HOW TO IMPRESS A MAN
1x2x1, humour, lime
I’ve been saving this plot bunny for a very special occasion – and here is that very day!!!
Heero clutched the phone a little more tightly and winced. He wished he didn’t sound so brusque, but he really didn’t know how to soften his tone in these circumstances. Duo had called him up tonight as usual, just being his usual friendly self, with a few plans and suggestions for going out. Just like usual. Nothing different, there.
But there was, of course.
Heero had fielded every single suggestion, not only for tonight but up until next holidays and probably the year beyond. It had taxed his natural pragmatism to the limit. He didn’t really do imagination, did he? He’d said he had to be up early for work… he was too busy during the day with work… he was too tired in the evening after work. Suggestion #1? Ah, he’d been there, done that. Suggestion #2? Hm, he had no earthly desire to go there, do that. Suggestions #3 through #12… well, his inventiveness was wearing thin. He was violently allergic... it offended his political ethics… there was an ‘R’ in the month. But whatever the invitation, Heero had a ready excuse.
It was necessary, of course. Since last weekend’s events.
He couldn’t help but hear Duo’s pained sigh on the other end of the line, and he felt churlish. But it was best for both of them, wasn’t it? He had to keep Duo at a distance – at least until their friendship settled back to its pre-Hilde’s-party status.
Hilde’s party. The memories made Heero flush. He blamed the beer: he wasn’t much of a drinker, after all. There’d been a lot of salty food and chatting and he’d grown very thirsty. Hilde went to get him a soda but then Wufei offered him what he thought was non-alcoholic beer, and then Trowa offered another one. It was cool and pleasant to drink, and when Duo turned up with a couple more cans for each of them – well, Heero was happy to accept them. On the way through to the lounge with Duo to find a seat, he’d caught sight of himself in the mirror in the hallway. That broad smile on his face had quite taken him unawares. Most uncharacteristic.
The beer: yes, that had obviously been the problem.
He couldn’t remember which one of them made the first move, but three minutes in, and it had already turned into a pretty enthusiastic - and mutual – groping session on the couch. Him and Duo. His hands around Duo’s waist; his tongue down Duo’s throat. The cushions had dipped, the couch springs had squealed and Duo’s flailing arms had knocked over one of the cans. Heero’s own limbs had become possessed in some wild and erratic way and he’d kicked a passing guest in the shins more than once. The couch just wasn’t big enough for them to roll and clasp and wriggle as they wanted to – and, by heaven, they tried! No-one seemed particularly concerned by their antics, interested as they all were in their own enjoyment, but in all honesty Heero wouldn’t have noticed if a TV crew had turned up and fangirls had sold grandstand tickets. It was as if the rest of the room had faded into a blurry background and all that existed for him were Duo’s chuckles and Duo’s fingers in his hair and Duo’s firm, warm, greedy mouth…
Heero couldn’t believe it had happened; he couldn’t believe how uninhibited they’d been. He couldn’t believe how good it had felt! The excitement had been like nothing he’d ever experienced. It had made his head swim and his heart contract, while making other things swell rather more painfully…
But that wasn’t any basis for romance, was it? They were very different guys and there was no point in thinking they could create the proverbial silk purse of a relationship out of nothing but a gymnastic snogging session. Sense had to prevail. Heero had crawled back up to a sitting position and tucked his shirt back in with as much dignity as he could muster. Duo’s eyes had been very bright; his braid had been very dishevelled; his grin had been wide and generous. He’d listened politely to Heero’s apologies but Heero realised even then that his friend didn’t seem to be listening very carefully. Maybe it was the noise of the party in the background; maybe it was – of course – the beer.
Right up until he left the party, Heero remained confused. Miserable, too. Duo seemed to have deliberately misunderstood the situation. He sat by Heero and went with Heero to the kitchen for food and chatted and laughed with Heero, just like usual. They didn’t do any more of the kissing and groping business – Heero had tried to push the vaguely disappointed feeling from his sensible mind, because that was all for the best, wasn’t it? – but Duo was definitely still warm towards him. Heero had been trying to say it wouldn’t work between them – but Duo was proceeding relentlessly as if Heero had just been suggesting a slower approach to dating.
Heero eventually left early - Hilde had been rather surprised. She’d made some joke about him leaving because he’d consumed her entire supply of non-alcoholic beer but she was obviously mistaken. He’d definitely been on something much stronger than that.
Dating… Heero shook his head. It just couldn’t be. Duo was bold and boisterous and outgoing and sexy. Heero – well, he wasn’t, was he? He considered he had little to offer in the way of exciting company or social entertainment, and – without admitting any personal interest – he was pretty sure that Duo was looking for something from a partner that was rather more intimate, too. Heero swallowed back his own throbbing interest in his personal vision of something more intimate. He’d had a sample of that at the party and his lower groin still ached at the memory. He wondered if it’d wear off, like a bruise. He rather thought this kind of symptom was way beyond his knowledge of basic first aid.
He wondered what the hell he was thinking of with Duo still hanging on the other end of the line.
“It’s me, isn’t it.” Duo was making a joke of it, but Heero thought he heard disappointment in the other man’s voice. “You’re still pissed about last weekend. The party. Basically you’re not impressed with my company.”
“It’s not that at all,” Heero replied, in an awkward quandary between dismay and caution. He really didn’t want Duo taking this the wrong way – he’d not offend his friend for anything! But he also needed to watch his words; he found that Duo often tripped him up into saying something that – whilst true – he would have bitten off his tongue and swallowed it whole rather than admit aloud to anyone else. “It’s nothing to do with you. I’m not impressed with much, Duo – that’s just my way. I’m sure you can find something -” or someone “- more rewarding.” The thought disturbed him a surprisingly large amount. But he’d decided it was all for the best, hadn’t he?
Duo made a strange snorting noise over the line. “Crap. I just need to find out what does impress Heero Yuy, the man.”
Heero started to protest, but Duo was already listing more suggestions. He could be astonishingly relentless when he wasn’t being bold, boisterous, outgoing, sexy…
“It’s intelligence, isn’t it? Of course it is,” Duo was carrying on, answering his own question as he often did. “So you wanna go to Trowa’s literary circle with me next week? They’re discussing the juxtaposition of political influence and homosexual emancipation within the subtext of the great American novel. Or something like that. Trowa was a little vague when I asked him to explain it further.”
Even though Duo couldn’t see him, Heero grimaced. “No thanks. I prefer a good, straightforward thriller, to tell you the truth.”
Duo snickered on the other end. “Me too. Remind me to lend you that new secret agent novel, you loved the last one. Took us both completely out of real life, right? So… you prefer culture, then. Am I right, or am I right? Wufei has tickets to the art exhibition in town, ‘From Classical to Cubist : the Synonyms of Colour and Country’.” He sounded personally rather lukewarm about the idea. “Hey, but they do a good espresso at the café there. My favourite.”
Heero laughed. “I know, I’ve had one there too, and that’s definitely the best thing about the place. No, I can’t say that culture does it for me, at least not without some more selective approach.”
“Think we’re better at the practical art, eh?” Duo was laughing again. Heero thought what a pleasant sound it was. Made him smile in return, every time. “Like when we painted Wufei’s garage last summer. I mean, we were so sure about the colour but I suppose it’s easy enough to mix up canary and granary, names on the tin that is. Remember when he came out for the first viewing? His face went rather…”
“…Cubist,” Heero finished, wryly. “I don’t think your bright yellow footprints across his drive helped much, either.”
Duo chuckled. “Your wit slays me every time, Heero. Is that what really impresses you? Humour? There’s a new comedy club opening on Saturday, and Quatre’s promising to get up on stage and premiere his new routine.”
Both of them were silent for a few – very respectful – moments.
“I’ll pass, thanks,” said Heero. “I admire him, but those places… I find the humour rather too –“
“ – manic,” Duo completed, cheerfully. Heero found himself nodding. “The subtle approach is preferable, eh? Puns… witty asides. Rather than slapstick and stand-up.”
Heero grunted agreement. He settled back on his couch, cradling the phone at his ear. It often surprised him how long he spent on the phone with Duo, and how relaxing it felt. It was as if Duo were in the room with him again. In fact, they spoke most days, if they didn’t actually meet up. Spent quite a bit of time in each other’s company too, like at Hilde’s party. Being with Duo was always fun and Heero knew how attractive his friend was, in many, varied ways. He sighed, deeply. The groping at the party had seemed to take them both by surprise, but if he were honest with himself – which he’d always thought he was – he had to admit he was rather shocked by how keen he’d been to join in. How enthusiastic he’d been. How excited he’d been. His fingers remembered the flex of Duo’s muscles and the tantalising touch of skin where his shirt met his pants. His ear remembered the nip of Duo’s teeth and the sound of his breathy laugh. His mouth remembered…
Heero made a big effort to remind himself why he’d thought it better they put some distance between them.
“That was a helluva sigh, Heero,” came Duo’s much softer voice. “You OK?”
Heero tutted. “I’m fine. I’m just thinking I’d better go and get on with some work I brought home…”
“OK,” Duo interrupted, firmly, his voice back at its usual bold volume. “Plan D, then. Good thing I asked the oracle.”
“Pardon?” Heero felt a shiver of goose bumps at the back of his neck, maybe from fear. “The oracle?”
“That’s Hilde!” announced Duo, rather gleefully. “I reckoned she’d know what I need to do. After all, what’s better than to ask a girl what impresses a man? Gotta hang true for all of us, surely.”
“Duo.” Heero had to clear his throat twice to get a decent volume back to his voice. “I just don’t think there’s any time really, to continue talking about this subject…”
“Heero, shut up.” The words were fierce enough to make him pause. “I can’t think of anything that’s more important, just at this particular moment, and I’d appreciate you helping me out here.”
“Helping you out…?”
Duo continued quickly, as if to stop Heero protesting again, obviously relying on his boisterous personality trait. “I’ve just about run out of suggestions, to tell you the truth. I had hoped that you’d respond to some – or one at least! – because I’m sure we’d enjoy them together.”
“Together.” Heero could only mumble. He didn’t seem able to make a coherent reply. The goose bumps were now somewhere around his neck and tickling along his throat. He wondered if they were a symptom of encroaching flu. But the word ‘together’ felt like a particularly warm blanket tucking in around his virtually-virus-ridden body.
“Heero, are you listening?” Duo sounded wistful. “It was great. Last weekend. You know? I’m sorry if it wasn’t quite what you expected but I’d really like a chance to try again.”
“Not what I expected…?” Try again? Heero felt the goose bumps start to sidle down his spine.
“This is my last pitch, man.” Now Duo sounded frustrated. “This really is the last resort. Just tell me – don’t we always have a good time together?”
“Good time…” echoed Heero. “I… guess so.” He felt rather confused. Yes, they had good times, didn’t they? Without a doubt. Many of them. Maybe Duo was, indeed, very outgoing, whereas he was… well, not. But things seemed to work between them, whether they were similar or different as men; whether they were individuals or… complementary.
“Heero?” Duo sounded bemused. “I can almost hear the wheels turning in that complex brain of yours. So maybe that’ll impress you - my smart, vibrant perceptiveness. I sort of hate relying entirely on my arresting good looks.”
“Good looks…” said Heero. His voice sounded weak and the goose bumps had taken possession of the lower half of his body. It wasn’t possible to receive a person’s warmth down the telephone line, was it? Their body heat; their musky smell; their laughing, licking breath… their very deep, genuine, delicious sexiness.
“You’re making too much of this, Duo.” He gathered himself together with yet another effort. Things felt very warm in his apartment and he hadn’t even turned on the heating this evening. “I’m nothing unusual – I have very straightforward tastes. I mean, you know that, you’re like that yourself –“ He paused. There it was again: the feeling of warmth; the connection; the ease of Duo’s friendship and a whole lot more.
“Duo, listen to me. Perhaps I haven’t been entirely fair to you.” Or my goose bumps. “I just thought we ought to think carefully before we let a good friendship tumble over into… something else. I just thought you’d want something more thrilling; someone more outgoing. Someone more…” He couldn’t hear Duo breathing on the other end of the line and he was afraid he’d finally made his point – just when he was thinking that it was the last thing he really wanted. “Someone more impressive.”
His doorbell rang.
Heero muttered an apology down the line, put down the phone and went over to open the front door. His eyes widened; his jaw dropped.
Duo flipped his cell phone shut and grinned broadly at him. “I can’t think of anyone more thrilling than you, Heero. Can’t think of anything that impresses me as much as your friendship does, and I can’t think of anything I’d find more fun than going out with you and talking and laughing about it, and gazing at those cute, dark eyes and groping that tight little ass of yours when you tumble and squeeze me on a couch…” He drew a much-needed breath. “Can’t think of anywhere I wanna be unless it’s with you. Can’t get more straightforward than that, eh?” He continued to grin as Heero’s eyes travelled up and down his body.
“Duo… here? Like… that?”
Duo shrugged. “I guess Hilde was right, then. You gonna let me in? If we’re not going out anywhere, I thought we might stay in instead. Talk this through properly, once and for all.” When Heero made no reply, he sauntered past him into the apartment.
Heero continued to gaze out of the door and up the hallway as if checking whether anyone had seen his friend arriving. Like that. “Duo…” He closed the front door like a man in a daze and when he turned back around, found himself watching Duo’s back view as he walked to the couch. “What exactly did Hilde tell you?”
“She said forget the hearts and flowers and the subtle delicacies. Just for once, anyway. There was one sure fire way to impress a man, and one way only.” Duo dropped a small sports bag on to the floor beside the couch and placed a six pack of beer cans on to the table. Then he turned to face Heero. “Show up naked, with beer, she said. Did it work?”
Heero’s mouth was still open but his feet were leading him instinctively towards the body now leaning against the back of his couch. The totally nude, stark naked body. Duo’s stark naked body.
“Of course, Hilde can be a little jaded when it comes to romance,” Duo continued. He looked just slightly nervous, as if his bold boisterousness may have deserted him at the crucial moment. His hand hovered at his hip as if unsure whether to cover things up or revel in delicious immodesty. “This may have been her idea of a joke…”
Heero stared at him and felt pure, uncomplicated joy soak through him. Duo’s cheeks were an attractive pink, and there were goose bumps on his belly. Heero thought they might have a matching set between them.
He stepped forward again so that his socks nudged against Duo’s bare toes, he took hold of his best friend’s face and kissed him on the mouth. Boldly. Boisterously. Most definitely sexily.
Duo came up for air with misted eyes and arms that flailed as enthusiastically as they had done at Hilde’s party. “It’s non-alcoholic,” he gasped. “The beer. That’s all I ever give you, you know…”
“I know,” said Heero, not caring what he was meant to know or why. “Forget it.”
“Gotcha,” murmured Duo and his smile lit up their shared kiss. He watched gleefully as Heero started to peel his own clothes off. “Though you might wanna put the heating on in here for the evening…”