Ch 1: Party Night
I was drunk.
Worse, I was drunk in front of *her*.
I was giving her just another reason to disapprove of me and I was so shit-faced I didn't even care.
Not as much as I should have....
"Maa maa," I mumble, trying to ignore the floor swaying gently under my feet, focusing on Quatre's worried face before me. "Why the long face, Q-man?"
"Duo.. you're drunk." He sounds half-reproaching, half-surprised. Tsk, tsk, poor Quatre. He thought he knew me better....
Nobody knows me.
"I'm jus' fine," I declare firmly, blinking hard and peering into my empty champagne glass. "Besides," I add cheerfully, immediately contradicting myself, "Yer s'posed to get drunk at big bashes!"
Quatre looks unconvinced.
Big bash, indeed..
I look around at the throng of laughing, chattering people swarming all over the ballroom, elegantly dressed, most of them ignoring the melody the hired band is playing as they vie for the attention of the young woman that walks among them, pausing occassionally to speak with a group or individual, the long-haired blond-- Dorothy, isn't it? --constantly hanging at her elbow like a well-trained dog, smiling a smile that will always seem slightly sinister to me, her spider-like eyebrows raising in greeting when she speaks.
I realize I'm scowling and quickly hide the expression in my empty cup. Around me voices rise in admiration, respect, and pleasure.
"Relena-sama, how nice to see you."
"Your dress is very pretty, Relena-sama."
"Yes, it matches your eyes perfectly."
"Such a marvelous party you've invited us to!"
The worst thing is they aren't even all from her fan club of teenage girls. There are adults, as well-- important adults, by the look of their dress and manner --that seem taken with the amber-haired girl that floats serenely among her subjects like a swan, nodding gracefully to all, a small smile on her lips.
It's enough to make one sick, really.
"Duo, are you sure you're feeling all right?"
Damn. Observant kid. Quatre hasn't missed my dark look. I just hope he hasn't seen who it'd been directed towards.
I do what I do best when in a tight situation. I put on a dazzling smile and wave my arm carelessly, acting casual and cheerful. "Daijabou, daijabou, Q-man!" I insist, forcing a laugh that-- thankfully --sounds mostly guenuine. I spot a slim figure heading towards us through the crowd and excuse myself quickly with another lop-sided smile. "Ah, here comes Trowa. Why don't you chat with him? I'm gonna go grab a breath of fresh air, awright?"
As I'd hoped, the mention of the stoic pilot immediately seizes Quatre's attention, and he turns eagerly to spot the boy. "Well.. all right," he says after only a moment's hesitation. "I'll see you later, Duo."
I just wave my glass in his general direction, already making my unsteady way towards the open balcony.
Chuckling darkly, I stumble into the night, thankful to find the large balcony empty. "They must all be inside worshipping 'Her Highness'," I grumble, leaning heavily against the stone railing and scowling down into the inky garden below, ignoring the more cheerful sight of the harvest moon above and the million winking stars.
I stand there for what seems like hours, my drunk numbness beginning to wear off marginally, allowing my body to realize just how chilly it is outside. I shiver. That's the problem with drinking too often: any small amount of drunkenness tends to wear out quickly.
I begin fiddling with the delicate glass in my hand, ignoring the cold that pierces the borrowed white tux I had worn for the occassion. I stare listlessly over the edge of the rail, my nimble fingers moving unconsciously over the wineglass, petting it, smoothing it, feeling its shape in a distracted manner. Someone's compliment on Relena's dress reaches my ears, and my slim fingers flex in sudden anger.
I look down in faint surprise at the broken glass spilling from my hands as I loosen my fingers. There is red on the tips of three of my fingers. Funny, I could have sworn I had champagne, not red wine...
Oh... I lift a finger to my lips and taste the salty tang on it.
"What are you doing out here?"
I don't even bother to turn, sucking slightly on my index finger. I would know that monotone anywhere. I've listened to every word that fell from that mouth, glowed at every half-compliment that passed that throat, cringed inwardly at every sharp rebuke or insult that dripped from those cold lips.
I don't have to turn to see the lean body outlined in moonlight, because I've memorized it. Studied it a hundred times, whenever he thinks I'm not looking.
"Hey, Heero." There it is again. That mock cheerfulness. Not even for him can I drop my mask. "What's up?"
He waits a moment, then I hear the scrape of his shoes on the ground, and in another moment he's beside me, watching me with unemotionless eyes as I gaze unseeing into the sky. "...... You're bleeding."
I laugh quietly, an unpleasant sound. "Yes, blood... you've seen it a million times in your life, Heero, why should this.." I hold up my two still-bloody fingers for his inspection, still refusing to look at him, "..bother you?"
I sense him tense, but I'm still too drunk to take that as a warning sign. I drop my hand onto the rail, sighing and finally lifting my eyes to view the moon. Heero is silent, but he doesn't leave and he doesn't tell me to stop being a smartass, so I take that as a good sign.
I'm remarkably stupid sometimes, aren't I?
"It's nice out here, ne?" I murmur, more to myself than him. "No snivelling throngs fighting to kiss 'Relena-sama's' dainty foot." The sneer in my voice is evident even to myself. "At least here it's quiet."
"It's cold out here," he replies dryly.
I snort. "Jus' a little... go drink a little, Heero, an' it won't be so cold.."
He's staring at me. I feel his eyes boring into me like lasers, and can't stop myself from shifting slightly, uncomfortable under that piercing gaze. "What?" I mutter defensively, finally shooting a quick glance towards him.
His gaze never leaves mine, the face as stony as ever, the voice still without emotion. "I'm getting sick of your constant comments on Relena," he informs me quietly, and I wince violently, but only inside where he can't see how much it hurts me when he defends her.
Defends her from *me*.
"Relena has done a lot for this country," he continues, his gaze hard and unrelenting.
"So have we," I snap, glaring at him now, the alcohol in my blood burning and giving me courage to stand up to the cold warning in the back of those prussian blue eyes.
"I never said we didn't," he replies calmly.
"Why do you always stick up for her, anyway?" I demand, straightening, snapping out an arm, flinging it in the general direction of the party, glaring angrily into his face, the question flying from my mouth in a snarl before I can stop it. "Do you *love* her?"
What have I done?
Realization of what I've asked dawns on me, and my arm falls limply by my side as I turn quickly away, stumbling to get away from him, my hand flying up to cover my mouth. I think I'm going to be sick... my stomach hurts....
He didn't answer....
Does that mean....
No! He can't love her--!
"Duo--" He steps forward quickly, blocking my way and grabbing my arm, loosening his grip marginally only when I flinch. He seems to always forget the inhuman strength in his hands. "What kind of question is that?" This time I sense the underlying anger lacing his voice, just barely noticable.
I refuse to meet his eyes, turning my head away, tugging in vain in an attempt to free my arm. "Nothing," I insist, my voice hoarse. "I'm just... I'm drunk.... and.."
"You don't just pull things like that out of thin air," he growls, glaring at me now, trying to get me to look at him and failing.
"Well she loves *you*," I snap, finally wrenching my arm free because his grip goes suddenly slack. I shoot a quick heated glare into his face, seeing the dumbfounded look there. "Don't tell me you didn't *know*," I sneer. "Even *Wufei* noticed, for god's sake. You thinkshe just thinks you're a good soldier or something?! Don't make me laugh!"
He stares at me, uncomprehending.
I shake my head furiously, pushing him aside and stalking away. "Get out of my way, Heero," I say roughly, head down, hoping to god I won't cry. "I'm tired. I'm going to wait in the car until this shit is over with."
Damn, I wish I wouldn't keep forgetting that he's the freaking Perfect Soldier.
His arm snaps out like a viper, snagging my elbow in a crushing grip. Startled by the sudden attack and the pain that flares there as he twists me around to face him blows my angry cry of protest away with a startled gasp. I finally look into his eyes, my own wide with pain and-- I know he sees it --fear.
His eyes, which a split-second ago were burning with dark anger, immediately go blank with surprise, and his grip loosens considerably, enough for me to wrench away if I want to.
"Why are you looking at me like that?"
His voice is so quiet and so close to confused, I find myself unable to tear myself from his hold as I simply stare up at him blankly, the fear fading from me. I had thought he was going to hurt me... it was instinct. I have seen him hurt others countless times, and effortlessly bend steel with the hand that now covers my elbow. So why does he seem so... surprised?
"Duo....." his voice is barely audible, his eyes hidden by the ragged shadows of his bangs. "You're... afraid of me..?"
I feel as if the breath has been knocked from my lungs. I simply stare at him speechlessly, unable to respond for several moments. The sounds of the party seem to have been lost somewhere in the thick blanket of the night around us, and suddenly there is only Heero and myself in the world, and I am dangerously close to seeing something I have never seen before in him.
He seems almost...
As if I have.. betrayed him in some way.
Slowly, cautiously, still watching his shadowed face, I pull my arm free and face him fully, raising my arms and placing them timidly on his shoulders, light as a feather, ready to jerk back at the first sign of anger, my fingers loosely interlocked behind his neck. I feel him go rigid with surprise at the movement, and he lifts his head, staring down into my face with his eyes dilated larger than they should be, the look on his face reminding me in some way of a deer caught in the headlights with no clue where to run to, or even knowing if he should.
"I.. have never been afraid of you," I whisper, admitting this to both him and myself, leaving other words unspoken: I am the only one in this entire world stupid enough to laugh in the face of your anger... to walk fearlessly around you... to try and save what is left of Heero Yuy.
His breathing seems slightly quicker, but I barely notice it, staring calmly up into his eyes. I want....
I don't realize the words have left my lips until he asks, "... What do you want?"
I blink, watching him, the alcohol coursing like a waterfall through my veins, blinding my reason. "I want...." I shake my head, then slowly, slowly lean closer, edge closer, until my body is barely an inch away from his own, so that we feel each other's body heat. His head sways backwards slightly in surprise, his breath pausing. I am the only one who would notice these subtle changes, these signs of sudden uncertainty in him. I have studied him for so long.
"I want..." my voice is not much more than a breath of air as I lean my face closer to his, my eyes hooded, my lips agonizingly close to his own but not touching. "You will not want to give... what I want you to give me," I whisper.
"Duo.." his voice is hard, but I hear the underlying thread of uneasiness. "You're drunk."
"Why else would I finally be telling you this?" I chuckle quietly, and sigh, pushing away and turning my back on him, hugging my elbows and closing my eyes tightly. "No... just... go away. Just..."
"...." I hear him take a step towards me, and bite my lip hard to prevent tears, blurting out,
"Just go see Relena, all right?"
Silence drops like a stone on the night, and I can almost *feel* those eyes narrowing and digging into my back, feel the sudden anger smouldering there. I hold my breath until I think I'm going to pass out, then....
He turns sharply on his heel and stalks back inside to the party.
I immediately collapse to the ground, gasping for air and giggling hysterically, my hand fluttering over my face as I try to hide my shame.
I don't want the moon to see me crying.
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