by: Zillie
AU College (but not at the college in this fic)
Warnings: filched original characters (thank you to alexei for letting me drag out old skeletons); language; yaoi; tangents; and this part is different than the rest. If it didn't have an important part to it--the morning after--I'd call it a sidefic, but. . . hmm. Back to the road next part!
SUPER DE DOOPER SPECIAL THANKS TO: the most insane YUME, who betaed like a (searches for alliteration). . . (searches for _nice_ alliteration) (um) great beta! You ROCK!

Road Trip + Part 6

He had expected to wake up and be startled by a thousand different things: the heat of Duo beside him, the spill of the other boy's hair on his pillow, the hand curled carelessly around his hip. He had expected to be disoriented, to have a shock of pure wonder when he realized who he had spent the night with. There was none of that.

He barely slept-every time Duo shifted, which was quite frequently, he started awake. He was uncomfortable-Duo's hair kept creeping into his mouth and ears and eyes and strangling him. And he had a bruise from where the other boy had, in his sleep, dug his hand into Heero's skin. By the time morning rolled around, Heero was stiff (he hadn't wanted to move for fear of disturbing Duo), sore, and tired.

And he had the right to call Duo Maxwell his lover.

The knowledge, the knowing, the experience of what they had just done blasted him. Shocked him. Took everything he had ever been and everyeveryeverything he was and made it all different.

"What are you thinking about?" Duo asked, his eyes strangely shy, his breath stale; he slid closer to the other boy as if to remind him that they were no longer completely separate beings-that the entire focus of their relationship had changed. They had touching rights, touching experience.

"I've. . . never," he said, and couldn't figure out what to say to save his life. Never done this, never known about this, never felt like this. He reached out and laid his hand flat against Duo's cheek-pressed it like a mime trying to determine the limits of his universe.

Duo lowered his eyes, rubbed his face against Heero's chest. "Me, neither," he said, then smiled; Heero could feel the movement against his chest. "When my love swears that he is made of truth, I do believe him though I know he lies," he quoted softly.

"Hmm?" Heero slipped his hand into Duo's hair.

"Just a sonnet. We both know I've done this before."

Against the sensitized skin of Heero's chest Duo's eyelashes swept down, back up again. "We both know . . .."

"Shh," Heero ordered. "I knew what you meant."

Duo pressed his head even closer. And was silent.

+

"Good morning," Niko said, looking at them knowingly from where he leaned on the kitchen counter. Hilde, seated on the counter beside him, looked up from her newspaper.

"Did you sleep well?" she asked innocently.

"Nah," Duo said. "There was this one lump in the bed-a really big and hard one-and it kept waking me up."

Hilde grinned; Niko handed Heero a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. "I hope you weren't too restless," he said with a smirk.

Heero had an uncomfortable suspicion that his face was glowing bright red.

"I woke up four of five times, but it was worth it."

"Six," Heero said without thinking.

Hilde grinned; Niko raised his glass in a toast to them. Now he was sure he was red. Giving off red light, most likely. The thought made him think of last night-red light districts and steamy steamy sex-and he blushed even harder.

Duo laughed and slipped an arm easily around his waist. Heero glanced over at him nervously, and then settled into the embrace. He even managed to take a sip of his orange juice.

"So where's your man?" Duo asked Niko easily. His hand smoothed a steady pattern on the back of Heero's waist; it was at once arousing and comforting.

"He's oversleeping again," Niko said, raising his eyes to the ceiling. "He should be down in a minute or two. Would you like some breakfast?"

"We're gonna make pancakes," Hilde said with a grin.

"We thought you might need the carbohydrates after such a. . strenuous night of. . performance." Niko shook his head. "Where the fuck did you dig up that song?"

"It's a classic, man, it's a classic. Not like that crap you play." Duo hummed a few bars of the hippopotamus song.

"Hey, I've only got four platinum records hanging up in my bathroom, and I've been at this for seven years," Niko said easily, cracking an egg into a bowl. "You've gotta have at least twelve in the space of three years before you qualify as crap. Besides," he said, winking at Heero, "I have a cult following."

"So do I," Duo said. "I even have a fan club."

Niko grinned. "I do too."

"Yes, but I didn't work for mine. I got it for the sheer force of my personality."

"No," Niko said, considering as he stirred. "Midori started it for you." He laughed at the look on Duo's face. "Am I right?"

"Midori? You mean Alis? Is she here?" the man stumbling into the kitchen asked. "Duo, please tell me you didn't bring the brat."

"Mii is in Virginia, as far as I know," Duo said, walking over to hug the man. "How you doing, Marc?"

The man was tall, extremely skinny, and possessed of badly cut straw blond hair. He peered at Duo as the boy hugged him and then walked back over to stand with Heero. "I think I forgot my glasses again."

"There's a pair over here, sweetie," Niko said, crossing the room with glasses case in hand. He kissed the other man, sweetly, comfortably. Familiarly. Heero found it hard to look away. On his back he could still feel the weight of Duo's hand; around him the comforting heat of Duo's arm. Niko and Marc kissed with a certain calm passion; they broke apart with the same ease that had brought them together. Niko unfolded a pair of glasses and set them on Marc's nose. "Good morning," he said again.

Marc blinked at the room. "Duo. Hilde. Nice to see you again."

"This is Heero," Duo said, pushing the other boy forward a bit. In his lover's voice Heero noticed a certain awkward tone-not the comfortable banter he shared with Nikos and Hilde but rather the tone of someone taking their lover home to meet their father.

"Hello," Heero said, and, at a loss, bowed.

"Hello," Marc said, blinking again. "Nice to meet you."

They were quiet for a second.

"Pancakes!" Hilde said. "Duo, come shape them! Niko, set the table already."

"For gay men," Duo observed as he and Niko jumped to obey, "we sure as hell are pussy whipped."

The two of them, facing each other, were quiet again.

"Duo tells me that you were his Japanese TA."

Heero's mouth was dry; he felt strangely off balance without Duo touching him in some way. "Yes, sir."

"Do you like teaching?" Marc asked, accepting a cup of tea from his lover.

Heero had never thought about it before; he considered for a second. "Yes, sir."

"You planning on going into teaching?"

Heero thought of his. . . current job. "Not immediately, sir."

Marc blinked again and took a large sip. "Don't call me sir."

"Yes, sir," Heero said automatically.

Marc sat down in a kitchen chair, his chest against the back of it. He folded his arms on the top and took another sip. "Green tea," he said. "Niko got me hooked on it. Sit down, please."

Niko placed a plate on the table next to Heero. "You being nice to Duo's. . . ," and there he faltered for a second. "To Duo's Heero?"

Marc seemed surprised by the question. "Of course."

Niko straightened a spoon. "Feel free to yell if you need help," he said with a wink at Heero. The Japanese boy nodded solemnly.

Marc was staring down at his tea again. "When you say not imminently. . . have you heard of the Blue Leather project?"

Heero's head jerked up; he had a feeling his horror was etched on his face. "Sir!"

The older man nodded, his face hard and satisfied. "I thought I recognized the name. Heero Yuy. Niko may have told you that I work at a think tank-we have some government contracts." He tipped his cup back, finishing the tea in one swig. "So. Tell me why I should trust Duo to someone like you."

"With all due respect, sir, I don't believe he's yours to trust."

Marc nodded again. "I suppose you're right." There was a pause; Heero's mouth was so dry that his tongue, as he raked it across his lips, seemed like something not of his body. Feeling more scared than he had in a long time-in memory, to be specific-he reached out and took hold of the glass on the table.

"I've known Duo for a few years."

"Yes, sir. Niko told me a little about when Duo first came to the Green Door."

Marc shook his head. "That wasn't it, either. Duo came there to visit me. We knew each other before he knew Nikos."

"How did you meet, sir?" Heero asked, his hand still around the glass, the glass still on the table.

"He was fourteen and working for the summer in a little ice cream shop in Exodus. I was on vacation with some family in. . . the Kennebunkport area. Various things happened to the people I was with- my cousin Rory had a torrid affair with some girl on vacation from Quebec, my cousin North decided that she was going to camp out in the middle of the woods with no supplies, my cousin Jhone developed a sudden strange allergy to lobster and had to retreat to Monaco to get over it-it boils down to this. I was twenty-one and desperate to escape from home and my thirteen year old siblings-all three of them." He shuddered. "All girls. So I went to Maine and, two days after I get there, my cousin Michaela sticks me with her thirteen year old. So I'm stuck with this spoiled brat girl who decides she wants to dye her hair green and-a" he shook his head. "The point is- she runs away one day. I, desperately trying to figure out where to find a teenage girl in Bumfuck, Maine, stop for a cold drink and standing there behind the counter is this boy."

He spun the teacup absently as he spoke; he was staring at the glazed pattern on it but seeing something else.

"He was about five and a half feet tall-I was taller by a good foot. And yet he had this. . . something. . . about him. He walked down the aisle toward me and his hips swayed and his hair swayed and his eyes swept over me. And I just sort of stood there and gaped at the boy. He looked like he was seventeen, at least, and he knew it. He was beautiful and he knew it. And all I could think about was how I'd been at seventeen, or fourteen, or whatever: a too tall, too skinny, too smart nerd who was only tolerated because his younger brother was the head jock of the school. The point of this is that I was never beautiful. That I never was part of anything beautiful. That going to college saved my soul but that I still, when I saw someone like Duo, tensed up and remembered that I was the queer, ugly nerd. So when he walked toward me-for a second I hated him with this intensity that I. . . have no explanation for. I just hated him."

Marc found a pen on the table and twirled it between his fingers, not even seeming to notice that he did so. "And then he looked me up and down again and I realized that he was a queer, too." He stopped again, uncapped the pen, and jotted something down on his napkin-it looked like a part of a formula, if Heero wasn't mistaken-then returned his attention to Heero as if it had never strayed. "We got to talking. I'm not good with people. You might have noticed. I get distracted by more interesting things, or I let the conversation develop into monologues by one person or the other. Even with Niko. . . we'd been sleeping together for two weeks before we had a real conversation. My fault, completely, but. . . ." He twisted his face apologetically. "I also tend to go off on tangents. I'd never make it in your, uh, line of work."

Heero knew that his face was impassive, but Marc seemed to sense his agreement, because he laughed. "I'm not exactly hurting for a job, so I think I'll manage," he said, and grinned. Heero wondered if the self professed ugly, queer nerd knew how attractive he was when he smiled like that.

"I forgot all about my cousin," Marc admitted. "She dyed her hair green. Wasn't the first time, but I don't think I've seen her with it a different color since. Maybe when she's around our grandmother, but. . . I'm forgetting you know her. Alisan. Midori." He sighed. "Why she chose to name herself after a drink and/or a bondage specialist, I don't know."

"I think your sister painted my toenails," Heero told the man. "Verity."

Marc toasted him with the empty mug. "You're a brave man."

"Are you related to Quatre, then?" Heero asked, wondering if this man was part of Quatre's Plan.

"Who? Oh. Winner? Nah. He's. . . ," the man thought for a second. "He's the half brother of a cousin of mine. We don't have any common genes. I think we've met each other all of once." He grinned. "If what you're asking is if he knows about your. . . summer job. . . I don't think so." He stretched. "I'm going to get some more tea. You want anything?"

Heero shook his head, stayed wordless.

Marc was back in a minute. He resumed as if he'd never stopped. "We talked for hours, until my cousin wandered into the store and reminded me that I was supposed to be looking for her. I left, but I came back the next day. Somehow we just clicked, Duo and I. We kept in touch. He was the second person to know when I figured out that I wanted to spent my life with Niko-Niko being the first. I even offered to adopt him at one point-he was about sixteen. He turned me down. I never slept with him, if that's what you're wondering. It was never like that. As far as I'm concerned, Duo and I are family. And that's where I'm coming from when I ask you how the hell you think you're good enough for him." The last sentence was delivered as calmly as the rest of the speech, and punctuated by a raised eyebrow and a sip of tea.

"Heero," Duo mused from where he lounged against the doorway behind the other men, "what I want to know is, when's somebody going to ask you if I'm good enough for you? I think that might be more the issue here." He transferred his gaze to Marc. "Lighten up, Marcus. He's already had to push past Hilde. Isn't she dragon enough for any one prince?"

"When did you start listening?" Marc asked, too casually, Heero thought. His hands were digging into his palms.

"About the point where you offered to adopt me. His mistake was in doing so after I'd met his sisters." He swaggered across the room and sat easily on Heero's lap, looping his arm around the other boy's neck. "You worry too much. He does, you know," he said to Heero. "He's very intense and he worries about everything. He's a Taurus; they take care of their friends, you see." He settled his head into Heero's shoulder. "But Tauruses are also described as the sex bunnies of the Zodiac. I figure, all things being taken into consideration, he's a pretty good deal." He snuggled a little further into Heero's lap. "I'm not sure that Niko is quite good enough for him."

Marc regarded him uncertainly. "You really don't expect me to fall for something that obvious, do you?"

Duo grinned. And smacked a kiss on the bottom of Heero's chin. "I think you've been working too much lately. When's the last time you got laid?"

Marc looked uncomfortable. "Mind your own business."

"You get to mind my business. . . why can't I mind yours?"

The older man glared at them both from across a mug of tea. "Be nice to me or I'll sic my boyfriend on you." Duo nestled in a little more. "My boyfriend could beat up yours."

And just like that Heero forgot how to breathe again.

He paid no attention to the dialogue shooting back and forth between the other two; instead, he lifted a hand to Duo's braid. My boyfriend.

He bent, as if hypnotized by his lover's words, and prepared to kiss the top of Duo's head. It was a silly gesture, a mark of affection between lovers.

He'd never done anything like it before in his life.

Somehow the act of it-that silly, small gesture-it scared him. So maybe, all in all, it was a good thing he didn't get to complete the action. Because at that moment Hilde opened the door and said, gladly, "Relena!" and Duo jumped up so fast that he hit his head on Heero's chin. He was across the room before Heero had registered the pain, across to the door and speaking loudly.

"Relena! Great! Have a good trip? You didn't miss much! Boring night! Nothing happened!"

Heero's hand froze halfway to his chin.

Nothing happened?

"We should get on the road again! We should get going!"

Marc pushed the ever-present mug across the table. "Have a sip," he invited "If it's not strong enough I've got some vodka in the other room."


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