the back of Heero's mind disappeared, soundly trounced by the sight of the compliant body stretched out on his bed. Wordlessly, and never breaking eye contact, Duo crossed his slender wrists above his head. Heero soon found that he could encircle them with just one hand.

+

That next morning Quatre and Trowa bundled up and made the short walk to the diner that was quickly becoming their Sunday morning breakfast spot. Quatre thought he must have been having a blueberry pancake induced hallucination when he came out and met Duo and the guy he had left with the night before walking in. From what Quatre could tell, his best friend was still in his club clothes beneath his winter coat. The trick wore an expensive looking tracksuit.

Duo and one of his tricks were having breakfast together. Quatre raised two eyebrows. One just wouldn't have cut it for this situation.

There was a tense moment where everyone just stared at one another before Quatre and Duo began speaking at the same time.

"Hey Cat."

"Hey Duo."

Another pause, time enough for Quatre to notice that Duo was staring at him oddly. "Introduce me?" Quatre prompted. A light snow had been falling all morning, but the blonde wasn't sure that was the sole reason he was so eager to get out of this encounter.

"Oh. Yeah. This is Heero Yuy. Heero, this is my friend Quatre and his boyfriend Trowa." Duo then became exceedingly interested in the manhole cover he was standing on.

Trowa nodded at Heero and made some comment about the diner. He was recommending the strawberry muffins or something. Quatre wasn't listening. He was too busy trying not to stare at this strange Duo he didn't know, who ate breakfast with one night stands and kept his hands in his pockets instead of draping an arm around his best friend's shoulders.

"Nice to meet you," Heero was saying to Trowa. Trowa echoed him, then slipped his hand in Quatre's and they began walking.

"Seemed like a nice guy," Trowa said noncommittally. Quatre couldn't have picked him out of a police lineup.

After the couple walked away, Duo stood in the street for a few seconds more before following Heero into the diner.

Quatre had had snowflakes in his eyelashes.

Fuck.

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