** Disclaimer: these characters do not belong to me, blah, blah, blah, they belong to their respective owners, and I promise to leave them alone once I’m done playing with them... ^-^ Enjoy! **
Every holiday it was the same story.
On Saint Patrick’s Day a comical green hat was discovered on his bed, and promptly trashed.
Christmas Eve, Heero always found a small present tucked under his pillow. He gave nothing to Duo, who didn’t seem to mind in the least.
On Thanksgiving, Duo tried to drag Heero along shopping, but a few curses and a deadly warning with a knife had stopped that idea.
Every holiday, Heero received something from his roommate, but never bothered to return the favor, and usually ignored the gift, putting it aside, tossing it in the trash, or impatiently refusing the offer of an outing with the braided boy and the others. Duo never seemed bothered or surprised when gifts or thanks were absent. It puzzled and annoyed Heero. Why give something if you weren’t going to receive something back for your trouble?
He even asked Duo once, discovering a small bag of firecrackers on his pillow on New Year’s Eve. Whirling to face the other boy lounging on his bed across the room, he snapped, “What’s wrong with you? Quit giving me this shit! You’d better not be expecting something back, ‘cause you’re not getting anything!”
Unperturbed by this outburst, Duo sent him a grin, turning the page of the manga he was reading.
“Yeah, I know,” he replied cheerfully. “Wanna go pop those later?”
Muttering darkly, Heero deposited the bag in the waste bin and left the room, not seeing Duo’s shrug of resignation.
A few days later, Duo had finally promised not to send him presents anymore. Relieved and scowling, Heero had snapped, “Good. Next time you do...” his blue eyes glared. “Omae o korosu, got it?”
“Hai,” Duo had sighed, shrugging and wandering off to bug someone else.
Duo winced, stifling a hiss of pain as he hid behind the desk, his heart thundering. “Shimmata,” he murmured angrily to himself, checking the bruise on his knee before peeking around the desk to see if anyone had heard the commotion. He heard footsteps and muttered a curse, fumbling in his shirt for another round of ammunition. He had bumped into an open drawer while sneaking into the dark office to search through the files, and a stack of boxes atop the cabinet had come crashing down, almost stunning him as they battered his head and shoulders mercilessly.
As the footsteps neared, he hurriedly loaded the gun and cocked it, readying himself, the flicker of a smirk on his face. “Come meet the Shinigami,” he crooned softly, licking a bead of sweat from his upper lip. Suddenly he heard a slight noise behind him and turned. The back door!
A man stood silhouetted in the moonlight, aiming a nasty looking pistol directly at Duo, who froze, caught completely off guard. Giving an oath, he twisted around swiftly, pulling the trigger...
It was jammed!
He pulled again, uselessly, panic rising in his chest. “Shimmata!”
The OZ official in the door chuckled, cocking his gun. “Good night, little boy,” he sneered, and Duo braced himself for the shot that would come.
Duo stared in shock as the man toppled backward, dropping his gun. He gave a wheezing groan and slid to the ground, shot through the forehead. Duo stared, still too surprised to move. “Nani...?”
“Christ, I should’ve let him shoot you,” a familiar voice said irritably behind him. “Damn baka.”
Duo twisted to look over his shoulder. “Heero!”
The boy scowled down at him, still aiming his gun at where the enemy had been standing. “Getting a little careless?” he accused.
Duo breathed a sigh of relief, pushing himself to his feet. “Boy, am I glad to see you,” he said, wincing at the pain in his knee and his upper body. “Owie...”
Heero glared, lowering his weapon. “What did you do to yourself this time?” he demanded. “Fall down the stairs?”
“Very funny,” Duo retorted, sticking out his tongue and fumbling with his gun. “If you’re gonna be such a poop, you can stand guard while I fix this damn thing.”
His partner made no move to obey, and Duo ignored him, studying his gun, occasionally whacking it against the desk, muttering curses.
“You trying to wake the whole compound up?” Heero hissed, glancing over his shoulder. “Keep it down, you baka, or...”
“Omae o korosu, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it a million times,” Duo finished, still intent on his gun.
Suddenly Heero was right up in his face, his eyes dangerous. “You’re getting careless again. You think I’m not going to follow up on it?”
Duo gulped involuntarily, trying to grin weakly. “Ah...I hope not..”
Giving him another basilisk glare, Heero turned away from him, leaning against the desk. “Keep that flapping mouth of yours closed for once,” he advised. “You just might live longer.”
Duo knew better than to press him when he was in one of his moods again, so he was quiet for a few moments as he fixed his gun. Heero walked over to a file cabinet and began testing it, looking for an unlocked drawer.
Unable to heed Heero’s advice, Duo found himself talking cheerfully again. “Today was Valentine’s Day,” he chirped, squinting at his weapon for a final check up. “I hope you’re happy. I didn’t get you anything, ne? Aren’t you proud of me?”
Heero grunted in acknowledgement, opening the desk drawers, searching expertly for important papers.
Reloading his gun, Duo continued to chatter. “I got everyone else cards, but not you, ‘cause you’re such a grouch...”
Heero didn’t answer, absorbed in a folder.
Duo tucked the gun in his shirt and fumbled in his pocket for his lock-picking trinkets. “Well, let’s see what love notes we can find in here, hmm?” he said, moving towards the cabinets. Both boys froze at the sound of voices in the hallway.
“Damn,” Duo muttered, reaching for his gun again. Heero grabbed his arm.
“No. This,” he held up the folder, “is what we need. C’mon, let’s get going. I’ve got the bike outside.”
The two boys hurried through the back door, and Heero hauled the motorcycle from the bushes.
“I wanna drive,” Duo proclaimed, bouncing on the balls of his heels, eyes alight.
“Forget it,” Heero snapped, climbing on and pulling on his helmet. “You’re hurt; you’ll probably just get us in an accident.”
Duo pouted for a moment, then seemed to remember the people inside, and shrugged, climbing up behind his partner. “Oh, well, I’m tired, anyway,” he admitted, yawning. Such a long day...
Heero gunned the engine and roared off. Duo grabbed his waist to keep from falling off, and Heero jolted slightly, startled. He scolded himself silently. What was he so surprised about? Duo had to hold onto him, to avoid falling off. But the feel of Duo’s arms around his waist was a surprisingly pleasant feeling...
Behind him, Duo yawned hugely and leaned against the warm back before him, drifting towards sleep, ignorant of Heero’s sudden discomfort. He winced slightly as his bruised body began to complain. “Ow...Damn it..”
They sped down a side road, the moonlight shining down on the woods on either side of the dirt road. Just as Duo was starting to fall asleep, Heero cursed loudly, and the bike screeched to an abrupt halt. Startled, Duo started to topple off, but Heero snagged him quickly. “Wha- Huh? Wuzzat?” Duo gasped sleepily, rudely awakened as he looked around wildly, blinking owlishly. “Hey, Heero, why’d we stop?”
“I dropped the god-damned folder!” Heero snarled, peering along the dark path. He cursed again, stepping off the bike. “Get off and help me find it.”
Groaning, Duo stayed where he was, rubbing sleep from his eyes. “Mmf...I’m tired,” he whined, yawning hugely. “Isn’t that it over there?”
“No, that’s garbage. Now help me find it!”
Duo reluctantly hopped to the ground and began looking around, awakening slowly. “How important is it?” he demanded. “Geez, I don’t see it anywhere.”
“Important enough,” Heero snapped. “Shut up and keep looking.”
Duo shrugged, bending over to dig through some bushes. He cursed as he toppled over, his knee giving out on him abruptly, sharp pain shooting up his leg. Heero appeared over him, frowning.
“Nothing,” Duo muttered, starting to rise, biting his lip in pain. He must have hit it harder than he’d thought.. “I’m fine.”
“Baka,” Heero said in an annoyed tone, pushing him onto his rump. “Let me see that damn knee.”
Duo made a face, pulling the injured limb protectively to his chest. “I said I’m fine,” he protested. “We have to find that folder, it’s important. You said so. Besides, since when do you care if I--”
“Duo,” Heero said sharply.
“Shut up for once.”
Duo shut his mouth, watching as Heero inspected his banged knee, rolling the pant leg up. He winced as the lean boy prodded it experimentally. “Ouch, that hurts! Watch it!”
“Quit being such a baby.”
“I’m not! But you don’t have to poke an injury to see if it hurts, you know,” Duo said defensively. “If it didn’t hurt, I wouldn’t be down on the ground, now would I?” At those words, his breath caught in his throat, and he quickly fell silent. Down on the ground...what a way to put it..
Heero glanced at him sharply. “What’s wrong with you?” he demanded.
Duo flushed, waving his hands in a carefree way. “Ah ha ha, nothing...” Then he remembered something from school. Sometimes the best way to stop a rumor or suspicious person was to give them exactly what they wanted, surprising them into backing out of the subject. He grinned mischievously. “That’s just an odd way to put it, don’t you think? ‘Down on the ground’?” He chuckled, poking Heero in the chest. “Gee, Heero, never knew you felt this way,” he continued his teasing, smirking.
Heero stared at him silently for a moment, and Duo felt a sigh of relief inside. It had worked. He had so revolted the boy that he would drop the subject, and leave him alone....What a pity, a small part of him thought forlornly, surprising even himself.
Heero continued staring at him, and Duo felt his palms begin to sweat. “Ah, Heero, I’m fine, really,” he said, his teasing tone faltering to a nervous one. “Just a little bruise, nothing that can stop the Shinigami...” He gulped, mesmerized by the blue eyes boring into his own. His voice turned uncertain. “Uhh... Heero?” His voice dwindled off as Heero shifted slightly, so that they were closer. His heart thundered in his chest, and his throat was suddenly dry. Oh, god, what’s he doing, what’s he up to? his mind cried frantically. Why’s he looking at me like that? Part of him felt like bolting, but the other part felt strangely...eager, even nervously excited. Duo felt his eyes widen as he realized just how close his partner was. “H-Heero...?”
Damn! After all that time spent teasing and chasing the Japanese pilot, it was he who was on the receiving end. Now he was the unsure one, and he was terrified. Terrified that something was about to happen. Terrified that something wouldn’t happen. Oh, gods...He’s going to...
As he leaned back slightly in a last-ditch attempt to avoid the inevitable, something underneath him crackled. Both boys froze, then Duo gave a watery grin. “Um, I found the folder,” he said weakly.
Duo sat on his bed, trying hard to concentrate on the manga in his lap. His thoughts kept wandering to the scene on the road only a few hours before. What had Heero been about to do? he fretted. Was he just overreacting, or had that burning in his partner’s eyes been what he hoped-- feared --it was? “Kutabare, Heero,” he sighed in annoyance, tossing the manga aside and snatching up his towel. Maybe a shower would clear his head.... He heard a knock on his door and rose to answer it, wincing slightly.
Quatre and Trowa stood in the doorway, grinning. Wufei, behind them, merely watched silently, arms crossed.
“Happy Valentine’s Day, Duo,” Quatre said cheerfully.
Duo chuckled. “It’s almost midnight, you guys. Whaddya want?”
Quatre beamed, holding out a small box of chocolates. “This is for you, we think!” He exchanged a subtle glance with Trowa. “I think they’re from Heero...”
Duo started to get that excited look on his face, but it melted abruptly. “Uhh... I don’t think so, guys,” he mumbled, looking down at the ground miserably. “He never gets me anything.”
“But...” Quatre looked anxiously at his crestfallen comrade. “I’m sure these are from him,” he lied, and Duo’s lips quirked in a sad smile. He had the best friends in the world... Maybe he should just play along....
“Those aren’t from me.”
Everyone froze at the familiar cold voice. Duo ducked his head lower, and Quatre blushed furiously, trying to stammer an excuse to the glowering pilot who had showed up behind him. Heero pushed past his companions and entered the room he shared with Shinigami’s pilot, shutting the door huffily in their faces.
Duo shrank away, his eyes still on the ground in misery and embarrassment. “Ne...Gomen, Heero,” he muttered. “I tried to tell them...”
Heero stood before the humiliated boy, staring at him silently. “That wasn’t from me,” he repeated firmly.
Duo thought he was going to be sick. Maybe he was having a heart attack; the way his heart was being torn, it sure felt like it. “I know,” he whispered, starting to turn away. “Gomen...”
“Matte.” Heero grabbed his shoulder, forcing him to face him again. Duo was still staring at the ground when something was thrust under his nose. “That wasn’t from me,” Heero said quietly, “but this is.”
Startled, Duo took it, looking up quizzically into Heero’s stone face. Getting no hint from there, he began tearing the pink wrapping from the small package. He pulled out a thin chain bracelet; a charm bracelet, with one charm on it: a tiny red heart. Duo’s throat closed up, and he blinked rapidly to hold back tears. Biting his lip, he looked up at Heero, who was shifting uncomfortably on his feet, at the same time watching for a reaction, a thread of anxiety in those normally expressionless cobalt blue eyes.
“I figure I have some catching up to do,” Heero muttered roughly, sliding the bracelet over Duo’s wrist. “You always get me those stupid little presents...So every holiday, you’ll get a new charm.”
Duo could only stare at the other boy, speechless. Heero offered a slight smile and started towards the door. “Enjoy...”
“H-Heero!” Duo cried, diving forward and wrapping his arms around the waist of the startled pilot. “Heero, arigato! Domo arigato!!” His voice broke, so he buried his head in Heero’s shoulder, swallowing his tears. After a moment, strong yet hesitant arms slid around his lower back. They relaxed against each other, Duo’s head in the other pilot’s shoulder, Heero’s face half-buried in Duo’s amber hair.
Duo blinked back tears, struggling with his feelings. Now...I have to tell him now.....Even if Heero never talks to me again, I have to get it out.
“Heero..?” he asked timidly.
There was a pause, then, “Hmm?”
“I...I keep meaning to...to tell you something...” Duo gulped, his heart hammering in his chest.
“I...I-I.....” he took a deep breath, and lowered his voice so it was barely audible. “Ai shiteru.”
He felt the boy pressed against him stiffen, and bit his lip hard, blinking back tears. Of course he would be disgusted, he scolded himself harshly. You never should have told him....
But I had to...
“Gomen nasai, Heero-kun,” he whispered brokenly, pulling away, his watery eyes on the ground. “I just.... had to tell you...” For once strangely quiet, he untangled himself and turned away, closing his eyes tightly, waiting for Heero to walk out, waiting for the slam of the door.
It never came.
After a breathless moment of silence, the most unexpected miracle happened.
Arms slid around his waist, encircling him and pulling him back against a firm chest. Duo’s eyes flew open and his breath choked in his throat as a voice in his ear whispered, “The feeling’s mutual, baka. Now quit acting like a wounded dog and look at me.”
Too stunned to think straight, much less reply, Duo swiveled in the circle of those strong arms and stared speechlessly into unfamiliar blue eyes. Those *couldn’t* be Heero’s eyes, always harsh and cold, unemotional. No, these eyes... these eyes were soft velvet blue, filled with... longing, and... something else that practically left Duo gasping.
“Duo...” He bowed his head slightly, letting his lips brush against the other’s cheek as his grip tightened possessively. “Ai shiteru, too...”
Something inside of the American pilot snapped. All his walls, so much like Heero’s, the ones he had kept up to hide his true emotions, came crashing down. With something between a sob and a wail, he threw his arms around the other boy’s neck, burying his face in his shoulder. His own shoulders heaved with sobs, as he repeated over and over,
“Ai shiteru, Heero, ai shiteru... I never thought.. thought that you....”
“Duo,” Heero said sternly, and Duo hiccupped, ceasing his tears and staring up at the Japanese boy, his eyes full of tears, uncertainty, and joy.
Heero’s lips quirked in a rare smile, and he cupped Duo’s face in his hand, drawing him closer still with the other. “I already knew,” he whispered.
Heero, Duo decided dazedly some time later, had very tasty lips.
And talented hands.
And he’s all mine.....
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