Road Home (cont)
'We need to get dinner started,'
I told him after a bit. 'Wufei's going to be here in an hour or so.'
'I know,' he sighed softly, but his arms didn't let go, and I wouldn't
draw away as long as he needed me there. 'Have I ever told you how glad
I am you're with me?' he said then, his voice so intense that it made
'We're partners,' I told him firmly. 'I'll always be right there with
He did straighten then and gave we a wan smile. 'You'll protect me from
little old ladies?' His embarrassment at not knowing how to handle the
situation was plain, and painful, to see.
I grinned and kissed the end of his nose. 'Always, lover. No little old
lady can get past me.'
He tried to brighten the smile a little and then we set to making dinner.
I can manage a salad without too much trouble and bent to work there while
Heero started the spaghetti and put the meatballs on. I tried to keep
a relatively innocuous conversation going, but I could see him brooding
about the encounter whenever there was a lull.
He'd have done better if the damn woman had just pulled a stupid knife
on him. A clear threat, he would have dealt with as swiftly and surely
as ever. It was these 'civilian', not-really-threatening incidents that
threw him. He didn't know how to respond. He never knew what to say, how
to get away from people like that, and I knew it bugged him. Threw him
off balance. It made him so damn mad, just as mad as it made me, but you
had to rein that in. Had to just take what they said, because arguing
only made things worse.
We managed to have dinner just about ready to go on the table on time,
despite the delay. I noticed Heero watching the clock like a hawk, and
he deliberately positioned himself so that he was the logical one to get
the door when Wufei's knock came. I couldn't quite decide whether to scream,
or laugh, and finally just ignored it, letting him think that I hadn't
noticed. He carefully checked out the window for Wufei's car before going
to look through the peephole and finally letting the man in. I wondered
how long he was going to suffer with the 'twitches'.
We've had Wufei over to our place a score of times, and he's invited us
to his in turn. He always arrives as though we have offered him the highest
of honors. He never fails to bring something, some gift or some food.
Our set of four 'good' plates had come from Wufei after he had eaten off
our washable plastic ones once.
'Those are supposed to be disposable,' he had said.
'But you can wash them!' I had exclaimed.
'They were cheap,' Heero had interjected.
The next time he ate with us, he had arrived with a wrapped package and
insisted that it was only proper that dinner guests should bring gifts.
He had no idea how we had fussed and fumed the next time we had dined
at his home, trying to figure out what to bring.
This time, he brought a small basket with sliced garlic bread. I hadn't
even noticed that Heero hadn't made bread with dinner until I had accepted
the gift, and I realized they must have discussed it on the phone. It
did explain what had taken Heero so darn long.
Heero took Wufei's coat while I took the bread to the kitchen and began
pouring our drinks. I could hear the murmur of their voices in the living
room and finally had to call them to the table. How the hell long does
it take to hang up a coat?
'We're eating in the kitchen you guys!' I called in exasperation, and
they came sheepishly to my summons.
'Sorry,' Heero murmured, and he must have still been a little off balance
over that mess at the grocery, because he was blushing. He set to work
taking our dinner up.
Wufei trailed him into the room and immediately latched onto the new chair
as a topic of conversation, teasing us unmercifully about our 'décor'.
'You should try to get on one of those home decorating shows,' he chuckled
as we sat down to eat. 'Where they come in and redo your living space?'
We both looked at him a little blankly and he rolled his eyes. 'When are
you two going to break down and get a television set, so you know what's
going on in the world?'
I snorted, dishing up meatballs and handing the bowl to Heero. 'When we
become gainfully employed?'
Wufei raised an eyebrow in polite question and Heero chuckled. 'According
to our bank account... soon.'
'Are you having any luck finding jobs?' Wufei asked as he carefully dished
up a helping of spaghetti.
I snorted and shook my head. 'That implies that we've actually been looking.'
That got me another raised eyebrow and the quirk of a grin. 'Expecting
to win the lottery or something?' he teased.
'Actually,' I informed him, ignoring the barb. 'That's part of why we
asked you to dinner.'
Wufei indicated to Heero he wanted the bread with a flick of his fingers
while he gave me a mock glare. 'Oh? It wasn't just my sparkling dinner
company that you were after? I think I'm hurt.'
I delicately blew him a raspberry and accepted the bread as he handed
it across. 'Of course we invited you for your witty conversational skills,'
I informed him. 'But if you can employ those skills discussing the Preventers...
that's simple economics.'
'Two birds with one stone and all that?' he asked archly.
I nibbled at my slice of bread and grinned appreciatively. 'Hmmm... three
birds; you can cook too!'
Heero chuckled and gave Wufei a little inclination of his head, having
taken a bite of the bread as well. 'It is very good, thank you.'
Wufei looked pleased. 'Just... what is it you want to discuss?' he asked,
seeming to word the question slowly, as though watching his phrasing.
'Well,' I told him, elbowing my partner gently in the ribs. 'Our buddy
here, has apparently developed an interest in your little organization,
but has been afraid to ask.'
Wufei looked to Heero with a touch of uncertainty in his eyes. 'Afraid?'
he repeated after a second, waiting for some clarification.
I had hoped that Heero would jump into the conversation once the opportunity
offered itself, but he remained silent, chewing a mouthful of spaghetti
and obviously waiting for me to elaborate. I sighed. 'He seems to be afraid
that I will feel obligated to join if he does, or some other obscure Yuy
reasoning,' I told Wufei and gained a twin set of odd looks. 'Hey!' I
grumbled, giving Heero a glare. 'I wouldn't have to make this shit up
it you'd just tell me what the hell you're thinking!'
Wufei couldn't quite contain a chuckle and Heero turned his odd look in
that direction. Something strange seemed to pass between them, and I just
hoped that Heero wasn't irritated with Wufei for laughing at him.
Wufei looked down at his plate, carefully spearing a forkful of salad
and chewed it for a moment, seeming to consider his words. When he had
swallowed, his fork found its why back into the salad bowl, but he just
stirred things around.
'Actually,' he said, not looking up at me. 'I do have something that I
thought you might be interested in, Duo.'
I took a drink of my soda and waited, watching him stir salad. I wondered
why he seemed so uncomfortable, was it because he was offering a position
to me specifically, and not Heero. 'What is it?' I prompted when he fell
He took a breath and did look up at me then, rather searchingly. 'Commander
Une has been having problems finding a Network Administrator for the Preventers
computer network. The last person couldn't handle the job, didn't seem
to... appreciate the level of security necessary for the organization.'
He paused and smiled at me, seeming to lose a little of his discomfort.
'She was rather impressed with your... skills during the war and has...
agreed with me that you would be perfect for the job.'
I blinked at him. 'Me?' I couldn't help asking.
He snorted and raised his own glass, saying, 'Well you did manage to hack
into every damn system the woman ever had control over. She thinks you
might be qualified,' before taking a drink.
Beside me, Heero was being awfully quiet and I glanced his way to find
his attention completely focused on his plate. 'What do you think, Heero,'
I asked, afraid his feelings were hurt that Wufei hadn't asked him.
He finished his mouthful and then grinned, looking at me sidelong. 'It
beats the hell out of shoveling shit for a living.'
I laughed out loud at the reassurance that he wasn't angry, then glanced
across at Wufei and laughed even harder at the confused look on his face.
'Shoveling... ?' he began, but then just shook his head. 'Never mind.
I don't want to know.'
I bent back to my dinner, and sat that idea out in the middle of my brain
to consider it. Wufei and Heero fell silent, letting me think about it.
There was an odd, almost electric feeling in the air and I wondered about
The Network Administrator for the entire Preventers organization. That
was something of a daunting thought. I'd have to do some research to catch
up; I was a couple of months out of the technological loop. Things changed
fast in that business and I wouldn't be able to fall behind. Not with
those kinds of databases under my protection. It was kind of intriguing.
It was kind of scary. It was kind of daunting. I already used that word,
didn't I? I guess that's because it fits the most. Daunting. Damn, but
I suddenly had a million questions. The one that bubbled to the top of
my suddenly percolating brain first, was rather embarrassing; I wonder
if I'll have to wear a tie? I decided not to ask that one.
'Do they have anything set up... ' I began, but Wufei raised a hand to
forestall the questioning.
'I honestly don't know all that much about the position,' he informed
me. 'But if you're interested, I can arrange a meeting with Commander
Une as soon as tomorrow.'
I blew out a breath and didn't tell him that I'd rather talk to someone
else, that the woman unnerved me. I hesitated and glanced over at Heero.
His eyes were bright with approval and he smiled encouragingly, giving
my shoulder a nudge. 'Go for it,' he said softly, and I felt oddly warmed.
I turned back to Wufei and found that his attention was on his dinner
again. 'Ok, man,' I told him. 'Set up an appointment with the scary lady,
and I'll talk to her.'
His head snapped up and he gave me a look somewhere between appalled and
relieved. 'Maxwell!' he rebuked. 'You do not call Commander Une
a 'scary lady'!'
I grinned rather unrepentantly. 'Well... not to her face, I won't.'
He replied with a roll of his eyes and we finished our dinner in that
vein, Wufei teasing me about showing up for a job interview in jeans and
a t-shirt, and me ribbing him about working for a psychopath.
Things seemed to... relax somehow, though I'm not really sure why they'd
had that underlying tension to begin with. It wasn't something I could
put my finger on. Maybe Heero had just needed some distraction to forget
the incident at the market. Maybe Wufei had been worried that Heero would
be upset that he'd offered that job to me and not him. I wasn't sure,
but I was glad when the mood lifted and we began laughing and talking
Dinner was finished soon after, and Wufei insisted on helping with the
dishes. Since Heero had cooked, I washed and Wufei dried while my partner
sat at the table and kept us company. I had a harsh moment of missing
Trowa and Quatre, but it passed, washed away in the banter. Wufei entertained
us with job stories and Heero told him about our 'stalker' neighbor. We
carefully didn't mention the trip to the grocery and when the dishes were
done, went to sit on the couch for a little while, before Wufei had to
'... couldn't believe that Noin made the shot,' Wufei was saying as we
settled in the living room, finishing a story he had started about betting
on the shooting range at work. 'I lost five credits on that one, and Noin
wouldn't let me forget about it for weeks. That's all I heard for the
next three assignments.'
I frowned, thinking about that one. 'I thought Sally Po was your partner?'
I asked, and watched in some confusion as his cheeks flamed. What the
hell had I said?
'I don't really have a permanent partner yet,' he mumbled, looking down
at his hands and not at me. 'Right now I'm just tagging in where I'm needed.'
That made me feel like shit, talk about putting your foot in it! I leaned
over and laid my hand gently on his arm. 'I'm sorry, Fei,' I told him.
'I didn't mean to make you feel bad. I'm sure you'll find somebody you
can work with soon.'
The room seemed to go as dead quiet as a tomb, and Wufei stiffened under
my hand. Damn; it must really be a touchy subject for him. I tried to
think of something else I could say to make things better, but finally
decided I should just keep my mouth shut, I obviously didn't understand
the situation at all. I gave his arm a squeeze and then let go.
'Never would have taken you for a betting man,' Heero interjected quietly
and the conversation turned back to safer ground. The mood lightened almost
immediately, and I was glad that my slip hadn't caused permanent damage;
it had been a pleasant evening and I was thankful I hadn't spoiled it.
We sat and visited for a while longer and then Wufei had to go.
'Some of us do have to get up for work in the morning,' he grinned
as he slipped into his coat and prepared to leave.
'Well,' Heero chuckled, moving up behind me and giving my shoulder a squeeze.
'Maybe that will change come tomorrow.'
'Then you'll be the only unemployed one, Yuy,' I grinned, glancing over
my shoulder at him and catching the strangest look on his face.
'I would call you tomorrow if you two had a damn phone,' Wufei interjected
with a smirk. 'So you're going to have to haul your sorry butts out of
bed in the morning and call me instead.'
Heero snorted. 'I think we'll manage,' he said, and then a little more
seriously, 'maybe I'll come down to headquarters with Duo.'
They looked at one another for a minute and then Wufei smiled broadly.
'Sure thing, Yuy. I heard there was a janitorial position open too.'
I couldn't help but laugh and Heero poked me in the ribs by way of retribution.
Then Wufei was gone and the evening was over. I went to turn down the
bed while Heero went through his routine of checking and double-checking
all the doors and windows before coming to join me.
I had meant to talk to Heero about the impending interview. I had meant
to ask if he knew why Wufei had gotten so upset when I had questioned
his lack of a steady partner. But when he came into the room, there was
a smile on his face that told me he was thinking of other things besides
talking. He came and settled his hands on my hips, pulling me close and
nuzzling gently at the side of my neck.
'You know,' he whispered in my ear, low and husky. 'Network Administrator...
that's kind of sexy.'
I laughed with delight and wrapped my arms around his neck. 'You're turned
on by tech geeks? Why didn't you ever tell me?'
'Never thought about how... suggestive some of the jargon was before now.'
He murmured and began working at the buttons on my shirt.
'Hmmm... ' I sighed. 'Interfacing?'
'Oh yeah,' he groaned in mock passion. 'Downloading... Upgrading... '
'Talk dirty to me,' I snickered and we were suddenly laughing so hard
we fell on the bed in a tangle.
Then the talk was gone and very soon, so were the clothes. The laughter
faded as the passions started to rise. He forgot about jobs and markets,
forgot about Wufei and dinner as he teased me with lips and hands, making
me forget about questions, forget about talking, forget that I had to
face scary Colonel Une in the morning.
We lost ourselves in each other and just forgot it all. Finding that place
we could give, one to the other... that place where nothing else existed.
When I thought I would explode with the frustration of being held back,
when I was starting to wonder if he would ever let us finish, he suddenly
rolled us over until I was looking down into blue eyes so dark with passion,
they didn't even look like his.
'Take me,' he growled and spread himself out beneath me like some offering
to the Gods.
Later I would realize what it was about. Would know that this was brought
on by his fears of hurting me, that he was still unsure of himself, still
worried about being too rough. But in that moment, my mind was too far
gone to care, my body had forgotten how to breathe, and I just answered
his demands. Answered our body's demands.
Somehow, over the months, our roles had begun to settle in, and this was
his position more often than it was mine. I had forgotten how it felt
to be the aggressor, had forgotten that rush of pure, animal control that
fills you. Had forgotten how looking down into his upturned face, twisted
with passion, filled me with... Gods, I don't know, endorphins maybe?
It just made me feel like I could do anything... be anything. Made
me feel strong and assured, protective and possessive.
It was overwhelming. I think I screamed with my release. I know he
Sated and exhausted, I collapsed across his chest and felt only irritation
when he prodded me to go clean up.
'Don' wanna,' I mumbled into the side of his neck, and he chuckled at
'You'll be sorry later if we don't,' he teased.
'That'll be then,' I groused. 'Don't wanna move now.'
'Come on, love,' he said, and continued to nudge until I finally moved.
'Sadist,' I mumbled and followed him to the bathroom.
I almost don't remember climbing back into bed. He's always known what
to do to keep me from thinking too much about things I can't do anything
about anyway. Has always known what things will prey on my mind and when
I need to be kept from thinking.
'Love you,' he practically purred in my ear, sounding quite satisfied
with himself, as I struggled to stay awake long enough for our goodnights.
'Heart and soul,' I managed and then I was gone.
Morning found me alone in bed and I had to grin up at the ceiling, knowing
that Heero was downstairs on the payphone the minute he knew Wufei would
be at work. I couldn't help wondering again why in the hell he hadn't
just told me that he was interested in checking into the Preventers. I
swear he was as excited about my applying for this Administrator job as
It's funny, I should have been nervous about what was amounting to my
first ever job interview. But underneath it all somewhere, I guess I knew
I probably pretty much had this job if I decided I wanted it. That sounds
kind of... conceited, but come on; we'd already been offered positions.
I don't much like to go around blowing my own horn or anything, but let's
face facts... I'm a Gundam pilot. Was a Gundam pilot, anyway. I
probably knew more about computers, computer technology, hacking, and
system security than any two administrators twice my age out there anywhere.
Not that I'm like... Super-technology guy or anything, but I'd had some
of the most advanced training the colonies had to offer, and field experience
the likes of which most people could only dream about. I don't go around
rubbing people's faces in it... but I know my shit.
I guess the only odd doubt I had, was why Command Une hadn't offered the
position to Heero. I'd never admit it to him in a million years, but he's
better than I am. Not necessarily smarter or a faster learner, but his
training had started years before mine had. He had one hell of a head
start on me. Give me enough time and I had no doubt I could catch up and
maybe even pass his expertise... but why not start with the best in the
I glanced at the clock and
decided I'd better get up and shower or Heero might not give me the time
to take one. Colonel Une made me nervous enough, the last thing I needed
to do was show up in her office smelling like sex. I wasn't particularly
bothered by the prospect of the job interview itself, but I will more
than freely admit that I wasn't too keen on meeting with a woman who'd
had a hand in scheduling my public execution.
Standing in the bathroom, unbinding my hair, I thought about that a little
bit. I'd always wondered... had it been in her date book? Eight hundred
hours, meeting with Engineering. Nine hundred, troop inspection. Ten hundred,
execute wayward Gundam pilot on camera. Eleven hundred, have nails done.
Forgive me; I had a lot of time sitting in that cell to think about my
impending broadcast debut. I had imagined her secretary calling on the
intercom, 'Excuse me, Colonel... you're late for your ten o'clock.'
Let's just say the woman had unnerved me and leave it at that.
I was scrubbed as clean as I could get myself, and standing in the closet
doorway trying to figure out what to wear, when Heero came back into the
apartment. All I could think about was Wufei's teasing cracks about me
showing up in jeans and a t-shirt. Truth be told... I didn't own a hell
of a lot else.
[cont] [back to