Over Coffee + Part Six (cont)

"Maybe later," I said blandly, eliciting a strangled laugh from Duo and a cough from Trowa. "Duo, would you mind if I was a few minutes late?"

"Sure thing," Duo said, doing his best impression of a happy person. "Don't be too long-Kimmie's been taking your shift but she wants to get home."

"I won't," I said, smiling at Trowa. "Shall we head around the block? I'd like to talk with you..."

Trowa grumbled. "I don't see why Duo wouldn't let you go out for lunch. You're far too good to be working for him-business manager! You could run the place."

"Not like Duo could," I said. "Anyway, he'd give me the time, if it wasn't for Kimmie. She was on duty last night as well, its not fair to expect her to be on shift all this morning."

A cup of coffee was agreed upon as a suitable compromise.

"What did you go see your father for?" Trowa asked. "I thought you didn't talk much."

"I needed advice," I said. "On Duo." I stirred my coffee slowly. "You may have noticed he has feelings for me..."

Trowa's eyes glinted. "Did he tell you this?"

"Yes-after I asked him," I said. "Duo didn't want me to know."

Trowa's expression plainly stated 'I bet he didn't.' I ignored him and pressed on.

"Well, given that he is such a good friend, I think it only fair that we resolve this quickly. Sally said she thought it was about time we sat down and had a serious talk about where we want this relationship to go. I think you know that I'm ready to commit."

"Commit?" Trowa asked faintly.

I nodded. "We have been going out a very long time now, but we've never really discussed it-except to say that you weren't ready for me to move in with you yet." I sipped my coffee. "I'm not pushing you on that, but I do think you should know that I'm in for the long haul."

"The long haul?"

I proceeded to elaborate.

"-so once we get a place of our own, I was thinking we could invite Cathy over for tea at least once a week-she can't feel as though she's being left behind-and maybe my father on alternate weekends--"

"Excuse me, Quatre. I'm sorry, but I have to go."

I blinked. I wasn't even halfway throught yet. "But-"

"This is all so sudden. I need time to think about this."

"Oh," I said, disappointed. I hadn't even got to tell him about the interior decorators I'd looked in to. "Well, phone me tonight?"

"Of course."

I sighed as he left. That hadn't been quite the reaction I'd been hoping for.

And he hadn't kissed me.

Disgruntled, I glanced at my watch and-

"Oh, heck!"

--realised the coffee break had lasted approximately an hour.

"Duo!" I burst into the kitchen, panting. "I am so sorry!"

"I guess we can cancel the search party then," Lloyd quipped.

"Hey, Q. Grab an apron-we have a party of twelve just being served now," Duo said, balancing several meals precariously as he left the kitchen.

I followed suit. I was pleased to see that Hilde was also waiting on tables, meaning that Duo hadn't been left totally understaffed.

"Thanks a lot for helping," I told her, as we headed back to the kitchen with dishes.

"Not a problem," she said. "I stopped by to see Duo, and-chicken foccacia no tomato, soup of the day, table 8!-somehow got conscripted. I don't mind-was it an emergency?"

"Kind of," I said. "Trowa and I had to talk about where our relationship is going."

"Well, I hope it works out well," Hilde said. "Where's this pasta going?"

It was with heartfelt relief that I collapsed onto the sofa that night. "What a day!"

" You didn't have to do the cleaning yourself," Duo said. "I don't mind helping. It's my job after all."

"No," I said. "You all had to cover for me while I was talking to Trowa, I wanted to make it up to you guys."

"That's a nice thought, Quatre." Duo handed me a plate. "Tuna lasagne. There's more in the fridge if you want it."

"Has Trowa rung?" I asked.

"Nope."

I forwned. It was pretty late-but we hadn't really set a time. Maybe I should phone him once I'd finished eating? If he hadn't already rung by then-

I ended up ringing.

"Hi Cathy," I said. "Is Trowa there?"

"I'm sorry, Quatre. He's not here at the moment."

"Oh, okay. Do you know when he'll be back?"

"I'm afraid I don't." Was it just me, or did Cathy sound awkward?

I asked her to tell him I called then hung up. I didn't like this-

+

"Get up, Q. We're going out."

I blinked. "Huh?"

Duo was standing in front of me, holding my coat. "We're going out."

"But-I didn't know we had plans-" I said, as Duo shoved the coat into my hands.

"Well, we do now," Duo said. "Come on, get your butt off the couch. We're going to have some fun, if it kills us." As I looked dubious, he gestured to the sofa. "Come on, do you want to sit here watching old episodes of Charmed and eating ice-cream?"

I looked down at my bowl. After the fifth helping, orange-ripple was losing its appeal.

"But this is the eipsode where Phoebe and Cole get together!"

"Right, that's it!" Duo hauled me off the sofa. "We have to get you out of here before any more damage is done!"

I smiled half-heartedly as Duo bullied me into my coat and the car.

"Where are we going?"

"Ice-skating," Duo said. "Take this left."

Sally and Wufei were waiting at the rink.

"I see you were able to dislodge him without too much difficulty," Wufei observed.

"I didn't need the crowbar after all," Duo agreed. "It was a good thought though."

"Hey!" I said indignantly. "I'm not that bad."

"Sure Quatre. You've only been attached to that couch for a fortnight solid."

Sally gave me a sympathetic smile. "Do I need to lecture you on the need for social and recreational activity?"

"No," I said fervently, remembering the lecture on the evils of repression. "I'll take your word for it."

"Fast learner, isn't he?" Duo remarked to Wufei. Sally chased them both all the way to the rink.

I had the advantage of numerous holidays in Switzerland, Wufei was fairly athletic and had a good sense of balance, so we fared pretty well. Duo and Sally had neither.

"Do me a favour," Duo said, as we pulled him off the ice for what had to be the fiftieth time. "Next time I want to go ice-skating, shoot me first."

"And me second," Sally groaned. "I don't want to even think about how many bruises I'm going to have-"

"There's hot chocolate in the car, if you want it," Duo said. "In thermoses."

"Let's try this again," Wufei said, taking Duo's arm. "One foot at a time-slowly does it-left then right-"

Sally patted my shoulder. "You wouldn't mind towing me in the direction of the side? At the rate I'm going, I'd get there faster crawling-"

I obliged.

"I wasn't even aware that Duo had made hot chocolate," I said, as we gathered the thermoses from the car. "I wonder how long he'd been planning this?"

"He rang us last night and we decided that if you weren't showing signs of activity, we would force you to go out and do something fun," Sally said. "So, what's the matter Quatre? Trowa again?"

I sighed. "I had the talk with him, like you suggested. It didn't go as well as I'd hoped... but Trowa said he needed time to think about it and that he'd get back to me."

"That's good," Sally said. "Decisions like these can't be made in an instant. How long ago was this?"

"Two weeks."

"Two weeks?" Sally stopped and stared at me. "Quatre, I think you have a problem."

+

"I guess you're right," I said, sitting on the curb next to the parked car. "I mean, he should have rung by now-even if he hadn't made a decision just to let me know what was happening. But I don't see why he'd just... drop me like that. I thought he really cared about me. He was so attentive to me the last week or so we were together-"

"Think about that," Sally said. "Really attentive-was he like that through your entire relationship?"

"Well he was at the start," I said. "And then, just as I thought things were going to go further he became almost distant-but once I started the cooking course he seemed to be all interested in me again."

"Interested... because you seemed not to be?" Sally suggested.

"What do you mean?"

"Ever heard of the phrase not in love, but in love with love?" Sally said sympathetically. "It sounds as though Trowa has serious problems with commitment. He was interested in the challenge you posed, but once the thrill of the chase was gone-"

"So was he," I sighed.

Sally hugged me. "I'm sorry Quatre. You seem to have the worst luck with relationships."

"Tell me about it," I sighed. "Wait-if Trowa was only interested in me as a challenge, why was he suddenly all over me that one week?"

"Did you by any chance give him any reason to think that you might not be totally enamoured with him that week?" Sally asked.

"Duo said I shouldn't ring him-" I said. "Oh. So, Duo knew?"

"He suspected," Sally said. "He was hoping he wasn't right, that's why he asked me to talk to you tonight."

"I see," I said. "So he wouldn't have to?"

"Nothing of the sort," Sally said. "Duo wanted my opinion-he wanted to be sure that he was reading the situation correctly. Look, we're your friends Quatre-all any of us want is for you to be happy. Now, we'd better get back to the rink before that boyfriend of mine accuses us of drinking all the hot chocolate."

I followed slowly. I had a lot to think about.

"Oh, no! Duo! What happened?" Sally demanded, drawing me from my thoughts.

I looked up to see Duo sitting on one of the seats by the rink, Wufei beside him, watching as one of the skating rink staff bound Duo's right hand.

"I had a rather interesting crash," Duo said.

"Into the wall at high speed," Wufei said. "He managed to bring me down while doing it too."

"Oh dear. Does it hurt?" Sally fussed over Duo.

"From what I can tell its only a sprain," the staff member said, tying off the bandage. "Try not to use this hand as much as possible for the next few days."

"I'm okay, Sally, really. It's just a sprain," Duo said.

"Are you sure you don't want to go home?"

"We can't go home! The real fun is just about to start!" Duo insisted.

I raised an eyebrow at Wufei. He shrugged, obviously just as mystified.

As if on cue the lights dimmed and a strobe light was lowered.

"Get ready folks! It's time for Disco on Ice!"

Wufei paled.

Duo and I squealed at the opening song. "Burn Baby Burn! Disco Inferno!"

Despite Wufei's protests ("I was tricked! He didn't say anything about Quatre music!") we joined other skaters on the rink for a game of musical chairs, on skates. When the music stopped, everyone had to skate to the nearest corner. A bottle was then spun, all the skaters in the corner it landed on eliminated. Last one left got a spot prize.

Wufei was fully occupied in keeping Sally from falling over, I found myself helping Duo round the rink.

"Isn't this fun?" Duo said, wobbling wildly as we left our corner. "Cool music, skating-what more could you wish for?"

"Balance?" I said drily as he toppled over.

"Oh heck," Duo said, as the music died.

There was no way we could have got to a corner in time. We were disqualified and I helped Duo to the seats.

"I'm sorry, Q," Duo said. "You're a good skater, you could have won."

I was more concerned with the way he held his hand. "Duo, how badly hurt is your hand?"

"It's only sore when I-ow-move it," Duo said. "I'm fine really."

I was dubious. "Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure! It's my hand, isn't it?" Duo waved it happily. "Ow-"

I was ready to catch him. "I think we need to sit down," I said firmly.

Duo didn't protest as I guided us towards the seats. "I'm really sorry about this, Q. I wanted you to have a fun night out."

"I am having fun," I said.

The lights dimmed as the game of musical corners continued. A new song blared from the speakers.

"Now you can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man, no time to talk. Music loud and women warm-"

"Stayin Alive," Duo sighed wistfully. "You should be out there, this is one of your favourite songs."

I stopped. "Still thinking about me?"

"Well, someone has to," Duo tried a nonchalant shrug. "I just want to see you happy."

Happy-that's what Sally had said.

"You're a good friend, Duo," I told him. "But you don't have to worry about me. I'll be fine. Now," I took his shoulder firmly. "I'm taking you home and you're not arguing with me. You shouldn't be out here with a hurt hand, you know."

Duo had the good sense not to argue with me.

+

It was my turn to look after Duo. I'd woken up early so I could practice making scrambled eggs before he woke up. Just as I'd finished the third lot, Duo wandered into the kitchen in tousled pyjamas and sleep rumpled hair.

"Good morning!" I chirped. "Just in time for breakfast!"

He looked from me to the saucepan in incredulity. "You cooked? Voluntarily?"

"Sit down," I said. "Let me get you a plate."

"You didn't need to go to all this trouble," Duo said as he gingerly poked the food set in front of him.

"Of course I did!" I said. "With your hand as it is, there's no way you should cook. I already phoned Lloyd and told him-the kitchen staff are confident they can manage without us for the next few days."

"Without us?" Duo said. "What will you be doing?"

"Taking care of you," I informed him. "Let me cut up your toast for you."

Once Duo's toast was in handy bite sized pieces, I gave him the fork.

"So what do you want to do today?" I asked him.

"I don't have anything in mind," Duo said. "After all, I was thinking of going to work-"

"In that case," I said. "May I make a suggestion?"

Duo froze as I seated myself on his lap.

"What... ," he whispered, as I leant into him. "What are you doing?"

"You're the psychology student," I told him. "You figure it out." And then I kissed him.

"Wow-" Duo murmured as we broke apart. "Wait-are you sure about this, Q?"

"Absolutely," I said. "You like me-I like you, neither of us have boyfriends-Unless you're no longer interested-"

I was rather abruptly hauled down for another kiss. This one was passionate, if a little rough, and left me gasping for breath at the end of that.

"That answers that," I murmured rather shakily, leaning in for another kiss, but Duo stopped me.

"Q-if we do this it has to be for the right reasons, otherwise we're better off just staying friends-"

That was enough to stop me. "Duo-I have thought about this. A lot actually-I'm sure of this. I-" I poked him in the chest. "Want you."

Duo smiled, a very attractive shade of pink creeping over his cheeks. "Well, can't argue with that."

"So we're together then? It's official?"

"I guess it is."

We grinned shyly at eachother. For all the effort it took getting us to this point, neither of us really knew what to do next. I noticed Duo's untouched meal on the table. "You haven't had your breakfast-"

"Ah, tell you what, Q," Duo suggested hastily. "Why don't we just makeout now, and worry about that later?"

"Okay!"

The End

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