FROM BOTH SIDES NOW
Word count : 27,001
1x2x1, 1=2, drama, some lemon, alternating POV
Usual disclaimers – this is only fiction, and only my own.
The journey across town had been longer than usual, the traffic bad. When I finally made it up to the third floor apartment door, the sky outside was already misted purple with the approaching dusk. I knocked, and waited for the door to open.
His face was as welcome as always; my heart beat faster at his slow smile.
“Hi,” I said.
His eyebrows rose. His eyes were bright, but cautious. “Hi. Didn’t think you’d be over today. Aren’t you involved in the investigation into that political scandal?”
“I’m amazed but pleased to hear that you’re reading the briefing notes I send you,” I said, dryly. “You need to keep in touch until you’re back on duty.”
He sighed, and grinned. “Thanks, teacher. It makes a change from watching daytime TV, I guess.” He turned and went back into the apartment. I knew that leaving the door open behind him meant that he welcomed me in. I closed it, and followed him into the kitchen.
“So…” He was toying with the kettle, fetching out the tea that I like. “Who’s your new partner on this one?”
I didn’t answer immediately. I watched the way his body moved – a little slowly, with a slight lean of his torso to the left. He showed the grace and athleticism that he always had, but the stitches were still healing. He favoured his bad side, protecting the wound from being wrenched open again.
He’d protected a lot of things since he’d been shot.
“There’s no-one,” I said, at last. “On this one, I’m on my own. I’m office bound.”
His shoulders tensed and he seemed disproportionately busy making the tea. “Bet the Commander’s regretting that. After all that melodrama at the embassy, she needs the best guys on the diplomatic missions.”
“She’s got them,” I said. “I’m advising. I’m fine with that.”
After the melodrama at the embassy – as Duo had just called it - there’d been a week or so of high tension between our government and theirs. They’d denied any knowledge of the spy and the subversive group behind her, and threatened to prosecute us for both criminal and reputational damage: in return, we’d demanded official investigation of all their people and threatened immediate closure of the embassy. The Commander had handled negotiations well, and I’d been called in on the team. There’d been a few raised eyebrows at that, but none of us had suffered any official censure or suspension. The Department protected its own.
Eventually, the situation had eased, and diplomatic compromise had been reached. It wasn’t necessarily what any of us would have chosen, but I was assured that even though the embassy retained a presence in our country, support and access for the terrorist ring had effectively been shut down.
For the time being, Duo had said. His cynicism had been understandable, as he was still in post-operative care at the time.
He brought the tea over and we sat down. We were on opposite sides of the kitchen table. He looked at me over the rim of his mug and there was something new and lively in his eyes.
“Tell me what the news is,” I said. “The news that’s not in the briefing notes.”
He grinned again. “I can come back into work next month. Doctor says I’m healing well. The Commander’s cautious, but then, when has she ever been anything else?”
I smiled. “Sure. That’s good.” I was listening to him, but I was hearing things other than the words.
The diplomatic work with the Commander had been a welcome distraction for me, in amongst my time spent running through the operation again and again, both in my mind and for the benefit of my superiors, deciding where things might have been different; might have been better handled. Whatever the conclusions, the results had lain there in a hospital bed, and I spent all of my spare hours there. He didn’t always know I’d been around, but it had been important to me. Maybe I wasn’t the typical sickbed visitor. Maybe I didn’t care.
Work wasn’t the only distraction I needed.
“And the psychiatrist?” I saw him wince. “He’s signed you back in, too?”
He scowled at me. “Yeah. Amazing, right? Looks like I’m sane after all these years. And you?”
I scowled back. I’d had a clean report and he knew it. “I’m fine,” I said. “I’m good.”
And then we both grinned.
“So what did you bring with you?” he asked. I’d placed a bag on the table beside me. I knew his curiosity wouldn’t resist asking about it. “More briefing notes? Something explosive? Grapes for the recuperating invalid?”
I sighed. “Takeout,” I said.
He frowned. “There’s no food in there.”
I nodded. “Yes, that’s right. You’re going to be the takeout.”
I tipped the bag on its side and some things fell out, including a CD case.
He reached for it, twisting it around on the table, reading the track listing and deliberately not meeting my eyes. His face flushed gently and he smiled. “Can’t say it was my type of music. Too Goth. More your kind of thing.”
“But you enjoyed the date?” I’d watched him in the midst of the heaviest music, the thick beat, the outrageously dressed fans, trying to pretend he was having a good time. Then he’d looked at me and grinned, and I’d seen something else in his eyes. Maybe that was the first time I’d realised he and I created something beyond our individual tastes.
“Sure,” he replied, and there was the warmth of truth in his voice. “Yeah, I did.”
“It’s time for another date,” I said, softly.
“I’m not dating.” He laughed, but it sounded shaky. “I’m not much of a bet at the moment. No job; regular guest spot at the shrink’s; large hole in my belly where a bullet tried to rupture my lower intestine. There’s not a lot of fun there for… anyone.”
I nudged another of the items towards him. It was a spent bullet.
“That’s sick, Yuy, you know that?” But his amusement sounded genuine again. “Never pegged you as a guy who kept campaign souvenirs.”
“It’s yours, Duo,” I said. “Yours to do with whatever you like. The mission’s over. You got through – we both did.”
“Shit, you sound like the shrink,” he grumbled. “Time to move on, right?”
I nodded. I watched his fingers play with the bullet, rolling it gently on the table top. Those hands had touched me once; run themselves over my chest; caressed my face; brushed against my crotch, pretending it was an accident, though neither of us believed it. They’d held me and pulled my head to his for a kiss or two.
But he’d never repeated any of it since the shooting.
I picked up the last item and slipped it on. Sunglasses. The kitchen looked dim as they shut out some of the light. “Remember this night out?” I said.
He started laughing. “And so did you enjoy that date, Heero? You look the part, I must say.”
“Another date,” I said. It wasn’t a question.
“No,” he replied, quickly. “You don’t understand.”
“You know what your problem is?” I said, steadily. His eyebrows rose, questioningly. “You’re a distraction – to others, and to yourself. You distract from the real things – the serious stuff. The real feelings. You need to get over that.”
He was gazing at me, his expression blank. “Oh, yeah? You reckon?”
I nodded. I got up from my chair and pushed the shades up on to my forehead. I didn’t want the distance between us any more. “You said you liked bluntness,” I said. I kept my voice steady, though I noticed my hands were shaking. “You remember where you once said you wanted your hands?”
“Your face and your ass and all points in between,” he murmured. He looked unhappy.
“You’ve changed your mind? You want me to go?” I whispered.
The stricken look on his face was enough answer for me. “Fuck, no. I want you to stay. But I don’t see why the hell you should hang around all this time…”
“Thank God for that,” I said, interrupting him. A knot of panic slowly unravelled itself inside of me. “That’s my decision, anyway, so back off from telling me what to do.” My heart beating faster, I took hold of his face and kissed him.
He tasted just as I remembered; just as I hoped.
“So there’s the element of mutual interest,” I murmured to him. “That’s what we need for the dating business. Now tell me this isn’t on your schedule.”
He resisted for a very short while, then he kissed back. “Stay.” It was only a whisper from him, too, but I heard it clearly. “I need a guy who’s not easily scared.”
I laughed, softly. I drew him to me; his kisses were hungry and stumbling, but I knew we’d calm them back down into something deeper over time.
“Heero,” he groaned. “You don’t owe me anything, you know -“
“But you owe something,” I murmured into his open mouth, relishing the taste all over again.
“You owe me a coffee.”
There’s not much more to the story, really, is there?
I didn’t think I was going to get the chance to find out more about him, but I did. The way he is at work; the way he is off duty. The way he is in bed. God, that’s good, but I think that’s another aspect of Heero Yuy that should stay out of common gossip.
He likes me there, too. Only this morning, I yawned myself awake to find him already woken and alert, his eyes glinting at me in a morning’s half-light. My skin shivered like he’d just run his fingers all over it, then lifted them away so that I only had the tactile memory remaining.
“Good morning,” he said.
“It will be,” I yawned again. “Come here and spread ‘em for me.”
He laughed, softly, but with that deeper thread of desire that I can recognise now. “I’ve tried to see the Duo Maxwell beyond the confidential file notes,” he hissed, his mouth ghosting at my shoulder. “The one that isn’t subversive and unpredictable. The one that isn’t so outrageous.”
“Took some time, didn’t it?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. I never did. The file was right, I guess.”
When I started laughing, he rolled me over on to my belly and licked slowly down my spine until my limbs felt melted into the mattress.
“Of course,” I gasped, my legs spreading instinctively at the touch of his warm hands. “Of course, you’re as pig-headed yourself – as difficult to get to know as anyone, and then some more. You know what your problem is, don’t you?”
“Yes,” he replied. He started to pull me back over on to my back: his tongue was sliding down my belly, over the shiny red patch of new skin and down towards where my morning erection bobbed up to greet him with enthusiasm.
“It’s been too long since you brought me my coffee in bed.”