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Mercury Rising (parts 1 - 6)


part 1

Heero Yuy spent the weekend packing up his belongings, labeling each box with a detailed list of its contents. "Be careful with that one." he cautioned sternly. The moving men barely nodded as they carried the huge box from the room. Surveying the now empty apartment that he had been exiled to for the past 8 months, Heero did a last minute check and exited out into the hallway.

There were very few of his fellow students who called this quiet luxury building in Princeton home during the school year, but his parents had insisted he take up residence here rather than in the dorms. It had proven to be a wise choice. His course load the last two semesters would have allowed him no time for a social life even if he had wanted one. Watching as the last of the boxes was loaded into the back of the small Ryder truck, Heero slid behind the wheel of his white Mercedes.

The nearly hour ride back home was made with surprisingly little trepidation. His parents had left for Europe several days prior and the large house would be left with minimal staffing, allowing the young man sufficient time to just unwind and revel in the peace the upcoming weeks offered.

Pulling into the driveway, Heero brought the vehicle to a stop and exited, taking a moment to enjoy the well manicured grounds of his home. The huge house sat on nearly 5 green acres in beautiful Bucks County, PA. He had little recollection of his family's move to the area, his childhood growing up in New York City reduced to merely a blurred memory.


"Mr. Yuy." a voice called out.

Heero turned to see their long-time housekeeper making her way toward him.

Smiling, he walked toward the slender redhead, allowing her to embrace him. "It's Heero, Cynthia." he smiled. "Mr. Yuy is my father."

She blushed slightly and released the young man. "Did you have a nice trip back?" she asked.

"It was without incident." he returned. "They left you to hold down the fort?" he questioned, holding the door open for her as they entered the house.

"Yes. It looks like it will be just the two of us for most of the summer. Something to drink?" she asked as they made their way into the kitchen.

"No. I'm fine, thank you." he returned. "When the movers get here with my things, will you please show them up to my room?" he asked, "I'm going up to get changed and head out for a swim." he announced.

"Certainly." she smiled as she watched the young man ascend the stairs.


Cynthia had been in the Yuy's employ for nearly 16 years, practically since they had moved to Doylestown. While her primary function was that of a housekeeper, her fondness toward the 4 year old boy who was the only child of her employers, found her playing role of nanny to the small boy as well. She watched fondly as Heero climbed the stairs, no less concerned about his well-being than she had been many years prior.

Heero was an unusually brilliant child. He was focused and excelled at nearly everything he did. He was also extremely introverted. She suspected it had something to do with his being an only child, though it seemed he intentionally repelled any contact with his peers... and his parents as well.

Odin and Vanessa Yuy didn't strike her as the family type. They were young and socially affluent. It was apparent by their behavior as well as their current surroundings. She briefly recalled their first encounter, the two failing to even mention that they had a child, certainly not including any duties relating to the young boy in her job description. Cynthia frowned for a moment, her expression turning lighter as she watched Heero make his way back down into the kitchen.

"Sure I can't interest you in a glass of lemonade?" she asked. "It's fresh." she added, smiling toward him.

Heero nodded and watched as she filled the glass and added several ice cubes to it. "Thank you." he smiled, taking the glass in hand. "When are my parents due back?" he asked.

"Mid-August." she replied. "Didn't they talk with you about it?"

Heero shook his head. "They emailed me to tell me they wouldn't be here when I got home. They also mentioned something about hiring someone to take care of the pool."

"Oh..yes." she smiled, taking a note from the counter. "He will be here later in the week." she told him, handing him the small piece paper. It was written in what he recognized as his mothers handwriting.

"He's staying for the summer?" Heero asked after reading the note, puzzled as he looked up at her.

Cynthia nodded. "Yes. In the guest house out by the pool."

"Why? Couldn't they just hire someone to stop by in the mornings like they usually do?" he asked, handing the note back to her.

"Seems he is the son of one of your father's old college buddies. He was looking for something to do this summer." she responded. "If you ask me..." she added softly, "I think they just wanted to keep him out of trouble."

"Oh..." Heero groaned. "Another one of those...." he continued. He recalled his father's last attempt at hiring summer help in this manner.

"At least it's not that girl again." [1] she told him, nearly laughing out loud at Heero's facial expression. "She really gave you a hard time, didn't she?" Cynthia asked amused.

"No comment." Heero smiled back at her. "At least I don't have to worry about being stalked in my own house this time around." he returned, setting his empty glass down in the sink.

"I certainly hope not." she told him as he exited the house. "Enjoy your swim."


Heero took the 100 yard walk to the pool in deep thought.

The pressure of being a third year CSCI [2] major at Princeton had taken its toll on him and he welcomed the sanctuary his home brought. It was fortunate that his parents didn't press him to find a job during the summer, as a matter of fact, they had been adamant that he *not* take a job, citing his high-strung nature as cause enough. He wasn't about to argue.... he knew there was more to it than that.

Last summer had nearly been a complete disaster for him. He had done everything he could to discourage the girl his parents had employed and had resorted to becoming all but a prisoner in his own room to avoid her. He had made his father acutely aware of the situation, stopping just short of coming right out and requesting that he refrain from repeating last summers error. Apparently he had been too subtle.

Opening the gate to enter the pool area, Heero placed his towel down on a nearby chaise lounge and stepped up onto the diving board. The pool water was a dark crystalline blue and shimmered in invitation under the midday sun. Swimming was one of the few physical activities that Heero actually enjoyed though he forced himself to engage in several others to keep himself fit. Walking to the edge of the 8 foot plank, Heero raised his arms over his head. Bouncing slightly with his toes gripping the end of the gritty board, he took a deep breath and held it before gracefully arching up into the air and diving into the cool water.


Duo Maxwell looked around the one bedroom apartment that he had come to call home. Classes had ended nearly a week ago, yet he found himself still drawn to the lifestyle he had grown accustomed to for the past two years. This particular area of New York City offered him a climate he felt comfortable in. Unlike his former home in Westchester, his appearance drew little attention here, the long-haired youth not known for fitting in. It seemed to piss his parents off.

His two older brothers and younger sister had easily conformed to the mold that Duo abhorred. Despite the fact that he had been accepted into the prestigious Cooper Union for Art and Architecture, his choice of profession further distanced himself from his family. He had long ago resigned himself to the fact that he was destined to remain the black sheep. He found that it suited him just fine.


Taping the last of three small boxes closed, Duo stacked them atop one another out in the hallway and took one last look around his former living quarters. "See you in September." he smiled, closing the door behind him.

"Hey, Duo!" a voice called out. "Need some help with those?"

Duo turned and smiled, "Thanks, Jay. Car is double parked out front." he told the young man as he bent to pick up two of the boxes.

"Headed home for the summer?" the blonde asked, following closely behind him.

"You kidding?" Duo asked jokingly. Despite outward appearances, his neighbor and fellow classmate was one of the few people Duo had taken into his confidence since arriving at school. "What are you still doing here, by the way?" he asked as they descended the stairs.

"I'm staying put for the summer. Got a job at Orange Front." he told Duo. "You working?"

Duo nodded. "If you can call it work." he winked. "Friend of my Dad's needs someone to take care of their pool."

"A pool boy?" Jay grinned. "Somehow I just can't see it." he smiled, setting the boxes down beside the black Volvo. "This your car?" he asked.

"Like I would own a car like this." he remarked dryly, turning toward the blonde who had duly noted his sarcasm.

"I thought I knew you better than that." Jay smiled.

"Yeah. It belongs to my old man." he returned, opening the trunk and putting the boxes into it. "Maybe I'll give you an call and you can come down for a few days." Duo told him as he unlocked the door. "I don't know the set up yet, but I've got my own place.... a guest house." he smiled as he reached for his sunglasses. "Rich bastards." he grinned starting the car. "Gotta love em.."

"Sounds great, Duo. Don't work too hard!"

"No worries there.. and thanks for your help, Jay. Enjoy...I'll call ya." Duo called out as he pulled away from the curb.


Heero had returned to his room after a short swim and showered before redressing. Standing before his bedroom window, he looked out to the yard below. It really was a magnificent place and he seemed to grow more appreciative of it with each passing year. Oddly, he was unable to recall any fond memories of his childhood growing up here, the most pleasant ones only created the past few summers.

His parents had enrolled him in an accelerated program when he entered junior high and he had graduated two years ahead of schedule. He had little difficulty keeping up with the academics and devoted nearly all his time to his studies. The age difference between him and his fellow classmates held little consequence. The silent young man was mature well beyond his years and the fact that he had chosen not immerse himself in any social activities kept him safe from scrutiny.


The music blared inside the air conditioned vehicle as Duo sped along Route 202. He kept the directions to his *job* on the set beside him, glancing at them on occasion. He had accepted his father's offer of summer employment without reluctance. He smiled as he thought about the shock on his parents faces. He was rarely in agreement with anything they recommended. This, he thought, seemed flawless, an almost perfect summer job.

Given that his life always seemed to diverge toward the rougher of the two paths, he should have suspected that this journey would be no different.

The thought never entered his mind.

[1] *snickers* anyone care to guess who might have been responsible for stalking and torturing our poor young heero?

[2] computer science... what else ^_~

part 2

Cynthia had spent a better part of late afternoon in Heero's room, aiding him as he unpacked. He had not asked for her assistance nor did he decline her offer. It was more than duty that brought her there, she genuinely enjoyed the young man's company; noting he seemed to feel the same.

Unlike his parents, Heero never spoke to her in a condescending manner, though he was often short on words. The two were never ill at ease with one another, but she had often witnessed the brasher side of the soft spoken young man; his mannerisms seeming to fluctuate greatly depending on whose company he was in.

"You seem to have taken a liking for more modern music." she noted, neatly slipping each disc of his CD collection into the slots of the black metal rack that stood on the floor beside his bed.

"I've expanded my horizons a bit." he smiled back at her. "Though I still prefer classical."

She nodded and continued her task as Heero removed the various components of his computer from its box and set them on his desk. Cynthia watched him from the corner of her eye. She hadn't been surprised when Heero had announced he was planning on becoming a Computer Major, it seemed to suit him. A career as a Programmer would allow him to work in a closed environment with minimal human contact and for the most part, rely only on himself for his success.

She smiled as he handled the machine. "Any projects this summer?" she asked, nodding her head to indicate her question was regarding the computer.

"I've been working on an rpg [3] engine. I'll most likely fool around with it a bit while I'm home." he replied, connecting the last of the hardware and plugging the surge protector into the wall.

"Like Final Fantasy?" she asked.

Heero turned toward her a offered her an innocent smile. "Not quite as sophisticated, but the same general idea." he returned. "Enough of this for today."

She nodded and looked around the room. They had succeeded in unpacking three of the six boxes that sat neatly stacked in the corner.


Duo had decided to spend the night in Lambertville.

He wasn't expected at the Yuy house for another day or two and the quaint town nestled beside the Delaware River attracted his attention as he passed through.

It was unpretentious; the small street that ran through its center lined with antique shops and art galleries. He parked the black Volvo in front of a Bed & Breakfast and headed up the shrub-lined walkway toward the large brightly painted Victorian house. He approached the desk and registered; requesting and being given a room that offered a view of the river. Grabbing an overnight bag from the car, he headed up to his room on the second floor, immediately drawn to the view outside the divided window.

The Delaware River was thin and muddy at this point, the narrow brown water only 300 yards wide and served to separate New Jersey from Pennsylvania. From his vantage point, he could see the dirt trail that lined both sides, the well worn path a testament to its use. Looking further down the river, Duo could see the small metal bridge that was passage for both vehicles and pedestrians alike. Smiling at the vision, he reached into his bag for a large spiral bound pad and a small rounded piece of charcoal. He settled himself onto the wide ledge that sat below the window with one foot tucked up under him and began to sketch.


Heero had risen at 9:00 in the largely unfamiliar space. He had yet to adjust to the surroundings and a quiet that was oddly unnerving. He looked over at the clock and stretched his arms up over his head. Sleeping this late was a luxury and he let out a small moan of pleasure; certain this was something he could grow accustomed to.

Several minutes later, a soft knock came on his partially closed door. "You awake yet?" the female voice asked.

"Just barely." he returned as he brought himself to a seated position. "Come in."

Cynthia smiled as she entered the room, missing the sight of the messy haired young man; his deep blue eyes still filled with sleep. "I made breakfast for you... it's in the microwave. I'm going into town for a while. You need anything?" she asked from the doorway.

"I think I'm all set." he told her, rising from the bed. "French toast?" he questioned, looking toward her as his senses began to wake.

She offered him a wide smile and nodded. "I haven't forgotten. Now go eat it before it gets cold." she finished, closing the door behind her. She stood for a moment on the other side, picturing the smile that deserved to be on the young mans handsome face. It saddened her it was rarely there.


Duo chose to spend the morning and a good portion of the afternoon familiarizing himself with the small town. He walked through its center, stopping in several of the shops and making a few purchases. Tucking the bags snugly into the back seat, he started the engine and proceeded toward his destination; 30 miles north of his current location.

Merging back onto Route 202 just minutes later, Duo fell prey to the silence inside the vehicle. He hated it.. if left him with too much time to think and he found himself caught up in the thoughts that seemed to bombard him from out of thin air.

Why the hell was he doing this?

Thinking back, he realized that he should have maintained his contrary posture when dealing with his parents. They had made the suggestion in an almost offhand manner over dinner one night. He felt little reluctance to offer an objection as it hadn't come in their standard 'forcing things down his throat' method.

The possibility that they'd figured out a way to coerce him into doing things brought a sour look to his face and he sighed. He had committed himself to this and while he had every intention of keeping his word; he had no intention of enjoying it.


Heero spent the first minutes of the morning in his standard fashion, taking a quick shower before grabbing his coffee and heading out to the pool. He had fallen into the routine during last summers visit and picked up on it without forethought on this his first day back home. He paused as he passed through the kitchen, recalling that Cynthia left him breakfast. He grabbed the plate from the microwave and a cup of coffee and made his way through the yard.


Cynthia was her usual talkative self during lunch and Heero equally in character with his silence. The subject of their soon-to-be guest came up and Cynthia informed Heero that she'd received a call and that he should be expected sometime late this afternoon.

Heero nodded to acknowledge her words, offering no comment in return. There was a small part of him that welcomed the stranger, though only for a selfish reason; he disliked the idea having to maintain the pool himself.


It was nearly 5:30 P.M. when the noise of an approaching car attracted Heero's interest. The house was located on a dead end street and saw very little traffic. Without conscious thought, Heero took note of even the smallest disturbance in the typical silence. He followed the hum of the engine and paused his movements as it slowed; crossing his room to look out the window at the rear of the house. He saw the late model Volvo turn the curve in the driveway and stop several feet shy of the garage doors.

From his window, Heero observed Cynthia as she exited the house as the driver stepped from inside the vehicle. It was the hair that caught his attention first; holding it for several confusing seconds. There was an excessive amount of it and it trailed down the center of their back in a thick loosely woven braid.

His brow wrinkled and he did a double take.... recalling his conversation with Cynthia and reassuring himself that the expected summer help was indeed to be male. He looked more closely at the tall, slender figure, but was unable get a better look; the young man well hidden beneath his black baseball cap and dark glasses.

Cynthia approached him and extended her hand. He watched the exchange and could see the two smiling at one another and what he assumed to be the two making their introductions. They spoke only briefly before Cynthia pointed at the guest house and they started toward it. His eyes followed their movement until they reached the white gate that marked the entrance to the pool area and then he laid back down on his bed and continued reading.

About thirty minutes had passed when he heard the slam of a car door and sat up to look out the window again, watching as the thin braided young man removed several pieces of luggage from the trunk of his vehicle. He made his way down the path and Heero watched as he entered the guest house; startled seconds later by a knock on his door.


He rose and answered, finding the tall redheaded housekeeper on the other side. "Time for dinner."

"I see our company has arrived."

"Yes.. He's just getting himself settled in. Seems nice enough."

Heero walked behind her through the long hallway and down the stairs. Nice had nothing to do with it. "Let's hope he does a good job."

[3] role playing game: winks at kristen and tells her to pass it along to colin

part 3

My first encounter with our visitor took place the very night he arrived; within the first hour in fact.

He'd not had time to shop and Cynthia had taken upon herself to extend him an invitation to join us for dinner. I honestly wished she'd spoken with me about it first. I felt uneasy as I made my way downstairs and wondered why she didn't just suggest he order a pizza instead.

In all fairness to Cynthia, she probably needed the interaction. It was just her and I for the past few days and I wasn't much of a conversationalist. I would have to meet him soon enough, if not tonight, then probably during tomorrow's morning swim. Applying logic to the two thoughts I'd just had, I'd decided that since Cynthia would be dining with us, it would probably be better to get it over with tonight.

I also decided that Cynthia was more of an ally than I'd previously given her credit for.


When I arrived in the kitchen, he was already there; leaning against the countertop with his arms folded at his mid-section. I'd heard voices as I approached the kitchen but there was only silence as I stepped inside the room. Cynthia briefly introduced us as she continued with last minute dinner preparations.

"Heero this is Duo Maxwell. Duo this is Heero Yuy." she smiled, turning back around to finish her chores.

I smiled politely and Duo offered me his hand. "Hey."

"Hello." I returned, hesitantly shaking it.

He was several inches taller than me and was of a slighter build. His right ear had multiple piercings, each hole filled with a silver loop; gradually increasing in size from the lobe up yet his left had none. What little of his skin that was visible was pale and I looked up to meet his glance; noting his eyes were an odd shade of deep violet-blue. 'So the pool boy doesn't get much sun', I thought; quickly realizing that perhaps he wore sunscreen, which I decided was wise considering all the time he'd be spending out in the sun. I then paused to wonder why I was even thinking along these lines.

"So, our dads went to the same college." he commented.

I nodded and took my usual place at the table and looked over as he seated himself across from me. "Are you from around here?"

He shook his head. "I grew up in Westchester. Live in New York City now."

"Ahh...." I replied. That explained it.

"It's really nice here. I've never been to this part of Pennsylvania before."

"It's quiet." I replied.

"Heero attends Princeton; as both your fathers did." Duo smiled over at Cynthia as she seated herself at the head of the table. "Help yourselves."

I watched as Duo helped himself to salad and pasta, buttering a slice of Italian bread as well. "Everything looks great, Cynthia. Thanks for inviting me."

"No problem." she smiled.

I served myself a small portion of pasta and an even smaller one of salad. Despite the fact that this was one of my favorite meals, I felt awkward and took solace in the fact that Duo's joining us for dinner would be a one time deal.

"Maybe tomorrow you can show Duo around town, Heero. He needs to do some food shopping too."

I cringed and forced a smile as I looked up at Cynthia. "I can draw him a map."

Duo looked over at me, easily reading my reluctance before turning toward Cynthia. "It's okay. I'll find my way around."

I almost felt bad.. almost. I was angry that she had practically volunteered me to give him a tour of the town; once again taking something upon herself that involved me without having asked me first. I had every intention of discussing this with her when we alone.

I pretty much kept quiet during the rest of the meal. I barely listened to what Duo and Cynthia were talking about; though I was aware of the endless chatter. I couldn't help but notice that they had very similar personalities; or at least it seemed that way. They spoke almost as if they'd known each other for years. Their postures were relaxed and their words seemed to flow without forethought.

We'd finished our meal and Cynthia stood to clear the table.

Duo looked around the kitchen and smiled. "Nice place. The guest house is great too."

I nodded. I wasn't being arrogant; it wasn't my house. "You do this sort of thing often?

"Take care of people's pools?" Duo asked. "No. This will be my first go at it."

I inwardly groaned.

Duo continued. "I have a little experience taking care of my own a few years ago though. I'm sure I can handle it."

Cynthia interrupted the short conversation to announce that coffee and dessert were ready. The two spoke at length in between forkfuls; drawing what should have been a 10 minute dessert out into a longer than comfortable event.

I didn't understand how they were able to carry on such conversation when they barely knew one another. I faded into the background; once more tuning out the constant drone that was their voices. The fact that I remained silent seemed to draw attention to me; making me feel even more self-conscious than I already did.

Despite the fact that they'd not called me on my silence; I politely excused myself and returned to my room


I turned on my stereo and laid on my bed, giving the last hour some thought.

Duo's presence in the house would be minimal. The only time I'd need to come in contact with him was when I was out by the pool. I normally swam for an hour in the morning and another at dusk, but used the area surrounding the pool for reading as well as exercising. I would need to find another area on the grounds that would be suitable for any outdoor activities I planned on engaging in other than swimming. I didn't feel comfortable spending all that time out there with anyone... let alone him.

I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was about him that I didn't like. I had had only one brief encounter with him so far and he certainly hadn't done anything during that time to offend me, but I came away from our first meeting pretty much convinced that he and I just weren't going to get along.


I'd skipped my evening swim that night and Cynthia questioned me later about it.

"Not swimming tonight?" I wasn't surprised that she noticed. She, probably more than anyone who knew me, was aware of how I functioned and that I rarely deviated from my routine.



I didn't see any reason to lie. "I don't feel uncomfortable around him."

"You two didn't exactly hit it off tonight."

"Hit if off? I don't plan on becoming his friend." I informed her flatly. I was about to continue; intent on telling her how I didn't appreciate her offering my services to Duo when she interrupted me.

"He's going to be here all summer, Heero. You should at least try to be cordial."

I found her logic to be without flaw and offered her a quasi-candid response. "We'll see."


It had been several days since Duo arrived and I rose at 9:00, as I had every morning since returning back home. It felt almost sinful.. stealing those few extra hours of sleep. I'd taken a shower the night before so I dressed in only my bathing suit and slipped a shirt on. I made my way down to the kitchen and grabbed a glass of orange juice before heading out to the pool.

I entered the gate to find Duo just finishing up and putting the vacuum away. He nodded at me, disappearing behind the cabana with his arms filled with white flexible tubing. I took the opportunity to remove my shirt and dive into the water; swimming my standard 6 laps before resurfacing and finding myself alone.

I made the assumption that Duo had gone back inside the guest house. I really hadn't expected to see him out here; he'd usually finished his morning maintenance long before I arrived. I lifted myself up out of the water and sat on the pools edge, wiping the water and my hair back off of my face.

"I just noticed that you're almost out of chlorine. Is there somewhere special I should go to get more?"

I turned, surprised that I hadn't heard him approaching. "I'm not sure."

He sighed. "Well, do you think you could find out for me?"

I looked up at him. "Cynthia might know." He looked annoyed.

"Fine. I'll go ask her."

I could hear him mumbling under his breath as he made his way toward the house; slamming the gate as he exited the pool area.

At first, I couldn't figure out what it was that I'd said that had irritated him. Perhaps he expected me to ask her; or maybe he thought I was just being uncooperative... which I wasn't. It could have been taken that way I supposed. In either case, I'd pissed him off... at least I think I had.

I gave it no further thought and slid back into the water to finish my morning exercise.

part 4

I spent the better part of the rest of the day up in my room working on my computer. It was a time consuming obsession; one that I found both fulfilling and amusing at the same time. I didn't limit my activities to strictly programming as I understood the benefits of diversity; at least in mild doses. There was little time during the school year for hobbies and even if there had been I'm not sure what I would have chosen.

I wondered what Duo did in his spare time. He seemed to be fairly social and yet spent most of his day cooped up inside the tiny guest house. He didn't know anyone from around here and I guessed that he probably felt alienated and perhaps bored as well. I didn't feel responsible for his situation, but if any of my assumptions about him were correct; I certainly wasn't helping the matter any.


Cynthia had taken a real liking to him and it didn't come as a total shock that she'd invited to join us for breakfast and dinner. I ignored my displeasure and wished I'd spoken with her about my feelings regarding Duo instead of allowing her to turn my quiet reserve against me that first night.

During dinner that night after the pool chemical discussion, I got the distinct impression that he was still annoyed with me; though he hadn't mentioned it.. he hadn't even glanced in my direction.


The following morning, I headed out back and had mixed feelings about finding Duo there.

I had suggested to Cynthia that I would make at least an attempt to be cordial, but wasn't sure if that meant that I should refrain from being rude when he spoke to me or if she thought that I should try to engage him in conversation. I came to the conclusion that she most likely meant both, but I'd already fucked up the former twice; making the latter that much harder to accomplish.


I had been taking in his activities for the last 30 minutes from the chaise lounge with my dark glasses hiding my eyes from him. He finished vacuuming the pool and went inside. I waited a few minutes and followed him in. He was in the kitchen, refilling his glass with ice water and turned toward me. "What do you want?"

"I came in to use the bathroom."

"Sure, go ahead. It's your bathroom."

I ignored the comment and used the facilities, finding him still in the kitchen as I prepared to exit. "You don't like me much, do you?" I asked from the rooms entrance. I'm not really sure why I cared, but it did bother me that he'd taken such a dislike to me.

"No, not really." he replied, not even bothering to look up at me.

"Why?" I asked. I was pretty sure I could handle it.

He looked up at me this time. "You are a condescending snotty little brat." he shot back before lowering his head. "That answer your question?"

It was a little more than I expected. "Yeah." I replied, waiting a few more seconds before I left.


I took off my shirt and threw it on the chair, setting my sunglasses down on the table. I dove into the water and swam a few laps, trying to burn off some of the frustration my short but informative conversation with Duo had brought on.

I wasn't really a difficult person to get along with, though rather limited in social experience. I still didn't know enough about Duo to determine if he was introverted like myself; but I strongly doubted it. I had watched him interact with Cynthia and they didn't seem to have the same difficulty in getting along as we did. As a matter of fact, if I didn't know better, I'd say he was easy going and that there wasn't a nasty bone in his body. My experience with him had shown me otherwise... and on more than one occasion.


I chose to ignore him the next few days, mostly by just staying away from the pool area when there was any chance he'd be out there. He was a creature of habit and after a few days, I knew just what time of day he performed his maintenance; he rarely ventured out of the guest house for any other reason.

Dinner and breakfast presented their own set of problems. Only polite exchanges passed between us and our eyes never met. Eventually, Cynthia noticed it; confronting me after Duo had gone back to the guest house one evening after dinner..

"You don't like him, do you?" she asked as we seated ourselves on the couch in the den.

I chose not to respond right away, instead trying to determine what it was that made her ask me that. "Do you think I'm a condescending brat?" I asked.

She almost laughed, covering her mouth with her hand.

I raised my eyebrows at her. "Well?" I trusted her opinion and I knew she wouldn't lie to me.

"I've seen your behavior leaning toward less then diplomatic." she responded winking at me.

"So, that's a yes."

"No, for the most part you are a nice guy. It depends on whom you are with."

I nodded.

"What brought this up?"


"He said you were a condescending brat?" she asked in shock.

"No, Actually he said I was a condescending snotty little brat." I replied with a huge smile.

"That's rather rude. Not something I think would come from his mouth." she began. "Is that why you are avoiding him?"

She was so observant. "Yeah."

She stood, "I'm sorry to hear that." she told me, picking up her glass from the table. "It would have been nice for you to have some company your own age."

With that, she exited the room, leaving me with more to think about than I think she intended... or maybe not.


The fact that we'd not spoken in days succeeded in helping the whole thing blow over. I'd pretty much still timed my forays back to the pool so that I would have less of a chance of encountering Duo; though I felt significantly less apprehensive about it.

I entered the gate this morning and he was no where to be seen. I put my towel on the chaise and removed my sunglasses and shirt; laying them on the lounge as well. I was checking the temperature of the water and had just laid down when I heard the front door of the guest house open. I looked up to find Duo approaching the pool.

"Good Morning."

"Morning." I replied. He was dressed in his usual fashion; in a t-shirt and loose pair of cut off jeans.

"I'll be done here in a few minutes." he told me as he reached for the skimmer.

I put on my sunglasses and watched him as he went about his chores.

He handled the 10 foot pole with ease, dragging the white mesh net over the surface of the water. He removed his sandals, walking around the perimeter at the very edge of the concrete coping to reach the center of the pool; the muscles in his calves tensing as he leaned precariously over the edge.

He'd spent a great deal of time taking care of it since he'd arrived two weeks ago and despite his lack of experience, he managed to keep the pool in better condition than any of the professionals we'd hired in the past. I decided to let him know.

"The pool looks great. You're doing a good job."

He turned toward me and smiled. "Thanks.", immediately continuing his task.

He was difficult to talk to; at least for me. Cynthia seemed to think otherwise. Our previous conflicts aside; I wondered if it might be because he viewed me as his boss or if the issues were strictly mine. I certainly didn't consider him an employee... at least not completely. I came to the conclusion that telling him he did a good job with the pool probably reinforced that part of our relationship... still the only one we had and a strained one at that.

I figured I'd see if I could engage him in conversation. "Do you swim?"

A silly question perhaps, but in the two weeks since he'd arrived, I hadn't seen him in the water.

"Yeah... love it."

"Then why don't you?" I asked. It seemed an strange thing to say; I continued. "I haven't seen you in the pool since you got here."

"I've been in.... several times... at night though. When no one else is using it."

No one else... he meant me. I was the only one here. "Oh..."

He finished testing the water and put the kit back in the cabana, seating himself on the chaise next to mine. "All set." he smiled, laying back and still looking toward me.

I felt a little self-conscious going for a swim with him sitting right there watching me, but stood and removed my sunglasses. I thought about asking him to join me, but quickly wrote the idea off and stepped up onto the diving board to enter the water.

When I resurfaced at the other end of the pool, Duo was just opening the door to the guest house.


That night I crawled into bed and for reasons I didn't quite understand; my thoughts turned to Duo. I'd actually found myself thinking about him a great deal of late... relative to many different things. And while I didn't always view him in a positive light; the thoughts were not nearly as negative as they had been when he first arrived.

He confused me.... and he was unpredictable. He was unlike anyone I'd ever met. Every time I thought I had some part of him figured out he would go and do something that totally blew whatever I'd come to accept as fact about him out of the water. Even through my confusion though, there were two things that I knew to be true about him.

First off, he was in many ways very unlike the persona he tried to project. This was something I'd determined shortly after his arrival... perhaps even the first day or two. I didn't get the sense that he was trying to hide who he was; it was more that he chose to veil those aspects of himself he thought that either Cynthia or myself might find objectionable. I made no speculation what it was that he shielded from us.

The second was that as different as we outwardly appeared, the similarities in the way we thought as well as our behavior at times were striking. I knew little about his personal life beyond the fact that his family was very well off. I ventured to guess that there were other parallels in our home lives; not understanding why I got that impression, only that it was a strong one.

Along with the deliberation came a lucid understanding that I was attracted to Duo.... in a sexual way. This didn't come as a total surprise; it was more of a yielding to my suppressed desire. He had captivated me since his arrival.

It didn't concern me that he was male. He was the first person I really found myself drawn to and oddly enough one of the few people I'd ever met that truly disliked me; and had the nerve to say it to my face.

I became aroused as I allowed myself these thoughts of him; taking the desire one step further as I imagined his hand on my length; stroking me. I'd often seen the way his thin fingers gripped the pole as he vacuumed the pool and it required very little imagination to picture what those same fingers might look like wrapped around my cock.

I turned over onto my back and ran my hand down my chest, stopping to tease both of my nipples; pinching and twisting them until they'd hardened. I slid my one hand further down and into the elastic of my shorts, just grazing the tip of my erection. I ventured a guess at what his touch might be like and finally deciding it would most likely be on the rough side. I wrapped my fingers around my cock, squeezing it as I thought he might and thrusting my hips up off the bed; moaning at the intensity of my own touch. I released myself and slid my shorts down and off, taking my cock back into my hand and rubbing in between my legs with the other; spreading them still further apart as the pleasure built.

I tried to envision what he might look like naked; it frustrated me no end that he always wore a shirt and that his shorts came reached almost down to his knees. I had no doubt he had an attractive body, what little I'd seen of it made me desire him even more; it was a downright tease. I closed my eyes and could almost see him taking off his clothes, slowly stripping as he watched me watching him with unfettered lust. I stroked myself more rapidly, moaning his name as I rocked my hips up off the bed with the vision of his sweaty and aroused form in my head. I wanted to know what his hands would feel like on me; I wanted to feel his hard cock twitching like mine was in my hand.

Easily bringing myself to climax with unrestrained thoughts of him, I opened my eyes and rolled over to look out my bedroom window toward the guest house. "Jesus, Duo... what the hell are you doing to me?"

part 5

The green LED read 8:00 the following evening when I gathered my towel and goggles and left for my evening swim. It was nearly an hour later than usual, but I'd gotten rather involved in writing my current program and time just seemed to slip away from me.

The light inside the pool was on and since it wasn't quite dark out, I left the floodlights off and stripped down to my bathing suit. Instead of my usual dive; tonight I entered the water via the stairs and slowly adjusted to its cool temperature. After about 20 minutes of fairly vigorous swimming, I climbed the ladder and dried myself off before reclining back onto the lounge. I turned my attention toward the guest house as I heard the front door close and watched as Duo made his way over to where I sat.


I smiled. "Hi."

He seated himself on the chair next to me. "You're out here late."

"Yeah. I was working on a script."

"You mind if I go for a swim?"

I didn't know why he felt the need to ask my permission, but I answered. "Nope. Go right ahead."

"Thanks." He stood and reached for the hem of his shirt and lifted it over his head. I tried not to be too obvious as I watched him, letting my eyes travel downward over his chest and well-toned stomach; stopping at the small golden ring that pierced his navel. "That's all the piercings I have." he offered.

I blushed slightly at having been caught watching him. I didn't know how to respond. "It's interesting." It was.

He let out a small laugh. "Water warm?"


He nodded and proceeded to unfasten his shorts. I turned my head away; not because I didn't want to see him, but because I did and I was already partially aroused just seeing him without his shirt and that I'd had the pleasure of watching him remove it.

"It's great swimming out here at night."

// Of all the times for him to start talking to me. // I bent my legs at the knees and brought them up toward my chest to hide the rising bulge in my suit before turning to face him. "There's a nice atmosphere. I think it's the pool light."

He looked over at the pool and I took the opportunity to let my eyes quickly travel the length of his Speedo clad form. Big mistake. His body was lean and firm and I could see the muscles in his upper thighs rippling as he bent to take off his sandals. His body was exquisite; far better than I had imagined.

"You coming in?" he asked.

I shook my head. "I just got out."

"Oh. Okay." he reached behind his back and brought the end of his braid in front of him.

I closed my eyes. // Please don't tell me he is going to let down his hair. //

"My hair is nothing but one big snarl if I don't take the braid out before I swim. " he paused. "You sleeping?"

I opened my eyes. "No." The spread fingers of both his hands were working slowly through his hair as he undid the braid; undoing me in the process. I wondered what it might feel like to run my hands through it and whether it was as soft as it looked. I clenched my fists tightly as I watched him finish the task. He tossed most of his knee length hair over his shoulders as he climbed up onto the flight deck. "Are you sure don't want to come in?"

That was the second time he'd said the word come. I swallowed hard. "No thanks."

He shrugged his shoulders and walked to the very tip of the diving board and raised his arms high up over his head. He was in profile now and I could easily see the bulge of his manhood stretching out the black spandex of his suit from this angle.

In a few seconds he'd be wet and if that wasn't bad enough; I couldn't stop myself from envisioning how his body must look as it moved through the water. I was painfully erect and I looked down into my lap at the wet spot on my navy suit.

The second I heard him hit the water, I rose and swiftly made my way into the guest house. Once inside, I headed for the bathroom, leaning against the door after I'd closed it. I reached down into my bathing suit and wrapped my hand around my cock and groaned. "Oh God....." I immediately began stroking myself roughly, I was so close... just from seeing him like that. I closed my eyes and pictured him naked; it was so much easier now and it was an unbelievable turn on. I moved toward the sink as I pushed my suit down and rested my thighs against the porcelain, thrusting my hips forward as I moaned his name aloud and prepared to climax.

"You okay in there, Heero?"

Before I could answer, the heard the doorknob rattle and door swung open just as I reached to close it.

Duo's eyes were incredibly wide as he stared at me; bathing suit down at my ankles and cock in hand.. "Whoops...."

He stepped outside and closed the door. I locked it and leaned back against it; giving myself a few more firm strokes before coming hard, fast and as quietly as I could. I looked up into the mirror across the room. "Shit." Why hadn't I locked the damn door?

I cleaned myself off; all the while hoping that Duo had the decency to be no where in sight when I exited the room. I was mortified that he'd seen me and having to face him now would just make things worse... if they could get any worse. I ran my fingers through my hair, took a deep breath and unlocked the door.

I froze as I stepped out into the hall and felt my face flush.

Duo was leaning up against the door frame with his arms folded at his waist and a very amused look on his face.

I opened my mouth to speak, but closed it again. I had no idea of what to say.

"I'm really sorry I barged in on you like that. I saw you run into the house and I thought you might have been sick or something. And then I heard you moaning.... turned out to be a different kind of moaning though."

"Duo...." I blushed even further and was glad he cut me off; I wasn't sure what I was going to say.

"Listen, don't worry about it, Heero. Feel better now?"

"Yeah." I cracked a small smile. He was so damn casual about it. I doubt I would have reacted the same had I caught him masturbating. I put an immediate halt that line of thought. // Bad idea, Heero. //

"I should go."

"You wanna hang out for a while?"

I looked over at him. In my severe state of embarrassment, I hadn't noticed that he was still dressed in only his bathing suit; his very skimpy bathing suit... and that he was wet. There was water dripping from his hair...... droplets rolling down his face...... down his shoulders.... down his chest... down his.... "Maybe some other night."


I walked toward the door and he followed behind me, opening it to let me exit. "Night."

"Good night."

I hurried home and collapsed onto my bed and tried not to think about what had just happened; certain I would never be able to face him again.


I woke in the morning with a much clearer head. My cheeks still warmed as I thought about last night; but I found myself chuckling on more than one occasion about it. The only thing that saved me from complete and utter mortification was the fact that Duo had no idea that it was him that caused me such an urgent need to seek pleasure by my own hand right there in his bathroom. I found myself hard again as I thought about seeing him in nothing but that small black Speedo.

It was then that I realized that I wasn't sure if I could control the probable reaction to being in the same room with him. I had horrific visions of coming to full arousal every time he was near me. It was a nightmare.. a wonderfully sexy, erotic nightmare and I needed to find a way out of it or I'd be spending the rest of the summer in my room.... with the shades drawn.

I rose and headed for the shower, still wondering how I was going to handle this and breakfast in 20 minutes would be the first test. Adjusting the water temperature to several degrees colder than usual, I stepped inside and convinced myself that I was over-reacting and that if I was wrong; I would be able to successfully crush my desire before it made itself known.

I was well aware that it was bullshit; but I was known to have more than an adequate amount of self-control.... even if it had failed me last night.


Last nights situation seemed all but forgotten as I greeted him when I entered the kitchen and things between Duo and I were pretty much as they had been. We'd learned to deal with one another on a surface level; this seemed to please Cynthia.

Duo casually mentioned at breakfast that he was having company that night. Cynthia had given him permission have a few friends over last week and he informed us that tonight was the night.

"A few of the guys are coming tonight at around 8." He turned toward me. "You're more than welcome to join us, Heero. Nothing fancy, just some subs and chips and stuff."

I was a little surprised that he'd extended me the invitation, even though I was sure it was only done out of courtesy. I wasn't much of a joiner and this was someplace I was certain I wouldn't fit in. I knew he was aware of that as well.

I thanked him politely without outright declining the invitation, but I think he understood my intention.

Cynthia couldn't leave well enough alone. "You should go, Heero."

I glared at her. "I'll give it some thought." It was not a complete lie, I would give it another moment of my attention later on, though it was really pointless.


It was unusually cool for a mid-July morning and I turned off the air conditioner in my room and opened the windows. I could hear music coming from the guest house and assumed that Duo was doing some last minute cleaning and preparations for his guests. I tried to make out what he was listening to; all but the bass lost in the distance.

I knew that he listened to music quite frequently, but since he'd always been plugged in, I had no idea what type of music he was into. I somehow doubted it was classical, but then again, he had surprised me on more than one occasion.


I spent the afternoon compiling the scripts I'd written the night before; pretty much pleased with the outcome of my efforts. I'd just began running the programs and looking for bugs when I heard a knock on the door.

"Heero.. dinner in 10 minutes."

"I'll be down in a few minutes. Thank you, Cynthia."

I closed out everything I was working on and made my way over to the window, wondering if Duo was going to join us for dinner. I found him walking toward the house and smiled, heading downstairs.

Discussion over dinner centered mostly around Duo's get-together. I figured that Cynthia did it intentionally in order to get me to join the party. It mildly pissed me off and I think she finally noticed and drew the conversation to a close. There was little else said during dinner.


I retreated back to my room afterwards, leaving Duo and Cynthia in the kitchen. I'd no doubt they knew I was annoyed. It was several minutes later before I heard a knock on my door. "Heero? It's me... can I come in?"

It was Duo. This was the first time he'd been up here I was certain that Cynthia had put him up to it. I looked around the room to make sure it was tidy; straightening out the comforter on my bed before responding.

"Sure.. the door is open."

He entered with a smile, looking around the room before focusing on me. "Nice room."

"Thanks. Something I can do for you?"

"Yeah, actually. I was wondering if I could borrow a few of your CD's. I left most of mine back in the city."

He looked a little embarrassed, which was an expression I'd yet to see on him; he looked cute. I motioned toward the metal rack that held my CD's. "Help yourself."

He smiled and headed for the rack beside my bed. "Great collection." he commented.

I was sure that he was being polite. My musical tastes were not that of a typical 20 year old. Then again.... Duo was anything but a typical 20 year old either; just in a very different way than me.

"I didn't peg you for the 'Tool' type."

"It's a new interest." I told him. I looked down at the CD's he held in his hand. "Funny, I didn't peg you for the classical music type." I returned.

We exchanged smiles. I figured we'd both been judging each other unfairly and without enough information to do so. It wasn't usually my way, but he was an enigma and I needed somewhere to start. The thought of actually asking him about himself scared me and I'm sure I appeared unapproachable to him as well. I was.

"You sure you don't mind?" He was holding up about 20 CD's.

"I know where you live." I smiled toward him.

He chuckled and thanked me again, stopping at the door on the way out. "I really want you to come later. I think you might enjoy yourself."

I could tell he was being genuine this time; maybe he had been before as well. "I really don't think so..."

He shrugged his shoulders. "Whatever...." and made his way down the hall.

I closed the door after I'd watched him start his descent down the stairs.

He looked upset...

He'd put the effort in that I hadn't been willing to and I didn't even have the decency to accept his invitation. I felt like a heel... but it wasn't likely to change anything.

part 6

I'd accepted Cynthia's offer to watch a movie she'd rented with her. I found that for the most part, her taste in films was nothing like mine, but I was in the mood for something light and hoped she hadn't chosen a romance of any type. At 7:40 we seated ourselves in the den; her on the couch and I in the overstuffed armchair.

"So what did you end up renting tonight?"

"Being John Malkovich. [4] Have you heard of it?"

I nodded. I'd heard of it, but knew little of the plot. "Only by name."


The first hour of the movie was.... odd.

I didn't understand what it was about the movies namesake that caused the frenzy of people wanting to get inside his head. I totally ignored the premise that a hidden doorway could achieve such a thing.

Cynthia put the movie on pause. "You want something to drink?"

I nodded and stood, following her into the kitchen. I dug around in the cabinets looking for a snack while she got us each a can of Pepsi from the fridge. We were about to leave the room when Duo came in carrying a large glass bowl. "Hey... you mind if I borrow some ice?"

"Take as much as you need." Cynthia told him on her way out.

I basically ignored him; still feeling bad about our earlier encounter and besides.... he had clearly been drinking.

"Still haven't changed your mind?" he asked, winking at me.

I shook my head.

Cynthia re-entered the kitchen and judging by her comment; must have heard overheard our last exchange; hopefully not while eavesdropping, but it wouldn't have surprised me. "We're watching a movie. I'll send him back when it's over."

I stared at her in surprise.

"What?" she asked.

Duo smiled and winked at me again. "Cool!"

I waited until he left and turned toward Cynthia.

"You don't have to stay for long. Who knows.. you might even enjoy yourself."

I sighed. I didn't stand a chance with the two of them against me and I think that deep down inside I wanted to go. I recalled Duo's earlier disappointment at my second refusal and how pleased he seemed just now by Cynthia's unwanted push. "Fine."


The movie ended about 40 minutes later. It didn't leave me with any clear emotion; I didn't like it or hate it. It did leave me with something to think about regarding Duo though; which seemed to be happening a lot lately. It made the idea of joining his get together seem a little less like a chore.

Several minutes later, I rose from the chair without being asked. "I guess I'll head back for a while."

Cynthia smiled. "Try to enjoy yourself, Heero."

I nodded and left; more than a bit nervous as I stepped onto the path that lead to the guest house.


Halfway there, I could make out the music even through the closed door and windows. It was Filter's "Title of Record" Track 10..... one of my favorites. I concentrated on the lyrics of the song instead of my racing pulse. I approached the door and reached out to ring the bell. I could hear voices from inside, though not what they were saying. The next thing I knew it opened and Duo was on the other side. "Heero! Come on in." I smiled and entered.

The music was quite loud and there were about 7 other guys just hanging out in the dimly lit living room/dining room area.

The main living area of the guest house looked somehow different tonight. It took me a minute to ascertain that Duo had rearranged the furniture. The changes, while not drastic affected the entire feel of the space. It was a pleasant variation.

Duo closed the door behind us and he put his arm around my shoulder in a friendly gesture. "Hey everybody. This is Heero." I could smell the alcohol on his breath.

He removed his arm and pulled me by hand around the room, introducing me to his friends one by one. I was slightly relieved by their appearance, easing part of my reluctance in that I'd not wanted to stand out. After meeting them all, I understood that Duo was clearly the most *artistic* in the bunch. He had taken off the over shirt he had on earlier and his entire midsection was now bare to just below his navel; highlighting the tiny ring there.

He left me seated on the couch with what I determined to be his best friend... or at least the closest thing to it in the room. Jay was fairly easy going and after about 10 minutes I finally relaxed and opened up enough to say more than five words at a time.

Duo flitted in and out of the three rooms, barely a blur as he hurried by. I was in the middle of a conversation with Jay when he plopped himself down on the couch next to me. Jay politely excused himself and I turned toward Duo. "I need to sit down a while." he told me with a smile.

"You've been running around a lot." I had been watching him but was sure he hadn't noticed. I was discreet.

"Yeah. I rarely enjoy parties when I'm the one throwing them."

I agreed with his statement. Though I had never done such a thing, I had witnessed it many times.

"You want anything, Heero? A soda, a sandwich... a beer?" I understood and appreciated that he was trying to make me feel more comfortable and wondered if he was aware of how nervous I was.

He pulled me up from the couch and dragged me into the kitchen. "Have a piece of the sub." he suggested. "It's really good."

I took a paper plate and placed a thin slice of the huge sandwich on it.

"Beer?" he asked from the fridge.

"No thanks. I don't drink."

He smiled and opened the brown bottle, drinking half of it down at once. "Soda?"

I nodded and he handed me a can of Pepsi. I opened it and took a sip, setting it down on the counter behind me and looking over at him. "You have a nice group of friends."

He smiled. "Thanks. Different than you thought?"

I nodded, feeling bad that I had pre-judged them... and Duo as well.

He seemed to read my thoughts. "I take very little at face value, Heero. Tends to put me in some interesting situations. I find that for the most part nothing is as it seems. " He set his beer down on the counter and leaned back against it with his both palms resting on its edge. "I was probably about 5 when I figured that out, though I don't think I understood that it applied to everything until I was 10."

I just looked at him.

"Umm. sorry.. I seem to get all philosophical when I've had a few beers."

I'd been witness to that phenomenon as well; once again not having experienced it personally. I looked at him quizzically.

"I'm not drunk if that's what you're thinking."

"I'm not thinking anything. You can do as you please."

"Gee... thanks, Heero. I feel much better now that I have your permission."

He'd surprised me. He looked angry now. "I didn't mean it like that."

He turned to leave. "Whatever..."

Again with the whatever. I'd grown to hate that word.... especially when he said it.


I fought my strong desire to leave. It would only prove that Duo's indirect comments about me were correct; that I sheltered myself from things that didn't fit into my little world. I seated myself on the couch again and Jay sat down beside me. "So Duo tells me you are a CSci Major...."

The conversation went on for a while. I asked Jay about his major and we talked about what little I knew of engineering. I then realized that I didn't even know what Duo was majoring in.... and I knew why I didn't know. I'd never asked.... hell, we'd hardly even talked... and I knew why that was as well.

I excused myself and headed for the bathroom. I'd just turned the corner in the hallway and I stopped dead in my tracks. Duo had one of his "friends" pinned up against the wall and the two were involved in some pretty heavy making out.

I think I may have gasped cause Duo turned toward me and opened his eyes; breaking off the kiss. I pretty much high-tailed it back down the hallway, through the living room and headed straight for the front door. I was glad that he didn't come after me, though I feared he might. I was embarrassed.... very embarrassed.

I practically ran back to the house and took a moment to compose myself in the kitchen before entering the den. Cynthia turned toward me. "Well?" she asked. "How was it?"

"Interesting. Duo has a nice group of friends."

// What else could I say? //

"I'm going upstairs now."

And I did.


I closed the door to my room and sat on the edge of my bed; trying to sort out exactly what I was feeling. I made a mental list. Humiliation was pretty high up there. It wasn't something I expected to see. It was something that should not have been done in public.

I felt something else too. I'm pretty sure it was jealousy. It wasn't an emotion I was used to... but I was sure that was what it was.

Duo was kissing that guy..... and I wanted it to be me.

I laid down on my bed and turned off the lights; falling asleep in a matter of minutes.

[4] heero's views on 'being john malkovich' are pretty much my own.... i really didn't get it *sweatdrops*

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