Authors: TB and Marsh
Fandom: GW
Pairing: 3x2
Rating: R
Notes: Post-EW. Takes place three months after the end of Code of Silence.

Code of Conduct + Prologue

Duo started on the house stuff by leaving brochures in strategic places around their apartment.

He ignored them at first. There was always clutter around the apartment, mostly his, and Duo would clean it when Duo had the time or was angry enough. There were magazines about house decorating in the bathroom next to the toilet, but he assumed it was some kind of new hobby, new time-passer, that Duo had gotten queerer over the years. The pristine steel doors of the fridge acquired exactly one ornament--a business card for a real estate agent. But Trowa had his dense moments, or moments where he wished he was dense enough to be oblivious. With a little studious effort, he managed to ignore it long enough to get out on a real excuse. Duo could be passive-aggressive to his heart's content while Trowa was in Cancun.

It was good in theory. Like most theories, it flopped on execution.

Une had been passing him shorter missions, lately, but the size of the explosion was still Trowa's problem. He was beat and he was pissy, it was raining and he hadn't remembered to get new wiper blades before he'd left four weeks ago, but he sat in the car anyway, the windows steaming up slowly, wondering if he had it in him to go inside or if he ought to do the smart thing and get a motel room before Duo knew he was there.

They'd made promises.

Like--no stalling. No lying.

Not that Duo really expected him to keep to that last one. It was more a standard procedure. A diplomatic contract between parties.

Trowa shot at diplomats for a living, anyway. He knew how much a contract was worth.

Against his better judgement, he went inside.

He more or less recognised the floorplan. The couch was moved away from the wall to the middle of the room. There were four patches of paint where the couch had used to be, four different shades of brown or orange or something Trowa would never have dreamed of putting on a wall. But it wasn't horrible. Once he'd come back and thought he was in the wrong unit. He hung his coat on the peg and he put his gun in the safe on the desk, and all that time there was no Duo. He made it all the way to the kitchen for a beer before Duo came out of the bedroom.

"Hey," Trowa said. "I'm tired. Don't talk my ear off yet."

Duo's face went tight. "Hey," he said, after a pause long enough for Trowa's nerves to grate, even if Duo was just doing what he was asked. Brilliant homecoming.

"Hey," Trowa repeated. He flopped onto his spot on the couch and put his feet on the table. Duo's hands were stuck deep in his pockets, and Trowa did that anyway, hard enough for dirt to fall out of the treads onto the bare wood. He drank half the beer in three swallows, and dragged a handful of estate listings to the edge of the table to use as a coaster.

Duo tugged at his braid behind his neck, and turned his back. He looked good. He was Duo, so he always looked good, but seeing him was enough for Trowa to lose the edge, at least, of his mood, to remember there was the occasional benefit to a live-in boyfriend. Like the sweet ass straining the black jeans for a moment as Duo bent to unplug the big fan from the alcove. Now there was a good theory.

"You want to eat or you need a minute?" Duo asked.

"You cooked?"

"Not yet, but I could."

Trowa sipped slow enough to actually taste the beer this time. "C'mere."

Duo obeyed, not a good sign. He was only tractable when he was spoiling for a fight. Well, Trowa was too, and he didn't need Duo's shit on top of his own.

"So you want a house now?" he said.

Duo blinked once, fairly naturally. "I'd like to at least talk about someplace bigger. There're some nicer apartments in there." He looked deliberately at Trowa's coaster.

"Uh-huh." The jeans felt thinner than they looked, warm from Duo's skin underneath, a little stretchy. Trowa curled his fingers into Duo's inseam. "You don't want an apartment."

"It's called compromise."

"Neither one of us knows what that means."

Duo resisted frowning, but his eyebrows came together a bit.

"You already talk to an agent?" He tipped his head back for the last foamy swallow of beer. He picked up the printouts, and put the bottle on the table in their place. Duo's eyes flicked to follow his hands.

"No," he said. "Except to ask what areas of the city have good markets right now." It took ten seconds after that. Duo left the couch to get a real coaster from the kitchen.

"Make an appointment," Trowa replied. He flipped the corner of the packet to count the pages. A dozen, maybe, with fifteen listings on each page. Little pixellated pictures.

"Are you okay with it?"

He shrugged. "Why not?"

"Because you've lived here since you moved to the city and I get the impression you're pretty attached."

"It's an apartment." Duo was frowning, now, and it was not his most attractive expression, even if it did resemble the face he made when he was coming. "Sure, I like it, and the neighbourhood, but I've lived lots of places."

Duo couldn't tell if he was lying. That was the look, the narrowed eyes. It was gratifying to know he still had some secrets.

"You want pasta?" Duo asked finally. "We have pasta or maybe strip steak."

"We could order in."

"Sure. Fine." Trowa watched him bend over the desk, this time, and if he didn't know Duo was getting peeved he'd wonder if Duo was doing it on purpose, putting ideas in his head. There were menus in his hand when he came back to the couch, held crotch-height, until he shoved them out under Trowa's nose. "How did the job go?"

"Shitty." He bent back a page, and showed it to Duo. "I like this one."

Duo leant over the back of the couch to look at it. "It's nice," he agreed, cautiously. "You like the ranch style?"

"I guess. I don't know. I like how this looks." It was an awkward try, reaching backward over his shoulder, he had to switch hands to do it. He cupped his palm to Duo's cheek, and Duo relaxed, at least, into a smile. Even stooped down to kiss him, finally, which Trowa supposed he could have had at any time if he hadn't come in on the attack. Duo's lips were warm, like his tongue, even if Trowa almost choked himself licking it.

"I'm not scared about this, okay?" He tugged the silky tips of Duo's fringe. "If you want a house, we'll get one."

"I know you're not scared, but I want it to be something we both do, not that you do for me."

"When you're happy, I'm happy. That's how it works."

Duo screwed his lips to the side. "Look at the rest of them," he suggested. "I put some in the bathroom, too." He kissed Trowa firmly, and went back to the kitchen. "You want another beer?"

"Yeah." He dropped his head to the cushions. A house. Sure. Get out of the city. Live in the desert like Joe and Beau Nobody. Then they'd get a dog, like that yappy-ass thing next door, fifteen brainless pounds of fluff. And then, hell. When you had a house and a dog, there was only one thing left, although that left the question of whether Duo had a uterus to go along with that bitch. If Trowa'd wanted to sleep with a woman, he would have.

Duo's voice floated back with the sound of a cap popping off the bottle. "I can hear you thinking, and you're a jerk." He appeared back in the den. "You come in here in a mood and now is when you want to talk about moving. No. I don't want to do it right now. I want to wait until you're relaxed, at least." He put the beer in Trowa's hand. "Take a shower. You'll feel better."

"Come with me."

Duo made him wait for the answer. And that, it turned out, was the spark onto the tinder.

"You know?" Trowa shoved himself to his feet and past Duo. He slammed the bathroom door, and he locked it, too. "Forget it," he said to the mirror, and drank his beer.

[part 1] [back to TB and Marsh's fiction]