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Sparring Partners

Joyce Wakabayashi

Trust and Understanding

Why, Heero thought as he lay in his bed, as he watched Duo rock back and forth to the music he was listening to on his headphones. Why does he have to irritate me so much? He doesn't even have to try and he gets on my nerves. Then he thought, I've dealt with worse conditions. I should not complain. Then he looked again at the goofy smile parting occasionally to mouth the lyrics silently and the eyes closed in pure enjoyment. He clenched his fists. Something about him drives me crazy, I want to make him stop.

Duo turned off his mp3 player, then turned to Heero and said, "Want to listen?"

He shook his head no.

Duo sighed, "You are the most unfriendly, solitary, and gloomy guy I know. If you're not careful, you're going to die alone."

"I probably will," Heero snapped.

"Such an optimist you are. With the way you are, you might actually survive all this, then what will you do?"

"Omae o korosu."

"Well, that's a plan." Then Duo laughed.

"Turn off the lights!"

"Ok, Ok."

The lights went off and it was quiet for a while.

"Omae o korosu," sang Duo.

"Shut up!"

Duo stopped punching the school gym's punching bag and looked at Heero lifting weights. Damn, he's strong, he thought looking at the weights Heero was curling as if they were nothing.

Heero finished his curls and watched him pound and kick at the bag. "Kicking and punching a bag won't help much when it comes to fighting. It doesn't fight back."

"Well, how about you be my sparring partner? It'll help keep you in shape, too."

"If you want."

"You go first," said Heero. "I'll put on the punch mitts on."

"Fine with me."

They both got in the ring after putting on the headgear. "All right," said Duo. "I hope your poor hands don't hurt after this workout." Duo put on the boxing gloves.

"I doubt it."

After a few minutes of punching and jabbing, Duo said, "Well, what do you think?"

"Not bad."


"For an untrained weakling."

"Why you!" Duo fumed as he watched as Heero's mouth curled into a smirk. "I'm nice and warmed up, how about we go a round, mano a mano? I won't be holding back." He may be strong, but I'm really good at dodging, he thought.

Look down on my fighting abilities, huh? Well, I'll teach you to respect the Duo Maxwell punch! One doesn't survive the streets with just lip service!

"You're going to keep bugging me until I do, aren't you?"

"Ah, you know me so well. So, how about it?"

Heero said nothing, but took off the punch mitts and put on regular boxing gloves. I was trained all my life as a fighter, first by Odin Lowe and then by Dr. J, he thought. I'm not going to let that loudmouth beat me, especially since he'll gloat forever if he does.

"Ok, we meet in the middle, touch gloves and come out swinging," said Duo.

They walked to the center and touched gloves, then Heero swung. Duo just managed to jump out of the way. Hmm, he's fast, thought Duo. I'll have to tire him out a little.

They began circling each other, waiting for the other to make the first move, not taking their eyes off each other. Both were trying to figure what was going on in the other's mind, not wanting to waste a shot in the dark. They were sizing each other up, looking for a sign of the other's intentions. Duo managed to hit him in the chest and jump back before he could get hit.

Heh, he thought, I manage to hit Heero Yuy. You're not so invincible. Then he frowned, Hmm, it didn't seem to knock any wind out of him. Crap!

How did he get under my defenses? thought Heero. I thought I was too tough for that. Not that it hurt. . . much. But I should be doing better than this, he's tougher than he looks.

He shows no sign of weakening, Duo thought. He might have more endurance than I do. I better do a series of quick punches and retreats to soften him up. But I can tell I've pissed him off, that's good. I've managed to knock him off balance.

I have to keep my guard up, Heero thought, I can't let him do that to me and get away with it.

They circled around each other a little quicker this time. Occasionally, Duo would say, "Don't be shy, Heero," and "Just come and get me, I'm right here." Heero would grit his teeth and said nothing.

Duo went in for a knockout blow, but Heero managed to hit him in the chest, which made him take a few steps back.

Ow! Duo thought. I've got to get to him somehow. I can't show how much it hurts. "Man, it stings . . . a little."


So it went on, well past the length of a round. It had gone beyond just something for fun or practice. Neither party wanted to give up, to show weakness.

Finally, Heero managed to knock Duo to the ground with a left hook. He looked down at Duo on the floor, breathing hard. "I think we should stop." Duo stood up with a serious and pained look on his face and then got back in a fighting crouch. "I'm not done yet."

I should be happy that I knocked him down, that I showed him who was the better fighter but instead I feel worse. Why is he so persistent? What is he trying to prove? It disturbs me. "I'll just knock you down again. There's no more need to fight."

"Stop being so damn arrogant!" He might be right, but a guy's got to have his pride. I can't make it too easy for him. "Who says the fight is over?"

Heero took off the gloves and threw them to the floor. "I don't want to fight anymore. Enough!" If he keeps getting up each time I knock him down, he's going to get seriously hurt. Idiot, he won't be able to go on any missions if he keeps this up. "I'm going to take a shower, then I'm going back up to the room. Do what you want."

Duo took off his gloves, then wiped the sweat from his brow.

"Chikusho," he muttered.


Heero looked at the door of their room. He's taking a long time in the shower, even longer than usual, he thought. I wonder what's keeping him. I wonder if. . . Then he turned his attention back to the computer.

Heero was looking at his computer when Duo stepped into the room. He turned around and looked at him. He doesn't look too bad, he thought, It's good I had the sense to end that fight. He turned back to the screen. He kept waiting for him to say something, but it was quiet in the room. "Nothing to say?" Heero said, expecting either a boast about how his butt would've been kicked if the fight had lasted a few seconds longer or a litany of complaints about all the aches and pains he had.

"I'm moving out of the room."

Heero's head snapped up and he turned around. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Are you sulking because you lost the fight?"

"I'm moving out because I can't stand being in the same room with someone who feels nothing but contempt for me."

Heero stared at him, not knowing what to say.

"You pretty much hate me, so you should be relieved. You keep scowling at me and saying things like 'Do your lips ever stop moving?' and 'Why can't you be quiet?' Today at the gym . . .you must've thought I was a wuss. My punches didn't seem to bother you at all and I thought I was a good fighter. Damn it! I'll start asking some of the other guys if they want to switch with me or something. Maybe someone who doesn't bother you the way I do. I just can't deal with it. I'll be packing now." With that, he sat on his bed and began stuffing his few belongings in a bag on his bed.

"I don't hate you. Why do you care so much about what I think, anyway? Why did you want to keep on fighting? You knew you couldn't win, so. . ."

"It wasn't the fight that I was trying to win. It was your respect."


"Well, I always get the feeling that you look down on me, that you don't think much of me. Even if you didn't want to become friends, I thought maybe at least I could have your respect. I thought I was a good fighter, thought I could show you that I wasn't just all talk. You must think I'm a clown, the way I always joke around, but I really . . ."


"Really want to hear you laugh."

"It's not such a great laugh."

"It is, if it's from Heero Yuy."

There was quiet in the room for a few seconds.

"You don't have to feel so sorry for yourself. Not too many people could last a round with me. Besides, the first time we met, you were the better shot."

Duo raised his eyebrows in surprise. "Is that a compliment?"

"I don't make compliments. I only state facts."

Duo smiled at that. Heero got off his chair, sat next to Duo on the floor and started to pull the knickknacks out of Duo's backpack. "You didn't answer the question of why you care so much about what I think?"

"You probably don't want to know the answer."

"Go ahead, tell me."

"I like you."

Heero frowned and said dryly, "I gathered that much."

"No, I mean I LIKE you." Duo turned back to put the things back in the backpack. "If that makes you uncomfortable, then I'll just . . ."

Duo was about to put something back into the back, when Heero's hand landed on top of his and firmly pushed it away from the bag. Their hands did not separate, but lay on top of each other on the bed. He turned to see Heero's face a few inches from his. Is he expecting me to do something? Duo thought. I'll just go in very slowly to give him time to pull away if he doesn't want to. He closed his eyes and slowly leaned forward, then their lips touched. The bag was pushed off the bed as they pulled each other closer.

Why am I seeing stars? thought Heero.


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