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Red Jester


A loud clap of thunder shook the dorm room and forced Duo from his comfortable slumber. He pulled the heavy comforter tighter around his face and rolled onto his side, noting the heavy pounding of rain on the cheap school windows. Something wasn't right. He lay motionless for a few moments, listening to his partner's even breathing across the room and instantly knew what was wrong. He was sleeping in Heero's bed. After coming to this confusing conclusion he began to notice the little differences in the bed beneath him which his sleep muddled mind had missed only seconds before. The mattress was harder, as were the pillows, but the bed was far from uncomfortable. A familiar musk was trapped in the sheets and comforter which enveloped Duo and refused to let his mind focus.

He lay there for long minutes listening to the rain, letting his mind wander, and slowly remembering the events of the previous evening. He wasn't sure if it was exhaustion which allowed him to dissect the event with little anxiety or if it was a trust for Heero which had developed through their missions together. Either way, what little sleep Duo had that night had been the most restful in close to a year.

As the rain continued, Duo began to hear the first signs of life besides his own and Heero's in the dorm. The quiet clicking of doors and feet padding down the hall slowly gave way to the less courteous slamming and pounding. Soon the voices of an army of boys filled the building as they waited for showers, sinks, and toilets.

The whole mess pulled Duo from his slightly mystical state of mind and forced him into reality. He craned his neck, trying to get a view of the digital clock on his desk. The clock was set at the perfect angle to be seen from Duo's pillow. Unfortunately, his head now rested on Heero's pillow. Eventually, the boy dubbed the effort futile and prepared himself for the slap of cold air he would encounter by leaving his cocoon. Carpe diem, Duo. He thought to himself and tossed the comforter from his boxer clad body.

The change in temperature wasn't nearly as drastic as he had anticipated. As he made his way across the room to his desk he was distracted by the still sleeping, slightly rumpled, boy in his bed. Heero lay only half covered by Duo's blanket as if in conscious defiance of the slightly chilly room. A sadness filled Duo as he noticed his partner's face had already lost some of the open kindness from the night before, and the ever present crease between his brows was beginning to reform.

As Duo stood there, bare feet cooling on the hard tile floor, he felt a smile come unwittingly. It wasn't the forced smile which had become such a constant in his life recently, but an honest and unprovoked one. Duo fingered his left wrist briefly as he thought back to the previous night's encounter. They had made a connection which Duo prayed would never be broken. He hoped that after dropping the perfect soldier act once Heero would be more willing to do so again. He hoped for friendship from the other boy, and to his own slight distress, he hoped for something more.

Shaking his head, Duo continued his short trek across the room to the clock and turned it to face him. 7:50 am shone at him in obnoxious neon green, and the American swore sharply under his breath. He had ten minutes to get to class. Duo dropped the clock back on the desk and snatched the already worn shirt and blazer off his chair. After a frantic search of the room he found a pair of semi-clean pants which could have been his or Heero's.

Duo turned to face his still sleeping partner, pants hanging limply from his hand, and, after a quarter of a second of debate with himself, the American decided not to wake the boy. It was his fault, after all, that Heero hadn't gotten any sleep.

A sharp knock penetrated the near silence of the room and Duo made a mad dash for the door, buttoning his pants with one hand as he opened the heavy wooden monster with the other. Quatre beamed up at him from Trowa's side. "Are you and Heero ready for class?"

"Uh, Heero's not feeling well." Duo inched past the door as he spoke and shut it nonchalantly behind him, not wanting the pair to see Heero sleeping in the wrong bed and assume something lewd. "I'm just going to let him sleep."

Quatre looked crestfallen. "Oh. That's too bad. I hope it's nothing serious."

"I'm sure he's fine." Duo said, beginning to walk to class.

The trio walked to the end of the hall in silence before Quatre cleared his throat self-consciously. "Duo?"


"Your hair."

Duo's hands flew to his head and he spun to look at his reflection in the window at the end of the hall. "Shit!" The usually carefully plaited hair had come mostly undone during the night and rogue strands were sticking out in every direction.

A small smile hovered on Trowa's lips. "Loose track of time this morning?"

The American chuckled as he attempted to tame the mass with his fingers. "I guess I'll just have to braid it while we walk."

* * *

Heero snapped from sleep to full consciousness in an instant and lay motionless in an attempt to ascertain where he was. Upon coming to the definite conclusion that he was in fact safe, the Japanese boy tossed off Duo's shampoo scented blankets and sat up to look for the braided boy. Hearing the comfortable silence, broken only by the pattering of rain, Heero decided that his talkative partner must not have been present. After noting this fact, something else came to Heero's conscious. The entire dorm was enveloped in silence. What time is it? Heero leaned over and grabbed Duo's clock, frowning at the illuminated display in an attempt to change reality.

I over slept. Heero thought with astonishment. Why did Duo let me oversleep? Heero slid off the bed and set down the clock in one fluid motion. Maybe, he thought, he's ashamed of last night and was afraid of a confrontation.

While dressing, the Japanese boy contemplated this possibility and came to one conclusion. Not a chance. He began pulling an over starched white shirt over his head. Duo's never been ashamed of anything in his life. Frightened, maybe. Ashamed, never.

Heero stopped short. What if Duo was ashamed of Heero's weakness? He was supposed to be the perfect soldier, after all. What would Duo think of him after hearing about that little girl and her dog? He might be telling Quatre and Trowa everything right now and I can't do anything about it!

Heero began frantically searching the room for the rest of his clothes, hoping he could catch Duo before he said anything. After about five minutes of searching, the Japanese boy was forced to stop dead in the center of the room in utter bewilderment. His pants were gone.

* * *

"Duo, are you sure those aren't Heero's pants? They look a little tight on you."

Duo grabbed some onigiri, placed it on his tray, and followed the other two boys to a lunch table. "I don't think so." He said, looking down and twisting his hips back and forth. "Are you trying to tell me I'm gaining weight?"

Quatre grinned. "No, I'm not, Duo. But please sit down. You're making a scene."

Sure enough, the sight of Duo Maxwell shaking his hips in a pair of ass tight pants was attracting more than one girl's attention. The American grinned sheepishly and sat down.

As the three boys ate their school meals, Duo watched the other two pilots discretely. He began to wonder whether the two had already crossed the line which separated friends from lovers. It was little things which made him question this; the softness in Trowa's eyes and the eagerness to please in Quatre's. As he watched the pair he began to imagine that softness in Heero's eyes and wondered if the Japanese boy would ever return his feelings.

Duo began choking on his food, which earned a questioning glance from Trowa. The American looked back down at his food. What am I thinking! Return what feelings? I think that conversation last night shook more than tears loose. As soon as he had finished thinking this, Duo realized he had defeated himself and set down his food.

I love Heero. He thought, feeling a grin spread across his face. I've committed enough sins in my life for an entire country. It's about time I enjoyed one of them.

Duo pushed his chair back from the table and picked up his tray, startling both Quatre and Trowa. "I'm going to go check on Heero."

As the American walked out of the room Quatre shook his head. "Have you been noticing the mood swings?"

Trowa popped some rice into his mouth and nodded.

* * *

As Duo continued his mission to the dorm room he shared with Heero, his gait began to slow while his mind was working at the speed of an over zealous magnac attempting to fulfill Quatre's orders. When he finally reached the door proudly displaying the numbers 254 he stopped completely and seemed to be fascinated by the wood grain.

Doubts which had previously been nonexistent in the American's mind sprung fiercely to his consciousness. What if he doesn't return my feelings? He seemed so… Duo's mind groped for the right word, …human last night. He lost the metallic, mechanical smell he so often reeks of. A small grin touched the American's lips, I could get used to that softness. Here goes nothing.

The boy let out a puff of air and entered the room, his eyes fixed on a blank part of the wall and his mind secretly hoping the Japanese boy was not there. No such luck. Duo thought as he lowered his eyes to the annoyed, half dressed, Heero on the bed.

Before Duo could say anything he heard a low growl and saw Heero's lips part. "Duo, where are my pants?" The tone was flat and deadly, carrying more than a hint of violence.

The idea of confessing to Heero which had seemed so logical only moments before now seemed like the most reckless plan the American had ever concocted. The steely look in the Japanese boy's eyes froze the words of confession in Duo's throat, causing him to abruptly break into a fit of nervous laughter.

Heero's eyes narrowed as he failed to see the humor. "Duo, where are my pants."

"Your pants?" Duo looked down and felt heat rushing to his face. "Anou… I guess I grabbed yours by mistake this morning. I was in a bit of a hurry…" Duo's voice died off, leading the room into an electric silence.

The two boys stared at each other from opposite sides of the room for what seemed to be an eternity. Heero attempted to catch the American boy's eyes with his but found he was as successful as he would have been playing tag with a cheetah. Duo was refusing to look directly at him. He already told Quatre and Trowa. A clap of thunder caused both boys to jump as it shook the dorm room and Duo's eyes finally locked with Heero's. "Duo, about last night…"

"Hai," the American broke in nervously, "about that. I was just thinking about everything while I was eating lunch with Quatre and Trowa, and…"

Heero's eyes widened as Duo spoke, and he felt the unfamiliar force of panic rising within him. "I can't believe you!" He blurted out. He never should have told Duo. The excuse he'd used last night about keeping emotions from distracting had been just that. An excuse. What really happened last night was I weakened. I gave in to emotions I never should have been feeling. Heero's mind groped frantically, How can I fix this? How can I turn back time? His expression turned hard as he glared at his partner and attempted to gain the upper hand in the situation. "Duo, what we discussed last night was just between us."

The American had been lost in his own thoughts and was barely listening to the other boy. "I know, Heero. I…"

Heero's voice was frozen. "Then why did you tell them?"

The direct accusation demanded Duo's attention immediately and he cast a confused look at his partner. "Tell who?"
"Quatre and Trowa."

"Heero, why would I…"

The Japanese boy felt his muscles tensing and tried to calm himself down. Control yourself, baka. He thought. "I don't know, Duo, why would you?" He heard himself saying from what seemed like galaxies away as he attempted to detach himself from the conversation and calm down.

Duo sounded hurt, "But, Heero…"

"Why, Duo?" Heero raised his voice a notch.

"You're not even listening to me!"

"You're not answering my…"

"Heero, I love you."


Heero's eyes widened as the final shout echoed in his ears and he tried to make sense of it. Duo's eyes were glued to his shoes and his only movement was the rise and fall of his chest. Children were born; colonies were built; and diamonds were formed during the span of silence in that one, small dorm room.

"Gomen nasai." Duo whispered to his feet when he finally came to the conclusion that Heero was not going to answer. "I shouldn't have said anything." The American waited again for a response, and, when none came, he felt compelled to do anything to fill the heavy silence in the room. "I figured it out this morning and I got myself all worked up during lunch to tell you. I guess I convinced myself you felt the same way. After last night I thought… I just…" Duo's voice broke and he finally dredged up the courage to raise his head. He forced his eyes to slowly raise from Heero's shoes, up the length of his legs, the neatly pressed school uniform shirt, past the hard-set jaw, and finally to the cool, Prussian eyes he knew so well.


Anger began to replace the shame and Duo let out an exasperated sigh. "Aren't you going to say anything?!?"

The coolness in Heero's eyes faded slightly as he stared back into Duo's eyes. "What should I say?"

The American threw up his arms and began pacing around the room in an attempt to relieve some of his tension. "I don't know! I love you, Duo. I hate you, Duo. Duo, you're a pervert. Pick one!!"

Heero watched his partner's restless walking and tried to claw his way out of the fog which had descended on his mind the instant Duo had said he loved him. Part of him wanted desperately to return his partner's feelings, but the other insisted that these emotions be locked down and forgotten. He didn't hate Duo. He could never hate Duo, he knew him too well. Understood him too well. When he realized this, he also realized he was closer to the boy pacing around the room than he had ever been to anyone else in his life. He's already a weakness. Heero realized. Whether I tell him or not, I'll always know the truth. I've already crossed a line I never intended to cross. "Duo," he said, "you're not a pervert." Then, after a slight hesitation, "and I don't hate you."

Duo stopped pacing and looked at Heero in astonishment. He opened and closed his mouth a few times before he managed to produce any noise. "You've eliminated two of the choices. " He worried his bottom lip for a second, waiting for Heero's contradiction and, when none came, he ventured on. "Am I safe to assume, then, that the remaining choice is true?"

Heero looked unsure of himself for a moment and Duo felt his heart stopping. I shouldn't have pushed it. He thought.

Finally, he saw Heero nod stiffly. "Maybe." The Japanese boy said quietly, as if to himself. "Maybe."

A huge grin spread across Duo's face and he had to hold himself back from glomping onto Heero in excitement. He hadn't felt so happy, so free, since before Sister Helen and Father Maxwell died. As he thought his, Duo braced himself for the wave of grief which was always attached to these memories and was surprised when he felt only a small pang of sadness which passed in the blink of an eye. The emptiness was immediately filled by the knowledge that Heero returned his feelings, even though he couldn't say it out loud yet.

The American was pulled from his silent celebration when he heard Heero clear his throat. "Can I have my pants now?"

Duo finally looked at his partner. Looked at all of him, not just his face. He began laughing loudly and sank onto his bed when his legs refused to hold him up any longer.

Heero raised a questioning eyebrow and Duo fought to gain control of his borderline hysterical laughter. "Gomen, Heero. Somewhere along the line I forgot you weren't wearing any pants" He forced out between chuckles.

Heero let out a pained sigh and watched his partner struggle. "Duo, could you please give me my pants?"

The American jumped off the bed and began dancing around the room. "I don't know." he said, letting a hint of doubt creep into his voice. "I think they look better on me." He checked over his shoulder for Heero's reaction and let out a yelp when he was tackled from behind and pinned to the cold tile floor.

"Duo," The Japanese boy's voice was threatening but there was a glint in his eyes that made Duo's grin broaden as his shoulders were pressed into the hard floor. "Give me my pants."

The American pouted for a moment and then gave up. "Fine." He said, struggling to sit up. "It would help if you got off me."

Heero hesitated for a moment and then slid off the other boy and stood up. He walked over to the window as he heard Duo unzipping his pants and struggling to get out of them. He looked out at the heavy storm clouds stretching as far as he could see. This is only the beginning of the storm. He though with both apprehension and excitement.

* * * owari * * *


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