COMMENTS: Started out going one place with one thought. Ended up somewhere nearby with a different thought. I'll save the first thought for later.
WARNINGS: soft shonen ai, OOC-ness? (I don't know. I think it's exactly the kind of thing Heero would want to know.)
"I love you, Heero."
"I *love* you, Heero."
"Heero, I love you."
"I love *you*, Heero."
"This isn't working," Duo turned away from the mirror and leaned against the dresser. He sighed. Maybe it was better left unsaid. No matter what the outcome, it would complicate their relationship. Duo wasn't sure he could handle a more complicated relationship with Heero. He was certain Heero couldn't. And not saying it meant Heero couldn't tell him what he didn't want to hear.
That Heero didn't love him.
He winced. That hurt just thinking about it. It hurt worse because he knew it was true.
That decided it. It was better to just leave things as they were. This way he could at least enjoy Heero's company, even if he wished he could enjoy much more. He should be back from his class any--.
The door opened. Heero walked in wearing that not-quite-glare, not-quite-frown that was his neutral expression. It crept toward the frown as he saw Duo. "That's my dresser."
Duo stood, edging away from Heero's dresser. "Anou… So it is. Gomen." He hadn't noticed he'd been practicing at Heero's dresser instead of his own. Wonder what that says? Probably that you're hopeless, Duo.
"Hn." Heero sat down at the computer, turned it on and logged in to check for messages -- or more specifically a mission. Nothing.
Heero almost jumped. He'd been so absorbed in his ritual that he hadn't heard Duo sidle over behind him.
"-- since you don't have anything else to do, how about coming to the beach with me?"
"Oi, Heero. What're you gonna do? Sit here and stare at the computer screen waiting for a mission until your eyes go all googly and you can't see to shoot straight?"
Heero looked at him. Duo really wanted him to come. He wasn't sure why. Duo usually told him he was a wet blanket, whatever that was. Duo was also right. He needed to get out more. Sitting in the room wasn't the way to keep in good shape, nor was simple physical training. Staying in shape required "recreational" exercise -- and Duo was a good beach volleyball partner. He ticked off the reasons for and against, weighted each, assigned them ranks, did the math and decided, "Ryoukai."
"On one condition."
"Sure! What is it?"
"You only speak when spoken to."
"No prob-- Naaniiii?" Duo knew he wasn't a blabbermouth, but he wasn't sure he could keep that promise. There was a solution, though. "One more condition. I can write you notes and you'll read them."
Heero weighed the offer again. It would be quiet. Maybe Duo's writing would be more coherent than his speech. Duo couldn't write as fast as he could talk. "Ryoukai."
Duo grabbed a pencil and paper and wrote, "Good, change and let's go."
Heero felt his plan falling to pieces. Duo could write very fast, and very legibly.
It was too late to back out now.
He changed out of his school clothes into the comfortable spandex and tank top. He chose flip-flops instead of the usual ankle-high hiking shoes. It was too late in the afternoon to get a good volleyball series going. Duo was probably looking for a walk on the beach more than volleyball anyway. When he turned around, he saw he was right. Duo had changed into the brown shorts and loose button-up shirt that was never buttoned. Over the past three months, Heero had come to recognize it as Duo's walking-on-the-beach outfit. Heero raised his eyebrows and bent his head toward the door.
Duo opened his mouth, closed it and nodded, opening the door for Heero then following him out. Heero led them to the motorcycle, surprised that Duo had been able to keep his mouth quiet for this long. Maybe Duo would surprise him, but he doubted it.
He began to doubt his doubt as Duo drove them to the beach without shouting at the other drivers.
They parked the bike and walked out onto the strand. Heero enjoyed the sand and sea when it was quiet, just the sound of the waves and the wind and the gulls. Oh, sure, a few people, but no-- He felt a nudge. Duo held a note out to him.
"Since I can't talk, would you hold my hand so I know you're there?" Duo knew it was a daring thing to ask, but it would be nice to hold Heero's hand. He might not get another chance. Maybe he was playing for pity. He'd take it if it worked.
If he was holding Duo's hand, Duo wouldn't be able to write him notes. Of course, he'd be holding Duo's hand. He wasn't sure if that was better or worse. It was a hard decision. The math kept coming out the same either way. Finally, he abandoned the attempt and held out his left hand. Duo grabbed it as if it were a lifeline. Heero wasn't sure why he looked so happy.
They walked along the beach in silence again. Duo's hand was a constant reminder of his presence, but Heero wasn't after the solitude so much as the quiet. Duo's hand was warm, a little moist with sweat. It felt comfortable in his hand, like a gun made just for him. It was odd that two hands could fit so well.
They had gone a kilometer down the beach when Duo squeezed his hand. Heero lifted his gaze from the sand. Duo's eyes were soft violet. Heero had never seen them like that before. The dark glitter of Shinigami, the watery sadness, the sparkling happiness, the nervous uncertainty, the wide-eyed surprise -- those he knew. Duo tugged on his hand pointing to the water with his head. Heero shrugged. Not certain what Duo wanted to do. He could always stop it if it went too far.
Duo had always wanted to walk along the beach with the water rushing around his feet as he held Heero's hand. Now was his chance. He could see Heero's wariness, so he was gentle, leading them just a few feet into the foam.
This wasn't too bad. At least he hadn't tried to drag them into the breakers. Feeling the ocean made the walk more relaxing somehow. It cooled his feet, but it cooled something else too. He knew he'd never been good with feelings. He just let it go and enjoyed the walk… and the water… and Duo's hand.
His hand shook. He looked and saw it was Duo's hand quivering. Duo was looking at him with those soft eyes, his mouth open, constrained by his promise. Heero waited for him to break it, but Duo shook his head. The violet eyes were sad now. Heero wondered what he had wanted to say. Something about the soft eyes scared him. They looked vulnerable, weak, defenseless. Neither he nor Duo could afford those things.
Almost. Almost. But he couldn't break his promise. He wanted his hand back so he could write, but he wanted to hold Heero's hand more. Writing might mean he could never hold Heero's hand again. It was better to enjoy the half-measure than to lose everything. He walked on and Heero moved with him. At least Heero was moving with him.
Another three kilometers and Heero turned them back. In some ways, Duo's silence was more disturbing than his speech. Heero had never expected him to last this long, certainly not when he couldn't even write. His discomfort grew as they walked back. He needed to know what was going on with Duo. Something was wrong with him. Heero needed to be able to rely on him.
He felt Duo start to turn toward the beach entrance where they had parked the bike, but he continued on, pulling Duo back into step with him. He didn't need to look to know Duo was confused. He led them to a dune a dozen meters beyond the entrance and sat. Duo stood, looking at him for a moment, then joined him on the sand.
This was another dream. Cautiously, he disentangled his hand from Heero's and slid his arm around him, his hand resting on top of Heero's hip, his arm running from shoulder to waist across his back. He wanted to hold him closer, but didn't dare. Instead, he sat watching the sinking sun paint the sky red and orange and silver.
The arm made Heero uncomfortable at first. He had never been comfortable with intimacy. After a few minutes, though, he felt the warm contact relaxing muscles in his back -- muscles he hadn't known were tense. The arm fit. It fit like a well-made shoulder strap on a rifle. He waited for Duo to speak as the sun set. When the last light faded, leaving only black sky and stars, he gave up. "What's wrong, Duo?" Nothing for a moment, as if Duo wasn't sure he could speak, then "Nothing's wrong now, Heero."
Nothing was wrong. He was sitting on the beach at night with his arm around Heero, something he'd wished he could do for a long time. So what if it wasn't perfect. It was close enough. It was safe. He might get to do it again sometime.
"What did you want to tell me?" He felt the arm tremble and turned his eyes, but not his head, to see the soft eyes mixed with watery sadness. Something was wrong now. This was what he had to understand. This was what threatened Duo's ability to perform on a mission. This was what made him a liability. He saw the lips move, but he couldn't catch the words they formed. They moved again. The third time, he read them, but he was sure he had missed something. The fourth time he knew he hadn't missed anything. "Nani?"
Duo turned his head and saw confusion marring Heero's face. He felt his lips moving, and stopped them, knowing what they had been saying.
"What do you mean, Duo?"
It was too late now. He'd said it even if he hadn't given it voice. He sighed. "I'm sorry, Heero."
"Duo, tell me what you meant."
"I'm sorry. I don't want to scare you off. I know you don't feel the same way. I know it's… strange. Just let me stay. I promise I won't--"
"Duo, I don't understand what you were saying."
He finally heard Heero's question. He looked out over the water, drawing a calm strength from the fluid permanence of the ocean. "I mean, I want to be with you. I want to spend time with you. I want to walk on the beach with you, holding your hand, even if I can't speak to you. I want to see you. I want to hear your voice. I want to make you happy. I want to keep you safe. I want to know how you feel, what you're thinking." He shrugged. "There's a lot more, but it's hard to say it all."
Heero sat looking at Duo. Thinking. Weighing. Analyzing. No matter how hard he tried to change the answer, it kept coming up the same. It wasn't a weakness, it was a strength. He looked at Duo. Thinking. He wondered if his arm would fit around Duo's back as well as Duo's fit around his. He tried it.
Duo gasped and stiffened, pulling forward as the arm touched his back. Then he remembered how badly he had wanted to feel exactly that and forced himself to relax against it. It felt so good. Maybe Heero wasn't going to run him off after all. He could almost believe Heero might at least like him.
He thought he'd done something wrong, then he felt Duo's back touch his arm again. Tentative as if he were afraid. Heero scooted a little closer so he could lay his hand on Duo's hip. Yes. That felt good. Right, like a… like a… He didn't know what it was like. Maybe Duo could explain it. "Why do you fit my arm so well?" Violet eyes met his.
"Because I love you," Duo mouthed.
Heero's face pulled toward a faint frown. That made no sense. "How does that explain the geometry of my arm and your back?"
Duo smiled. "It doesn't," again silent words. "It explains why they feel like they fit." They watched each other, Heero trying to understand the geometric implications of love and Duo enjoying the moment of closeness he might not know again. He decided to enjoy as much as he could. Slowly, cautiously he laid his head on Heero's shoulder, looking out at the ocean. The muscle tensed… … then relaxed. Fitting itself to his cheek and temple. He put his other arm around Heero's belly, hand resting on his other hand, his arms conforming to the curve of Heero's rib cage and abdomen and back. He closed his eyes.
It was dawn when he woke. "Oi, gomen, Heero," he mumbled. "I didn't mean to keep you here all night." He felt Heero shrug and lifted his head, working the crick in his neck. "You, uh, want to go back to the dorm?" At least they didn't have any classes today. He began removing his arms.
"No." Heero laid his head on Duo's shoulder and slid his free arm around Duo's belly, closing the circle of his arms. "I want to know if I fit you," he said as he closed his eyes.
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