IF THE PRICE IS RIGHT
“So how much?” Duo stood beside Heero at the counter’s edge, trying to decide between mint choc chip and honeycomb crunch flavour milkshake. Or at least that’s what Heero assumed was causing his friend’s awkward stance. He’d bumped into him twice already.
“For the milkshake?” he asked, confused. “It’s your turn, but if there’s a problem –“
“No,” said Duo, rather sharply. “Not that. What that guy said in front of us. You know.”
Heero peered at him, bemused. “You’re not serious, are you?”
Duo flushed a little. He suddenly seemed very interested in the bowl of miniature marshmallow toppings.
Heero shifted along the counter, picking up the drinking straws and paper napkins as he went. They were nearly at the till, their shakes being mixed as they watched. He looked at the couple in front of them, more curiously this time. The café was really crowded and noisy at this time of day, but these two had been arguing when they joined the queue and it had been nigh on impossible to ignore them. What was it they’d heard? She was complaining that her boyfriend begrudged her even a milkshake; that he obsessed over every cent spent, put a price on everything; that she was amazed he didn’t cost up every damned minute of their date from the bus fare through to the double chocolate flake –
Heero and Duo had watched the guy open his mouth to protest, then close it in defeat.
- and hell, did he put some price on her, too? On how many hours he got from the date? How many smiles per dollar? How many kisses?
They’d watched the guy get very red at that point, aware that people were openly watching them. “So how much?” he’d snapped at her, patience gone at last, temporarily startling her to silence. “How much are you charging for a kiss?”
Someone in the queue behind them had giggled – Duo had gone very still. Heero was interested in the semantics of the question, but never got a chance to debate it. The girl’s eyes had opened wide, and she’d started to laugh. She’d linked her arm back through her boyfriend’s, and pressed her lips to him in an apology of sorts. Heero had been even more interested to see that the guy happily went on to order the double chocolate flake.
He was aware of Duo behind him, nudging clumsily again. Maybe Duo wanted to discuss the intriguing questions the argument had raised.
“Heero? What if I was serious?”
Duo sighed through pursed lips. Heero felt the breath on his neck. “If I wanted to know – seriously.”
Heero searched his memory again. “You want to know how much the girl is charging for a kiss?” It gave him a bit of a jolt. He didn’t think blondes were Duo’s usual type … or girls, for that matter.
“For God’s sake…” Duo grimaced. Heero thought he looked a bit flushed again, but then the café was extraordinarily hot this afternoon. “I meant a kiss from you, Heero.”
Heero turned round properly to face him and stared. A kid rushed by, scattering jelly beans all over the floor at their feet; a mother patted a wailing baby over her shoulder at the back of the queue; three students pushed eagerly past them to peer at the special flavours of the day.
Heero didn’t notice any of them.
“You are serious,” he said, slowly. Duo was just about his own height; he was tanned lightly from the good summer they’d had, and of course he always looked good in denim. There was an unusual splash of colour on his cheeks, but that looked rather attractive along with the nervous sparkle in his eyes. He seemed to have caught a couple of the miniature marshmallows on his cuff and his right boot was anchored in a small puddle of spilled syrup, but then Duo never looked anything but relaxed.
Maybe not so much right now.
The guy at the till looked tired and sweaty and he waved impatiently at them.
“It’s our turn to pay,” said Duo, his hand on Heero’s arm – just as a gentle reminder to move forward.
“In a moment,” said Heero. He put the handful of straws and napkins down on the counter, very carefully, then he put his hands either side of Duo’s face and drew his lips to him. He thought that the combination of surprise and pleasure in tasting Duo’s mouth was even more delicious than the honeycomb crunch, which was, after all, his own favourite. He liked the way that Duo’s body pressed gently against him, and the way Duo’s hand slipped round his waist to anchor them both.
When they broke apart with a sigh, the guy on the till was open-mouthed and the students behind them were smiling and blushing. At least the baby at the back had stopped wailing.
“Did you want a double chocolate flake?” he asked Duo, quite calmly, though only he could feel the frantic hammering of his heart inside his body.
Duo looked into his eyes, apparently reassured by what he saw there, because he grinned. “Depends on the cost, Heero. I don’t know how much I owe you for that …”
Heero grinned back. “Ah. Well. Of course, a kiss from me costs far more than you can afford …” He leant over and brushed his lips gently against Duo’s again, tasting the pleasure of both of them now, whispering into his ear.
“But that’s far less than you’ll ever have to pay!”