Authors: TB and Marsh
Notes: More of a teaser despite the length. Takes place directly after
New Day +
Duo came to the hospital five
days after Heero was checked into it. He had already seen Lady Une, who
told him Preventers had destroyed what was left of Wing Zero. Sally came
by to complain that Noin and Merquise had disappeared without even a note.
Quatre came to complain that Trowa had disappeared even faster, but Trowa
had left a note, and so Heero didn't really see why Quatre seemed to think
he couldn't follow.
Relena came by, trailed by a new bodyguard. She looked harried. She looked
tired. She had jumped when the nurse came to change Heero's IV. She didn't
Duo came every day, but only after the lights were out and Heero was supposed
to be asleep. They would watch each other through the window in Heero's
door. Heero liked that. It was good to know there was someone guarding
the halls for him, while he was down.
Until finally he came in, at risk of being shooed out with close of visiting
hours, at nine fifty-two on New Year's Eve.
Heero meant to greet him, but it seemed unimportant anyway, as Duo certainly
knew whose room he was entering. Duo distracted him immediately, because
he was carrying a large bag over one arm, and with the other cradled to
his chest several meals' worth of hospital pudding. What most caught Heero's
attention, though, was the strange hat on Duo's head.
The puddings scattered with a plastic clatter over the visitor chair.
"Good," Duo said, as if in answer to a question Heero hadn't asked. "You're
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"I caught you napping yesterday." The bag landed on Heero's calves.
"What is that?"
"It's for you."
"No, on your head."
"Ahhh. This is Federico." Duo posed his hands and tilted his head with
a very serious look. It took a moment for Heero to realise it was in mockery.
Duo winked at him just a little, as if he knew.
"Are you high?" Heero asked, just to be sure.
"I'll let that pass for now, but one day we're going to have a discussion
about the difference between cheerful and intoxicated." The chair legs
scraped noisily over the tile as Duo hauled it near. "Federico is the
designer. These things are the shit right now. If you want one, I'll get
it for your birthday."
"No," Heero said softly. Smiling felt awkward. He didn't try very hard.
"But thanks. I don't wear hats."
"What's that, then?"
The journal. He had almost forgot it was in his hands. It ought to have
been worrisome, the holes he was discovering in his awareness. If it was,
he could have written about it. But it wasn't. He had had head injuries
before and such symptoms passed with time. Even if they didn't--
Duo had taken the journal from him. The pages made soft whispers as he
flipped them with his thumb. "It's empty," he observed.
"Therapy," Heero explained. "She said. It might be if I threw it at her."
Duo grinned in a flash of straight teeth. There was a new chip in one
of the maxillary central incisors. "You're supposed to write down feelings,
and you're either not sure you have any, or you don't know what they are."
"Neither really." Duo set a knee on the chair, slid into it limb by limb,
instead of just sitting. "I just don't think about them. It doesn't matter."
"She'll probably be angry if you don't do it. She might make you stay
longer." Still not done sliding. Duo's foot landed and stayed propped
on the plastic rail of the bed. "I'll do it, if you want."
"I'm not going back to see her again. She said I could sign out against
medical advice, so I did. What's in the bag?"
Duo rolled his eyes, but he didn't seem surprised. "Clothes. I figured
you'd be busting out soon. I thought the least service I could do to the
people of Sanq was protect them from the sight of your fish-belly pale
ass hanging out of the hospital gown."
Perhaps it should have mattered that Duo had anticipated him, but that
didn't bother him, either. Duo liked to be clever, anyway, and it didn't
hurt to allow him triumph when it was earned. The comment about his ass,
though, seemed unwarranted.
No questions, though. Quatre would have asked-- worried-- if he was ready.
Even Trowa might have wondered. Relena would have argued and said useless
things like how she wouldn't allow it. Duo brought him clothes before
he even knew if Heero wanted to leave.
"Are they Angelo?" Heero said. "Or whatever designer that thing on your
"Federico, darling, and no, I got them from the Oxfam up the road."
"Thanks then." He tipped the bag into a spill and pulled out flannel shirts
and black denims. There was a jean jacket, socks, a hooded jumper, even
underwear and shoes. They were eminently normal. They were almost identical
to the clothes that Duo himself was wearing.
Duo added, "I looked for spandex, but even charity shops aren't that tacky."
"Thanks," he repeated, more dry with the teasing. Duo always did everything
quick, big, brash. Even when it was aimed at Heero, Heero found, increasingly,
that he didn't much mind. It was different from the apathy he'd felt the
past week, since waking up after surgery on Christmas morning. He felt
as though he were waking up. He felt more alert, just keeping up with
Duo's conversation. Such as it was.
He picked at pieces from the bag, slowly assembling what could be most
easily worn. "Relena said you were leaving."
The twinkle in Duo's face faded. "I'm getting kind of itchy under the
skin," he said shortly. "People here look at me funny. I don't like it."
"Maybe it's the hat." He poked it with a fingertip, and Duo's grin returned.
"Where will you go?"
"I don't know." Duo leant his elbows on the edge of Heero's bed. The journal
passed from hand to hand, back and forth. "You know where you going yet?"
"No." Itchy. Heero thought he might understand that. Something like that
was breaking through his calm. "Maybe... I'll follow you."
"Yeah?" Duo perked instantly. "That'd be cool. I wasn't going to ask,
in case you glared at me or pretended you hadn't heard." He hesitated,
then. "You sure you're all okay? Because now I think about it, it is kind
of weird that you actually want to spend time with me. Maybe you should
let the doc keep working on you."
"What's that supposed to mean? I always wanted to spend time with you.
It was Chang that always whined about it."
"Well, yeah, but just 'cause you weren't making noise doesn't mean you
were jumping at the opportunities. I don't mind filling in the blanks,
but sometimes talking to you is pretty much silent film era."
Duo was smiling, though. It was more teasing, then. Heero was learning
to recognise it. He had even missed it-- occasionally-- in the year they
hadn't seen each other. He liked that it felt as though no time had passed.
It was better, even. This time he knew he was done.
He was done. Even if there were more uprisings, clone wars, invading armies
of super-Gundams, it would be someone else's responsibility. He would
be lucky to walk without a limp. The therapist said his hands would always
tremble. He had finally abused his body beyond recovery.
Something went gentle in Duo's face, suddenly, and then he smiled again.
He spat into his palm and presented it to Heero. "Friends," he said firmly.
The spittle was hardly attractive, but he knew what the gesture meant.
Duo had done it to him before, and so had Howard, when they'd agreed,
aeons ago, to repair his Gundam after his disastrous landing on Earth.
He kept his face stony to hide his inner cringe, accepting the smack of
Duo's hand into his, the firm shake that rattled his arm.
The rest happened organically, like dominoes falling. He was touching
Duo. He enjoyed touching Duo, even like this. It had been a thought that
occurred to him with inconvenient regularity. It was certainly occurring
to him now. It was certainly an inconvenient time.
'No guts,' Duo used to say, before plunging headlong into battles they
were meant to lose, and never had. 'No glory.'
The press of their lips wasn't as special as he had imagined. Duo was
caught off his guard, having failed to anticipate this, for once. His
mouth was slack, and so was Heero's, as he tried to replicate from memory
something he had only ever witnessed, not performed. It had seemed much
easier when Quatre and Trowa had done it. They hadn't seemed nervous at
all. Perhaps they would have been, if they'd known Heero was standing
at the other end of the hall, that long-ago night before the Battle of
Stray thoughts disappeared then. Duo moved, slipped, his hand slipped
in the bedsheet, and he landed awkwardly, closer to Heero, who discovered
that the new position alleviated the mash of their noses together, freed
breathing passages, and brought Duo's teeth down into his lower lip. The
last part especially was enjoyable. Heero's pulse jumped to a fast pace.
Then it was over.
Duo was wide-eyed. Child-like, mussed by it, flushed from it. Their hands
were still-- damply-- clasped together, but there was nothing child-like
in the tight grip of Duo's fist.
"Sorry," Heero said, but he wasn't.
"Uh." Duo released him abruptly. He snatched the funny hat from his head.
The braid fell to his shoulder and down his back. Duo scratched vigourously
at the back of his neck. The colour was not fading from his cheeks or
"I--" Heero released a breath and took in a new one. "If I'd known that
was the way to get you to shut up, I might have used it during the war."
Duo's mouth moved. Then, finally, he laughed, reluctant at it until it
relaxed his rigid spine. Heero was pleased. He didn't want Duo to be--
upset. It hadn't turned out how he had hoped. Anticipated.
In some of the more pleasant scenarios he had plotted, things had gone
on quite a lot longer than a single kiss. There were obviously factors
he had miscalculated.
"Get dressed," Duo said, and punched him lightly in the shoulder. "If
we want to have time to get drunk before New Years, we need to high-tail
Duo still wanted his company. That was a good sign. Heero took it at face
value and accepted that no ground had been lost, at least. He worked his
legs over the edge of his bed, tested the reliability of knees worn out
from too long laying still. When he was sure of his balance, he shed his
hospital gown, and assembled the clothes Duo had bought in the order he
would don them.
Duo's head was tilted away. His eyes weren't. Heero noticed, and wasn't
sure what it meant.
"Nothing to be ashamed of," Duo muttered, almost inaudibly. Heero heard.
He had shed the notion of shame and even modesty long ago. Still, Duo's
gaze on him burned just a little. He didn't want to contemplate why. But
he was glad.
They rode the underground for
fifteen minutes and four stops from the hospital, and then they took a
bus. Heero suspected Duo of catering to his injuries, but that was cause
for a certain amount of gratitude. He was only a little sore from sitting
on hard plastic seats, but he was able to walk quite well when they reached
the street Duo said was 'theirs'.
It was not the best quarter of the city. It was not the worst, and so
Heero didn't worry about his lack of weaponry. There seemed to be many
young people loitering on the pavement, standing by billboards sprayed
with hand-drawn graffiti celebrating the defeat of Dekim Barton, crudely
questioning the parentage of Mariemaia Khushrenada. They wore clothes
with slogans, smoked viciously, talked loudly in Sanquian and English
and French. Many of them wore the same hat as Duo, wide black brims curled
low over their faces, as sullen as they were. Heero appreciated Duo's
disguise. They went unnoticed, two teenaged boys in crowds of them.
The doorway Duo chose was indistinguishable, too. Its paint was peeling.
The brick facade was unbroken from apartment to apartment. Even the gaps
of the alleys all looked the same. They sheltered the wind, and little
Duo entered with a key. That seemed significant. Heero had largely expected
the kind of hidey-hole Duo usually found, where lockpicks would be more
effective. The stairs went down, not up. There was no second door, a poor
security design, and apparently drafty architecture as well.
"You live here?" It was nothing more than a basement-level studio apartment.
His room at the hospital had been larger. And warmer. It was the usual
"No," Duo said, and tossed his keys onto a pile of worn shoes collected
at the bottom of the stairs. "I met a guy who does. He said I could stay
as long as I wanted."
Duo shrugged. "I saved his life, kind of. Or his leg, anyway."
There were slit windows, nearly at the ceiling, grated over and peering
onto the street. The light from them was negligible. The noise was not.
Every sound from above was clearly audible. Even footsteps from whatever
residence had the next storey sounded as near as Duo's. Louder, even.
Even in his boots, Duo could walk as silently as a cat.
A tiny efficiency kitchen, little more than a hotplate between two cabinets
and a small, ancient ice box. A mattress on the floor, no box spring,
an obviously well-used sheet in a wrinkled sprawl over it. Newspapers,
sorted by section, arranged in messy piles. Books by the mattress, supporting
thick, cheap candles and mouse traps. The walls were bare brick, plastered
with paper clippings and old propaganda posters stolen from the streets.
In what space was left, there were bottles. Alcohol, all kinds. Some were
empty and overturned. Most were in varying levels of drunk. Dozens of
bottles. It was a particularly claustrophobic little space.
"Maybe you should tell me the whole story," Heero said. "If I'm going
to be staying in his place."
"While you were off taking down the evildoer, the rest of us were looking
for survivors." Duo fell onto the mattress, bouncing a little on creaking
springs. "I found Philipe trapped under his own suit. Held his leg together
until we got a medic. He's at your hospital, if you're wondering."
"Rebel or OZ?"
"I didn't ask."
OZ. The posters told their own story. Duo would rescue an Ozzie. "How
long have you been here?"
"About a week," was the vague answer. If he had been living here since
the aftermath of the ground battle at Christmas, it was six days. There
was no reason for Duo not to have said six days. But Duo routinely obscured
details needlessly. Heero only noticed now because he had had six days
to start to remember it.
"Wufei was here with me for a while before that," Duo said then, "but
you know him. Moved on."
"You didn't want to follow him?"
"I was waiting on you."
"Sit down. You're making me dizzy." But Duo was rising as he said it.
He had to stand on the tip of his toes, stretch his arm high above his
head. He turned on the radio on the windowsill. It cranked to low static,
resolving slowly into crackling Sanquian dialect. It was almost soothing.
"Hour 'til midnight. I didn't figure you'd want to go out."
Heero finally took Duo's instruction. The mattress was thin, its springs
protesting weakly under his weight. He shifted to the cold concrete floor
instead. Duo stepped around him, dipping to the congregation of bottles
near the pillow-end. "Expensive champagne, just what the occasion calls
for. No glasses clean. I'm not much of a housekeeper, not that it matters.
I don't think Philipe really had any glasses to start with."
"You were serious about getting drunk?" The bottles resolved into numbers.
Fourteen on the floor. More stacked on the crate with the lamp, hiding
around its wooden corner. A twelve pack of beer, several missing, by the
door. "Are these yours?"
"Some are." Duo eased onto his back, though it seemed to take no effort
for him to move so slowly. He opened the wire basket on the bottle with
the very tips of his fingers. "You shouldn't drink too much, you've still
got meds in your veins. At least toast the new year with me."
"I don't drink much anyway." Duo's hair was longer than before. At least
four centimetres. It was low in his eyes, like Heero's, so that it moved
with his lashes when he blinked. "Are you a drunk?"
"If I was, would you judge me?" Duo pulled the cork out with his teeth
and nails. It popped, but not much. "I drink too much," Duo said, and
spat the cork to the floor. "I don't drink enough. It's New Year's, Heero.
Just be my friend for an hour."
"I'll always be your friend."
He wondered why Chang had left, because leaving implied he had previously
seen reasons for staying, reasons that were possibly more significant
than a debt of honour. The debt would not have been owed to Duo, in any
case, except abstractly. So perhaps he had left because it was not good,
staying with Duo. There were no clues, though, in Duo's face, in the dim
Duo presented him with the bottle. "From Sanq Palace. I stole it from
that fancy dinner they had celebrating Relena's something-or-other."
He sipped. It was Krug rosé. Light and clean, made with pinot meunier
grapes. He didn't think Duo knew how good it was. He swigged and handed
it back. "How is she?"
"Kind of a wreck. I feel bad for her. They don't give her any time to
herself. I tried to visit her but I was barely there before they went
pulling her off to some speech or other."
"It's what she wanted. That's what she said, at least."
"Still, she's seventeen. And she was kidnapped and drugged and dragged
around by that bitch on wheels and her grandpoppy. No-one lets her be
a kid, and she doesn't even know she needs to be."
Said with no sense of irony. He could have been talking about either of
"She could walk away from it. Other people have." Heero was not comfortable
discussing Relena. He had only seen her once since the night when he had
blown apart Barton's fortress to destroy him and the girl before they
could cause too much damage. Though he had never allowed himself to consider
Relena's safety, she had been far too forefront in his thoughts. He remembered
her soot-covered face perfectly. He remembered shooting at the little
girl. He remembered the hollow click of his empty chamber. He had failed
her. At least then, when she had sat at his bedside and held his hand
and talked to him, he had had the benefit of hospital anaesthesias. He
did not remember what she had said to him. He was glad.
It was his turn to walk away. That made him glad, too. He was ready.
Duo's ankled nudged his, and he became aware of the silence. "Sorry,"
Duo murmured. "I never could figure out if you were in love with her or
"Neither could I." The champagne had left his throat dry. "I don't understand
"She's high class." Seriously said. Duo didn't know what it meant, but
he meant it. He was sipping from the bottle of expensive champagne he
had taken without knowing what expensive meant. "Different kind of mind,"
he said. "From you and me."
Maybe. But Heero had been trained to make the leap. "She's completely
unprepared for what she's taking on."
"Yeah, but maybe no-one is. Prepared, I mean. No-one's ever done it before.
Not even Heero Yuy Senior." The hat came off finally. The long braid tumbled
out like a snake loosed from its coils, falling flat over the grungy sheet.
"You'll ruin it," Heero said. "Your hat."
Duo was looking back at him. His lips were moist from drinking, a little
open for the rise and fall of his chest, and his eyes were only a little
open, as if he were sleepy, but he seemed calm finally. He said, "It's
just a hat."
"I thought it was a Valentino."
"Federico." He grinned. "I just bought it to fit in. An experiment in
"Fit in where?"
The curl of a smile faded and his face smoothed. "Some of them know who
we are, here. It hides the hair." He held out his hand for the bottle.
He didn't give it back. "We have nothing to be ashamed of, Duo."
"I'm not ashamed. I got better things to do than hide in this dump or
up at the palace like Quat and Trowa did."
"What's next then?"
"New Year's, in--" Duo twisted as lithe as his hair to see the clock.
"I mean longer term than that. You said you were going places."
"I say a lot of bullshit." The smile was back. "Here, pass that, please."
He hesitated, and did not like that he had to. But he obeyed.
"It won't disappear in three gulps."
"Was it bullshit?"
"What?" Duo drank. A drop of wine escaped down his jaw. Heero had a sudden,
distinct thought about the taste of it, dry and sweet against the salt
of human skin.
"You broke me out of the hospital so we could go places. Away from here."
"We'll go, then. Anywhere you like."
"Let's go tonight."
"You really want to?" Faced with it Duo was not enthusiastic. "You should
sleep off the hospital meds at least."
"I'm not drugged," he repeated impatiently. "I'm capable of making a decision.
"You'd be capable if you were blind, deaf, dumb, and in the middle of
an L2 sewer without a map." With a last swallow Duo put the bottle down.
It clinked, but dully. "If you really want, we'll go tonight. But not
'til midnight. I want to hear the song on the radio."
The promise pleased him. He allowed himself to slump so that the small
of his back was supported against the edge of the mattress. "We can do
anything you want."
"I agreed already. You're sitting too far away."
Yes. Acres of distance. Less than two feet. He pushed on his wrists and
his rump cleared the edge, settled into fabric.
"There's good." It seemed related, the faint blush of colour on Duo's
skin, otherwise only white and blue in the dim window light. The bottle
was back in his hand, the grip of his fingers tighter than before. He
Heero was quiet. He wondered if Duo had brought him to this place to watch
him get stoned. Waiting for the radio song. Why was the radio song important?
Which song did he expect to hear?
There had been music on Howard's barge. Music on Peacemillion, which had
of course been manned by the same crew. Raucous and jarring and sometimes
misogynistically themed or containing slang code for drugs and sex. He
knew that Duo had listened to it, in the way that noise was sorted and
discarded by the brain when conscious thought was concentrated elsewhere.
He had never heard Duo play music just for himself, even at the school.
Duo's room had always been silent when he had passed it in the dorms,
and he had never carried an iPod like other students. Maybe he didn't
listen to music, then. Heero didn't.
"Why'd you kiss me, back there?"
The timing of the question was jarring. But suggested by their new physical
proximity. He was inches from Duo's feet. Bare feet. He hadn't noticed
Duo removing his boots. He had pale feet, of course, but his toes seemed
delicate and there were veins overlaying the bones.
"I wanted to," Heero answered belatedly. "I've always wanted to. Why'd
you let me?"
The bottle paused at Duo's lower lip. "Ditto. More or less."
Not brash. Meant to sound that way, but it wasn't, and Duo's eyes slid
from his. Heero said, "Do you want me to kiss you again?"
A clean blunt fingernail scraped at the label on the bottle. It was half
empty now. Disappearing sneakily. The label came away from the glue without
too much effort. Heero didn't have clean nails. The grime had been there
"I've never... you know," Duo said. "With a guy."
"Is that why you're getting drunk?" he asked. "In case I jump you?"
"Think it'll help?"
"Not particularly." To mute it. To forget it. If it was unpleasant. He
allowed himself to think about, to anticipate the variables. It was possible
it would be unpleasant. But he didn't think so. He had imagination enough
to imagine that. "Do you?"
Their eyes held. Duo was still smiling. Heero decided that it was also
possible to miss something without knowing that you had. Duo had become
"You got a certain amount of nerve, you know."
"I don't think hiding from things helps much."
"Like apologies?" Duo moved, suddenly enough in the stillness that Heero
tensed, but he was only lifting his jumper, baring his belly. There was
a large bruise there, fading to green at the edges, still dark purple
in the centre. In a flash Heero remembered that, too, forgotten before
in the chaos and haze. "That's all you, my friend."
He trailed his fingers over it lightly, careful of the slightest pressure.
Despite the bruise, Duo's skin was very smooth, cool but warming under
his touch. Truthfully, this time, he said, "I'm sorry."
The blush was back. Duo fidgeted with the hem of his jumper, the wool
stretching over his knuckles, as if he wanted to push it down again, but
he didn't. "Didn't think you'd actually say it."
"I never wanted to hurt you."
"You coulda just told me you wanted decoy. I can play dead."
"Maybe I should have." The perfect shape of his fist. The bruise was darkest
at the pointer finger impact, which had led the punch. He remembered.
"You wanted me out of the way."
"You're reckless. You had done what I needed you there to do. I wanted
"I know. Still a poor excuse." Duo drank again. "I wanted you safe, too.
Look at all the trouble you got into without me."
"It all worked out in the end." More or less. He reached for Duo, a contrivance
to knock over the bottle. It was doubly successful, because the bottle
fell and spilled what was left, but also because Duo didn't flinch away,
when he had anticipated the odds that he would. An accident and a not-accident.
Duo's eyes flicked to the fizzing puddle splashing across the concrete
and soaking the newspapers, then back to Heero.
"Sorry," he lied.
"You're not." Duo screwed his mouth to the side. "About any of it. It's
okay. I didn't figure you would be."
"You should be. I came back just to help you, you know. Worth at least
a little genuine feeling."
"I feel things for you," Heero said.
Duo was nervous. Duo did not like being nervous. It made him bolder, his
eyes leveler, fear turning to strength. "What things?"
Reverence. The feeling other men felt in museums, before great art, before
saints and stained glasses. Before women like Relena Peacecraft. A kind
of hopeless yearning, for what, he wasn't sure, because he was fairly
sure now that whatever he felt Duo returned something of it, and certainly
enough for kissing, and almost as certainly enough for sexual intimacy.
Except he also felt other things that weren't so easy to reconcile. There
was disbelief, to discover that Duo was living here with a liquor store's
worth of bottles. Almost dissolute. There were no armies to fight now
and he could think about things like the desire to rescue Duo, to keep
him, protect him, as much as he could in a newly battered body and a mind
that did not want to wake up entirely. He wasn't Relena, who would forever
be behind a Gundamium wall of political imperatives and urgent global
forces. But the freedom of access did not meet up with the strange shifting
edges of their almost friendship. It did not combine into a single emotion
that he knew how to name. He felt stupid that he couldn't.
The words that came weren't quite right. He knew they weren't, could feel
the not-quiteness. But not-quite could be almost, as well, and perhaps
Duo would know that, too. Duo knew many things before Heero did. He had
never liked that before, but it was maybe one of the things that he had
He said, "I love you," and then noticed that his hand was still and flat
on Duo's stomach, and he could feel a pulse, from one of them. Speeding.
He kissed Duo, before he could object. It was less awkward than at the
hospital, because Heero was ready this time, and because he knew how he
wanted it to feel. Duo was supine and stiff but he stayed still, at least,
so that when Heero leaned over him they were very close, and his mouth
was only slack for a moment. Then it was hesitant, and then it let him
in, let him touch with his tongue. He felt small teeth, and warmth, and
the champagne still lingering. Heero breathed out carefully, and kissed
him again, deeper, harder.
He was aroused, quickly enough to confirm that he truly was free of drugs
at last. So was Duo, which confirmed that there would not be protest.
He settled slowly beside the other boy, in the narrow strip of mattress
left for him by the wall. It sagged beneath them, but he hardly noticed.
Duo lay woodenly, watching him, but his heart was speeding, racing, when
Heero covered it with his hand, searched for the beat of it in his neck.
This part was what he had imagined. He was glad. He was glad at how good
it felt, unequivocally good, unstolen, unforced, fully conscious. Did
Duo feel the same way? He hoped. He tasted the champagne from Duo's lips
and he didn't know. Alcohol tolerance was different for everyone. But
when they kissed again Duo clumsily touched him, his hand coming up, the
wrong hand at the wrong angle, trapped awkwardly, but curving to cup Heero's
Duo was scared, then. At least Heero thought that was what it was. Because
he was a virgin? There were too many unknown factors to differentiate
and he could not, under these circumstances. Each half of Duo's ribcage
fit under his hand, precious and new and strange and good. He touched
Duo's nipple and Duo sucked in his stomach; his navel was a gentle slope
and seemed perfectly made for his thumb to press. Perfect.
He reached down. For the sheet. He pulled it up over them both. "Maybe
I'm a little more drugged than I thought," he said, louder at first and
softer by the end, disliking how his voice sounded saying those words.
"Can we... just lie like this?"
Duo's eyes opened. "Why are you doing that?"
"I don't want to screw this up."
"You don't want to screw me. Up."
"I want you." He rested his head back against the wall. The wall was cold,
too. The only thing not cold was them. "You're shaking."
"That's why we're not going to do anything."
"You're being a jerk."
He wasn't and Duo knew. But he agreed quietly. "Just playing true to form,
I guess." He wormed until he found enough room to lay his head on the
pillow. It smelled musty. "We have time."
"Only a half hour to midnight." From the side he watched Duo's eyes roam
the ceiling, the studio. There was a newsprint cut-out on the crate, just
a foot away from them, showing a small black figure being dragged from
a disabled Gundam. The headline trumpeted the triumph over the terrorist
rogue pilots threatening the Earth Sphere. It was from L2. "I'll turn
back into a pumpkin," Duo said, his whisper hoarse.
"Neither of us is going anywhere tonight."
Unless Duo was planning to run while Heero slept. He didn't think so.
Even like this.
"Jesus," Duo said. "At least kiss me again."
He did, solemnly. Duo gripped a fist in his sleeve. That was something.
He was careful to avoid the bruise, but he wrapped his arm around Duo,
took a long breath, breathing him in. There was too much weight on this.
He didn't know why Duo wanted to push further when it was clear he wasn't
ready; except that it was like Duo to push, even if Duo himself didn't
Or couldn't stop himself, simply. The kiss was barely more than a press
of parted lips, but Duo inched his knee higher until it nudged Heero's.
Then his leg was between Heero's thighs, just a little, just enough. He
was pressing his hips to Duo's before he could assert the control not
to. His instincts wanted to wait. His body was ready to move and knew
what to do. But there was something wrong with being this aroused when
Duo, who had never shown fear except in nervous laughter and a blazing
determination to fight back, could only shiver and clench and avoid his
Perhaps the determination was still there, if not the bravado. Duo cupped
his neck, twined their ankles. His bare foot stroked against Heero's calf.
"Come on," Duo whispered. "Please."
"Are you sure?" There was almost no point in asking. They both knew.
And he knew as well that Duo would bull through on the bluff. He did.
He pulled Heero down again and there was more fire now in the way his
mouth sought Heero's.
If he stopped now, he would be the tease, not Duo. Not that it should
matter. What should matter was that something he didn't really understand
brought him here, to this moment, with Duo. Finally. He would be an idiot
to let it pass without acting. Acting. He was kissing Duo, and their lips
were tender now from doing it for so long, but that made it better. Duo's
skin was hot now. His jeans were loose enough to admit Heero's hand, under
the button, under the flies. Duo made a noise that wasn't quite a noise,
just a breath, when Heero touched him through his underpants.
"On your side." He shifted them, and Duo came, all elbows and joints,
guided by Heero's hand on his hardness. He squeezed more in encouragement
than anything else, and Duo shuddered against him. He unzipped Duo, for
room, and then Duo suddenly found Heero's skin, his hand a broad palm
up Heero's spine, and it was so good he had to close his eyes against
It flowed, then. Undressing, enough for contact, enough to keep protection
from the winter all around them. He held Duo's hips between his hands
like the ridges of a steering wheel. He put his mouth on Duo, swallowed
him, lipped him, licked him. There was no sight involved, only other senses
that weren't usually so strong, taste and touch and smell. Duo's hands
were in his hair, almost gripping too tight, but that was just part of
it feeling grand and good and important and--
And Duo whispered for him to stop.
He did, already knowing why. His mouth tingled, felt stretched. He licked
his lips to wet them and turned his head toward the wall, not Duo's nudity.
He swallowed away the entire endeavour. "What did I do wrong?" he said.
"Nothing. You were good." Hands fumbled at his back. He was aware of it
without looking. Duo wrenched his jeans up.
"I made a mistake." Almost a question. Almost an answer.
"No. No, you didn't. I'm sorry. God, I'm sorry, I'm such a fuck-up sometimes.
"Shh. Shut up." Heero sat up. He straightened his shirt. "I knew it was
Duo was rubbing his mouth. His face. He leaned off the mattress, grabbing
a bottle. Gin. He ripped off the cap and drank deeply.
"Why are you doing that?" He moved faster than thought again, snatching
the bottle away. It sloshed over his fingers, spattered the mattress and
their legs. "You don't need the alcohol. Do you?"
"You've got very little idea what I need."
"Maybe you could tell me."
No. Not yet. Duo was shaking. He was flushed. He opened a vodka with only
a few swallows left, and finished it with a long stretch of his neck.
He lay back with his arm over his eyes.
The studio existed again. There was temperature and light and sound. Sound.
They were counting, on the radio. A crowd of voices. There were whistles
and shouts and roars, and then music. The song.
That song. Heero did know it. He didn't know the name or the words, but
it was familiar. Familiar. They played that song on New Year's Eve, all
around the world.
Duo's eyes were closed. He breathed unevenly, in jagged bursts.
Heero brushed his lips with a finger as the song faded to a finish. The
happy celebration on the radio felt wrong, now. Far away. Belonging to
other people. Relena and Quatre at the palace were surely celebrating,
and Trowa, wherever he had gone. Maybe Wufei somewhere listened to the
same broadcast. Mariemaia in her secured hospital suite, guarded by a
nurse who might be moved by her youth and her fragility.
"I'm sorry," Duo mumbled. "Some happy New Year."
"I'm not unhappy now." Heero licked his lips one more time. They didn't
taste like anything, now. "The song's over. We should go."
In a moment, Duo nodded weary assent.
Heero stood. He tightened a shoelace, rubbed at the pull of stitches that
had gone unnoticed during their-- activity. "How long will it take you
"I don't have anything."
Not even a change of clothes? Or was it all Philipe's? Would Philipe even
know they had been here? Or was there a Philipe at all?
Questions for later. "We'll travel light," he said.
"Okay." Heero's hand stayed extended for a long minute, as Duo lay there,
internal in some world Heero didn't know. But then his eyes opened, and
he sat up; he took Heero's hand to his feet and he stood straight, no
wobble, no hunch. He took his hat when Heero found it on the floor, miraculously
safe from all the spills, and he wound his braid and hid it under the
brim with the ease of too much practise.
"Let's go," Heero said.
[part 1] [back
to TB and Marsh's fiction]