THE RIGHT RECIPE
Gundam Wing, 1x2x1, R
Warnings : None
Disclaimer : Mine? I wish.
Duo stood in the kitchen and glared at Heero. From far over the other side of the room, Heero glared back. From the lounge they could both hear the strains of jolly Christmas carols on the radio. Neither looked remotely filled with the Christmas spirit.
“So… what are we going to do about this?” Duo asked, belligerently. He waved an open cookbook in his right hand. “I mean, what kind of sick joke is it meant to be?”
“You think I know?” Heero frowned at him. “I got the same thing, didn’t I?” He gestured with another cookbook, though this one had a different coloured cover. “No-one’s admitting they got them for us. Trowa keeps up that pathetic charade about them being gifts from Secret Santa.”
“Yeah.” Duo nodded fiercely. “Never was one for Christmas at the best of times. These childish traditions really piss me off.” He grimaced at the book. “Veritable Vegetarianism. What kind of humour is that?”
Heero winced. “I might say the same about mine. Mouthwatering Meats. A similarly offensive irony.”
“Wufei said we should just swap them and have done with it,” Duo grumbled.
For the first time, Heero looked discomfited. “But they’re personally marked. Mine says ‘For Heero.’”
Duo shrugged. “Mine says ‘For Duo’, too. But so what?”
Heero flushed. “I couldn’t give that to anyone else. Not even…”
“Not even someone who’d get some proper use out of it,” Heero finished, rather swiftly.
“Not even when you don’t know who it’s from?” Duo sighed, but then continued before Heero had time to answer. “Hell, I know what you mean. It’s still a gift. So what shall we do with them?”
They stood silently for a moment, both equally reluctant to seek compromise.
Heero finally spoke. "We both offered to cook Christmas Eve supper for us all, albeit independently. I guess we could use these gifts..." He paused.
"... as inspiration?" said Duo.
Heero nodded, cautiously. "Between the two books, we can manage a meal that suits everyone."
Duo grunted. "You mean work together on it? I'm to use my book for the hippy vegetarian fringe -"
"And I use yours for the blood-sucking carnivores. Right," Heero agreed. They returned to glaring at each other.
"You'll lay off your usual, freeze-the-balls-off-a-brass-monkey disapproval of me, then?" muttered Duo.
Heero grimaced. "So long as you repress the deliberate, I'm-a-moody-bastard-just-to-piss-Heero-off act."
Duo grunted and glanced at his watch. "Where are the others now? How long have we got before they expect the meal?"
"Hiding at Trowa's apartment on the third floor, pretending to sample some mulled wine," Heero replied. "More like, avoiding getting caught in our crossfire. We've been arguing for... well, since we all arrived. The others have left us for an hour or so to cool down."
Duo had to smile at that, despite his bad mood. He glanced at Heero and was startled to see a similar twitch of the mouth. "Let's get going, then," was all he said.
Duo chopped the turkey breasts and spinach, the knife skittering across the chopping board with confident strokes. He lifted a couple of pinches of salt and sifted them into the flour for battering. The Christmas carols were still on in the background and he started to hum one as he turned to stir the cranberry chutney, warming in a small pan.
He realised that Heero was watching him from the other side of the stove.
"What's up?" Duo suddenly felt flushed, though the kitchen was no hotter than before. "You said you didn't need the stove yet, your dish was mainly cold."
Heero frowned. "No, I'm good. I was just... watching you work."
"For God's sake." Duo was unnerved, though he wasn't sure why.
"You cook well," Heero said. "Confidently. With flair."
For a second, they both looked surprised. Duo fely strangely flattered. Proud, even.
"Yeah, right," he said, sceptically. "For a moody bastard."
Anger flashed in Heero's eyes. "No, you misunderstand me. I meant it just as I said it." He let his own paring knife fall to the work surface with a clatter, scattering some sliced beans. He made a noise of frustration. "Oh, OK, I know it's deliberate, you make no attempt to understand me, let alone tolerate me. But you do cook well, and I wanted to say it, so I did. Even if I somehow said the wrong thing."
Duo stared at him. "But you think I'm crap at most other things, of course."
Heero shook his head, sharply. "There's no 'of course' about it. That's not true. You choose to take my comments that way, and so that's all you hear."
Heero bit at his lip and frowned as if he'd started something he now thought was unwise. "Not everyone is as articulate as you, Duo. Not everyone can communicate the correct nuances. Sometimes I don't succeed." He grimaced. "Mostly when I'm with you. I'm not particularly happy about that, but there never seems to be the opportunity to set the record straight. I can't find the right way to connect with you. But I don't see what I can do to change - it's just how I am. I've never felt the need to open my feelings to the world, nor be the life and soul of the party, I just seek to give and receive..."
"Respect," said Duo, softly. He was nodding.
"Yes," said Heero. He hadn't thought Duo would listen, let alone understand. He felt an odd kind of relief.
Duo was still staring at him. "But I've always respected you, Heero. Hell, why shouldn't I? You're great at everything you choose to do; skilled; confident. You look good, you're fit, you have cute guys hanging around your heels whenever we go out, though you scorn the whole damned lot of them. Obviously your personal life's all sorted." He laughed, awkwardly. "Maybe I'm jealous. Jealous that it's all perfect for you, that you don't need anyone disturbing it, playing the fool, getting under your skin -" He broke off and flushed again.
Heero looked puzzled. "Duo, you sound angry. Can't we get this done without arguing again?"
"No, I'm not angry." Duo spoke very swiftly, but quietly. He stared at the salad Heero was preparing, a combination of greens, pale and dark, common and exotic. He could smell the tartness of rocket leaves - the tang of fennel. He took a deep breath.
"Look," he said. "I don't do it deliberately."
"Piss you off. The moodiness... well, it's just me. It's not petulance, whatever you say. I'm stubborn, OK, and hot-headed. But it's not an act, Heero." For once, he didn't know if he was explaining himself well enough. "It's just..."
Duo's eyes widened. "Uh... well, maybe, yes. I just see that look in your eye and that's it. I see red; I want to..." He paused. "I want to shake that coldness in you; shatter it; provoke you to see me as I really am."
He could feel Heero's eyes on him, the man himself unmoving. "I just go with how I feel, you know? Well, you probably don't. It's not always the right thing to do, I know that. It can be pretty annoying. I can be. Like you said about yourself, I'm not always happy about that."
He saw Heero look away and it disturbed him. "Here," he said, abruptly. "You want some?" He scooped up a handful of spare cranberries and held them out. Heero looked at them, startled, but then he opened up his own hand and let Duo trickle them into his palm. As Duo watched, he scattered them carefully into his salad, picking up a wooden spoon and mixing them in, the rich, dark red berries shining in contrast with the greens. "A true Christmas effect," he said slowly, and smiled. "It looks good."
Duo smiled, too. "Yeah, it does. You're a really good cook yourself, Heero. Not just the technique, but the creativity as well, you know? Hell, if I had to eat nothing but the green and grassy stuff - well, your cooking would probably do it for
"That's..." Heero's eyes had darkened. "I don't know how to take that."
"Yeah, right." Duo shrugged. "A bit of a backhanded compliment, I guess. Shit, if you're going to get pissed at me again -"
But Heero wasn't listening to that. He was frowning again. "It's just that creativity isn't something I associate with me. It's more about you - the flair and the charisma. That's what you have, Duo, what you are." He was suddenly speaking too quickly, as if the words were spilling out, as if he'd lost control of them temporarily. "You're lively, you're good looking in a way that turns heads. I see your popularity, your humour, your ability to understand people and talk their language, whatever it is. All you desire is to be with them, to enjoy life with them. Maybe I'm jealous too." Something flickered in his eyes that was painful to watch. "Jealous that I don't attract that in you. That... passion, as you said."
"Jeez." Duo was silent for a moment, shocked. Heero still held the wooden spoon, rather too tightly. "Turns heads, you say?"
Heero made a strangled sound. "For God's sake, don't mock -"
Duo put down his chopping knife carefully. Then he moved forward and plucked the spoon out of Heero's hands. "I'm not mocking. It's just my turn to tell it like it is." He put a hand on Heero's shoulder: his fingers brushed lightly at the other man's neck. He didn't think he'd ever touched Heero like this before; with fear and confusion - and hope.
"Are you saying I turn your head, Heero?"
Behind him, the chutney started to bubble on the stove.
The temperature in the kitchen had increased by many degrees and not all of them caused by the stove.
Duo had his back to the counter, its edge digging into his waist. He had a smudge of cranberry chutney on his nose. Heero was only a step away from him, their eyes locked on each other. When Duo lifted a hand to wipe away the chutney, Heero grasped his wrist. Not harshly, but the grip was firm.
"I'll do that."
Duo wrinkled his nose in puzzlement, and Heero dropped his hold, leaning in closer. "I meant... I want..."
"What?" Duo's voice was just a whisper. "Say it."
"I want you." Heero's murmur breathed into Duo's ear. He sounded both shocked and excited.
Duo bit back a gasp. His body shivered. "How long, Heero?" His voice sounded hoarse.
Heero watched the movement of Duo's mouth; the drop of sweat on his upper lip. "What do you mean?"
"How long have you wanted me?"
Heero smiled. That was an easy question. "For always. For too long. Have I said the wrong thing again?" He realised he didn't care anymore. He knew he was as he always was; he spoke as he found. It was just that Duo was listening, now. "Do you find it offensive?"
"Offensive?" Duo's laugh was a little shaky. "I've wanted you since you first turned those icy eyes on to me and told me to shut the fuck up."
Heero frowned. "Those have never been my words."
Duo grinned. His hand brushed along Heero's arm. "So I paraphrased. But you fought with me since you first met me, and nothing's changed since."
Duo looked into the dark pupils and it felt like he stepped into quicksand. "Yeah, until now. What's happening here?"
"We forgot to fight," murmured Heero. "We worked together - we talked. We discovered things we didn't know before -"
"No, we knew them," interrupted Duo, with some of his earlier belligerence. "We just didn't admit them."
Heero raised his eyebrows. He nodded. "Must be something in the Christmas air."
"Never was one for Christmas at the best of times," muttered Duo. "Said that before, didn't I?" His protest was unconvincing.
"So tell me." Heero was gazing at him, amusement twisting his lips. "Are they icy now?"
"Your eyes?" Duo made a pretence of considering it. Heero stepped even closer, so that his hip pressed against Duo's. Duo tightened his fingers on the material of Heero's sleeve. "I'd say they're at just the right temperature."
Heero smiled. He tilted his head and nudged his jaw against Duo's cheek. Then he licked his lips.
Duo moaned softly. His eyes clouded as he tried to focus on Heero's face, suddenly so close to his own. Heero's lips touched so lightly at his ear that he might have mistaken the caress; then they pressed along his jaw line, up over his cheek and to the tip of his nose. "Just... wanted you to notice me," Duo whispered. "Fight me if you want. It's something rather than nothing."
Heero's tongue licked off the smear of cranberry chutney, hot and slick and swift, lapping at Duo's skin. His breath was shortening; he panted slightly. "No. This is something. Something you deserve."
Duo laughed, astonished; breathless. He slid a hand around Heero's waist and pulled him in against him, sharply. He twisted his head and captured Heero's mouth on his own, tasting the chutney; tasting the damp heat; tasting the flaring desire.
Heero groaned. "Good technique, you say. Creative in the kitchen, too." He pushed against Duo, pressing the other man's back into the counter. His leg slid between Duo's thighs, forcing them apart. Duo growled in the back of his throat and nipped at Heero's lip. Heero frowned but he kissed him back, harder, his mouth fierce, his tongue flickering against Duo's, taking the kiss; forcing the kiss; demanding the kiss.
Duo gasped for breath. "This is mad. We were arguing. We were cooking. Now we're..."
"Not," interrupted Heero. He kissed again, relentless.
They turned, stumbling, bodies locked together and mouths still searching, still consuming. "Supper," moaned Duo. "Burning..."
"Let it," hissed Heero. They slammed against the counter and some utensils rolled over on to the floor. Duo grunted and flung out an arm, looking for purchase, knocking over both salt and pepper mill. The contents spilled on to the counter, black peppercorns scattering amongst the glistening white salt, crunching underneath the wooden mill as it fell. Duo lurched back, grunting as he crashed against the fridge door. Something rattled and fell inside: a drop of white liquid seeped out from under the seal. By then, they'd turned again, arms gripping each other, never more than inches between their panting bodies; toppling the kitchen chair so that it rocked on three legs; pushing off one wall then another; feet trampling on each other's, one mouth breathing nonsense into the other, then accepting back the moans of greed.
Duo wrenched Heero around, slamming him into the kitchen door, and pressing so hard against him that he could feel Heero's heartbeat hammering in between the beats of his own. "Tell them," he hissed.
Heero lifted hooded eyes to him, lips swollen, coherent words escaped.
"We have to tell them supper's off," gasped Duo. "The guys. I mean... reassure them. Tell them the co-operation's been... successful..."
"... but there's no food," finished Heero, hoarsely.
"Right." Duo laughed. "Not of the kind you find in cookbooks, that is."
Heero nodded. He watched Duo's lips, plump and firm and tantalising. He leant forward to capture them again, mouthing his own need. "In a minute," he whispered. He pushed off the door, arms around Duo, one hand in the hair at the nape of Duo's neck and the other tugging at the hem of his shirt. "In a long minute."
Behind them was the background hiss of Duo's pan of chutney boiling dry, and the soft plop of liquid seeping from under the fridge door. Duo ignored the noises, trying to eke words out between Heero's kisses.
"I'm not fighting you on that," he growled.