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No Way! (part 2)

Silverblade Shi-fox

Duo was thoroughly embarrassed. He was a Gundam pilot, for gods' sake! He should not have been unable to do anything! And Heero had seen... Duo felt tears coming and viciously suppressed them, vowing that he would not let Heero see any more demonstrations of weakness from him. The thought of Heero thinking him weak just pushed the tears out and he started shaking with silent sobs. Duo was sure that the Japanese pilot would now hold him in disgust, first the situation with Kito and now he was crying.

'Oh, man! He probably won't even want to be my friend anymore...' He sobbed harder. He was very surprised when he felt Heero's arms tighten around him, holding him closer. It broke the last of the barriers and he allowed himself to cry in Heero's arms, letting all the frustration out for the first time in a long time. He still expected Heero to put him down in disgust, but he didn't, his best friend held him while he sobbed. When the tears had at last reached the end, Duo looked up at Heero's face with no little amount of trepidation. Would there be an expression of disdain or anger at Duo? There wasn't. Heero's expression was unreadable, even to Duo, but it held something of...was that tenderness? Duo dismissed the ludicrous thought. Heero was the Perfect Soldier, there was no room for tenderness in his life.


"Hai. Arigato."

Heero nodded and continued to carry him to the nurse's office. Duo relaxed and let himself enjoy the sensation of strong arms holding him and the sound of Heero's heart beating under his ear. He sighed happily and sank into a half doze.

Heero looked down at the boy lying in his arms. Duo didn't weigh that much and Heero wondered if he took care of himself properly. He had noticed that Duo's appetite had been off for a while, perhaps he was ill? No, he seemed fine. More than fine, beautiful... He shook his head then frowned as he felt Duo start shaking. He was making noises that sounded suspiciously like sobs. Was Duo crying? Masaka! But as Heero looked closely at the other pilot, he saw that he had his eyes closed tightly and was biting his lip, trying to keep back tears. Heero felt something inside of him awaken and he tightened his arms around Duo, following his instinct - well, part of it anyway... His tightened embrace seemed to be the cue for Duo to stop fighting the tears and he gave into them. Heero just held the sobbing boy close. When Duo's tears finally subsided, he looked up at Heero cautiously. Whatever he saw on his face seemed to surprise the American, for he looked puzzled. Heero decided to ask if he was alright.


"Hai. Arigato."

Duo's voice had been abnormally quiet, but Heero nodded. He continued to carry him to the nurse's office. When he next looked at the boy, he saw that Duo had a small smile on his face and his eyes were closed. He looked happy and peaceful and Heero found himself walking slower to lengthen the trip. Those lips looked so tempting... He was almost sorry to see the door to the nurse's office. Heero carried Duo inside and the nurse looked up and stared. "What happened?"

"Kito slapped her, hard. It's already bruising nastily."

"Well, why don't you set her down there," she pointed to the pallet against the wall, "while I get an ice pack and some painkillers."

Heero nodded and did as she instructed. Duo looked up at him and his eyes seemed to plead Heero not to leave. He sighed and sat down next to the boy. It shouldn't be suspicious, Hellan-chan and he were supposed to be involved, there should be no problem with him staying with Duo. Duo's fingers sought his and Heero let him hold his hand. The nurse smiled approvingly as she reentered the room.

"Here you go," she said as she placed the ice pack against the nasty bruise on Duo's cheek, handing the boy some pills as well and a glass of water, "it will hurt, but please bear with it. I have some ointment that will help the bruise heal faster, I would suggest you have Bakudan-kun put it on as it will probably be too painful a task for you to tend to on your own. Why don't you take Hellan-chan to her room, those painkillers are going to take effect pretty fast, she's going to be very sleepy very soon. I'll write a note to excuse you both from your afternoon classes."

Heero nodded and put the small jar of ointment in his pocket, picking Duo up once more. The nurse nodded in approval of the move and held the door open for him. He carried his partner to his room and set him down on his bed, locking the door. Duo still looked dazed and in no little pain. The bruise covered almost the entire side of his face. Heero looked at him narrowly then sat down next to him on the bed, pulling out the small jar of ointment.

"Your cheek numb enough for this now?" Duo's head turned slowly and he blinked at him before registering the comment.

"I think so..."

Heero nodded and began to put the ointment on the injured cheek. Duo bit his lip as his eyes teared up in pain and Heero tried to gentle his attentions. The ointment was soon rubbed into the skin, but Heero found that he didn't really want to stop touching Duo. He'd never thought that the skin beneath his fingers would be so soft...and Duo didn't seem to mind, so he put some more of the salve onto the bruise. Duo seemed to lean into his hand, Heero would almost swear the boy was purring. He figured that the salve must have some numbing properties as well as healing ones. The American sighed and leaned his body against Heero's, looking very sleepy. Heero chuckled softly and Duo looked at him blearily. His breath caught...Duo was so close, so approachable...those lips looked so soft and inviting...

"Hmm? What's so funny?"

Heero reminded his lungs to inhale. "Nothing. Why don't you try to get some sleep?"

"Don't leave me, Heero..."

"I won't."

Duo smiled at him sweetly and lay down on his bed. Heero figured that the painkillers had a strange effect on his friend, surely it was only because he had taken them that he was so sweetly clinging to Heero...He sighed and removed Duo's shoes and pulled the blankets up to cover him. He was about to leave when he remembered that he'd said he wouldn't, so he sat down on the chair next to the bed. He thought back on their mission, they hadn't accomplished anything towards its completion. He was a little frustrated with that, but they still had time. The week of spring vacation was starting in a few days - with most of the students gone, it would be easier to sneak out at night to get to the OZ records. Heero looked at Duo again, he was curled up with his bruised cheek showing starkly against his pale skin and white pillow. The boy found his anger rising all over again at that proof of violence against his friend...and more. Well, he was beginning to wish it was more. But Duo would never feel that way about him, he was sure of it. This was all just an elaborate charade, a play of the ludicrous. Nothing would come of it.

'He looks so innocent and sweet and sexy like delectable...and he's all yours and yours alone...'

'Not you again! I thought I shot you guys down after the last time!'

'Hormones are impossible to kill, we are able to be suppressed for a while, but we always win... eventually. Except that you've been suppressing us since before puberty so we've got a lot of catching up to do! Especially with Duo so accessible...'

'SHUT UP! He's just my friend, this is just a game, and you are all going to die!'

'That's what you think. Just look at him...'

Despite himself, Heero found his gaze drifting over to the sleeping form of his best friend. Duo had kicked off the covers and lay slightly curled up, his skirt not covering an indecent amount of those long, graceful legs. His shirt was partially off one shoulder and pushed up to expose some of the lean muscles of his stomach. His braid was partially undone - the tie having fallen out while Duo turned in his sleep - and wayward strands fell over his face. He looked so...accessible...

'Ah...just a friend you say, but can you deny that seeing him like this stirs your-'

'Don't even go there!'

'Don't you wish he would...?'

'That's entirely besides the point!'

'Not exactly...'

'It's not going to happen, you should just give up.'

'We never give up, we just make strategic retreats.'

'I suggest that you make one now.'

'We suggest that you make him now.'

'I'm going to take a cold shower.'

The hormones seemed to snicker as he commandeered the shower in Duo's room. It had been one of the things he had made sure of when he'd registered the two of them. It would have been awfully awkward otherwise... Heero figured that Duo would sleep for a while, so he gladly gave into the embrace of the arctic temperature water.

Duo woke to hear the sound of the shower running. He wondered who would be... oh yeah, Heero was here. He blushed as he remembered his behavior while under the painkillers, he hoped that Heero would dismiss it as being the effect of the pills and not figure out how Duo felt about him. He sighed as he also remembered how tender Heero's hand had been on his cheek, the ointment had numbed the pain away so he had been free to revel in the feeling of those strong fingers caressing his skin. His reminiscing was cut short as the door to the bathroom opened and Heero stepped out. Duo stared at the sight of the Japanese pilot damp from the shower and wearing nothing more than a towel around his waist. He hoped he wasn't drooling...

'Gods, he's magnificent! So beautiful...!'

He met Heero's eyes and blushed, turning his head away. He heard the sounds of the towel dropping to the floor and Heero getting dressed. When he felt the bed dip a little he turned his head.

"Feeling any better?" Duo nodded.

Heero seemed puzzled by his silence.

Duo licked his lips and cleared his throat before he could vocalize his answer. "Um, hai."

"Good. Your cheek is looking better, the bruise has gone to brown and green."

"Oh, great. How attractive," he muttered.

Heero's mouth quirked up at one corner. "It could be worse."


"He could have broken your nose."

"Nah, he wouldn't have done that. It would have affected my features too much. He wouldn't want any flaws on his playtoy."

Heero's eyes narrowed and he growled. Duo suddenly wondered if Heero was going to hit him. "You are not a playtoy!"

"I would have been if you hadn't come along."

"You would have found a way out, you're a Gundam pilot."

"Heero, I was careless. I was taken by surprise and not given the time to pull my thoughts together. He could have done something truly nasty to me and there would have been little I could have done to stop him. I'm sorry to let you down. You're probably disgusted with me now."

"Duo, shut up."

Duo looked up, surprised at the quiet vehemence in Heero's voice. "You are giving into self-pity. You didn't let me down and I'm not disgusted with you. You're my friend and - while I'm not happy with what that bastard did to you and there's no real way to make him truly pay for it - I don't blame you for what happened. Ok?"

Duo nodded, stunned. "So, you're not angry with me?"

Heero looked at him, seeming to be slightly shocked. "Why the Hell would I be angry with you?"

Duo bit his lip. "I was just afraid you were, that's all."

"Well, I'm not."

Duo smiled and hugged him. "Thanks for staying with me, Heero."

"No problem."

"Shall we go and meet our adoring public now?"

Heero's mouth quirked once more as Duo straightened his clothing.


Heero looked over at Duo as they walked towards the library. It had been a few days since the incident with Kito and the student body had left them alone, for the most part. The boys were treating Heero with a little more respect and had pretty much given up on attaching Hellan-chan. It was a nice reprieve. The girls had all been solicitous to Hellan-chan, making sure she was alright. The principle had kicked Kito out of the school and the gossip mongers had had plenty of fuel with the entire escapade. The fact that Heero had left Hellan-chan's room with wet hair had been a major addition. Heero was also getting a little fed up with it all. He found himself being even colder to Duo than usual and every time he was, Duo would just laugh it off, but Heero knew he was hurt. He wanted to apologize, but there had been no chance. After the Kito incident, he found he was being watched so carefully that he didn't think it would be easy to sneak to Duo's rooms at night. That wouldn't normally stop him, but the effect that a midnight visit would have on their reputation was a serious consideration. The stress was taking a toll on both of them, actually. Heero had noticed that Duo was even more flighty than usual and that he was also eating less and less. When he saw that they were alone in the small library study room, he turned to Duo and decided it was time to find out what was bothering the boy.

"Alright, Hellan-chan, what the Hell is eating at you?"

Duo jumped and turned wide, frightened eyes towards him. Heero's heart twisted.

"Wha...What do you mean?"

"You're not eating enough to keep a bird alive and you're jumping at every little sound."

"I'm just not hungry."

"The day that you're not hungry is the day that I fail a physics exam. Now what is going on?"

"Nothing, it's nothing."

"Well, if you're not going to tell me...This nervousness of yours is making it very hard for me to concentrate. If you won't let me help you, then leave so that I can do my work."


"Just go, Duo."


"Look, either tell me what's bothering you so much or leave!"

Duo stared at Heero. He couldn't believe what he'd just heard! Why was Heero so concerned for him? His heart fluttered for a moment before reality intruded. Heero was just annoyed because he was detracting from his ability to concentrate.

"I...I can't, Heero."

"You can't?"

"I can't tell's nothing that is of importance. Don't let it bother you."

"Too late."


"Fine then," Heero snapped and Duo shivered, Heero was pissed, "Leave me alone or I tell Taski that you have a secret passion for him."

"You wouldn't!"

"Wanna bet?"

Duo gulped and left the room, fighting back tears. He bumped into someone and kept his head down, hoping that whoever it was wouldn't notice his condition. His luck was out, it was Chari.

"Hellan-chan! What happened?"


"Did he yell at you again?"

"No, he doesn't yell at me. He just wants," Duo bit back a sob, "to be left alone to study right now. He says that my nervousness is distracting him from his schoolwork."

Chari stared at him. "He didn't! Why, that unfeeling bastard!"

"Chari, please...don't."

Chari was furious. Heero had gone too far! Hellan was practically sobbing and still defended his actions towards her. It was his fault that she was such a nervous wreck. If he wasn't so mercurial in his attentions towards her, she wouldn't be so jumpy. Poor Hellan didn't know from one moment to the next whether he was going to treat her gently and with affection or if he was going to ignore her and snap at her without the slightest provocation. She decided that it was time for her little chat with Heero-kun.

"Hellan-chan, why don't you go rest in your room. You look like you could use a nap."

Her friend smiled wryly. "In other words, I look like Hell warmed over."

"To be honest, yeah."

Hellan sighed. "Alright. I'll take your advice. See you later."

Chari watched the girl walk down the hallway and it struck her once more how graceful and beautiful her friend was. And it was all unconscious, like her sweet temperament, forgiving nature, and joyful personality. All of which seemed to be wasted on Heero. The man had no idea what he had, and Chari was sick of seeing him abuse her friend. He was going to get told off, once and for all. She looked forward to it.

Heero sighed as Duo left the library. He had been trying to get the American to tell him what was bothering him. He had hoped that the threat of making him leave would have broken through Duo's abnormal reticence - the boy seemed to delight in being with him, even when Heero ignored him - but it hadn't worked. Duo had left. He heard the door click and looked up, expecting to see that Duo had changed his mind. It was Chari, so he went back to reading the chapter they'd been assigned.

"You are really cold, Heero-kun."

He turned his head to see Chari glaring at him. He just shrugged and turned back to his homework.

"I really don't know what Hellan-chan sees in you. None of us do. And if it weren't for the fact that I know she'd kill me, I'd slap you."

Heero blinked, wondering what the point of the conversation was. Chari gave an exasperated sound.

"None of us can figure out why she loves you and we're agreed that you treat her like dirt or less. It's rather obvious, in case you hadn't noticed."

"What's obvious?"

"That she loves you. Anyone who watched her could tell in an instant. Her eyes always seek you out if you're in the room, they follow your movements. Whenever she talks about you, she glows and her eyes brighten and get a dreamy look. Then, whenever you show that you're proud of her, she fairly explodes with happiness. And when you show disapproval, she wilts and then gets angry. You don't deserve her."

Heero was trying to think of how he'd fallen asleep and was having this surrealistic dream. Duo in love with him? There was no way! The boy was an accomplished flirt and actor, that was all. Nothing more. But Chari had said... He knew that those things couldn't be faked. Not all of them, anyway.

"Why are you telling me this?"

"Because Hellan-chan is my friend and friends help each other out! She loves you, for reasons unknown and which you don't deserve, so I'm trying to help her by pointing this little fact out to you. I've caught her crying on more than one occasion that she won't tell me the reason and there is a bruise on the other cheek than Kito left. It's faded, but she still won't tell me anything about it. I've got my suspicions."

Heero looked at her incredulously. "There's no bruise on that cheek!"

"You've never seen her before she puts makeup on, have you?"


"Look, I don't know what happened to cause that bruise and it's really beside the point. Hellan-chan lets you walk over her without complaint so I'm doing the complaining for her. If you don't start treating her right, you're gonna find yourself in a shitload of trouble."

"What do you expect me to do?"

"Be nice to her, that's not such a hard thing to ask, is it? Just spend some time with her, sitting together or something like that. Quiet time. All she wants is a little crumb of affection."

"Alright. I'll be nicer to her."

"That's not exactly saying much, now is it?"

Heero glared at her. She glared right back. Thankfully, the tableau was broken by the sound of the dinner bell. Chari left him to his homework as he pondered what she had said. Could Duo really...? No, it was impossible. Chari was just seeing things. He ignored the little voice in his mind that reminded him that women tended to see these things more clearly than men. It was just a fluke, this was just a game, there was no way... If only it was true...

Duo got up to answer the knocking on his door. He opened it to see Chari with a small triumphant smile on her face.

"What's up?"

"Oh, nothing...I just brought you some food. I noticed that you didn't come down for supper."


"How're you doing now?"

Duo closed the door after her as she entered the room. He wondered why she seemed to be radiating smug, but decided to answer her question honestly.

"Better. I took your advice and had a nice nap."

"Good. Tomorrow's the last day before spring vacation, you know."

"Yeah, it'll be nice. I heard that there was going to be some sort of basketball game."

"Yep, it's going to be a bit crazy tomorrow. The dance is right after vacation."

"I know. Why is it going to be crazy tomorrow?"

"Everyone who hasn't got a date will be trying to get one at the last minute."

"Oh yeah... Who are you going with?"

"Taski, he asked me. I think it's just because he wants to be around you. I've already gotten a dress. The theme is sort of a medieval court type thing. I like the dresses, everyone looks flat in them, so I don't feel so self-conscious. Have you gotten a dress?"


"Can I see it?"

"It's not quite finished yet..."

"You're making a dress?!"


Chari stared at him and he pulled out the almost finished dress. It was in the medieval style with a stiff bodice and the whole works. It would be unusual compared to everyone else's dresses because the majority of it was black, the bodice was a black and blood scarlet rose pattern, and there were a few accents of gold. It would look stunning on him and he knew it, but he didn't really think he'd have the chance to wear it. Heero would never want to go to the dance...

"'s beautiful! However did you manage it!?"

"A little bit here and a little more there...just scattered time..."

"It will look absolutely wonderful on you!"

"Thanks, Chari..."

His friend looked at him and seemed to sense how tired he was.

"Why don't you eat some supper and go to sleep, you look like you need it."

Duo smiled at her. "Thank you, my friend. I do."

"Sweet dreams!"

She closed the door after herself and Duo sank to the bed, putting his head in his hands and giving into his tears. This was never going to end...nothing would be the same between him and Heero, he knew it. He loved the cold pilot, but this mission was just proving the small voice inside his mind right. There was no way Heero would ever love him or even want him, for that matter. He felt his heart twist again and put the dress away. As he ate the food that Chari had brought him, he wondered if they could leave before the dance. If he wasn't here when it happened, then he wouldn't hurt to miss it. He sighed and got himself ready for bed. He curled up under the blankets and winced as his older bruised cheek scraped against the zipper of the pillow. He remembered Heero's slap with dreadful clarity, it was another reason why he knew that the other boy could never love him. To Heero, he was too weak. That thought brought on the spate of tears that followed him to sleep. Hopefully everything would be better tomorrow...

It was the last day before spring break and classes ended early. The boys had agreed to a basketball game and Heero had volunteered to play. He felt a little sorry for Duo, who could only sit on the bleachers and watch, but he decided that it was probably better this way since there would be no distraction for him on the court. He caught a few of the other boys giving each other significant looks with gestures in his direction. It would take a half-wit to miss the planning to do something nasty to him. He shrugged, let them do whatever, there was little chance of them actually succeeding and even less chance that they could inflict any damage. Heero then concentrated his attention on the game. With a few exceptions when he looked over to Duo, who was watching with wistful eyes and cheering him on. Heero grinned at him before sinking a three pointer.

"Go Heero!!!!"

It was actually rather flattering to have his own cheerleading section, even if it was one person. It was also rather gratifying to realize that the other boys would have killed for that one person to be cheering them on. Heero was starting to really like this change of plans. That was before he missed the extended foot and the captain of the football team crashed into him. He was left staring at the sky and wondering when they had started the fireworks..

Duo was a little jealous that Heero could play and he couldn't. Usually they managed to win the game together. He sighed and cheered Heero on. He grinned back at him before the three pointer and was perfectly happy to give Heero his due.

"Go Heero!!!!"

Duo continued to watch the game and didn't miss the foot or the crash. He was halfway down the bleachers before his mind had registered that Heero was on the ground, not moving and looking dazed. He knelt by his side to make sure he was at least conscious. He was, but only barely. Duo was furious!!! He stood up and whirled around to the two who had interfered and managed to hurt his Heero. He was a little mollified when they stepped back.

"You..." he tried to think of a feminine to masculine insult, then decided that it didn't really matter. "Bastards!!!! What the Hell did you think you were doing!?!"

Duo slapped them hard enough to rock them and was seriously considering beating them black and blue when a familiar voice interrupted with a totally surprising remark.

"Pink smiley faces?"

Duo blushed as he realized that Heero was in a perfect position to see his underwear.

"Heero...!" he squawked.

There was a quiet chuckle and Duo rolled his eyes as he helped Heero up.

"C'mon, let's get you to the nurse's office."

He let the Japanese pilot lean on him with one hand around his shoulders, Duo's arm around his waist to help balance his shaky steps.

"Are you alright?" he asked worriedly.

"Fine, just got the air knocked out of me."

"And your head cracked against the asphalt."

"That too...itai."

Duo just shook his head.

After he had finished with the nurse, Heero headed back to his room to relax and rest himself for a little while. He still tingled a little where Duo had had his arm, but he tried to ignore that. Chari's words came back to him. He had never seen Duo that angry fact...he blinked as he realized that he had never actually seen Duo angry. He shook his head to dispel those disquieting thoughts and lay down on his bed, trying to ignore the bustle in the hallway. The week after spring vacation was being looked forward to by most of the student body. There would be a spring dance with a real DJ. The girls' corridor was fairly buzzing with the amount of energy being put into finding or making a dress, getting a date, and discussing who would go out with whom. The boys' side was practically emanating nervous energy from the guys who were trying to get their courage up to ask the girls out, anticipation of what would happen after the dance, and resentment of someone else's good luck.

Heero was uneasy in this atmosphere. It didn't help that most of the guys lumped him in the category of being resentful at, he had Hellan-chan, after all. Heero was trying to decide what to do. On the one hand, if they attended the dance, it would take precious time away from the mission. There was also the fact that Duo was actually a guy, but that didn't really seem to matter right now. On the other hand, not attending the dance would blow their cover. The only people that weren't going were the people who couldn't get a date and refused to go with their friends. He wondered how Duo felt about it. He decided to go and ask him. As he walked down the girls' hallway, Heero felt rather self-conscious for the first time that he could remember. He was getting looks that ranged from knowing to calculating to indignant that he'd dared trespass into sacred territory. He knocked on Duo's door.

"Just a sec, Heero."

There was some shuffling inside, then the door opened and a violet eye peered out.

"Come on in."

Heero nodded and entered the room, closing the door behind him. He was unsurprised at the messy state of the room, typical Duo. He absently wondered how the boy kept track of where anything was, much less located it when needed.

"So, what brings you to my humble abode?"

"I was wondering what you thought about the dance."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Whether you think we should go or not."

Duo looked at him, jaw dropped and eyes wide for a moment. "Are you actually asking for my opinion?!"

Heero glared at him, wondering why he seemed so shocked. "Well?"

Duo bit his lip and looked away, Heero suddenly felt like he'd kicked a puppy.

"Duo, daijoubu desu ka?"

"I'm fine. Well, it would waste a lot of time, but if we don't go..."

"Then it'll look suspicious. That was my conclusion, as well. Since Hellan-chan and Heero-kun are practically betrothed, it would seem odd for them not to be present at such a gathering."

Duo nodded, his eyes distant.

"Have you been thinking about this, Duo?"

"Hmm? Why do you ask that?"

"You seem to have decided the issue a while ago."

"Nah, just thinking logically. I haven't really thought about until you mentioned it just now. It's really the only way that makes sense."

Heero spotted a corner of black cloth peeking out from under the bed and sat down - wincing at the feeling of his bruised ribs - to ostensibly re-tie his shoelace. There was a large amount of fabric and he could see a flash of scarlet. He pulled it out as he straightened, smiling slightly. It was a dress.

"Not really thought about it before, hmm?" Heero indicated the dress on his lap.

Duo flushed. "Would you believe it was a Home Ec assignment?"

Heero raised an eyebrow. Duo blushed about the same scarlet as was on the dress.

"Well...ok, so I've thought about it a little..."

The Japanese pilot snickered and got up, leaving the other to continue the finishing touches on the dress.

Duo sighed as Heero left the room, he was still surprised that Heero had decided that they would go and that he had asked for Duo's opinion. He was also rather embarrassed that Heero had found the dress. Oh well, what was done was done. He blinked as he registered the fact that they would be attending the dance. He sank to the floor in a daze.There was a knock on his door and someone entered.

"Hellan-chan! Are you alright?"

Chari, his mind recognized. He was still in semi-shock and deliriously happy. Duo felt hands on his shoulders and turned towards his friend.

"Hellan-chan! What happened?"

He felt a grin grow on his face and gave Chari a bear hug, laughing joyfully.

"He asked me! We're going to the dance!"

Chari looked at him oddly after he released her. "You mean, you didn't think you were going?"

"Well, Heero doesn't like dances. He generally thinks up of very creative ways to avoid them."

"But he asked you to go this time?"

"YES!!!! Oh, Chari! I have never...I mean...He's never...Gods, this is wonderful!"

He threw himself down on the bed, hugging a pillow tightly to his chest and giggling. Perhaps there was hope after all...!

Chari looked at Hellan's joyful face and felt the urges to gut Heero for his past neglect and hug him for this show of affection. She'd never seen anyone look so deliriously happy about such a simple thing. Hellan's eyes were fairly glowing and she was giggling. Chari's mind began to formulate a plan. She'd seen the basketball game and the way those jerks had interfered. Frankly, Chari had been shocked at Hellan's response - she'd never thought her the violent type, nor had she seemed to be strong enough to literally rock those guys back with the force of her slap. And she had also been taken aback at the expression on her face - Hellan's eyes had been flashing fury and Chari didn't blame the guys for stepping back. But all that anger had melted away when Heero had said whatever he had said and Hellan had just helped him up and taken him to the nurse. Any doubts that Chari might have had about the depth of Hellan's feelings for Heero would have been put to rest this day. This just encouraged her plan...

Duo was in a daze for the rest of the day and woke up cheerful in the morning. He knew that with the majority of the students gone, Heero would want to concentrate on their mission. Duo didn't mind, it just gave him an excuse to be with Heero all day. Throughout the day, he noticed Chari walking around with a camera, but it didn't really make much of a difference to him. She was probably just taking pictures while there were fewer people to get in her way. Heero didn't seem to care either, so he was fine. One hallway wall had been taken over by the pictures and info forms of the couples running for the spring king and queen. Duo enjoyed looking at them, it was fun to see the responses to the questions on the forms. He never got to see all of them, Chari always ran into him and dragged him off before he finished.

His days were spent happily walking with Heero, making plans for the evening reconnaissance. His nights were spent on those same reconnaissance maneuvers and working on his dress. It was finished and all he needed was jewelry. When Duo had been coerced into this mission, he'd allowed his ears to be pierced so as to better fit in. He'd been wearing plain garnet studs up till now, but he felt that the dress needed some more elaborate jewelry. All he needed was some time in town at the mall. It was the last day before school started again when Duo readied himself to go jewelry shopping. He was dressed in a black t-shirt, black jeans, and red vest. He heard a knock on the door and, recognizing Heero's knock, called for him to come in.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going shopping."


"I need jewelry," Duo said as he turned to grin at Heero, "to go with the dress."

Heero was staring at him and Duo suddenly realized that he hadn't put his makeup on...and that both bruises were visible.

Heero stared at Duo. He had entered the room and heard Duo's plans to go shopping for jewelry to match the dress for the dance. He had admitted to himself how damned gorgeous Duo looked in his outfit, but then his attention had been snared by the boy's face. Where there were two bruises. One he knew was Kito's fault, but the other...was his.

"Why didn't you tell me!?"

Duo grinned nervously. "About what?"

"Don't play games, baka!"

"You had more on your mind...and it wasn't doesn't really matter..."

"Duo no baka! Of course it matters!"

Duo stared at him as he held that pointed chin in an almost painful grip. Heero's other hand brushed against the injury he'd caused those weeks ago and Duo flinched away. He seemed to expect Heero to slap him again and Heero felt his heart twist that he could cause this beautiful, wonderful boy such pain...

He sighed, releasing Duo's chin and going to the bathroom to get out the bruise ointment. When he came out, he pointed to the bed. "Sit."

Duo sat.

Heero sat down beside him and began to carefully rub the ointment into both cheeks, starting with the one that was his fault.

"Why didn't you tell me, Duo? The real reason, this time."

"I didn't think you'd care. It was a show of weakness and you hate weakness..."

"I wish you had told me. I didn't think I'd hit you that hard."

"You were angry and you never hold back as much as you think you do when you're angry."

"I didn't mean to hurt you like that."

Duo looked slightly surprised and Heero felt his heart twist again - he owed the boy a lot.


"Yes, really. I wouldn't have said so otherwise."

Duo smiled warmly, it was more genuine than his manic grin.

"I'm glad, Heero. Thank you for helping with the ointment. I usually forget until I'm too tired to put up with it."

"How did you manage to hide it?"

"After you're done with the ointment, I'll show you."

Heero nodded and finished soon after. Duo got up and came back with a cosmetic case and a mirror. He handed the mirror to Heero. "Here, hold this."

Then he proceeded to apply the cosmetics in such a manner as to hide all evidence of the violence done to him. Heero was a bit impressed. Duo grinned again, his mood having risen with Heero's apology. Heero was finding more and more of the things that Chari had said that one day in the library were really true. Did that mean that Duo really did... The aforementioned boy hopped up and put the cosmetics and mirror away, returning and gracing Heero with another genuine smile.

"Well, I'm off! Want anything while I'm out?"

"Would you mind me coming with you?"

"Of course not! I'd love it! We could even get some lunch at the food court in the mall. It'll be great!"

Heero let himself smile as Duo dragged him off through the hallway and out to the mall. He'd watch Duo today and see if he could spot what Chari had said was there. If it was, he would make plans. He'd seen the one spring royalty form that Duo hadn't, and he knew that it was Chari's doing. Heero had the feeling that the girl had some sort of plan for the dance and that she had no qualms with rigging the voting. A small voice wondered what would happen if what Chari had said was there really wasn't. He shut it up and let his eyes linger on the curve of Duo's buttocks. Shopping, hm?

He didn't have an outfit, come to think of it... He shrugged. He'd blow up that bridge when he crossed it. Another small voice pointed out that that wasn't the way the saying went...

Duo looked back at Heero as they left the school. There was a problem...

"Um, Heero? Do you think that we should act 'involved' at the mall? I mean, well..."

"Yes. We might see some of our schoolmates there and acting otherwise would spoil our cover."

Duo grinned and latched onto Heero's arm, batting his eyelashes. Heero gave him a strange look.

"Oh, Heero-chan!"

"What, Hellan-chan?"

Duo giggled. "Nothing, I just like seeing the look on your face when I call you that! It's a combination of shock, annoyance, and forbearance that is just priceless."

"Is it now?"

Duo looked up at Heero, the other boy had an almost mischievous look on his face.

"Heero, what are you planning to do?"

"Who says I'm planning anything?"

"You've got that look on your face."

"What look?" the tone was innocent and Duo blinked.

"Uh...never mind..."

This was getting a little odd... First there was the apology this morning, then Heero had volunteered to go with him, and now he was acting...normal. Something was up...[2] He decided to enjoy the shopping in spite of Heero's odd behavior. Or perhaps because of it... Duo suddenly realized that he had tacit permission to cling and flirt with the object of his a very public place...This was going to be great!


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