Warnings : Shounen ai, general attempt at humor, Duo POV.
This is in response to Trixie_chick's 'take off your clothes' challenge, so any blame should go in her direction, though I'm as willing as ever to take any possible credit.
You know you've been on assignment too damn long when you come home wearing clothes you washed in some hotel sink, that were still damp when you put them on last, because shit just will not dry properly hanging over a shower curtain rod.
You know you've been on assignment too damn long when the prospect of eating your roommate's cooking, the one whose latest hobby was finding new things to do with raw fish, was actually attractive.
You know you've been on assignment too damn long when you almost fall asleep at the wheel of your own car in the middle of a six lane highway at five in the afternoon.
And finally, you know you've been on assignment too damn long when you start making up stupid reasons why you've been on assignment too damn long just to help yourself stay awake.
It took some fumbling to get the key to find its way into the lock on the apartment door, and then a little more effort to get me and my bags inside. After that, I just abandoned the bags to their own devices.
'Hello?' I called, not sure if Heero was home or not. I hadn't thought to look for his car when I'd parked my own, I'd simply been delighted that I'd managed that part without hitting anything.
I was pleased when he appeared in the kitchen doorway. 'Hey,' he greeted me with a grin. 'You look like shit.'
'Thanks a lot,' I grumbled. 'Tell me again why I agreed to share an apartment with you?'
'Because the first thirty people you asked turned you down,' he quipped, leaning against the doorjamb and wiping his hands on a towel.
'Oh, that's right,' I returned. 'The pleasant company and sparkling conversation.'
'And here I thought it was my cooking skills,' he retorted and it made me sigh.
'God, Heero,' I had to confess. 'We were staked out in an area where we only had two choices for food; pizza... and pizza. I will eat anything you have to put in front of me as long as there is no pepperoni involved.'
He chuckled, but cocked his head, giving me the once over. 'Tough one?' he asked a little more gently, and all I could do was nod.
He straightened and jerked his chin in the general direction of my gear. 'Get your bags out of the hall while I finish; it's almost ready to go on the table.'
'But my bags are perfectly happy in the hall,' I groaned, and only got the raised eyebrow look for my trouble.
'But I am not happy with your bags in the hall,' he chided and turned back toward the kitchen.
'Slave driver,' was the best I could come up with and he didn't give the lame effort more than a snort.
So I grabbed the straps of my duffle bags and theatrically drug the damn things down the hall to my room. Once past the threshold, they were in my territory and I could leave them sit for days if I was so inclined. House rules.
Once they were deposited, however, I found myself just about willing to deposit myself with them and not bother with that whole dinner thing. I didn't really need to eat, did I? Not until after I'd slept for a week or two?
Heero's amused snort made me turn around and I found him standing in my doorway looking at me with a funny, crooked little smile. 'Take off your clothes,' he said. 'I'll be right back.'
He was gone before I did the bug-eyed, slack-jawed thing and I had to finish with that before I could blurt the 'What?!' that should probably have come first. Because he was long gone and never heard it.
Ok, I was not that damn far gone. I know what he'd just said, but... that's kind of a rough gear shift to make even on a good day. And this was not a good day.
Heero had just... without preamble... just asked, no, told me to get naked.
You know... Heero my roommate.
The guy who slept down the hall from me? In his own bed? In his own room? Far away from mine?
Somewhere in my head, I thought I heard gears strip.
Now don't get me wrong, this was not an entirely undesired development, just... unexpected.
No, undesired wouldn't be the word I would use here. Wanted. Longed for. Craved. Dreamed about. Prayed for. Lusted after.
But I digress.
It was just not something I'd ever seriously given any consideration to. Heero had never seemed to look at me as anything more than a roommate and fellow Preventer. The guy who slept down the hall from him. In his own room. In his own... wait, this is starting to sound familiar.
But there was no mistaking what he'd just said to me. I might be a little tired. Ok; I might be a lot tired, but he had not mumbled, he had not spoken in a foreign language, he had not spoken with his back to me. He had stood right in my bedroom door, looked right at me with a grin that had bordered on a smirk, and commanded me to strip.
You know, I'm an ex-soldier. I'm a Preventer. I'm kinda good at following orders.
The jacket was easy. The boots... not so very much. The tie almost defeated me, but after that the rest wasn't too bad. I let the clothes fall where they would and tried not to notice how much my hands were shaking. How dry my mouth was.
And then the deed was done and I was standing in the middle of my room, in the middle of a battle-field of discarded clothing and brain suddenly looked around and wanted to know what to do next.
Should I lie on the bed? Covers turned back or not? Take my hair down? Dim the lights? Just what? I'd never in my life had any kind of intimate encounter with anyone who wasn't me, and I wasn't really picky about setting and lighting.
So when I heard Heero's footsteps start down the hall, I was still standing right where he'd left me, only now I was stark-naked, half hard and suddenly asking myself what in the bloody hell I was doing.
The conversation in my head went something like this; 'Shit! What the fuck are you doing?'
What? You want more? That was pretty much all there was too it.
I would prefer not saying that I panicked, ok? It was more like an information overload in my brain that kept me rooted to the spot instead of beating a hasty retreat to the bathroom, or scrambling for clothes, or teleporting to Siberia or any of a dozen other possible escapes that only occurred to me days later.
The blush started before Heero even got to the bedroom door.
But it escalated to something that was probably pretty damn spectacular when he came through that door... with a laundry basket under his arm.
He looked at me, looked at the clothes strewn around me, and then sighed rather theatrically. 'You are such a slob sometimes,' he informed me.
'I...' I told him, caught between explanations and defensiveness. 'I...'
'And you talk about my conversational skills,' he chuckled as he bent to picking up the poor abandoned clothes.
It suddenly occurred to me to turn my back, but that would have left me mooning him, so I hastily covered myself with my hands and opted for looking like an idiot instead. 'I...' I tried one more time, but the blush had grown to such proportions that I think it had fried my brain.
Heero had gathered the last of my clothes by then, and if I'd had a functioning brain cell left, it shriveled up and died at the sight of Heero standing there with my underwear dangling from his fingers. 'Supper is on the table, if you think you can find your way back to the kitchen.'
Then he turned and left me alone with my humiliation and dead brain cells. My knees wanted to just drop the rest of me on the bed where it would be possible to bury my beet colored face into my trembling hands. But there were certain other parts that were suggesting I go throw up, and it was probably the multiple choices that saved me, since I just couldn't decide what to do.
So despite the trouble it had gotten me into so far, I fell back on doing as Heero said, though I went and found my bathrobe first.
Armored with clean underwear and a securely belted robe, I trudged my way back down the hall, trying to banish the last of the blush and failing miserably. I'd have just never come out of my room again if I hadn't understood I would have to sooner or later and the longer I put it off, the more awkward it was going to become.
I hesitated in the doorway of the kitchen, watching Heero dish up something that, for once, didn't seem to involve fish in any way. I took a deep breath and gave a last effort to salvaging my tattered pride. 'What... no sushi?'
'You seemed to be getting tired of it,' he quipped, glancing up to smile at me. 'So I thought I'd branch out.'
'No pepperoni?' I asked, wishing I could work up a little bit of higher brain function. Just enough for conversation. It wasn't like I was asking for enough to pilot, or walk and chew bubble-gum.
Heero stopped what he was doing, set the pot of whatever it was down and pulled my chair out. 'Chair, Duo. Sit.'
I snorted and moved toward it, reflecting that the last time I'd followed his orders the results hadn't been that great. 'Yes sir,' I mumbled.
He shook his head and pushed the chair in when I'd settled into it. 'Try not to fall asleep at the table; I'd hate to have to fish you out of your stew.'
'But you would fish me out... right?' I asked, glancing from him to the bowl. 'Just in case, I mean?'
He chuckled. 'Of course I would. You haven't paid your part of the rent this month. Couldn't let you drown before you cash your next pay check.'
'Ok,' was the best I could do and I glanced down to figure out if it was spoon stew or fork stew. It seemed to be beef, and the chunks of stuff looked big enough for fork eating, but one can never be sure of these things. Across the table from me, where Heero had apparently sat down when I wasn't looking, I heard a heavy sigh. Something was placed into my hand and I automatically curled my fingers around it.
'You aren't going to make me feed you, are you?' Heero asked.
'I think I can manage,' I grumbled at him. 'Which end of this thing do I use again?'
He chuckled and took a bite of his own dinner. 'The stabby end.'
'Got it,' I mumbled and took my own bite. It was probably not the best dinner ever cooked, but it was hot and there was no tomato sauce in it, so I was happy. I managed four mouthfuls before I dozed off sitting at the table.
Heero left me sit while he cleaned up apparently, I'm not real sure about that part, because I was dead through it. Fairies might have come in and done up the dishes, or perhaps a herd of apron wearing wombats. I have no idea. My next memory was of feeling someone prod my shoulder.
'Come on, Duo,' Heero said, voice sounding oddly gentle. 'Let's get you to bed.'
'I'm sorry,' I blurted as I came back to consciousness so totally disoriented I couldn't even remember why I was asleep at the kitchen table.
'For what?' Heero chuckled.
'I...' I blinked my eyes open and tried to follow his directions and get to my feet. 'I don't really remember. I just have this feeling I've done something really stupid.'
Heero actually laughed, taking hold of my shoulders to steer me out of the kitchen. 'You really are about dead on your feet. You haven't done anything stupid. Now let's get you to bed while you can still walk.'
'Who says I can walk?' I grumbled, but we were doing just that, and I was quite happy to see my bedroom door looming in front of us.
'Stagger then,' Heero corrected, sounding damn amused.
He steered and I headed for my bed with all the intentions of falling onto it.
'Wait a minute,' he scolded and I stopped, swaying and blinking at him as he turned the covers back.
'Oh yeah,' I muttered, and tried to resume my fall.
He caught hold of my robe, chuckling again. 'Forget something?'
And that rather served to make me remember the stupid thing I'd done, and I felt the blush come home to roost with a vengeance.
'Uh...' I said brightly and both our hands found their way to the belt of my robe. Mine to hold it on, his to untie it.
I'm pretty sure I looked like some doe-eyed wild animal that had just been goosed in the ass with a cattle prod. I know this because Heero laughed out-right while he pushed my hands aside and undid the robe.
'I am not going to take advantage of you while you're in this kind of state,' he told me firmly, taking the robe away and nudging me toward the bed.
'Oh,' I said, finally taking that fall while trying to figure out if that was reassuring or disappointing.
He leaned down and pulled my covers up when I forgot to do it, draping the robe over the foot of my bed as he walked away. I heard his footsteps pause in the doorway and I turned my head that way to look at him through blurry eyes.
'I'll wait until tomorrow, or the day after,' he said, and though I couldn't see it, I could hear the smirk. 'Or whenever the hell you decide to wake up.'
He vanished during one of my owlish blinks and I just lay there staring at where he'd been, as wide awake as though he'd just dashed cold water in my face.
'You asshole!' I hollered after a couple of long minutes of staring.
'Go to sleep, Duo,' I heard come back from the direction of his room.
'How the hell am I supposed to do that now?' I yelled.
'Because you're exhausted and I told you to,' he rejoined, his voice sounding like he was getting closer again.
'Yuy...' I ground out, propping up on one elbow just as he came back into view.
He stopped in the doorway, where the light fell on his face and the look I found there rather shut me up. I was back to that owlish blinking.
'Lie down and go to sleep,' he said firmly. 'And that's an order.'
'You...' I began, knowing somewhere inside, that sleep had to happen before anything else, or at some point I would not be able to convince myself this had not all been some strange dream. 'You'll be here when I wake up?'
'Wouldn't miss it,' he confirmed, and there was a note to his voice that I took for tenderness.
I sighed and let myself fall back into the pillows. 'O...ok,' I agreed, just as though I really had some sort of choice.
The smirk found its way back past the affection and he turned to leave. 'You follow directions well... I think this is going to work out.'
He left me staring after him again, with that same cold water feeling.
'Damn it, Yuy!' I bellowed, but this time he only laughed without coming back to spar with me further, and I was left with nothing to do but go the hell to sleep.
I just suddenly didn't want to stay that way for days anymore.
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