Written for the Moments of Rapture contest 2007
The braided youth stretched out on his back in the field and yawned. He wriggled his toes, liking the feel of the blades of grass tickling between them, and he sighed happily. He liked summer, though actually, he liked all seasons. For now, the sun was bright and hot: it would have pinked his skin if that were possible. Lazily, he reached out his arm and pinched at the smooth, warm skin of the body lying bare beside him -- the thigh was always the best, in his opinion, the flesh yielding and goose bumping under his touch. He was mischievous, but gentle: he didn't mean any harm. It was something to do, rather than something to disturb.
The other boy grunted, not really annoyed. After all, it wasn't like he didn't tease in the same way, often enough. He rolled over on to his belly, his legs kicking in the fresh air and the muscles of his bare ass tightening up with the movement. He felt the slight breeze tickling his back, all the way down from the feathered bumps between his shoulder blades to his slim waist. He twisted slightly, peering over at his companion: his dark hair was tousled and fell carelessly over his smooth forehead. "Don't start anything you can't finish," he warned, his voice severe, though there was a smile on his face. "That particular victory always goes to me, remember?"
The braided boy gave a smile, too, though his was lazy and directed at the sky above. "No, I don't remember," he said, slowly. "Must be early senility. You'll have to remind me, 01."
The boy on his belly laughed aloud. There wasn't any worry that they'd be heard, not by the people around them, anyway. "02, you're too provocative," he murmured, and he shifted a little closer. His hip brushed against the other boy's, and he shivered with pleasure at the touch of the warm, nude flesh.
02 felt the shiver through his own skin and he grinned happily. "I'd call it challenging."
"And stimulating." 01 frowned, though he was still smiling. He leant over and his lips touched the other boy's naked shoulder.
"Hmmm. Remind me of that, too," murmured 02, savouring the touch of skin on skin. He stretched again, easing the pressure of the growths on his back. His wings had been at rest but now they nudged at his shoulder blades, the white feathers unfurling like tendrils, flexing in rhythm with his quickening heartbeat.
The boys rolled against each other, soft, moist lips reaching to claim the other's, kissing at first with amusement and anticipation, then their tongues darting into each other with real hunger. 01 pinned 02 to the ground in mock captivity, though of course, neither of them was stronger -- or weaker -- than the other. 02 laughed and muttered and teased, until 01's mouth covered his too fiercely to continue.
The sun shone down on to 01's back: under his belly, his arousal nudged him, hot and heavy. His own wings started to open with a sensuous hiss. They beat once, then settled back covetously against his shoulders. He wriggled between 02's outstretched thighs: his palms were sweaty where they held the other boy's flesh close. He bent to nuzzle at 02's throat.
"God's in his heaven..." whispered 01.
"... all's right with the world!" 02 whispered back. His perfect teeth nibbled at 01's ear lobe, tantalising him. "And isn't that just how we like it?" He was erect, too -- 01 could feel the head of his cock smearing wetly across their bellies. There was no surprise at how quickly they were aroused -- just the usual delight.
01 started to reply, but 02 took advantage of his momentary hesitation, twisting him swiftly, flipping him on to his back on the grass again. 01 felt the end of 02's braid brush against his torso, making his oversensitive skin shiver. He gazed up at the other boy, excitement making the saliva in his mouth especially tart. 02 grinned back down at him, the sun's rays reflecting in his ever-sparkling eyes. He swung his slender, muscled leg over 01's hips, straddling him.
"Yes," 01 sighed. "Just how we like it."
"Never in doubt," laughed 02. He eased himself down gently on to 01's erection, though of course there was never any pain or resistance. Just even more delight.
They laughed as they made love.
They always did.
"You're an arrogant bastard!" Duo shouted. He leant over the desk, his face red with fury and frustration. "Fuck it, Yuy, can't you just let loose once in your life, and give someone else credit for doing it right?"
Heero sat, stone-still in his chair, his anger curling around his throat, as cold as Duo's was incandescent. "Step away from the desk, Maxwell. You're in the middle of the office. Other officers are watching everything we do, and expect us to provide both leadership and example."
"Fuck 'em!" Duo's fists were clenched. "This is between us, not them. This is about us, as men, not as agents. You can't bear the thought you might've been wrong, can you?"
Heero got slowly to his feet. He swallowed heavily. The atmosphere around the pair of them was tight, as if it might suffocate the room. "But I wasn't wrong. You can't bear to admit that. I don't make that kind of mistake --"
"Mistake?" hissed Duo. "Your mistake is to live your life stuck between the pages of that fucking procedures manual, and God forbid if any of us step outside of it."
"Things have to be done correctly." Heero's voice was icy.
"Things have to be done!" growled Duo. "We had to move quickly: the situation was volatile. The end justified the means."
Heero shook his head. It was a sharp, almost painful movement. "No. You took unnecessary risks and jeopardised the whole mission. Your anger caused you to act unilaterally: you ignored the plan."
Duo went suddenly quiet and still. The other agents in the office who were trying to look as if they weren't watching the argument drew in a collective breath. "Would that be your plan, Heero?"
Heero's eyes narrowed. "Yes. I'm in charge of the section, as you seem to have forgotten so conveniently."
"Your plan," Duo repeated, softly. "Your way. Always yours. You can't see any other, can you?"
Heero flushed. "Don't be ridiculous. The plan would have stood the test, had you chosen to adhere to it. I think it's you who have the problem accepting that."
"You're too proud," said Duo. There was pain in his eyes. "More proud of your plan than of the successful rescue."
"You endangered the hostages with your aggressive attack," Heero snapped back. There was pain in his eyes, too. "Look at your behaviour here, storming through an open office. You're unprofessional."
Duo stepped away suddenly, lifting his hands from the desk as if he'd been burned. "And you're cold." His teeth were gritted as if to keep his anger in check. "So now we know."
Heero frowned. His hand reached towards Duo, as if to grasp him, to hold him back. Then it dropped back down to his side.
Duo turned on his heel and left the room as swiftly as he'd entered.
01 and 02 sat together on the wall of the parking lot, shoulder to shoulder, their knees hunched up to their chests, the dark and the brunette head butted up against each other. The evening air was cool but they felt no chill: the brickwork was presumably rough on their pale, naked skin, but they suffered no scratches. But they were distressed. They balanced there and clasped hands, very tightly.
"What's gone wrong?" 02 sounded shocked.
01 sighed. "I don't know. I don't understand." His voice was calmer than his companion's, but his other hand clenched and unclenched into a fist at his side. Of course, he had never hit anyone -- or had the need to -- but the emotions had disturbed him badly. "They were so happy before the mission."
02 nodded. "It felt so good. They felt so good." Despite his concern, the memories of the lovemaking and the laughter made him smile. He and 01 had watched the daily lives of these two young men for a long time now, not that they measured their own existence with earthly time. They'd watched the days, and the evenings, and the deep, dark, delicious nights. The tentative, embarrassed courting; the discovery of sexual passion that both bemused and consumed the usually pragmatic soldiers. 01 and 02 were there for every moment, unseen; unnoticed; yet caring as much for the men as themselves. They'd watched the couple sharing dreams; making plans; the way that they were fascinated and delighted and moved by each other. 02 had been sure it was love. After all, he should know.
And now there was only shock and disappointment.
As if he shared the same memories -- which he did -- 01 slipped his hand out of 02's and snaked it sympathetically around the other boy's waist, pulling him against him more closely. "It's just their way. They surrender to these feelings, and maybe too easily. Sin tempts them at every turn. They don't seem to have control over it."
02 frowned. "So petty."
01 nodded. "But it'll pass."
02 sighed. The sounds still rang harshly in his ears -- the raised voices; the stumbling footsteps; the squeal of brakes as cars left the parking lot at top speed, in separate directions. As if they were running away from each other, not towards. He felt an unfamiliar nausea in his belly. "Will it?"
01 nestled his head on his companion's shoulder, whispering into his ear, soothing the shiver that ran through them both. "It must. They're meant to be together." His wings fluttered: they stretched out wide and curled around both bodies, comforting them both, gathering them in against the warm, strong feathers. "They will be together."
"Like us?" 02 turned his head, his lips finding the other boy's. The kiss was loving, but maybe not as relaxed as before. They stared at each other: they were disconcerted. They couldn't remember when they'd last felt like that.
"Yes," said 01, keeping his voice as steady as he could. "Like us. That's why they have us, and we have them." He realised they were both shaking very slightly: 02 felt awkward in his arms, just for a moment. There was uncertainty -- resistance. 01 felt a frisson of something like fear. It was a strange feeling for him, and barely recognised.
"Of course they will be together," he said, less steadily.
Heero thought the whole thing was ridiculous, but that didn't mean he knew what the hell to do about it.
Since the disagreement -- or fight as Duo so characteristically described it -- Duo had changed towards him. It wasn't for the better. Duo didn't talk so easily to him; he didn't joke with him so often. Nothing else in particular, but the only analogy Heero could think of was that something that had been warm between them had cooled. It was damned awkward, he knew that for a fact. After all, they worked together closely, sometimes in intense situations, and also their social life had become entwined -- outside of work, they saw movies, they ate takeout meals, they took walks on the hills. So many of those things: together. As men, they had many shared principles; many shared experiences. Everything encouraged them to be close, not to be strangers. But if things had changed at the very core...
Heero shook his head, failing to quantify the problem.
And of course there seemed to be less occasions for the physical thing between them. Heero could feel the blush on his skin, spreading up his neck: he should know better than to think of sex with Duo when he was at work, but that didn't stop his mind acting independently. He'd thought that sex was still as good as it had ever been. Wasn't it?
No, Heero answered himself, morosely. Maybe not. They still occasionally stayed over at each other's: they still nudged up on the couch during a movie and hissed suggestive comments during the commercials, and often, at the end of the evening, Duo peeled off his shirt, nodded the question, and then walked ahead of Heero into the bedroom. It was always satisfying, but it happened less and less often -- and it was decidedly more casual.
But Heero remembered earlier times, when the invitation had been more than just a nudge and a nod. He remembered their breathless amazement and stumbling, laughing words when they discovered they felt the same about each other; the desire for Duo that, once released, flushed every inch of his flesh; the way that Duo's eyes sparkled, opening wide when Heero kissed him; the hot, musky taste of Duo's skin when he urged Heero to taste him, to take him, to push harder... The way they both cried out when they climaxed, the sounds full of nonsense and each other's name, and pure, pure delight.
No, Heero thought. The memories were vivid: his heart seized inside him with sudden anguish. That wasn't as good now. In the time before the fight, that had been more like magnificent.
He tried to look interested in the open file on his desk, but his eyes kept straying over to the other side of the office. Things seemed a bit restrained at work nowadays, whenever the two of them were back at base at the same time. It was as if people stepped on eggshells in their presence, though he was damned sure he'd never asked them to.
Duo was standing there amongst a group of other agents, all of them with their jackets off, drinking coffee, chatting -- relaxing. Duo had an innate ability to make friends and be popular. Heero had tried to be gregarious like that, but he knew he wasn't as successful. But he didn't need to be, did he, for God's sake? He enjoyed his own company -- and he enjoyed Duo's -- but he didn't crave constant attention from a personal clique, like Duo seemed to do.
He peered over at Duo, frowning, and his vision blurred with angry darkness. Duo was laughing, and his hand rested briefly on the arm of one of the other men. He wasn't taking any notice of Heero, yet he was hanging on the other man's every word. Heero had specifically pointed out the dangers to him -- a couple of times -- of giving the wrong impression to other men. Duo had just stared back at him.
Heero looked down at the file, but he didn't focus. He was working late that night, stuck in the office, probably into the small hours. He wondered if Duo would invite that other agent over for company, after work. The jealousy twisted its knife inside his heart, and startled him. Heero bit his lip so hard that it bruised.
The change between them was distressing and disturbing. And -- if he were truly honest with himself -- worse than that.
Duo laughed, and he knew he was exaggerating it, to make sure that Heero heard. He just wasn't sure why he sought such childish entertainment. Things were... wrong between them, he knew that, yet he couldn't seem to clear his mind about it. As far as everything else was going in his life -- well, it had never been better! He was the one who had the attention -- he was the one who'd accepted the praise and the thanks for the success of last month's mission. Everyone wanted to talk to him; be with him. He had it all, and let's face it, he'd take more of that, if it were offered. It wasn't so much greed, as what he deserved, right? Whatever the sanctimonious Heero Yuy may think, or say. You have to look after yourself in this life, Duo thought. You have to take what you can get, whenever it's offered. You have to have the best -- demand the most -- look after number one, first and foremost.
Something honest and confused and buried at the back of his mind made a half-hearted attempt to challenge that statement.
He knew Heero was watching, over at his desk. Duo could see the other man's dark face reflected in the polished panel of the vending machine. He couldn't seem to tear his eyes away from it.
He was doing a lot of that recently -- his mind drifting away from the matter in hand. He'd joke and laugh in the office, but he was finding that the cheerful face slipped away unless he made a big effort to keep it up. When Heero was away on a mission -- or just plain distant -- he went out drinking and socialising on his own, loathe to miss out on any invitations, but then he'd find himself sitting alone on his couch at the end of the night. With inexplicably wet cheeks.
Things felt like they were a mess, which according to the churning reaction in Duo's ever-truthful gut, meant that they were. He was just damned if he knew what to do about it.
"Duo?" He looked up to find one of the other young men staring at him. He was new: Duo couldn't remember his name. Something idiotic, like Tod or Bot or Dob...
TodBotDob was smiling at him, sort of coyly. "You going to the de-briefing session later? The one about damage limitation. If you want some company..."
Duo stared at him, trying to keep the smile steady on his face. Company, eh? They weren't usually so discreet, the guys who hovered around him in bars and malls and parking lots. Even the office, nowadays. He'd never had trouble attracting men, nor knowing what they were after. Easy, familiar, short-term gratification. TodBotDob was slim and blond and looked very keen. Duo felt his body stir at the thought of a quick, careless romp with him: it'd be so easy to let go and say 'yes', instead of 'no thanks, I'm with someone'. No strings; little danger of discovery; just taking the attention of his colleagues that one step further. There were plenty of offers in the world, Duo thought: plenty of tempting opportunities.
The image of TodBotDob's face flashed across his mind -- the eyes screwed up with concentration as Duo stroked between his legs; the shadows of the muscles in his thighs as they clenched; the tight grip of his fingers on Duo's shoulders as he pushed him down to his groin; the sigh as Duo slid down, hair falling over his face, his skin slipping against the sweaty torso of his lover. Duo blinked a couple of times, his eyes feeling hot and dry. That memory was from another time, another body: one he'd started to know as well as his own. One that he once thought he'd treasure for a long, long time.
You have to take what you can get. He shivered, although the room was overheated as usual. Something ached deeply and fiercely inside him. He felt a loss as keen as bereavement.
Then TodBotDob was exclaiming something: Duo realised he'd crushed the coffee cup in his hand and the hot liquid had sprayed all over the both of them. He watched the other man rush off to clean up, and was surprised at how relieved he felt. In his thoughts, TodBotDob's face misted over and vanished. It had never been an option, he knew that. The guy was too eager; too blond; too... not.
He glanced back across the office, but Heero had left his desk and gone somewhere else.
01 wondered what to do. And he resented having to wonder, as he'd rarely had a day's distress in all the time they'd been together. He lay in the field beside 02 as he so often did, but things were different, somehow. No more the easy intimacy, the pleasant relaxation. He peered up at the sky, surprised to see clouds. The grass was abrasive underneath his bare flesh; the air was too chilly to be comfortable.
He shifted awkwardly, his wings furled tightly against his shoulders, but somehow still irritating him. 02 had a hand on his thigh, like he often did -- an open invitation to fun and sexual adventure. 01 hadn't responded, though. He didn't understand how all 02 could ever think about was sex, when there were so many things they should be worrying about. He felt tense and nervous and inexplicably bad-tempered. These feelings were new and confusing to him, and he was frustrated because his companion seemed oblivious to it all. Whatever it was.
01 didn't really have any experience against which to judge this situation, and it saddened him. That was yet another new -- and unwelcome -- feeling.
02 lay beside him and wondered why 01 didn't talk so much. Hardly talked at all, actually. 02 wanted to stroke him to pleasure; to laugh with him; to ride him until they both cried out with the burst of ecstasy. He wanted to claim the creature who was his other half -- his reason for being -- his perfect match. But something held him back.
01's skin felt the same to him, but the pulse didn't excite him to action like it usually did. 01's breathing pattern was as familiar as his own -- the luscious caress of his feathers as delicious as always. But something made 02 restless and a little petulant. 01's silence, and -- if 02 were honest, which of course he always was 01's aloofness were both very frustrating.
He stroked at 01's thigh, feeling the muscles flex gently under his touch, but he knew it was a reflexive move, not a hungry one. 02 realised he didn't feel like pursuing things, and that filled him with regret. He let his hand slide away, until his palm lay back on the ground beside him.
"Are you tired?" he murmured. It was ridiculous, of course, because they didn't feel human weariness, but it was the only phrase he could think of for his concern.
01 grunted softly. "It's not that."
"Do you want other company?" 02 asked, softly. The idea was shocking and basically abhorrent to him, but he thought he should ask. That may be the explanation for 01's withdrawal.
"No." 01's voice was very low. "Of course not." He sounded pained. "But what about you? You have needs."
Both of them lay on their back, staring at the sky. Neither looked at nor touched the other. 02 frowned. "I just need you," he said, simply.
01 nodded: he felt the same, of course. There was a short silence, while both of them breathed deeply, tuning in to all the things that they didn't -- and didn't need to -- say.
"You know how I feel," said 01, eventually. "You know what it is."
"Who it is," 02 whispered, nodding back. Of course he knew. His wings flexed underneath his back, as if trying to unfurl, but instead they stayed stubbornly closed. His skin felt tight and itchy, as if something unpleasant crawled under it. He couldn't seem to think clearly enough to understand any of this. "These feelings they have -- they're so complex. Sin makes their life so... ugly."
01 nodded again. He stretched out a hand across the grass and his smooth fingertips brushed at 02's. "They're foolish. They allow the mood to take them against their better judgement. They're seduced by emotions that cannot please them in the long term. Emotions that won't bring peace..."
"Emotions that hurt." said 02, almost sharply.
01 sucked in a breath at his lover's distress. Neither of them was meant to suffer anger, but if he'd had a human heart, he would have known how it felt to be squeezed so tightly that it couldn't function properly. Couldn't fly.
"They're fine men," he murmured. "Compassionate at heart. Very intelligent. "
02 grunted noisily, as if he sometimes doubted that.
"They'll rise above it," 01 continued. "They'll regret this time. Repent these sinful urges."
02 sighed beside him. "Maybe." The edge of his wing fluttered restlessly, tickling at 01's shoulder.
01 grimaced. He rolled over at last, to nudge against 02 and throw his arm around him. The touch sent shivers of pleasure and homecoming throughout his body, and he clasped his partner even closer. 02's lips brushed his neck and he sighed with a mixture of desire for the soft, warm body in his arms and with disappointment on behalf of another couple who were denying themselves so much.
"Take me," he whispered, his voice hoarse with need. "They'll find a way. They'll find this again. I need you."
02 sighed. He felt the same keenness, the same desire, the same urgency. Who would doubt it? His hands stroked down 01's arm, feeling the tight, strong muscles that held him so possessively. "They need it too. Why won't they see that? Maybe they've already given up on each other..."
"No," 01 said, almost sharply. "We mustn't let that happen." He arched gently against 02's belly, feeling his muscles tighten and his cock swell gently against the other boy's skin.
"No way," agreed 02. He saw 01 wince at his use of such an earthly phrase, and he started to laugh. It seemed a long time since he'd laughed so loudly, or so easily.
He rolled 01 on to his back and let his lips run slowly down his partner's belly, savouring the zest of fresh air on skin. He licked at 01's cock, relishing the familiar taste, letting his mouth fill with saliva in anticipation. His hand slid between the other boy's thighs, his eager fingers reaching back behind his balls to stroke and excite.
"No way," he repeated, his whispering lips caressing the creature he loved without reservation; without question.
"We'll make sure of it."
Duo let out a loud burp and shifted awkwardly on his couch. The half-empty bowl of popcorn on the seat beside him tipped over, scattering the sticky white lumps all over the cushions. He grabbed out to catch it, but he missed by a hand's length. As he scrabbled about, his foot crunched on an empty beer can on the floor, squishing its sticky residue out all over the rug.
He cursed. It sounded half-hearted. After all, there was no-one to hear him and tell him to watch his mouth, like Heero would have done. He hadn't seen Heero socially for over a week, now. Had he? His mind felt foggy; his mood depressed.
If Heero had been here, Duo wouldn't have drunk too much beer and eaten too much popcorn in the first place. Heero would have helped him make some early, nutritious supper and served it up for the two of them in the kitchen. While they ate, they would have talked about the day at work, and the week's news stories, and the price of good running shoes, and Heero's noisy neighbours, and Duo's latest music CD, and... and...
Duo's memory took a calming breath. If Heero had been around this evening, he -- Duo -- wouldn't have watched three movies only a quarter-way through and remembered none of them. No, Heero would have known which movie they'd both really like, made Duo walk with him to the store to hire it out, then spent some time with him in the park on the way back, kicking a ball around, and laughing and breathing fresh air and grabbing each other around the waist and maybe snatching a hungry but discreet kiss when the neighbourhood kids weren't looking, just as an 'on account' payment, a promise of the private hours awaiting them...
Duo's breath was more of a heavy gasp this time. It had been even longer since he'd spent any private hours with Heero that way. But what point was there, wasting his time and emotions on someone who couldn't respond to them? Plenty of other things to satisfy him, more and more of them, no-one to hold him back -- to criticise him. Right?
Duo looked at the heaps of popcorn on the couch and the empty boxes of takeout he'd dumped on the floor over the last few days. He peered at the beer stain, as if he could see it actually seeping through the fibres of the rug. There were other, similar stains already there. He sighed. His head hurt. How fair was that, getting the hangover before the morning after?
God, he'd been angry at Heero! The memory of their fight was still vivid, even allowing for the blurring around the edges that came, inevitably, with the excess of cheap beer. And he was resentful, and sickened by Heero's arrogance. Stupid, selfish pride! It made Duo's head spin.
He stood up from the couch, suddenly and rather unsteadily. His anger had returned. Maybe it was time to move on! That position in the northern area office was still vacant -- he could get a transfer. OK, so there was less field work to it, but hey... it was away from here. And he knew guys up there who'd help him get somewhere to live. Guys who'd give him company of all kinds, actually. He looked around, frowning, barely interested in the few items that he'd gathered together since he'd been stationed here. It wasn't like there was anything here he had to stay for.
He shivered, gently. A soft breeze eased through the apartment, warmer than the air should be outside, and a damned sight more fragrant than the usual traffic fumes. For a moment, Duo was puzzled, then he shrugged. So he'd probably left the damned window open in the bathroom again. Heero often had to remind him to close it before he went out...
Don't be so ready to rush into things. Stop to think about it. To think about him.
He tilted his head to one side, wondering if he'd heard that properly. If he'd heard it at all. What was up with him? Heero was the one who drifted into the Chill Zone sometimes, not him...
It was as if the breeze had brought clarity to the apartment -- everything suddenly seemed brighter; louder; sharper. Duo stood still for a moment, wondering what the hell was happening to him. He paused in his casual glance around the room, and his eyes focussed more carefully. There was a small, neat pile of Heero's books on the windowsill, ones that Duo had borrowed and had been reading through eagerly. There was a jacket of Heero's thrown over the armchair, from a cold night when he'd lent it to Duo for his journey home. The cushions on the couch were gently dipped from the combined weight of two bodies -- there was a shiny ring on the side table from the night that Duo put his hot mug of tea down too quickly because Heero had suddenly reached for him, moaning softly and sliding his hand down the front of Duo's pants...
Think about him. How it was with him.
Duo felt a stab of desire and need, deep in his groin. At the same time, Heero's face flared in his memory, almost as clearly as if he'd been standing right there in front of him. Jeez. Duo felt dizzy. What was happening to him? Too much crap in his life over the last few days: too little... Heero.
He felt his knees start to buckle as if an unseen hand, gentle but firm, had pushed at his chest. He fell backwards, down on to the couch again.
Stay. Stay here for him.
He was sure he heard the words, this time. Just didn't know where the hell they were coming from.
Remember how he felt. What it meant to you. That's what really matters.
Heero lay on his couch, listlessly. A muscle in his thigh was cramping, but he couldn't be bothered to change position. The TV was stuck on a channel showing a particularly bad talent contest, and his mug of tea on the floor beside the couch had gone cold a long time ago. He did nothing about changing them, either. He'd never really been one for lounging around in his sweat pants with bare feet and tangled, uncombed hair, but he really didn't give a shit today. He winced: such language from him would have made Duo laugh out loud. If Duo had been here to notice.
Duo had often treated Heero's fastidious neatness as if it were a crime. Now there were clothes and socks draped haphazardly over the back of the couch, and the light was winking furiously on Heero's unanswered voicemail. A pen was left out on the table with the lid off, the ink slowly leaking out on to the cloth: there was a half-empty box of congealed Chinese takeout balanced on top of some office papers that he'd brought home to work on, despite this being his week's leave. One side of the blind on the lounge window had come away from its moorings and hung down, twisting and squeaking plaintively in the occasional breeze.
Like I care. Heero felt heavy, like his limbs were leaden. He grunted. Duo hated him grunting. Told him plenty of times it was a damned lazy way to communicate and meant no-fucking-thing at all. That was Duo all over. If Duo were here...
Heero swallowed quickly, because he felt both sad and tired, and didn't want to dwell on either. If Duo were to come here now, Heero knew that the first thing he'd do would be to come over and sit by Heero and ask what was wrong. And he'd want an answer, too. In too much gory detail, perhaps, but he'd listen to every word. And then he'd go and rustle up a sandwich for Heero with whatever odd combination of ingredients that he'd find in the kitchen, and make one of the herbal teas for him, the ones that Heero loved and that he, Duo, had stocked his own kitchen with, just for Heero's use.
Duo wouldn't notice the squeaking blind or the leaking pen, but he'd change the TV channel immediately: he'd probably inflict some obscure anime series on Heero, full of bright colours and ridiculous gender changes. But Heero would sit up and watch it with him and end up laughing along with him. Duo would chat to him and keep asking his opinion, and push the mess of clothes to one side so that he could move closer. He'd kiss him too, suddenly and laughingly, and nudge Heero over so that he could stretch his legs out on Heero's lap.
But Duo wasn't here, and hadn't been for quite some time. Heero tried to remember when he'd last had Duo stretched out on his lap, but it made his head hurt to go back past the previous hour or so. There was just no point in making the effort. He yawned, sleepily. He'd only woken up a few hours ago, but there wasn't really much else to occupy his leisure time at the moment.
The confrontation -- so maybe fight was the right word -- had just been waiting to happen. Two guys so different in attitude and approach; two guys with nothing between them except the convenience of working together. That was all, wasn't it? Confrontation... that was Duo's way, all the time; violence in his emotions, excess in everything he did. Such extravagance in language and behaviour. Such passion, about even the smallest things...
Heero stared at the TV, not a single image registering in his brain. Maybe he'd take them up on that management job they'd offered him last year. OK, so there'd be less field work and more pencil-pushing, but he might as well take things a bit easier. He didn't need the stress of working in a team: he worked better on his own. He'd always been content with that before.
He shivered, suddenly. A soft breeze lifted the hair at the nape of his neck, brushing the skin gently and raising goose bumps. It was warm, though. Heero was mildly puzzled. There was an earthy, musky aroma to it that was familiar, though the context was elusive.
Don't hide away. Don't try to analyse everything. Don't just think, but feel. Feel him.
Heero shook his head, dislodging a couple of socks on to the carpet. Dammit, he was hearing things, now! It was Duo who had the vivid dreams, not him, he'd never imagined voices in his head in his life...
It was as if the breeze had rippled through his veins, suddenly speeding up his metabolism. He sat up, quite suddenly, feeling a couple of his joints crack. The room seemed too quiet: too empty. Duo had so often come around, joking about it being because Heero had the bigger TV screen, but then he'd spend ages browsing through Heero's books and discussing the ones they'd both read. He liked to bring new CDs along to play, and challenge Heero to state specifically what he did and didn't like about it. He seemed to be in all rooms at the same time, his voice; his smell; his humour. He filled the place with himself. When the neighbours had their own music up too loud, Duo made Heero join in with him singing the choruses, drowning it out until the laughter overcame them and they collapsed on to the couch, or the bed, breathless and touching and kissing...
Think about him. How it was with him.
Heero swallowed, hard, the need rising like a lump in his throat. His skin prickled, like nausea was creeping up on him. But it wasn't nausea: it was a deep, physical desire. Duo's grin was in his mind: Duo's voice an echo in the still room. Heero grimaced. What the hell had he been doing, these last few days? Lying around, the place a mess for any visitor, but especially... Duo.
He felt something settle under his arm, tugging at him, as if lifting him bodily from the couch. He swung his legs over the side and scrambled to his feet.
Get going. Get up and go to him.
Yes, it was a definite voice in his head, but why was that necessarily a bad thing? Heero groped around, trying to find a clean pair amongst the discarded socks.
Remember how he felt. What it meant to you. That's what really matters.
Duo had only just thrown out another large bag of rubbish when someone buzzed at his front door. He wanted it to be Heero: dammit, he was shocked by how much he wanted that! But when he opened the door and it was Heero, he was struck dumb for a moment. How ridiculous was that? He stared at his visitor: it seemed like a long time since he'd seen Heero so close. His heart started beating too quickly.
Heero was startled when Duo appeared at the door. Ridiculous! he thought. Why is that? You buzz at a door: a person answers. What more to it is there? He couldn't stop staring at Duo, who looked tired, but good. Very good. He had that way of tilting his head when he was tired so that some of his hair flopped over his left eye...
Heero cleared his throat, feeling flushed all over. "Thank God. I hoped you were home. I really... wanted you to be home." He knew he wasn't making total sense, but he hadn't prepared any speech -- he'd wanted to be spontaneous. It made him feel unusually nervous, but he'd reckoned Duo would appreciate it.
"But you're on leave," said Duo, hoarsely. "Aren't you?" He wanted to snap at Heero, for calling unannounced; for not calling at all over the last few days; for dammit, he didn't know what. He bit back the potentially angry words. Instead, his eyes skimmed Heero from head to toe, then returned for another, hungrier look. He frowned. "Did you do something with your hair?"
Heero flushed even more deeply. "My hair? It just... needs a comb or something. Doesn't matter." He ran a hand through it, self-consciously. He'd just pulled on his boots and started out to find Duo: he hadn't worried about grooming. To be honest, he still wasn't bothered. All he could think about was how being this close to Duo made his mouth go dry.
Duo peered at Heero, thoughtfully. The tousled effect looked damned good on him. Too good. He wanted to invite Heero in, but he couldn't remember if he'd cleared all the spilt popcorn away. He wondered if the rug still smelled of beer, too. Then he felt even more ridiculous. He coughed. "Coming in?"
Heero peered back. "If that's OK with you."
Duo shrugged. What was he meant to say to that? What did Heero really mean? What the fuck did it all matter, so long as he got Heero back inside his apartment, back in the same room, back within arm's reach...
Neither of them spoke as Heero walked past into the small lobby. Heero looked hesitant: Duo was unusually speechless. They shuffled into the lounge like two sleepy bears, arms close to the body, awkward on upright legs, glancing around the room as if trying not to catch each other's eye.
Heero cleared his throat. Duo coughed again.
The soft, warm breeze seemed to have followed them through the doorway. Heero felt it brush his cheek, and Duo felt it tease at the nape of his neck, where his braid tugged at its roots. There was a rich, underlying aroma to it, the tang of freshly cut grass; the warmth of a man's sweat; the tantalising hint of something far more intimate, like the thick, lascivious scent of sex...
Heero licked his lips, instinctively. When Duo nudged gently against him, moving further into the room, Heero's hand darted out and grabbed his arm. Duo twisted around to look at him. His hand lifted to Heero's face, his finger tracing slowly and tentatively along his jaw. Both of them drew a deep, sudden breath.
There was nothing tentative about the way that Heero pulled him close, his fingers gripping tightly at Duo's sleeve, his lips reaching for Duo's, his breath hot between both of them. Duo's mouth opened swiftly, sucking in Heero's tongue, nipping at his lower lip, his hand sliding quickly and greedily around Heero's waist.
"Too long..." Heero gasped. He tilted his head, leaning back in against Duo. He moved his feet closer, pushing his knee between Duo's thighs.
Duo groaned in response, the taste of Heero sharp and sweet in his mouth. "Missed this so much..." he murmured. He shoved back, none too gently, so that Heero stumbled back and on to the couch. Duo followed, his mouth still ghosting over Heero's, his hands tugging at Heero's shirt, scrabbling under it to touch his skin. He fell forward, one knee on the cushions, the other foot still on the floor, straddling Heero's lap. He was panting. His hand reached eagerly for Heero's belt, flipping the buckle with practised ease. "Heero...?"
Heero gazed back up at him, fascinated by the pinpoint lights of excitement reflected in Duo's widening pupils. "Yes..." he whispered. His breath felt tight in his chest and he was hard, very hard, with the painful pleasure that only Duo had ever made him feel...
The warm breeze eddied around them: there was the suspicion of a happy sigh in the air.
Then Duo sat back, his hand pausing over the zip of Heero's pants. "No. Wait."
Heero frowned -- his heart was pounding in his chest and he couldn't shape any coherent words: he couldn't think what might have suddenly gone wrong. What had he said or done, to stop Duo touching him, caressing him, wanting him...?
Duo ran a hand over his forehead, as if puzzled. "I mean... I don't know. Shit."
The air was suddenly still: the sigh on the breeze caught its breath, startled.
"It's more than this, right?" Duo shook his head, frowning, his chest heaving with shallow breaths. "It's not just the sex. Is it?"
Heero's mouth opened, then shut again abruptly.
It's not just the sex, Duo repeated to himself, the words he'd spoken instinctively. He didn't know why the truth was now so obvious and yet so shocking to him. It wasn't just the feel of Heero's body under his hands; the sweetness of Heero's lips still moist on his own. He didn't need to glance around his apartment again to know that the whole place was full of memories and reminders of him; of Heero. Of Heero cooking; of Heero showering; of Heero fighting with him over the remote. Of Heero holding him when he was tired; listening to him rant about bureaucracy; staying up late with him to run through long and tedious briefing notes. Of Heero in his life. Of Heero as his life.
Stay for him, the voice in his head had said. That was all he wanted, he realised. All he'd ever wanted.
Heero stared up at Duo, his mind reeling. It's not just the sex, he thought, in echo. He was meant to be highly intelligent -- how come it had taken him so long to realise that? He may have managed on his own in the past, but how could he have ever thought that was contentment, now he'd met Duo? Duo had swept through his life and by some twist of fate, noticed him in a special way and it had been magnificent. Heero had found excitement and friendship and the astonishing richness of companionship. His mind was full of the noise and the light and the activity that was Duo Maxwell, and the impact that had all had on him. The impact of Duo in his life. Of Duo's passion in his life.
Get up and go to him, he'd heard. And he'd done it. But not just for this... of course not.
"Yes," he said again. "I mean, no." Duo's fingers were still curled in the fabric of his shirt tails, his palm warm against Heero's belly. Heero couldn't remember the question, though he most definitely knew the answer. How ridiculous was that?
Duo was grinning. His eyes were even brighter, if that were possible. "Whatever."
Heero frowned. "What? I meant..."
"Hush." Duo bent down and brushed Heero's lips with a kiss. "I understand. You're very eloquent when you want to be. It beats the grunting, anyway."
Heero sighed. "I'm sorry. I'll learn. I want it to be good for you -- I want to be good for you. I need to trust you -- to appreciate you." He couldn't say any more, spontaneous or otherwise, because Duo was kissing him again, slowly; sensuously. His tongue flickered at the corners of Heero's mouth. His hand slid gently inside Heero's pants, nudging down the zip and curling possessively around his erection. "I want whatever you want," Heero murmured. How could he have ever considered anything else as important as that?
Duo breathed softly into his neck, stroking him firmly, making both of them arch up together on the couch. "What I want is for you to be happy, Heero. With me. I need to take it easy, I know. To think before action: to see your point of view. Hell, I cause my own trouble, and drag you down with me."
Heero gasped and shifted his hips so that his cock was pressing against Duo's, though both of them still had their pants on. Duo's hand was pumping lazily up and down in his lap, rubbing their dicks against each other, making them both groan. "We'll make it work," Heero said. He stared up at Duo, knowing that the volatility and the enthusiasm made Duo exactly what he was -- the man whom Heero thought of and wanted with every waking moment. "We'll talk about it..."
Duo looked down into his lover's bright eyes, seeing the passion that had always been there, just showing in a different way; demanding different things of Duo; challenging, not patronising him. "We'll listen to each other," he whispered, nodding. "Right?"
It was Heero's turn to move, circling his lower body against Duo, thrusting his cock up into Duo's fist, the flesh damp and slick, the sucking noises unbearably exciting. He groaned even more loudly, his face burying into Duo's shoulder. "Sure. But... just... no talking right now, OK?"
"No way!" Duo gasped, nodding again, his head spinning. I'm going to come in my pants, he thought with a shock of horrified delight. It wouldn't be the first time Heero had done that to him. With his free hand, he fumbled desperately with his own zip, his body shaking with anticipation. He tried to keep up the rhythm around Heero's cock, but his leg shifted and his knee knocked painfully against the back of the couch. He yelped with frustration.
Heero stared up at him, gasping for breath and squashed underneath Duo's wriggling about. He started to laugh. Startled, Duo grinned and then joined in.
The couch creaked underneath them both. Duo kept wriggling about and half fell off on to the floor, and Heero growled once with sudden cramp. But they cried aloud when they came, shouts of satisfaction and reunion delight. They held each other as their climaxes calmed, and they gasped and laughed some more, and when they clambered upright again, pants flapping open around their hips, stumbling along the corridor to the more comfortable bedroom, the whole apartment was warmed by the smell of passion and pleasure.
And the promise of so much more to discover between them.
The winged boys sat hand in hand on the roof of Duo's apartment block. Pigeons strutted past them without a second look: an occasional car passed in the dark of the night, but the arcing lights didn't dazzle them. Their heads nudged together, one with a long, messy brown braid and the other with a tousled shock of black hair. Their skin was glowing with health and very flushed in places, the path of loving fingers imprinted in pink all over it. There was a deep, satisfying mark sucked on 02's neck: 01 was absentmindedly licking at the fingers of his free hand. They were both panting slightly: their eyes sparkled.
"It's not just the sex," murmured 02. He was grinning, as if he found it all a great amusement.
01 frowned, but he smiled, too. "Of course not. We all know that. But they needed to be together."
02 nodded. His cheek brushed against his lover's, and he nuzzled against him, craving the touch of his warm skin. "They just needed to understand that for themselves."
01 sighed. His fingers traced the pattern of muscle on 02's thigh. "But it takes them so long to understand, doesn't it? They might still stray from it. They're so easily distracted."
02 smirked. "But so very, very cute." He stretched his back, flexing his shoulders, arching happily against 01's caress. "They'll be good together. They'll be stronger. We'll see to that."
"We will?" 01 gazed at him, his concern softened by his lover's smile.
02 nodded. "It'll keep us busy." He grinned. "Keep us out of mischief, I believe that's the consensus of our superiors. And the young men will truly be..."
"Cute?" 01 grimaced at the slang, though he was still smiling. His hand slipped slowly and gently in between 02's thighs, stroking at the gently shifting balls.
"Inseparable," 02 stated, firmly. "Like us." He pushed playfully at 01, letting him fall back on to the flat platform of the roof, sliding his own body down over him. He parted 01's legs, wriggling between them, gasping as he pressed his cock deep into the other boy's body. As he sank deeper, his wings stretched out, reaching to their widest span to cover them both, the tips brushing and teasing their flesh, the feathers fluttering softly, shining white in the starry darkness.
"Just like us," came his muffled voice, then a gasp -- and then rich, joyful laughter.