by: Zillie
comments pretty please...
disclaimer: my shrink says that I don't own heero and duo, no matter how much I want it to be otherwise.
thanks to: yume, who is V. Busy but still madly nifty; and sandra, for lack of a better nickname ;)
warnings: 1x2 slashness, relena-friendly, au college, makes no sense when read alone, and gratuitous plug for the Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT, which is v. nifty.
the included quote is from Mark Twain's _Eve's Diary_

please enjoy it ;)

Road Trip + Part 7

Being in love sucked.

In fact, Heero decided about the same time that Duo cursed about the stupid fucking ridiculously low state speed limit of New York for the seventeenth time, it sucked royally.

Because on the one hand it meant that you got to touch him; on the other it meant that you hurt every time you weren't touching him. Sure, he got to see Duo look at him with this certain expression that made his throat close off and his eyes feel heavy; but he also got to stand there and feel eviscerated as Duo treated him as nothing more than a friend in front of Miss Relena Peacecraft. It meant that he could be mad at the boy, and hurt by him in a thousand small ways, and that he still wanted to, uh, politely convince the New York legislature to raise the stupid fucking ridiculously low speed limit. With dynamite, if necessary.

Heero had in the past found explosives to be the most efficient form of persuasion.

Duo cursed again as a cop entered the traffic just in front of them; looking over at him, Heero had a flash of panic. I can't do this, he realized with a sudden sharp shock. I don't know how to be in love with him. Anyone can make him smile—but I don't know how to make him happy.

And he didn't know how to deal with the feeling that he battled every time Duo didn't look at him with that world-altering expression.

Behind them Hilde signaled to turn off at the next exit; Heero half listened to Duo grumble about girls and their bladders and why they couldn't just fucking pee in a bottle or find a funnel somewhere—

He'd never seen Duo in a bad mood before. He hurt with it; he wanted more than anything to reach over and touch the other boy, but he didn't. Every time he started to he remembered how Duo had pulled away from him at Marc's house that morning; every time he started to he wondered what he would do if touching Duo was in no way enough.

Being in love, he decided as they got out of the car, really fucking sucked.

+

"I feel humble a lot, when I look at things like this. Thankfully, it never lasts long."

Despite the flippant nature of Duo's comment, his gaze as he stared at the house in front of them was somewhat cowed. Heero followed the other boy's line of sight; he felt little of that humility. More noticeable was his long-dormant fashion sense, wondering what the hell a genius like Mark Twain had been thinking to paint his house such a color.

Hilde was staring off to their left. "There's always the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, too," she said. "Duo never wants to go there."

"We went once," Duo said mildly. "It was enough."

"Harriet Beecher Stowe was a very important woman," Relena observed mildly.

"That's true, that's true," Duo agreed. "Despite her considerable work for the abolition movement, she managed to produce pieces like Libyan Sybil and Uncle Tom's Cabin, thereby establishing stereotypes that outlived her by decades, maybe centuries."

"She didn't create the stereotypes," Hilde said, obviously not for the first time.

"And at least her house isn't orange," Relena said.

"The true test of genius," Duo said, with that martyred look that meant that he was about to say something outrageous, "is a lack of fashion sense."

They all swung around and looked at Heero.

"Except in my case," Duo added. He struck the pose a little harder; the strong lines of his nose and cheeks, the whipping of tendrils of hair around his smooth skin, the proud tilt of his head— Heero felt his heart jump a little to the left within his chest.

Being in love sucked ass.

"The entrance is this way," Hilde said, leading the way with the ease of a repeat visitor. Heero trailed behind the other three— again—and ruminated on the way that Duo's braid looked, displayed against his black coat-clad back.

The night before, the man walking in front of him had made him feel things he hadn't believed were meant for him to feel. Had made him muse in ways he had never thought he would be reduced to musing in—he remembered clearly thinking that this was how the butterfly must feel when it was impaled gloriously on the pin. He snorted at the memory; hell, he wasn't a poet, nor was meant to be. Was but an attendant lover. . . meant to aid an orgasm or two.

He shook his head and picked up his pace; during the impossibly long car ride from New Jersey to Hartford, Connecticut, he had had little to do but think, and he had come to the conclusion that he was thinking too much. He was resolved in what he wanted: Duo. He was resolved in what he would offer Duo: everything. He knew his mind. He just had not one clue as to what was going on in Duo's mind, and until he knew a little more, he was just going to devote himself to Not Thinking.

+

After the tour—a fascinating hour long even led by one of the scholars who was currently working in the House's library—they browsed through the gift shop lazily. Heero found himself standing with Relena as she paged restlessly through a book of quotes.

"All men in New York insult you--there seem to be no exceptions. There are exceptions of course--have been--but they are probably dead.," she read aloud (Notebook #24, April - Aug. 1885).

"Not a good trip?" Heero asked quietly.

She frowned a little. "Have you ever had a brother?"

He shook his head.

"Sometimes I feel like I'm more Zechs' mother than his sister," Relena said, and handed him the book absently. He took it. "Milliardo manages his own life, but Zechs. . . can't seem to do anything. He couldn't find his own ass with two hands—but he can find the ass of any other man in town."

Her eyes flitted over Duo, at the other end of the shop.

"Is that why you don't like him?" Heero asked.

"I don't dislike Duo," Relena answered honestly. She sounded tired. "I just don't trust him."

Heero said nothing.

"And, of course, I'm somewhat jealous of him," Relena said.

"Why?" Heero asked, slightly confused. Relena wasn't Duo, of course, but she wasn't exactly lacking in any of the qualities he envied in Duo— beauty, sociability, humor.

Relena smiled and raised a hand to his face; he started slightly at the touch of her skin against his own—he was not used to be touched, not even after the previous night, when Duo had touched him in every way possible—but let her hand stay there.

At the other end of the store Duo pretended he wasn't watching.

"Because you never came close to looking at me the way you look at him when you think that nobody is watching," she said, and, raising up on her tiptoes, dropped a gentle kiss on his lips. "I'm going to wait outside."

Heero found that his thoughts were somewhat. . . disordered. He passed the book back and forth from hand to hand; it fell open and he read with a distracted eye:

Love is not a product of reasonings and statistics. It just comes-- none knows whence--and cannot explain itself.
- Eve's Diary

On an impulse he bought the book, and went outside to wait with Relena.

The four of them sat on the hill by the house where Mark Twain had once outlived almost everyone he loved.

"We should go," Hilde said eventually. "Relena's family is expecting us." She rose and patted Duo lightly on the head. "I'll see you in a week or so, boy; don't forget to come meet my train. If I don't make it home for New Year's my family will eviscerate me."

"I only forgot you twice," Duo said, mildly insulted. "I won't do it again." He reached up and pulled Hilde down onto his lap, and nibbled at her neck. She laughed and let him. "Stay cool, Hil," he said, standing up with her and readjusting her scarf.

"You too, baby," she said, and hugged him tightly.

Relena and Heero exchanged slightly embarrassed glances; both of them knew that they were seeing a friendship that put theirs to shame. Heero reached out, uncertainly, and returned Relena's stroke on the cheek. "Merry Christmas," he said.

She smiled back, nodding in that way that never failed to make him feel like a peasant before a queen, and returned the greeting. "Merry Christmas, Heero." She rose from the cold ground and turned to Duo. "Have a good holiday, Duo. Thank you for the escort."

He nodded, somewhat awkwardly; there was no inbred arrogance there, Heero noted.

Hilde and Relena turned to go, but after a second Hilde stopped and turned back around. "And you two?"

Heero glanced at Duo, then back at the girl.

"Be good to each other. And for god's sake stop acting so skittish around other people. If you can't relax in front of friends, then when can you?"

Relena, standing beside her, nodded; the two girls took off happily towards the pink limo o'doom.

It took Duo a minute to be able to speak. "I thought she didn't know."

"Relena?"

"Yes. I mean. . . after all that. . . she knew?"

Heero glanced over at him, faintly bemused. "You didn't want her to?"

"No! I mean, it's just that. . . Quatre said she had a thing for you." Duo stared at the ground. "I was trying to be discreet."

"Is that what you call it?" Heero asked, rising. "Discreet? When you stick your tongue down my throat at every opportunity and then push me away as soon as she's within ten feet?"

"I haven't had much practice at being discreet," Duo said. He looked faintly miserable.

"I haven't had any at being part of a relationship, but even I. . .." Heero trailed off. And sat back down.

Duo sat beside him. "I am sorry," he offered. "I just. . .."

They were quiet for a few minutes.

"I don't know what to do with you," Duo said finally. "I know I'm supposed to know what I'm doing, but I don't."

Heero said nothing.

"It's like—there's this joke. I heard it years ago. I don't remember it, though; I only remember the punchline."

Heero looked over curiously.

"You know that old song—"I can't help falling in love with you?" There's a line in it that goes, wise men say, only fools rush in. . .." Duo shrugged. "So there's this punchline that goes something like `Wise man Zed only fools Russians.' But I can't remember the joke. I've been looking for it for years."

Heero waited.

"I know what I want with you," Duo said, gesturing a little. "I want that grand romance shit. I want poetry. I want to wake up beside you every morning and fuck your brains out every night. I want to wine and dine you with champagne on Valentine's Day and hold your hair back when you puke it all up after drinking too much champagne. I want everything. I just don't exactly know how to get to that point, and I guess I just want to be there already—to be able to just tell you that I love you and have everything work out from there."

Heero waited a minute, but Duo seemed to have finished. "What the hell did that have to do with the joke?"

Duo shrugged, fell back onto the cold winter ground. "I guess it's just that with you, I know what the punchline should be, but I don't know how to tell the joke. I don't know. I don't fucking know, okay? I don't know how to do. . . any of this."

"I don't either," Heero said quietly. "But. . . I want that, too." He stared out at the parking lot. "So I guess we take it slow, and see where it goes."

Duo looked about as enthused at the idea of taking it slow as he, Heero, did. "I guess," the other boy said with a notable lack of enthusiasm. "Slow."

"Slow."

Duo nodded and rose again. "Let's get started."

[part 6] [part 8] [back to Zillie's fic]