Over the River and Through the Woods (parts 20 - 21)
We came across the donut shop several miles later and Heero got out to make the purchase while I remained in the car. He was significantly less messy than I was and I recognized the need for us to stock the vehicle with a container of Wet Ones; especially since Heero now knew about the lube.Morning announced itself with the sun's warmth and bright rays that managed to find their way beneath my eyelids. I was no longer wrapped in Heero's arms but he was still beside me and if I wasn't mistaken; still asleep. I smiled as I turned toward him and tried not to disturb him as I wriggled myself out of the sleeping bag. I reached for my shorts as I crawled from inside its warmth and shook them out a bit before putting them on.
The small store was about the size of a two car garage and had only a walk-up window and three round tables with umbrellas off to the side of the gravel parking lot. I watched Heero approach the window and peer into it; smiling at the woman inside as he did. They talked for a minute or two before he made his way back to the car with two large white paper bags in hand.
"Whadja get?" I asked, looking down at the two bags he'd set on the seat between us.
"A dozen plain and a dozen cinnamon." He looked over at me. "They're selling the business."
"And you're not thinking of us buying it." It was a statement.
"I didn't say that." he returned. "It might be neat though."
"Might be neat to make donuts for a living?" I asked him in surprise. "You are losing it, koi." I told him, turning the engine over.
"Not making them, Duo... owning the business. It would give us an excuse to come up here more often."
I looked over at him. He was serious. "Maybe." I smiled; merging out into traffic.
I thought about what he'd said on the drive back to camp. It decided that it was cool that he'd even entertained the idea. Until last week, he seemed to abhor the idea of leaving the city and 'go traipsing off into the woods' as he'd so eloquently put it. I wasn't quite sure what to attribute his change in attitude to; but I decided that I liked it and wasn't going to analyze it any further; accepting it as the gift it was.
"You ready to head down?" I asked as I put the car in park and popped the trunk.
Heero grabbed the two bags of donuts and exited the car. We both rounded the vehicle and tucked the ice and food into my pack. He slung it over his back and I closed the trunk. It was only around 1:00 and we'd still have a good portion of the day left to occupy ourselves when we got back to the site.
I removed my shirt and tied it onto my belt loop about 40 minutes after we hit the trail. It was pretty damn hot outside and the exertion made it feel even hotter. I turned toward Heero. "I'll take the pack for a while."
He removed it without question and handed it to me; I slipped my arms into the straps and fastened the belt around my waist. It was fairly heavy, but the ice inside had cooled the fabric, making the chore of carrying it less of a burden. "We should go for a swim as soon as we get back." I suggested as we started walking again. "It's hot."
He nodded and stopped to remove his shirt. "It's damn hot." he corrected me.
I smiled. "Yeah... and like the officer said.. I need to take care of you in this heat." I smirked.
"Your 'taking care of me' *was* the problem." He chuckled as he recalled the incident.
After a quick stop at the bathroom, we arrived back in camp at 2:35 and put everything into the cooler and as discussed headed downstream with towels in hand. The chill of the water didn't bother either one of us as it had earlier in the week and was a much welcome relief.
We stayed in the water just long enough to cool ourselves down and spent the next few hours reading, talking and playing cards on the sheet we'd set up beside the river. We took one last dip before we hiked back; the temperature still in the upper 80's at nearly 5:00.
As we approached camp, I headed straight for the tent and Heero seated himself in the hammock behind it. I took off my wet shorts and wrapped a towel around my hair before putting on a pair of dry ones. "You hungry?" I asked from inside the tent as I reached up to work the towel through my hair.
"I could go for something." he replied.
I exited the tent with the towel draped over my shoulders and a t-shirt in hand and walked around behind the tent. "You gonna get changed?" I asked looking down at him. He looked tired. "We can wait a while if you want to rest. It's still early."
He stood. "Start a fire. I'll be right out."
I'd kept the small fire going for nearly an hour when I decided that I should go wake Heero. I quietly entered the tent and sat down beside him. He was still wearing his wet shorts and was curled up with his dry ones tucked under his head. I didn't disturb him right away; I was content just to watch him sleep. I whispered aloud what I was thinking. "You look like an angel... but I know better."
His eyes opened and he smiled; raising his arms high above his head to stretch. "You do?"
"Mmhmm. Can't fool me."
He reached up to pull me down and kissed me. "I wasn't trying to. What you see is what you get."
I let my eyes wash over him. "All of it?"
"Poor me." I chuckled. "Whatever will I do?"
His arms tightened their grip on me. "I can think of a few things."
I relaxed in his arms and laid my head down on his chest. "The fire is ready. We should eat before it gets dark."
"Mmmm..... and then we can play?" His hips shifted as he asked and I could feel the damp bulge in his shorts push against my naked thigh.
I nodded and eased myself from his grasp. He sat up and brought himself to his knees, unfastening his wet jeans. He looked down at his arousal and then up at me. "Care for an appetizer?"
I laughed and crawled out of the tent; zipping it behind me as I left. "Come out when you're done."
I stoked the fire, adding a few more logs to it and building a 10 inch pier of stones on either side of it. It kept my mind occupied while I waited for Heero to join me as well as distracting my body from focusing on what I was pretty sure he was doing inside the tent. I heard the zipper and turned to find him headed toward me. "'bout time." I smiled.
He hung his wet shorts next to mine on the line we'd strung and crouched down beside me. "Interesting structure." he noted.
I stood. "It should keep the pizza from burning."
I sat on the bench at the picnic table and aligned the zippers of the sleeping bags and began reattaching them while Heero got the pizza out of the cooler. I threw the reconnected bag inside the tent and got out some plates and a few bottles of water.
"How hungry are you?" he asked, setting 4 slices on the grill.
"Starved." I told him. "I'm gonna make a salad too."
I watched as he added another 2 slices and stepped back and away as the smoke from the melted cheese clouded around him.
We'd seated ourselves 5 minutes later and began our last dinner here.
By the time we'd finished cleaning up it was dark and I motioned toward my hair and informed Heero that I was going to take a shower. It would have been an impossible feat to try to comb through it without the aid of conditioner. I took everything I needed from the tent and grabbed the lantern on my way, telling Heero that I'd be back in about an hour. I kinda hoped he'd join me, but he seemed to be a bit moody this evening and I figured he might appreciate some time alone.
My first quarter had run out and I was in the middle of conditioning my hair when I heard the water in the stall next to me come on. I'd not heard the door to the shower room open and was mildly surprised that someone else was in here; and could have managed to do so without my noticing.
"That you?" I called out.
With the water running, I don't think he heard me, but the smell of his soap made its way into my stall and I smiled; depositing another quarter and finishing my hair.
I had toweled off and was partially dressed; crouching down as I brushed my hair under the hand drier when Heero entered the space with only his towel wrapped around his waist.
"Hey koi." I smiled up at him.
"Want some help?"
I nodded and handed him the brush as I worked my fingers through my hair under the warm air. It would take hours to completely dry it but I wanted to at least get some of the water out before I finished getting dressed.
After about 10 minutes, I looked over at Heero. "Why don't you go get dressed? I'm almost done here."
He gave me the brush back and stood. I watched as he re-entered the changing area; groaning as the towel fell from his hips just as he stepped inside.
We walked back to camp together and Heero was as silent as he'd been the last hour or two. I decided it was time to ask him about it. "Why so quiet?"
"There's always a reason." I reminded him, taking his hand in mine and coming to a stop.
He took one more step and stopped; turning to face me. "There is none this time." he smiled.
He'd made a honest attempt to convince me and I let it go.... but I had my doubts.
We continued walking.
We'd put away everything from our showers and we sat across from one another at the picnic table. I reached underneath and took out a bug coil; looking over at my silent lover when I'd finished lighting it.
"I was thinking about it."
My expression shifted to one of confusion.
"About what you said the other day..... about how we are..."
"Alive and happy?" I asked.
He smiled. "Yeah."
"It's good...... more than good. I didn't expect it.... I don't deserve it."
"What?!?!" I raised my voice. "Don't start this again, Heero."
He frowned and lowered his head.
"Stop it, Heero. Just stop!"
"I'm not going to listen to this crap anymore." I stood and walked toward the tent, shaking my head as I looked back at Heero sitting motionless by the fire.
I crawled into the tent and zipped it; sitting in the center with my knees drawn up to my chest. I wrapped my arms around them and lowered my head; letting my eyes fill with tears.
It took me a while to gather my composure and I waited almost 10 minutes more before calling out to him. "There is no way I'm going to let you convince me that this is wrong. If you want to believe it then go right ahead, but keep it to yourself. I've heard it all before."
I waited a minute or two more and called out to him again. "I'm going to bed." I laid down and tucked myself into the sleeping bag; closing my eyes.
I hated that the week was going to end like this.
I hated myself for even bringing it up.
But most of all, I hated Heero for not being able to forgive himself.... and the fact that I'd left him out there like that.
I threw the sleeping bag off to the side and put my boots back on.
He looked up as I walked toward him. "Why tonight, Heero, huh?" I asked.
I knew why.
He raised his head and looked at me. "I shouldn't have said anything."
I sighed and sat down next to him. "No. You should have. I shouldn't have gotten angry. It was a war, Heero. We did what we had to do. The guilt we feel over what we did is not going anywhere."
"I know that. It picks the worst times to resurface." he forced a weak smile.
"Actually.. it makes perfect sense. You feel guilty because you're happy. This week has been wonderful... its almost as if we were just two normal guys."
"But we're not."
I closed my eyes and lowered my head.
"We never will be."
I looked up sternly at him. "That doesn't mean that we can't be happy...... and that we don't deserve to be."
I turned to see him nod.
We sat for a few minutes just staring at the dwindling fire.
"Come on. Let's go to bed." I told him.
"Not tired yet. Stay up with me?"
I smiled. "I'll go get the sleeping bag."
I looked up at the small patch of night sky that was visible through the treetops.
"Someone told me the sky here is really beautiful at night." I laid down and crossed my legs at the ankles and put my hands under my head to gaze up at the sky.
He laid down beside me.
I looked over to find him staring at me. "Very beautiful."
"I meant the sky." I winked.
I nodded and leaned over to kiss him. "Yeah."
We both turned our attention back up to the sky and the billions of tiny shimmering points of light that shone against the deep blackness. It made me feel small and insignificant yet brought a smile to my face. "There is peace out there in space because of us."
"It was a worthwhile sacrifice.... even if we will never be able to forget what it has cost us."
"But it gave us something too." I reached down and took hold of Heero's hand. His fingers slipped in between mine and he squeezed tightly. I could feel a single warm tear escaping out of the corner of my eye.
"I'm trying not to."
"I didn't mean that you couldn't... I mean that you shouldn't. You shouldn't be sad."
I looked over at him and forced a smile. "I'm not sad." I wasn't; I was incredibly happy.
For a long time there was silence save the crackling of the fire and the chirping of thousands of crickets.
"I love you."
"No... I mean I *really* love you."
I turned toward him. "I knew that too." I smiled. "I'm suspecting that you know I *really* love you too."
He grinned and looked back up at the sky. "Yeah."
I heard him let out a soft chuckle before bringing our hands up to his mouth and placing a kiss the back of mine.
"Nothing... it's just you."
"That a good thing?" I asked in jest.
"A very good thing." he replied. "Best thing that ever happened to me." He looked over at me; smiling at my wide smile.
I rolled over onto my side and peered down at him. "Actually, *you* are the best thing that ever happened to me."
My subconscious provided me with a quick flashback of a time when my heart ached to see him like this. And as often as he did it now and the ease with which he did it; I still never took it for granted. "I love it when you smile."
"You love it when I do just about everything." he quipped with a grin.
"Yup. Guilty." I grinned; lying back down.
"We going to sleep out here tonight?"
"Too tired to let me make love to you?"
He rarely used those words; I could count the times on one hand. I turned to face him and pressed my lips against his. "Never."
He leaned over me reached for out to me with both hands; kissing me softly while his hands moved over my shoulders and arms; sliding them underneath me to run the palms of his hands down my back. I rolled over onto my side and opened my eyes briefly to look into his; closing them to just let myself feel.
There was an urgency to his touch, but it was not hurried. It alternated between feather light caresses and bruising grasps; the sharp contrast aligned with my bodies own desires. I lifted my hips as he struggled to remove my shorts; gasping as he swallowed me whole just seconds later.
Completion followed shortly in shuddering gasps as I filled his waiting mouth and I watched as he took off his shorts, stroking his length with my seed he'd saved for just this purpose. I spread my legs as he lowered himself and kneeled between them, pressing his hips forward to bury himself inside me.
I could feel every push; every inch of his thick cock brushing against the tightness of my channel. My head thrashed from side to side as I moaned his name and my hands reached up to grab onto his shoulders. My hips barely moved; it was hard to keep them still, but this one was for Heero; because he needed to remember.... because he needed to forget.
I stifled a groan as he hit my prostate, my eyes shooting open to look up at him. He was biting down on his lower lip. "Oh God, Duo." he cried out.... and there were tears in his beautiful eyes. I wanted to tell him not to cry; but I was in no position....
"I love you..." I gasped out. He tried to speak, but shook his head instead, letting his eyes close and taking my cock in his hand. We climaxed in unison with grunts and groans, trembling against one anothers bodies with no thoughts beyond the ecstasy.
He collapsed down onto me and I welcomed him with warm arms.
"I love you." he whispered.
"I know." I let out with a soft breath.
And I fell asleep in the arms of the only man who was capable of making me anything close to being whole; and I knew without question that he felt exactly the same way.
I stood in the center of our campsite for a moment before taking my leave for the bathroom with a bar of soap in hand. I returned 20 minutes later to my still sleeping lover and decided against waking him.
The final day of vacation was always strange for me. It approached with a modest amount of trepidation, but once here, the urge to return home took over any former reluctance; and this time it was no different.
I stoked the fire to hasten the process; moving the coffee pot until it was seated over the hottest part of the fire. I got the milk from the cooler and placed the container in the center of the table and sat on the bench brushing my hair as I watched Heero sleep.
It had been months since either of us had been plagued by nightmares. I knew that the fact that they were dwindling was a positive thing and we both hoped that they would eventually stop altogether. But they weren't the only reminders of our past and oddly enough they weren't even responsible for the most painful memories; those came by simply living. I tried to suppress the feeling of guilt that my handling of Heero's emotions last night raised. I justified my actions and convinced myself that Heero would have done the same if the situation had been reversed. We'd had that conversation so many times; and always without resolve... and I'd long ago come to terms with the fact that there was none and that there never would be; he knew it as well.
I reached back with both hands and separated my hair and began to braid it.
Looking at him like this reminded me that what we had went beyond normal love and physical desire; there also was need... the need to be understood and to understand. It was perhaps the single most important aspect of our relationship yet it had seamlessly entwined itself into everything we did so that it was barely noticeable to a casual observer. I couldn't help but smile as I thought about it. It had happened without conscious thought and was borne out of years of just being together. With my limited knowledge and experience, I assumed that it was typical... that couples just learned to read one another like that and modify their behavior to accommodate their partners feelings.. but then again; we were anything but typical.
I tied the end of my braid off with a thin white ribbon and moved the coffee pot off to the side so that it would stay warm.
Within minutes, he roused from sleep and looked up at me and I greeted him with a wide smile. "Morning."
"Morning." He looked over at the fire and then back up at me. "You made coffee?"
"Yup. I've been up for a while."
"Anxious to go home?"
"Yeah.. even though I love it here."
He reached for his shorts and put them on before crawling out of the sleeping bag; stretching as he stood to drive the sleep from his body while letting out a huge yawn.
I removed the pot from the fire and sat it on the end of the table; letting it cool for a few minutes before pouring it.
Heero relieved himself in the woods off to the left and washed his hands with the soap we'd left on the ground beside the small water jug we'd hung there for that very reason.
He reentered camp and flicked the water from his fingertips at me as he approached. "I'm starved."
We ate breakfast in a hurry, thoroughly enjoying the donuts and bringing up the topic of the business again. I suggested to Heero that we drive by and inquire further about it before we left. He readily agreed.
It took us about two hours to pack our things up; disassembling and trying to get the tent back into its way too tiny nylon bag taking up a greater portion of that time.
We put the fire out with the water that was left in the jug and I folded it into a small square and tucked it into my pack before zipping it. I looked at Heero when I'd finished. "I guess that does it." I smiled toward him.
He took one last look around the site from his position beside me and nodded.
I bent to pick up the bag of trash and he took the cooler in hand and we started our journey back up the mountain; our packs substantially lighter than on the trip down.
Arriving at the car an hour and forty minutes later, Heero unlocked the door and took the camera out from under the front seat, setting it on the trunk of the car.
"Stay there." he told me. He peered into the viewfinder and adjusted the angle of the camera and depressed the release button before making his way to where I stood.
"Kiss me." he ordered, pulling me toward him and allowing me to do just that as I heard the shudder click. I was in no rush to end the kiss and so I didn't.
"Did you get the mountain in there too?" I asked after Heero broke the kiss a minute or two later.
"Course." he smiled
He stepped back and we both removed our packs and put everything into the trunk. He slid behind the wheel and I into the passenger seat and we drove the three hours home; his one arm draped over my shoulder and my head resting on his.
"It's Sunday afternoon and we made it home safe and we're all unpacked. It was an easy chore actually, everything pretty much falling into the 'dirty laundry' or 'dirty dishes' category. The first thing we did after that was take a nice, hot shower.... with shower curtains and a massaging shower head. It felt damned good.... as did sleeping in our own bed."
"Tomorrow, things will be back to normal.... up at 7... to work at 9.. home again at a little after 6. I really shouldn't complain. We both like what we do... even if it reminds us a bit to much of our past sometimes. I figured that's why Heero brought up the whole 'donut shop' thing. It would be nice to do something without consequence once in a while and it would be cool if we lived up there in season. I'd hate to think what the winter's might be like. We haven't ruled it out."
"You hear that?"
"Of course you didn't... I'm being facetious. It's Heero. He's playing carpenter up in our bedroom.... been at it all morning. Bet you're wondering what he's doing up there? I tried to peek earlier, but he caught me and locked the door; I'm pretty sure I know what he's up to."
"Who are you talking to?"
"Speak of the devil."
"So you were talking about me?"
"Yeah.. your name came up. I'm just doing a little closing monologue for our readers."
"Hn. Did they enjoy themselves?"
"I think so... I know I did. So, you finished up there?"
"Can they come up with us too?"
"If they want to"
Our bedroom is small as you can see.
What little available floor space there was is now gone, replaced by two thick wooden posts... and the hammock slung in between them.
He's also gotten the only picture we'd taken during our trip developed and enlarged and its nailed to the wall just behind it.
I look out the bedroom window and down to the concrete jungle that we call home 4 stories below.... and then over at the little haven that Heero had recreated... trees and all.
They're potted and no where near as tall as those in the Adirondacks and they're not even the same variety....... but I've a good imagination.
"It's perfect... I love it."
"I thought you might."
"Doesn't look very sturdy though. Think it can hold us both?"
"There's only one way to find out..."
God, how I love that smirk.
But I think you already knew that......
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