1x2x1, ficlet, sap
Duo groaned and leant heavily against the door frame. His arms ached from the wrists up to the shoulders. Damned boxes! He still hugged one to his chest, one of the smaller but heavier ones, roughly taped shut at the top and with something awkwardly shaped poking out from the side into his ribs. He winced as he felt it raise a bruise: that’d match the one on his other side from when he moved the armchair.
Heero appeared from the door along the corridor, a couple of empty holdalls slung over his shoulder. Duo glanced over at him and grimaced. “Sorry, man. I just needed a couple more bags, you know?”
Heero ran his eyes over the pile of boxes on the landing, the rolled up bedding, the zipped bags of clothing, the fishing rods, the set of saucepans lashed together with cord, the plastic carriers full of assorted holiday souvenirs, and the jumble of books and magazines. There was a battered soft toy on the top of it all, with no identifiable features on its head except for a single, chewed ear. The whole pile looked like it might topple at any time, if a strong wind blew through the building, or – which was more likely - the kid from downstairs rode his skateboard down the nearby staircase.
“Yes,” he said, slowly. “Yes, I can see that you might.”
Duo flushed. He stared at Heero for a moment as if preparing his words more carefully than usual. “I appreciate this, you know? The helping me out.” He glanced around. “There’s more stuff than I thought, I must say. Amazing what you gather up at a new place, isn’t it?”
Heero nodded, this time. It was easier than speaking. There was something tight and lumpy in his throat that made that difficult.
Duo frowned. His gaze dropped away from Heero. “I mean, it’s been a great few months, hasn’t it?” He didn’t wait for another nod, but rushed on. “Who’d have thought when I moved in and kept droning on to you about my plans that we’d be standing here today like this, that we’d be…” He paused: flushed again.
Heero cleared his throat, but there still wasn’t much coming out in the way of words.
Luckily Duo had enough for them both, though he seemed to be talking in a higher register than usual. “It’s been good to share it all with you. Painting over those purple walls; finding me a second-hand cooker that works at more than one temperature; sorting out that damp patch over the shower; having that fight with the mad dog owner in Apartment 12, remember?” His eyes looked shiny. “I’ve got some great memories of this apartment. Be sad to leave it.” He put a hand to his mouth, hurriedly.
Heero dropped the bags on the floor with a thump and took a step towards him. “You don’t have to…”
Duo frowned again. He took a hesitant step towards Heero, in return. “I do. I have to do it. I want to do it! Life moves on: so must I. So must we.”
“There has to be change, right?” Heero moistened his lips, trying to make things sound less strangled.
Duo nodded, his eyes on Heero’s face. “It’s just…”
“Scary,” Heero murmured. He clenched his hands at his sides. Duo’s face was dusty from the boxes and shiny from emotion and was one of the things he’d become most familiar with in the whole of his life so far. He’d never been so interested in how someone else looked; never known what it was to want to see someone else’s smile more than your own.
Duo nodded again. Heero’s face was kind of twisted: kind of odd. Duo had learned a hell of a lot of Heero’s expressions, but that was one he didn’t see too often. It made his gut clench in case it meant…
...that Heero was miserable. He really didn’t want it to mean that. He’d fight to the death to prevent it. Duo knew he was a simple guy in some ways, but sometimes there were things that seemed clearer to him than other people.
“Big changes in life…,” he said, breathlessly. He took another step forward. “They just make me talk more. You know?”
“Make me talk… less,” said Heero, hoarsely.
Duo’s eyes widened. He took a step towards his neighbour, friend and – since a month, two days and six hours ago – lover.
Heero lifted a hand and touched Duo’s arm. He swallowed carefully and tried to steady the hammering of his heart. “You can change your mind. Even now. Even-” He waved the other hand towards the pile of Duo’s belongings. “Even after all this.”
Duo stared back. He was a foot or so away from Heero and could see right into the depth of his eyes. What he saw there kind of paralysed him: it happened every time. But he kind of liked the effect, too, like a combination of a rollercoaster and a sudden, hot shower and that bit at the end of E.T. where you get a bit tearful and have to pretend you’ve got dust in your eye.
Actually, it was after their last viewing of that movie – and with just that effect – that he and Heero had hugged up against each other on the couch, laughing with shared embarrassment, and then just stopped and stared as a rather different effect had taken hold. Then Duo had thrown the remote on to the floor and Heero had gasped hungrily and then they'd grabbed for each other and then…
Duo drew a deep breath. “You can change your mind, too,” he said, gently. “It’s a big step. Maybe I’m rushing things.”
“No,” said Heero, quickly. “No, this is what I want! That apartment of yours was never good enough for you. Damp; cramped; poor electrics; crappy furniture…”
“Tiny bed,” Duo murmured, mischievously.
Heero flushed, but he smiled, too. He ran his hand lightly along Duo’s arm, up to the elbow. “Yes. Half the size of mine.”
Duo raised his eyebrows. “You could get lost in a bed that size, Heero.”
Heero grinned. “Not with your inimitable satellite navigation, Duo.”
Duo slipped his hand around Heero’s waist and pulled them in against each other. He could feel Heero’s swift heartbeat matching his own. “Still a big step: moving in together. You’ve been used to all that space for yourself. I might cramp your style.”
“You are my style,” Heero breathed into his neck. Duo arched comfortably against him: Heero felt the delicious shiver of anticipation down from his ears to his groin. Their arms went around each other, their heads bent in close. Their kiss started very slowly and promised to travel very much further.
There was a loud, furious rattling from above, like the sound of a skateboard being ridden down the staircase. Then there was a creak and a thump behind them, as the pile of Duo's belongings surrendered to both gravity and vibration, and spilled all over the floor.
Duo rested his forehead against Heero's, and sighed. "That's our cue, isn't it?"
Heero laughed. “To get all that damned stuff moved out of your apartment, right." He gestured back towards his open door. "Let's get moving it into ours, OK?"