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Roses in December


Ariana & Bianca


The last thing Heero expected to hear at breakfast was, "Stay out of the apartment until 8:00, okay? It's a special occasion." Uncertain, he set his briefcase down on the table and poured himself a cup of coffee. He liked it the way Duo made it, for some reason. "I've got a dinner date tonight," said Duo smugly, buttering a piece of toast with quick, smooth strokes.

Heero rolled his eyes. "Sure, whatever." He grabbed a piece of the orange Duo had peeled and was about to leave when he realized his roommate and best friend was staring at him in a very disconcerting way.

"What, do I have food on my face?" he demanded. Duo blanched; for a moment, he thought the American was going to...hit him... Or something equally drastic and entirely out of character.

"No. See you later," he said archly, taking a large bite.

It didn't occur to Heero until halfway through his meeting with a large business executive from one of the largest brokering firms in Japan that he hadn't asked *who* Duo had a date with. That thought plagued him through the entire day. Finally, he decided he'd had enough damn paperwork and left, thoughts of a warm apartment and a nice shower dancing in his mind.

Then he remembered. No apartment until 8:00. Dammit. Shifting uneasily behind his desk, he finally sighed and grabbed his leather jacket and scarf. He saw Relena on the way out and they chatted for a few moments; the girl, after a lot of soul searching, had discovered a knack for accounting and left the position of ruling the Sanc Kingdom to her brother.

"So," said Heero as they crunched into the parking lot. Snow had started falling sometime during the day, and now was almost up to his ankles. "Want to grab a cup of coffee?" She stared at him for a moment, then laughed.

"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were hitting on me. But no thank you, I've got to pick Dorothy up from her ballet lessons or--" She drew a finger across her throat, clearly not realizing the implications that action *truly* held for a fencer of Dorothy's caliber. Love is blind, thought the barely smiling Japanese man.

Heero smirked slightly, then turned to the task of getting his car unlocked. Wishing, not for the first time, that he'd just gotten one of those keypads installed on the driver's door, he fumbled for a few moments with the key, then jammed it in. The leather was colder than ice against his thighs; he wriggled uncomfortably for a moment in the seat, then started the car.

Or tried to start his car.

He tried a few more times. He tried talking to the damn thing, like he knew Duo would have. The only difference was, it would have started after the American began chattering about hot Ferraris and dinner dates. The engine gave only a low hum of indifference to him.

Heero got out and kicked the bumper several times, the emptiness of the parking lot suddenly dawning on him. Everyone else must have left after the snow started. Feeling rather stupid, and hating the fact that he felt stupid, he sat in the car for a moment, debating whether he should interrupt Duo's dinner (it was after 5:30 and going on 6:00) or if he should just get a cab.

Oh well. He had time. Sighing, he jammed his stiff hands into his pockets and took off for the diner across the street. Maybe they'd have a quiet booth in the corner where he could sit and sulk.

Damn Lexus, he thought angrily, but he couldn't quite stay mad at it. After all, Duo had bought it for him. He was so lost in his thoughts that he barely noticed the fact that a car was barreling around the corner at higher than 60 miles per hour on a back road.

Well, at least until he and the car collided.

"Oh shit!" The driver came racing out, turning him over with rough, wool-covered hands. "Shit, kid, are you okay?" Annoyed that someone had called him a kid (he was slender, not skinny; small, not a kid), Heero summoned up a cold stare, which was duly interpreted as a glazed look of pain.

"I'm taking you to the hospital!" He gathered the slender Japanese man into his arms and dumped him into the backseat of his car.

"No!" said Heero quickly. "That's really not necessary, I'm fine, I really am--"

"I was going 70, there's no way you're gonna walk away with just a scratch." Giving himself over to the cruel clutches of fate, Heero flung one arm over his eyes and fell asleep.

He was released from the hospital five and a half hours later after they'd decided he really suffered from only a scratch. The man, Heero noted sourly, had disappeared, leaving him stranded.

He was about to call for a cab when he realized the man had disappeared with his wallet. It seemed nothing was going right. And to top it all off, if he ever did make it back to the apartment they shared, he would have to see that self-satisfied baka grin at him and beg him to ask him how his date went. Well, he wasn't in the fucking mood.

Feeling righteously angered, he just decided to grin and bear it and walk the five damn miles. Unfortunately, being an ex-soldier didn't help him as he sloshed through mountains of sidewalk snow. Above, the soft sky seemed to bend and fold like velvet.

He arrived an hour later. It was 11:30, Heero Standard Time, and he felt like jumping off a cliff. Feeling an impending sense of doom, he pushed the door open and found a strong pair of arms wrap around his shivering body.

"Heero!" exclaimed Duo. "Geez! Glad ya finally decided to show up!" He fussed over him, expressing his worry in the only way he knew how. "Um...why don't you take a shower or something man, you look cold." Heero nodded slightly and made his way to the bathroom, stripping as he went.

Duo had been right, he reflected as the hot water began to send a burning sensation through his fingers and toes. As the water began to run colder, he leapt out, shutting off the water, and wrapped a towel around his waist, frowning as he saw in drape down to his knees. That towel barely covered half of Duo's long thighs. Heero, resigning himself to the fact that Duo was just destined to be taller than him, threw on a pair of his favorite pajamas (silk-lined cotton...ooh) and padded downstairs.

Only to stop short. The table was still set for two, the candles burned low in their holders. Duo emerged from the kitchen silently, carrying a little pot of something. "Made you some chicken noodle soup," he said quietly.

"Thank you," said Heero, feeling odd. Had Duo's guest stood him up? "Duo...why...?" The American mistook his question for a different one.

"Do you know how nasty chicken is when it's been sitting on a plate for almost four hours?" he asked, plopping down beside him. "I had to throw all the food out." Heero could feel his watchful eyes on him as he bent to taste the soup. It was a little salty, but surprisingly good.

"I'm sorry."

Duo started. "Don't be! They were just a little late, that's all."

He raised an eyebrow. "Four hours late? That seems rude to me." He resumed his study of the chicken pieces floating in the broth, poking at one or two occasionally with his spoon.

"Well, my dinner date is a rude kind of person." He grinned.

Heero was confused. "Duo, who...?"

The American froze in place, swallowing hard. He watched the throat rise and fall compulsively, and tore his eyes away to take another sip of soup. "Here," said Duo, thrusting a brilliant red rose in bloom at him. Before his conscious mind could order him not to, Heero pressed the softness of the petals to his lips, inhaling the light scent.

His mind whirled. He wasn't sure if this was a gesture of friendship, a tentative push towards something else, something bigger, a great unnamed abyss that seemed to loom just over the horizon. "I-I can't," he stammered, pushing the soup away, laying the rose on the table. Rejecting Duo, his mind whispered.

"You can," said Duo, leaning closer and closer. His heart hammered in his rib cage, bursting against the solid bars, trying to break free. Duo's eyes were focused on him now, growing larger in his view. And just as his lips met the moist fullness of his mouth, the American reached over and pinched the candles out.

It was strange. He could feel Duo's breath, ghosting into his mouth, his tongue lying like a little snake. Firm hands reached around him to run up and down his back, while the other held his neck. Feeling terrified and slightly thrilled, he tore his head away, surprised to hear his own soft panting.

"Um, I don't why you just did that but I--" babbled Heero. The American was too silent. "Duo? Duo?" He reached out and his hands touched something soft. Hair. Duo's hair; it was moving, shifting under the sensitive pads of his fingers. He was undoing his braid. "Duo, you don't have to do that."

"I was worried about you," his husky voice admitted, calm and clear. The Japanese man decided not to tell him about his excursion to the hospital. "Daisuki," he sighed, using Heero's language, meeting the slender man on his terms.

He felt weightless; as he passed, he grasped wildly for the rose, felt its thornless stem brush against his scarred palm. Heero was being carried upstairs, to the left. Duo's room. The gentlest weight pressed him to the bed, matching hard curve for hard curve. It was a strange sensation, like being filled and surrounded at the same time. His mouth descended again, touching delicately and drawing away. It was slow and warm and pleasurable; he decided he liked being kissed.

Duo kissed him one more time, making him feel lighter than air, then snuggled him into the crook of his arm. "Duo..." His own voice sounded so small in the darkness. He cleared his throat and tried again, pleased when his usual brassy and commanding tones seemed to push back the tension.

"Duo, where did you get a rose in December? All the roses are dead." Fingers wove into his hair, stroking his eyes closed.

He thought a moment, then violet eyes slid shut also. "No," replied Duo, one hand on the slightly crushed flower, one hand on Heero, "they're not."


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