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To Go That Far (Part 2)

Part Five

Relena made a third round of the courtyard, this time with Duo attached to her elbow, chattering away. She set a partially frozen, genial courtier smile on her face, trying to extract bits of information from him as diplomatically as possible.

"And that was the last time *we* got drunk, let me tell you," Duo finished his latest long-winded story, giving her a cheerful grin.

"Mmh," Relena agreed absently, keeping her expression smooth to reveal she hadn't much heard a word he'd said, except for the part about Heero punching Duo. She controlled the tiny smile that struggled to express itself. As for the rest -- bah. It had involved alcohol, and affter that she'd lost interest and started speculating on various places in the complex that Heero could *be.*

"So, Relena-san, what have you got planned for us?" Duo inquired, eyes bright.

"Well...right now, I'm trying to find Heero," she admitted. "Ne,'re his friend, aren't you?"

If anything, his eyes brightened. "You could most definitely say that," Duo assured her, with a wink.

Relena felt somewhat relieved. Ah, so Duo approved of her finding Heero? Maybe she'd been underestimating him. "Where do you think he would be?"

Duo scratched his head. "Ano...he isn't in his suite?"

"No," Relena answered decisively. "Somehow, we must have just missed each other. There are two staircases."

Duo gave her a knowing look. "Ah-ha! You like Heero, don't you?" His tone was a bit amused but matter-of-fact.

Relena didn't expect to blush, but she did anyway. "Is it--is it really that obvious, Duo-kun?"

Duo lifted his eyebrows, opened his mouth, then shut it. He grinned again and simply nodded a few times.

Relena frowned at him. He was nodding a *bit* too vigorously. "Well, what do you think I should do?"

Duo considered it. "Well...maybe instead of going to him, you should try hard to get." His grin widened. "Make him come to *you.*"

Relena thought it over, then smiled. "That's perfect," she said happily. "Duo, arigato."

Duo gave her a sweeping bow. "It's my pleasure entirely, I assure you." His grin was brighter than before.

Relena smiled back at him, genuinely this time. She'd *definitely* underestimated Duo.

* * *

The sun had sunk beneath the rim of the blurred horizon, broken up by the soft brush of trees against the sky. Duo paused to admire the softened rich hues of plum and burgundy red and a burnt-orange overlapping the two that twined through the thick clouds sweeping over the distance, and adjusted his tie, making a face.

If Miss Relena wanted a 'proper' dinner, then Miss Relena *got* a proper dinner.

She had politely requested that they join her in the dining room at the hour of seven, and then added in tones of steel sheathed in velvet that gentlemanly attire would be very much appreciated.

Duo had managed not to grit his teeth *too* hard at the condescension in her tone.

What had been absolutely marvelous, though -- and now he repressed a snicker at the thought -- was when, after convincing Relena that playing hard to get with Heero was the best way to go, Chang Wufei had put in his appearance.

Popping up out of a potted palm.

Relena had skittered back with a startled cry, demanding to know the reason for his abrupt entrance. Wufei had responded evasively, muttering something about making sure the resort was free of all enemy factions.

Heero had remained absent for the rest of the afternoon, even though he'd tried to find him for an hour, then stopped, chiding himself for acting like a lost puppy dog. Maybe he should take his own advice, and play hard to get. In fact...maybe he just shouldn't try to sneak into Heero's room tonight, at all.

Maybe, now that they were on a vacation, of sorts, Heero just wanted a break from him, too.


He grabbed a brush and started for the bottom of his hair, wincing as he pulled a few strands with the initial, jerky strokes. Then he settled into the soothing rhythm of brushing his hair, and most of the tension had begun to un-knot from his shoulders when a knock sounded on the door.

"Come in," he called, heart pulling an upbeat twitch on him. Heero?

The door cracked open and Quatre peered in, smiling tentatively. "Duo-kun? You ready?"

His hesitantly-forming smile deflated. "Aa, just a moment," he replied, gathering the thick strands in his fingers to plait them. Irritably he shook out a fouled-up attempt and started over again, cursing a little. Damned hair. Maybe he should just cut it all off.

"Need help?" Quatre offered.

Duo scowled. "No, I--it's fine," he replied, giving Quatre a smile slightly reserved from his customary cheer. Maybe if someone else had troubled himself to put in an appearance...but that hardly mattered.

He swore again as a long strand escaped his fingers and trailed down by the partially-braided mass. No, that was all wrong. With a frustrated growl he began to unravel it again.

"Let me," Quatre said firmly, stepping behind him and taking the shining fall of brown hair into his hands.

Duo sighed and closed his eyes and let the fingers play in the spill of hair down his back, the slight, nerve-tingling tugs against his scalp becoming almost soothing as Quatre plaited his hair efficiently, then wrapped the end with an elastic band.

"There," he said, patting Duo's shoulder and giving him a smile.

He looked at his friend, smiling a bit quizzically. "How'd you get so good at that?"

Quatre laughed, a soft, merry sound. "Duo-kun, I *did* have a horde of sisters, after all. I didn't grow up with all of them, but I did have just enough with long hair." He smiled. Then he blushed bright red.

Duo gave him a sly grin. "You tried to braid those bangs of Trowa's, didn't you?"

Quatre shook his head furiously.

"Aw, come on," he slung his arm companionably around Quatre's shoulders, drawing him out into the hallway. "We can't make Miss Relena wait for her dinner, now can we?"

Trowa joined them in the hallway, cool green eyes moving over the two of them, assessing. He adjusted his cuffs and his gaze rested significantly on Duo's arm. Hastily the braided pilot withdrew it. The last thing he needed today was another blow to his nose.

"Anyone seen Heero?" he inquired, keeping the desperate edge out of his voice, and hating himself for nearly feeling that way. Was...was Heero sorry about what they'd done in the truck, earlier? Well, so it wasn't the most conventional of places but he hadn't seemed to mind at the time...

Silently Trowa shook his head. Wufei caught the question as he emerged from his room, and his lips quirked. "Not since earlier."

"Saa, let's go to dinner!" Duo cried gaily. He paused expectantly by the banister of the stairs, and his fellow pilots nodded, Quatre smiling, and joined him.

He ignored the insistent, nagging little voice at the back of his head that wondered if Relena had actually *found* Heero, after all.

* * *

"To the hostess," Quatre toasted Relena, tipping his glass politely. Gathering in the other three pilots with his eyes, they followed his lead and raised their glasses.

"To the hostess," they echoed with varying degrees of cheer, dutifulness, and wary appraisal.

Duo's eyes gleamed with almost manic gaiety, and Quatre was beginning to get apprehensive. He could tell Duo was tense from something, and Heero's empty chair beside Relena was only exacerbating that something. Because his rapid-stream chatter was a bit *too* animated, and his cheeks were a bit flushed...and his wine glass was suffering from a constant depletion. The servant practically hovered by his elbow to refill it.

He'd surmised already that there was a relationship between the two pilots, dating back from how shocked and grief-stricken Duo had been after Heero's self-destruction. And now, with Relena rivaling for Heero's affections, there was something the Japanese pilot either hadn't done, or *had* done, to upset Duo.

Quatre felt completely helpless. He didn't know Heero well enough to intervene. Hell, he'd tried to *kill* him once before. Uncomfortably he shifted, squirming at the unpleasantness those memories evoked.

Something brushed against his leg, a whisper-light touch, but there nevertheless. He turned his head and met Trowa's calm gaze, impassive to anyone else's eyes, but from that pool of green he drew his strength. Trowa's lip curved upward, barely detectable. He smiled at him, patting fingers under the table against the ones resting on his leg. Then he flashed his brilliant smile outward, around the table.

"I'm so hungry," he announced.

Relena smiled back at him, a genuine expression lighting her pretty features. "They're bringing in the appetizers now." A slight frown marred the skin of her brow as her eyes fell on the empty chair beside her.

"Ah, good," Duo replied, his voice a tad too loud as he rubbed his hands together. "I'm starved, too." He picked up the glass of wine, again.

Quatre let go of a tiny sigh. This was going to be a long night.

* * *

Heero slipped into his chair as Relena's servants began bringing in more of the heavy silver dishes. He wondered what course they were on, and adjusted his collar quickly, making a visual circuit of the table.

Relena's eyes had fallen upon him instantly, but she looked away quickly as his gaze met hers. He frowned, and wondered what that was all about. Quatre, on her other side, was eyeing him with a slightly dubious expression. Probably because he was late. Trowa's green eyes were fixed elsewhere, on some point off down the table. And Duo, at the far end of the table, was leaning forward, heart-shaped face flushed and oriented on him, expression accusing. Wufei, beside him, looked indifferent to it all, arms folded.

"Oi, Heero," Duo's voice accosted him, ringing out over the silent table. "You're awfully late, aren't you? We were just about to start the main course...without you."

He didn't move. He just glared. Duo was drunk.

"Daijoubu, Duo-kun," Relena's quiet voice interrupted him, and everyone looked at her, a bit startled. "My invitation was at the convenience of everyone, and I don't expect anyone to comply with anything that's not their wish. The dinner time was merely a suggested one."

"But it's courteous for us, our guests, to follow the direction of the host," Duo shot back, eyes boring into his. "Heero obviously has no manners." There was an underlying current to his straightforward complaint, a faint ripple of anger that being late to the dinner table simply wouldn't account for.

Heero very carefully controlled the urge to get up and pound Duo into the dust, inspired by the challenge he'd just rapped out in front of the whole table. Even the servants had paused, shocked, by that flat statement.

"Duo," he uttered, tone flat and iron-hard, "If you have a problem with me, we will settle it later."

Everyone averted their eyes from the locked, charged gazes of the two young pilots, even Relena. Heero kept his face carefully expressionless to prevent Duo from seeing the anger there...and the disappointment.

Duo's eyes burned with the impetus of the wine and...was it pain?

Heero had to restrain himself from growling. What was it this time? He dug his fingers into his pocket...what would it take? He thought he'd found the answer.

"Mou, Heero, what kept you?" Relena's voice broke through their silent contest of wills. Duo wrenched his gaze away.

Heero shifted to look at her, and tried to think of a plausible answer. He could hardly tell her he'd stolen one of the cars in her garage and driven it into town.

"I was looking for something," he muttered softly.

Relena leaned forward, her face softly glowing. "Well, Heero...I hope you found it."

He nearly choked. What did she think, that he was talking about her!? Obviously something would have to be done or said, and soon.

"Saa, Heero..." Duo's voice rang out in the wake of silence. Heero heard trouble in that voice, and his sudden smile was foreboding uneasiness. "What do you think of Relena...neeee~e...?"

Heero's brow twitched. He glared.

Relena's face was brilliantly crimson. She grabbed her wineglass in both hands. The strained silence was punctuated by the girls' soft, desperate gulps until she set the emptied wineglass down. And opened her mouth.

Grimly Heero reached for his own glass.

* * *

"--and so, I was rocketing along the southern straits at over 150 mph and I was being pursued by almost a whole squad of Leos, and--and...!"

Quatre paused, his cheeks pinked and eyes glittering, to drink more wine.

Solemnly beside him, Trowa balanced another glass on top of the mountainous stack he'd accumulated -- glasses, plates, even cutlery were peculiarly balanced in an asymmetric structure that somehow managed to stay upright.

"And?" Duo prompted, pouring himself more wine from the carafe he'd snagged.

"And Sandrock saved me!" Quatre summed up in an enthusiastic burst.

Trowa flicked a glance over at him. "Oi," he protested mildly. "I was there, too."

"Well, you saved me too, Trowa," Quatre allowed graciously. He blinked. "Gee...that's an awful lot of glasses...and plates...and spoons...and...cutlery..." His eyes rounded.

Duo eyed the massive tower of eating utensils and crystal glasses with growing appreciation. "That's GOT to be at least four feet tall, man. And you're how many glasses drunk?" His eyes darted back to Relena, who was more than a little tipsy and leaning gradually towards Heero with each sip. Soon she'd topple out of her chair.

Trowa squinted at his creation. "How many glasses are in there?"

After dessert, they had just stayed at the table, making casual chitchat. And the wine had continued to flow.

Wufei had given up a long time ago, his soft snores emerging from the folded crooks of his arms. His overturned glass had been swept away by an alert servant.

Duo hadn't spoken to Heero all evening, and *definitely* didn't, now. Heero's near-challenge had almost prompted him to leap up and demand right then and there that they step outside. Fortunately he'd stopped himself. Because he either would've attacked Heero and probably gotten worse than a light punch in the nose, or he would've done his best to tear Heero's clothes off.

And, of course, the drunker he got, the more he wanted to stand up and blurt out forcefully to the table in general, and one in particular, that Heero Yuy was *his.* Taken. Not available.

Heero, after that last, burning glare when he'd prompted Relena to announce *her* feelings, hadn't looked at him since, even though Relena had ended up blushing and stammering and not saying much of anything at all. Duo was rather disappointed. He'd hoped, at least, if Relena had announced at large her feelings for Heero she would've received public rejection. At best...Duo scowled into his wineglass. At best, Heero would tell the table who he *really* wanted.

What a stupid fantasy.

"Sugoi, Trowa!" Quatre was clapping. Now *there* was one boy who really couldn't hold his liquor. What a lightweight. Trowa would have to carry him upstairs at any moment.

"That can't take another one," Heero inserted calmly as Trowa, hand poised, sought to place another inverted wineglass on the towering, glinting structure. Irritably the Japanese pilot removed his hand from the range of Relena's groping fingers.

The girl eyed the slightly-wobbling tower, evaluating it. "It can, so," she contradicted strongly.

"It *can't,*" Heero said stubbornly. His blue eyes were bright glass chips. So, he was a little drunk, too.

"Oh, yes it can!" Relena insisted, her voice getting a tad shrill.

Trowa paused, looking between the golden-haired girl and the dark-haired boy who were glaring at each other.

Duo blinked and leaned forward, suddenly struck by a marvelous thought. "Ne, Relena-san, why don't you *bet* him it can?"

Relena looked at Heero.

"Fine," Heero glowered. "Name the terms."

She grinned, positively thrilled. "If I win, you have to be my servant-for-a-day."

"And what does Heero get?" Duo practically purred, keeping his eyes off his lover.

"If I leave me alone," Heero grated, eyes unwavering. "For good."

Relena looked hurt for a brief instant. "...all right," she finally agreed tentatively. She didn't look nearly as sure as she had been a moment before.

Duo nearly chortled with glee. Heero had seized the opening he'd tossed him. And Heero was *never* wrong, especially about something mathematically related like this. This was *wonderful.* "Do it, Trowa," he grinned at the lanky, ascetic-featured pilot.

Trowa nodded, bit his lip, and placed the last piece of glassware with infinite care. The entire structure rippled, and they held their collective breath.

It took all Duo's will not to twitch and bump the table. Or let out a sudden heaving sigh. That would be construed as interference, and Relena might decide she won by default. They all eyed the wavering tower nervously -- Quatre most of all, because if it fell he'd be in its path. It rippled once more, the light from the chandelier bouncing off glass and gleaming knives to skitter into a million motes of reflection. And then...

...he caught his breath, straining forward... stabilized.

"Yatta! Trowa!" Quatre cheered whole-heartedly, looking profoundly relieved.

Trowa wiped away a drop of sweat.

Heero was glaring murderously at him.

"Wai! Wai, Heero!" Relena cried effusively. I *knew* you didn't mean it! You meant to lose, didn't you! You didn't really mean you never wanted to see me again! You were sure I'd win!"

"....." Heero's eyebrow twitched. "...I lost..." He appeared to be in shock.

Wufei's snores broke off and he started sharply, then subsided back into the cradle of his folded arms.

The tower quivered at Wufei's snort like a living thing, then in a slow cascading topple, it began to fall down in a wave of glass and china and knives and forks -- all headed directly for Quatre, who was too incapacitated to do anything but blink and gulp.

Trowa's chair was abruptly empty and clattering to the floor as he swept the blond boy out of his seat and they both went rolling over the polished marble tiles. In a thunderous peal of shattering china and crystal, the tower crashed to the floor. Everyone sat utterly still. Wufei sat bolt upright, grabbing for a sword that wasn't by his side.

Quatre blinked mutely as Trowa sat up. The lean pilot didn't utter a single sound, but his eyes were fixed and flat as he checked Quatre over for wounds, patting arms and legs over quickly, peering into his face for nicks or cuts. Then he nodded once, tautly to himself, and stood, helping the blond Arabian to his feet.

"Arigato, Trowa," Quatre murmured, eyes hectic, then he promptly collapsed.

Trowa hefted the boy in his arms and inclined his head toward Relena. "Good night, Relena-san. Thank you for dinner."

Relena nodded, dazed. A small team of servants had gathered around the mess, making dismayed noises, and had already proceeded to clean it up with brooms and dustpans.

Trowa's face was perfectly impassive as he carried Quatre out of the dining room.

Duo grabbed his wineglass and eyed his companions. Wufei was already looking groggy again -- he'd probably excuse himself fairly soon, in the wake of such excitement. Heero's face was stony. Relena's eyes were fixed on Heero, a triumphant little light dancing in their depths.

"All day tomorrow," she reminded Heero. She smiled, delighted. "You're *mine!*"

Duo gave up on his wineglass, grabbed the carafe itself, and took a long, long pull.

* * *

There was a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, and it wasn't entirely due to the wine he'd drunk. Most of it, he suspected, had to do with the possessive twinkle in Relena's eye, and the purring, covetous tone of her voice. A large portion of it, he knew, had to do with the miserable-looking Duo across the table from him, doing his very damnedest to get dead drunk.

Relena finally rose to her feet, swaying a little. "Ano...I think...I'm going to be sick..."

Heero raised an eyebrow and watched her stumble back from the table. He hoped she didn't expect him to act as a human crutch; his stint as her servant-for-a-day technically didn't start for another hour, until midnight.

Haruka hurried over and wedged himself under his mistress' limp arm, throwing it over his shoulders.

He looked across the table at Duo, who was tilting the empty bottle over his head, and looking puzzled when nothing came out.

"Duo. It's empty."

Duo peered at him. "It is? How appropriate..." His voice died out as his head listed off to the side.

Heero pushed his chair back and got up. In the state he was in now, Duo certainly wouldn't be able to walk one step, let alone navigating the climb up the stairs and getting to the right room. He'd probably end up in bed with Wufei, or worse yet, Trowa and Quatre.

"Come on. I'm taking you to bed."

"You are? For some funny stuff?" Duo leered up at him hopefully, then with exaggerated precision extricated himself from the chair. He wobbled a bit, grinned, and then an unsteady expression crossed his face. "Ooh...never mind...I feel like I'm going to throw up..."

Heero prepared to dodge.

Duo promptly passed out.

With a long-suffering sigh he hefted the body of his partner into his arms, and carried him up the stairs back to his room. Duo's belongings were scattered every which way, typically. Halfheartedly he attempted to tug Duo's clothes off and settled for getting rid of the shoes and the pants with their suspenders. Everything else he would just have to live with.

He settled on the bed beside his sleeping lover, the body already curled up trustingly on the bed, one hand upturned and inclined towards him, almost seeming to reach out for him. It had taken all of his will not to meet Duo's eyes, for the rest of the evening...after Duo had urged Relena to tell him her feelings. Because what he'd wanted most of all was to announce, quite calmly, that he didn't feel the same way -- because he was already involved with Duo.

And looking at Duo only made him want to say it all the more.

But that sort of thing would have sparked off a temper tantrum of such proportions he wasn't prepared to deal with it. Besides, whatever else he'd learned in his life, it was very bad manners to pick a fight, however roundabout, with one's host or hostess. And it was just easier to avoid Relena, anyhow.

Heero paused, fingers tangled in the thick sweat-beaded bangs and considered the closed, flushed eyelids, the softened line of his normally-talkative mouth, and whether to slip into bed with him, and spend the night.

His mouth firmed. Duo had been a bastard tonight, and as a result of his stupid suggestion he'd ended up as Relena's personal servant-for-a-day. Was Duo *trying* to make more trouble between them? Or more hurt for himself?

Quietly he slipped out of the room and drew free the cardboard box shoved in his pocket.

Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, after all.

* * *

Duo roused a little as he heard the 'click' of the latch, and fumbled around the covers a bit. His eyes popped open as he realized he was alone in the bed -- completely alone in this big, echoing empty room. Heero wasn't here.

Maybe Heero hadn't even put him to bed. It could've just as easily been a servant.

With a sigh he lapsed back against the pillow.

"K'so," he swore, punching another one of the thick pillows. Why did this have to happen? Why had he been such a jerk?

"I didn't start it," he reminded himself, resolutely. "Heero started it. He disappeared this afternoon; he's been avoiding me ever since he punched me..." Duo subsided, troubled. Was Heero...starting to have second thoughts about him? And he didn't even *look* at him, all night...

He felt something burning at the corners of his eyes and fiercely ignored it. Duo Maxwell didn't cry. He *couldn't* cry. Especially not over something so stupid as this.

He grabbed the pillow tightly, and stared off into the darkness until sleep, and the heavy haze of all that wine, dragged him back beneath consciousness. But even there, the bed felt so huge, and so lonely...

Maybe it was only what he'd deserved.

Without Heero.

* * *

Part Six

Something was tickling his face, percolating even through the muzzy layers of wine-hazing hungover consciousness. Irritably he brushed at the curl of Duo's hair that was sweeping over his face, muttering sleepy vows of vengeance. Although he loved the unbound masses of Duo's shining hair -- especially tossed back over his shoulder, rippling gently with each beat in the midst of their lovemaking -- there was no time when the impulse was stronger to cut it all off than when it tickled his face after a really bad bender.

He shoved a little harder, and something soft and cool yielded under his fingers. One slitted eye revealed that it was a pillow. A feather pillow tickling him.

Not Duo.

His eyes slowly cracked open as a hand wandered through the crisp patterned sheets, encountering supple warm hip, no soft endless cascade of hair. Duo was...

He sighed and pushed himself upright, slowly gathering the sheets into his lap and eyeing the vast expanse of unused bed. He supposed it was his own fault. He could have stayed last night, but he'd been angry, and disappointed, especially when the trip he'd made into town had only been for Duo's sake. And now here he was in a big, double bed...with barely half of it in use, the other half of it still mostly made-up. If Duo had been here...

With a muttered curse he vaulted out of bed. Well, they'd been too drunk last night to do anything even if Duo *had* been here.

He pulled on shorts and tank top with swift, efficient movements, just in time for the knock on the door. He had the barest fraction of a second to entertain the hope that it was Duo before isolating the sound as distinctly not-Duo.

"Yes?" he called shortly.

This was it. If it wasn't Duo, it must be Relena. He'd lost the bet. His freedom, for today, was a girl he did not want, and was fast learning to despise.


It was Haruka.

"Hai...?" She sent her *servant* to order him around? Last he recalled, that hadn't been part of the deal.

"Relena-sama would like her breakfast in bed."

* * *

Quatre roused to the sensation of long slender fingers running through his hair, and felt himself tucked securely into the length of Trowa's lean warm body, head nestled under the point of his chin. He shifted a little, sleepy half-lidded eyes dazzled by the mote-brilliant beams of slanting sunlight that cut swathes across the carpet.

His stomach roiled. It felt sour.

With a little whimper he buried his nose against the hollow of Trowa's throat, and the pilot of Heavyarms chuckled softly, his arm tightening. "I got drunk?" he released a soft mournful huff.

"You just can't hold your liquor," Trowa replied, pressing a brief kiss to his hair.

"Mmh," Quatre whimpered agreement, trying to burrow his aching head into shelter. "What happened last night?"

Trowa moved a soothing hand over his back, rubbing out the tension in the muscles he encountered. "Don't remember?"

Quatre voiced a blurry phrase of encouragement, relaxing somewhat. Trowa's skilled fingers encountered the base of his neck and soothed away the knots. The blond boy went limp with relief as the fingers zeroed in on his temples and the headache began to subside, mercifully.

"I knew there was a reason I don't drink," Quatre bemoaned quietly, kissing the hollow of his lover's throat in gratitude.

"Do you remember the flatware and the cutlery that almost leveled you?"

He cracked open one eye and stared into Trowa's amused green one. "Ohhh..." he recalled, and winced. "And the glasses."

Trowa stretched to kiss his lips in apology, hooking a secure arm around his waist.

"I didn't tell anyone, did I? ...about us?" Quatre inquired anxiously. He knew he had a penchant for blurting things out when he was under the influence.

Trowa kissed his brow, then cheekbone. "Quatre, I wouldn't care if you had," he replied quietly.

The blond Arabian wriggled happily in the comfortable circle of his lover's arm. "Trowa, I love you," he exhaled, content. He stretched to kiss him and they traded unhurried, open-mouthed kisses for long stretches of heartbeat before subsiding back into a warm pile of sprawled, tangled limbs. Trowa's fingers dug softly into the nape of his neck again, massaging, keeping the headache at bay.

Quatre gave him a sleep-hazed smile. He was so lucky.

A small frown clouded his face. Duo, what had happened to Duo? With all the tension running through the room, it had been a wonder Heero hadn't jumped up and decked Duo, or vice versa. And after Heero's belated entry...and Duo's taunting prod to hadn't been surprising that Duo had sunk even deeper into a wine-clouded haze of cheerfully-masked misery.

He hoped things would work out between them.

"Feeling up to some breakfast?" Trowa inquired mildly.

Quatre's breath hitched up into his throat and suddenly his mouth felt vile. He tumbled out of bed in his haste to get to the bathroom, clasping the cool porcelain basin between his hands. Trowa sat up, startled, in the wake of his noisy passage and raked a hand through the tangled brown bangs.

"I suppose that's a no," he observed ruefully.

Quatre wiped at his mouth, paled, and nodded.

* * *

One eye peered from underneath the tent of rumpled pale blue sheets, slitted, and then an incoherent moan emerged from the piled disorder of the bedclothes. Duo clutched at his head, did his best to look pitiful, and levered himself up on one elbow, poking at the mound of comforter.

"Oi, Heero, I--" Oh.


Vaguely he remembered drinking a lot of wine. And...acting like a jerk. And damn near acting like a possessive, jealous jerk instead of just any plain jerk. And...drinking more wine. And...urging Relena Heero for his freedom?

Duo smacked a hand to his head and moaned in earnest. "Oi, what have I DONE?" He scrambled out of bed, tripped on tangled sheets, and fell in a heap at the foot of the double bed. And what an empty double bed it was.

"Shi-MAT-ta," Duo swore, beginning to contemplate various things Relena might order her servant-for-a-day to do. 'Heero, fetch my drink.' 'Heero, get my slippers.' 'Heero, sit and talk with me -- and smile, Heero!' 'Heero, tie my shoe.' 'Heero...give me a kiss...'

He ground his teeth together, then his eyes went wide and he clapped his hands to his mouth and made a beeline for the bathroom.


"Something MUST be done."

Five minutes later he emerged from the bathroom feeling like Death warmed over and giggling at the thought, but at least his teeth had been brushed. Yoshi...he was on a mission now, to make sure Relena didn't try to do anything too damaging to his Heero. If she did...well, then he'd just have to try and think of something.

He threw some clothes on -- black, of course -- and skulked in the direction of Relena's suite, which would doubtless be the quickest place to discover where his lover had gone. He paused outside the door, set his ear to it, and listened.


Duo wrinkled his nose, preparing to seek out the nearest servant and casually inquire the whereabouts of Relena-sama...when he heard footsteps. Frantically he looked around for a place to hide. Nothing...wait! Some of those convenient potted palms, that seemed to be scattered everywhere around the resort as if Relena had been at a loss for any other type of vegetation, were clustered across the hallway. He dove madly for them.

No...those weren't servant was a softer sound, like...

Duo repositioned himself, peering through palm fronds and spotted the worn sneakers moving over the floor. Waitaminute, that was--

Heero. Carrying a loaded breakfast tray in his hands.

His face was stony, even as Duo stared incredulously. He was serving Relena breakfast in bed? The Shinigami pilot slumped against the wall, disheartened. If this was the kind of start she'd had planned out for the bad would it get?

Heero opened the door, calling out, "Relena...breakfast." Duo winced. When had Heero *ever* brought him breakfast in bed? Well...nevermind the fact that he was Relena's servant-for-a-day, and not exactly willing to boot. It was just completely unfair. And this was supposed to be a vacation.

Abruptly, the only thing he wanted to do was leave...just take Deathscythe and get the hell out of here. Maybe if he was *really* lucky, Heero would catch up to him someday.

Then the door closed behind Heero and he was overtaken by the overwhelming urge to see, and hear, what was going on in that room. Duo cautiously extricated himself from the potted palms, looking around self-consciously for any servants that might be nearby, and crept around the hallway to one of the open windows.

The damned building was strewn up one side and down the other with ivy latched onto white trellis frameworks...if he was careful, he should be able to climb around and peek into Relena's window.

When his head popped into the corner of the wide, open window, Duo very nearly toppled backwards in surprise, tearing the wooden framework off the building with him. Relena was reclining towards Heero, fixing a coy, demure look onto her face, the nightgown hanging down so low in front it was a wonder one of those didn't pop out and smack Heero in the face.

Heero just sat back further in his chair, that had been pulled up very close -- probably at *her* orders -- beside the bed.

Duo strained to pull himself a teeny bit higher, listening with all his might.

If he even heard a syllable that *resembled* kiss, he would...he would...

*God -- I HATE HIM!*

No, that was dreadfully misplaced. *I HATE HER!!* Maybe it was a good thing his nearest firearm was back in his room...

* * *

"Heero..." Relena began, toying with the edge of the comforter. She shot a sidewise glance at the boy seated on the chair beside the bed, his spine stiffly vertical. Then with a small smile she turned back to her breakfast tray. Heero was shy with her...painfully shy, as he hadn't said much more than two words since he'd entered the room. He was being so formal -- body language rigid, his words impersonal, eyes averted. She wondered what she could do to loosen him up.

"Nani, Relena?"

Despite the formality, he used her given name, without the barriers of honorifics that others accorded her. She smiled again.

"Want to go swimming?"

Heero shifted slightly in his chair, one cobalt-blue eye peering at her from a tangle of dark hair. "Do *you* want to?"

How considerate!

She admired the pure-fire intensity of his eyes. She had known, ever since the moment he had reached to save her, the giant unyielding hand of his Gundam shielding her from falling rubble, that his heart belonged to her. He was hers. Whether he knew it or not.

Thoughtfully she nodded. "Aa. Did you bring a suit, or do I have to provide one?" She tilted her head at him. She'd been wanting this kind of opportunity for the longest time -- to see the bared, clean lines of Heero's strong body. A flush heated her cheeks.

"I have one," he replied in a monotone.

"Good." Relena climbed out of bed, leaning forward a little, trying to capture Heero's eyes as she put one modest hand to the neck of her nightgown.

Heero's gaze didn't even flicker near her cleavage.

There was a scuffling noise, coming somewhere from near the window -- sounding almost like a squirrel, or some kind of agitated animal.

Relena was somewhat disappointed as she crossed the rug to open her extensive closet. Then she decided she was pleased at his display of gentlemanly behavior. She held up a patterned bikini to her chest, casting a coy look at Heero. "What do you think?"

"Colorful," Heero grunted.

"Too colorful?" she fretted.

Heero shrugged.


Anxiously Relena picked out another bikini top splashed with yellow and held it up, draping it over her chest. "How about this?"

Heero barely twitched. "It's fine."



"Good!" Relena enthused, satisfied. If Heero said it looked fine, then he must really like it -- she knew his way of understating things.

"Heero, could you go get changed, please?"

Silently the Wing pilot got up to leave the room, and that scuffling noise started up again, even more furiously. Relena frowned, about to ask Heero to check if an animal was nesting outside her window -- but he was already gone. She exulted. She would have him all to herself this morning...and swimming together would hopefully give him some ideas, as he ran his eyes over her in the bikini.

Daringly, Relena wondered how he would respond if she ordered him to kiss her.

* * *

As they approached the pool that was nestled into a hollow of land in the middle of the four-building complex, Heero could see a familiar braided figure sprawled out by the edge, sunning himself, and his stomach tightened. Had Duo known they would be swimming? Or was this just an awful coincidence? He was acutely aware that he and Relena looked like a couple, as she'd latched onto his hand and was dragging him behind her to the water.

Duo sat up, squinting in their direction, bracing himself on his elbows. "Yo!" he called out cheerfully, but Heero had seen a momentary shadow settle over his face, quickly banished.

Relena nodded at Duo, lifting her free hand, keeping her viselike grip on him as she dragged him to the edge and dipped a toe in.

She was eyeing Duo.

Duo pretended not to notice them at all.

"Too cold," she shuddered.

He nearly snorted aloud, but controlled it. He knew it was far likelier she wanted to cart him off someplace where they could be alone. "What do you want to do, then?"

Relena was casting her eyes about almost aimlessly. They lit on a bamboo chair nearby, suspended from a swing. "Let's go over there and talk."

He didn't like the sound of that one bit. As she was tugging him off again, he turned to ask Duo to come with them.

A massive splash was his answer, a few droplets spraying up to strike him in the face.

Coolly Heero wiped them away as Relena hauled him off again.

"Heero...I think I'd like some iced tea," Relena smiled up at him as they reached the small rise.

He raised an eyebrow. "You want me to get it?"

She tried to smile coyly, managing only to look sinister. "Yes, please."

He snuck a glance over at Duo's lithe body in the pool as he trudged off, and couldn't help thinking how much more appealing the lean, muscular lines of Duo's masculine body were to him than the plump, fledgling curves of Relena's girlish one. He wasn't entirely sure anymore if his preferences were due to how he felt about Duo versus Relena, or if he *was* homosexual, but it didn't seem to matter anymore. As long as he knew what he wanted.

Relena had been trying to entice him with flashes of her body all morning. And, while surprisingly developed, he had to wonder what her reaction would be if she knew it did absolutely nothing for him.

Yet, again, he wasn't sure if that was because she was female...or because it was *her.*

Like a dutiful fetch and carry boy, he grabbed an iced tea from the kitchens and brought it back. Duo paused in his splashing and laps to hoist himself on the edge of the pool, watching him approach Relena, something indecipherable but pained scrawled all over his face.

His eyes jerked away as they met Heero's.

Heero gritted his teeth and raised the tea on its tray a little. "Your tea." He wasn't quite sure who to kill for this -- Duo, Relena, Trowa, or...himself. For agreeing to the stupid bet in the first place.


Relena turned to look over her shoulder, raising her bottom a bit, giving him a pleased smile. "Ah, Heero, that was quick!" Her eyes were two limpid pools.

"HEEro and ReLEna sitting in a TREE! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" Duo shouted out from the edge of the pool, then ducked swiftly under the water again.

Heero turned to give him a murderous glare, growling "Omae o--" but Duo was already cutting through the water halfway across the pool.

"Aiyah, Hee--"

He was already turning in the middle of the girl's yelp; his movement had overbalanced the tea. He caught it before it could slop over and tilt, then, a reluctant smile tugging his lips at Duo's antics, he proffered the tray.

"Arigato, Heero," Relena purred, raising her arms a bit higher on the ropes that strung the chair to an overhanging tree -- to give her small bosom a lift, he supposed.

Heero nodded curtly and set the iced tea on a nearby table. "Relena...I'd like to take a few laps around the pool." It galled him to ask like that, but he needed well as an opportunity, hopefully, to clear up things with that baka.

Relena looked slightly disappointed, but gave him a nod. "I'll be watching."

"I'm sure you will," he muttered out of earshot, as he beat a hasty retreat to the poolside.

Duo had hoisted himself out of the water and was seated on the lip of the pool, arms wrapped around the knees raised to his chest, the sopping wet braid wrapped around his waist. He barely glanced at Heero as the Wing pilot seated himself on the edge, a good three feet between them.

"Duo, what's wrong?" Heero inquired somewhat testily, fed up with Relena's incessant demands. All he needed now to top that off was a sulky lover. Was he still upset from last night? Whatever it had been...he *still* didn't know.

"You *know* what's wrong," Duo muttered into the space between his knees, eyes moodily fixed on the rippling, sun-scrimmed water. "I'm sick of seeing her flirt with you. I'm sick of pretending we're nothing to each other, when other people are around. I'm tired of not being able to touch you in public. Yesterday you disappeared for hours, and I had to pretend not to notice...or care. And I just want to not be here, right now, watching the Queen of the World come on heavily to my boyfriend while I can't do a damned thing."

Heero rocked back a bit from the forceful avalanche of his words, catching himself on the rim of the pool. "Oh."

"Yeah, oh," Duo said, all his earlier cheeriness fled. "And won't even admit you *like* me, much less give me any sort of idea how permanent things are between us. If they are at all."


Heero's eyes were a bit wild. This particular topic wasn't one he was ready to deal with yet...he was still trying to psych himself up to...

Duo chose that moment to look over at him, and shut his own eyes abruptly. "Would you just leave, please, Heero?" His voice was tight.

Heero felt helpless. And suddenly like the worst person alive, to make Duo feel like allow him to go on feeling like this. Obviously Duo had taken the look on his face for rejection, again. He couldn't even touch Duo, which was normally the quickest route to assuring his violet-eyed lover that he was still first in his affections.


"*GO!*" Duo barked at him, eyes still closed, balled up in a miserable curl of limbs.

Heero remained frozen, unwilling to leave Duo like this. But he was unable to reach out for him, to reassure him with simple touch. Reflexively he glanced over his shoulder, at the figure of Relena beneath the tree.

Her eyes were fixed intently on them. Watching.

Duo's eyes followed the movement of his, then narrowed at him. "If you're so concerned about her opinion, why don't you just *go* to her, then?" His voice was vicious, cutting, with the intent to hurt.

Heero glared at him. "She doesn't mean anything to me and you know it, Duo."

Beyond the innocence he had seen, at their first meeting, and a childlike simplicity that had reminded him of a little girl, not too terribly long ago...he had no connection to Relena. The only thing preventing him from killing her had been that other little girl's wide eyes, superimposed over Relena's only slightly-more-mature features.

*Niisan...are you lost?*

He closed his eyes. He had been, until Duo.

"I. Don't. Want. You. Here," Duo gritted out, shutting his eyes tightly and scooting even further away. His knuckles were white from strain.

Heero stayed where he was. He needed this boy, whose open smiles and honest heart had won him, had forced him to at least express his feelings, if he hadn't been able to admit them. Yet, here and now, there was only one thing that would convince him.

It would only take more courage than anything before in his short life. Because offering up his own death had never committed any great part of himself.

This was committing his *life.*

"So go," Duo prodded again, nearly chewing out the words.

"I'm not going. I'm not ever going, Duo." He hesitated for a heartbeat, then finally forced the words out in a rough blurt, from deep inside where they'd been locked for so long. "Duo-I-love-you."

Duo's eyes popped wide open.

"What...what did you say!?"

Heero scowled. "Don't pretend *now* you didn't hear me."

"I heard you," Duo breathed, a beatific smile crossing his face. His limbs slowly unfurled. His whole posture softened and he smiled, leaning towards Heero, giving him an unmistakable look of pure ardor. One hand reached out towards him, then fell. He looked distressed. "Oi...Heero...I want to..."


Heero's fingers twitched. He wanted to touch Duo, too.

Duo's eyes were sparkling, his face restored to his open, happy expression, but that look in his eyes was only one that Heero had ever seen. Only for him. "I don't care where. I have to -- Heero, you *said* it!"

"Yeah," he muttered, looking down briefly into the water, something small and scared trying to hide inside him, flinching away from the look in Duo's eyes. It was too much... Suddenly he, too, wanted to hug Duo -- bury his face in his hair, feel strong hands caressing his back...

"Heero...find us a private place *now* before I roll you over and screw you on the edge of this pool right in plain sight."

Heero was a bit startled. "Duo...I know it's been a whole day, but isn't that a little excessive?"

Duo caught his eyes, put a finger to his own lip, then trailed it down his wet torso, glistening in the striking sunlight. " you know how long I've been waiting to hear you say that?"

Heero remained silent, unable to answer either way, but his eyes were riveted to the finger playing down the texture of the sun-kissed muscles, then toying with the rim of Duo's red swim trunks.

It was impossible to deny; as if the words themselves had been a trigger, or Duo's sensual demeanor was affecting him, he could feel the same curls of desire unfurling with a heady rush, almost like the wine last night but burning more fiercely, taking hold.

"All right," he breathed, as the finger just barely slipped into the edge to snap the trunks. "Now...where?"


Duo grinned happily at him, equilibrium completely restored. "Whatever you wish. But one way or another, I'm gonna jump your bones." He sprawled out on the edge of the pool, dabbling a foot in the water, intense wide violet-indigo eyes fixed on Heero's cobalt-blue ones.

Heero's lip quirked. He had to admit -- whether they just hugged, or full-out made out, he wanted Duo, too. He cast an eye around their surroundings. Little hilly His eye lit on the cabana at the other end of the pool.

"Duo. Two minutes. The cabana," he jerked his head in its direction, getting to his feet.

Duo winked. "Got it."

He walked around the pool, steeling himself and hoping against hope that Relena wouldn't call out his name and give him any more stupid errands to run. She and her stupid bet had nearly caused trouble between him and Duo. He pushed open the door to the cabana, walking inside, and paused to wait, body beginning to tingle just at the knowledge of what they were about to do. Of all the places -- this had to be one of the

His nerves were still jangling -- he couldn't believe he'd actually *said* it. He'd had to seize up the fight-or-flight reaction that had struggled to take over his body.

But Duo had needed to hear it -- and *he'd* needed to say it. And now, of course, his skin was prickling with anticipation. Expressing his feelings out loud would shortly lead to expressing them in a much more direct, physical fashion. Hmm...maybe he'd finally figured out the secret of Duo's libido, considering he usually said those words at least once a day, usually in bed.

The door swung open behind him.

* * *

Part Seven

Wufei roused, startled. "Where--" He sat up quickly, then subsided with a low noise of discontent. His head was pounding. His mouth tasted like something scraped off the bottom of a Gundam foot after hours of a particularly bloody fire-fight. The gurgling in his stomach was *not* one of hunger.

And he was sleeping draped over a chest-of-drawers.

As he shifted a little, puzzled, trying to figure out what he was doing sleeping there and not on the floor as he usually did -- the bed was far too soft for a warrior -- Wufei fell. With a startled yelp he hit the ground, blinked a few times, and then the jolt seemed to trigger his memory a bit.

He'd gotten drunk last night.

"What a stupid thing," he grumbled, getting to his feet and moving to the bathroom to splash water on his face. Resolutely he ignored the splitting throb that seemed to center insistently in the very center of his forehead, radiating outward.

Wufei threw some clothes on and contemplated what to do. Normally, when he had free time he spent it practicing his form and sitting in contemplative meditation at the feet of the silent Nataku. But, he shamefully admitted, he felt too queasy for that. So he might as well...his mouth contracted...he might as well socialize with the other pilots.


His frown deepened. He knew he wasn't very good at socializing. He'd spent a large portion of his life studying, after all, and honing his strength to become a weapon for the colonies. That didn't leave much room in the way of people skills. Yet here he was, for some reason, having accepted Peacecraft's invitation to join the other four pilots at her resort. Somehow, he knew it wasn't due entirely to the fact that he wanted to avoid Treize, at least for a little while.

Perhaps it was just...that humans needed the contact of other humans, occasionally.

Wufei nodded to himself and started out to the hallway. Trowa and Quatre paused, turning at the sound of a door opening, and the blond boy's hand fell away rather hastily from Trowa's elbow.

"Wufei!" Quatre greeted him cheerfully. "We were just about to go's so hot out, ne? Would you like to come?"

Wufei considered it. Swimming. It was practical...being at once both a way to cool off, yet providing opportunity for exercise.

He inclined his head. "I will join you."

Quatre's sudden smile was a bit startled, but sunny and welcoming nevertheless.

* * *

The door to the cabana swung open behind Heero.

"Hello..." Duo's voice uttered, a little hesitant and trembling. Strong sinewy arms wrapped around him to pull him taut against Duo's slender body.

"Yo," Heero responded, a little breathless still, not quite believing he'd had the courage to say...what he'd said. He laid his head against Duo's shoulder behind him, pulled the strong arms tight around his waist.

They stood for a few heartbeats in comfortable silence. Then Duo rubbed his nose over Heero's ear, brushed it with his lips, nibbled gently as his arms drew him as close as humanly possible. "Say it again," he demanded, voice hoarse, tugging on the lobe with his teeth.

Heero snorted. "Once is enough, with you. You're already set to jump me. Another might send you over the edge."

"Heero!" Duo uttered forlornly, his arms tightening. Heero let his head fall back against the other boy's shoulder, pushing his bottom back into the hard lump tenting up Duo's damp swim trunks. With a little grunt his partner pushed back. "You mean you're only going to say it once for the rest of our lives?"

He paused, barely breathing, his body wire-tense against Heero's. He seemed stunned by the enormity of his own implication, but desperately needing a response.

"...for the rest of our lives..." Heero echoed, his voice barely rising above the strength of breath. "You'll have to wait and see, Duo."

Duo began to kiss him suddenly and fiercely, a low groan escaping his lips. "I love you. I love you so much, Heero," his breath twirled over the most skin his tongue had laid bare to preying heat. He bit Heero's neck and pressed one hand flat against his lower belly, and even as his stomach muscles and skin tightened at the pressure of the warm fingers, Duo slipped the other hand into the band of his blue swim trunks. "I was worried...after yesterday, that you wanted some distance. That you didn't want--"

"Duo no bakaaAhhh..."

Duo sought and found the hard immediacy of his erection, his breath a hot close rush past Heero's ear as he grasped it. "'re *not* mad at me?"

He tilted his hips with a huff, head rolling on the shoulder behind him. Heero was only able to manage a few pants for a reply, his jaw slack. Biting his lips to stifle a cry, he rocked his body between the skillful hand dragging up and down his length, and Duo's own need beating rhythmically against the covered cleft of his buttocks.

The American kissed his ear. "No? Not mad?"

The hand vanished too soon but Duo's hips kept up a dance against him in long, slow pushes gyrating against his rear, only making him growl for more. "No, I'm not mad, already...don't stop!" He started to squirm and felt Duo tugging off his shorts. He wriggled his bare skin against the rough damp swim trunks plastered to Duo's hard-on. "Hurry up."

"Saa, Heero, you want me?" he murmured, dropping a kiss to his bare shoulder, then between his shoulder blades.

"...I..." He heard the wincing sound of Duo's knees cracking, then a cool moist kiss pressed into the base of his spine. He swallowed hard. "Of course I want you, Duo."

Another soft kiss, this one pressed to the very pit end of his spine, and Duo's tongue dipped into it. He squirmed uncomfortably as his penis throbbed harder at that flickering taste.

A rush of breath escaped his lips and he rubbed back experimentally, feeling Duo's smooth cheek against his rear. Duo caressed his hip with light fingers, then moved to stroke the erection that jutted up, bobbling a little. His index finger pressed into the glistening fluid gathering in the tip, and Heero's body trembled. "Dammit..." The sudden push of another finger, this one from behind, parted the tight clenching lips of his anus and Duo pried around, soothing him at the same time with a rolling stroke of his palm and fingers.

"Unh..." He pushed back harder as Duo's searching finger jolted over the inner wall. "Duo. Now."

Duo's tongue was a wet squirm over the curve of one buttock. "All right," he agreed breathlessly. The warm radiance left his back and the next instant heard Duo's swim trunks plopping to the ground. He noted absently that the long-haired pilot had tossed them nearly halfway across the cabana.

"The floor?" Duo asked him. "Or that bench there?"

Heero was contemplating the bench when Duo's hands grabbed his hips.

"I'm too impatient. Now, right here," Duo said into his ear as he sank down onto his knees. He could hear the grin in that voice. "Besides, the floor is closer."

Duo clasped him in his arms again, loosely from behind, his erection pressing up hard against one cheek and Heero closed his eyes. "I love you so much," Duo murmured, voice low and rough with emotion and need.

Heero nodded mutely. It had taken all he had to say it once.

Then Duo pushed him gently, urging him onto his hands and knees. He was already breathing harder in that moment of anticipation when the thick tip of Duo's penis slid into the cleft and touched him there, nudging him lightly. Then he closed his eyes again as Duo *pushed* and his body lurched forward even braced, rocked by the sheer pleasure/pain of the penetration.

Heero panted, struggling not to make a sound as he rolled in sensation, pelvis moving steadily back into the repeated thrusts and he bit his lip to prevent the utterance of the smallest betraying groan. Duo plunged forward harder, and blood trickled down his lip. His lover -- his Duo -- was making tiny, smothered noises behind him, that clawed up out of his throat. Duo's hipbones beat against his bottom, speeding up as he gasped harshly for air and Heero's mouth hung open as the strong warm hand clasped him again, pulling to the same time as the delicious deep jabs that filled him and suddenly--

"WHAT are you DOING to him!?"

The voice was starkly unfamiliar for a moment only because it was so dreadfully out of place.

This wasn't happening. He decided firmly it couldn't be happening.

Heero let out an explosive breath, shoving himself back harder onto the penis embedded deep in his rear, but Duo had stilled with shock.

"Get OFF of him, you freak!" Relena shrieked. "What are you doing!?"

Duo's penis twitched feebly inside of him, then he shifted a little. "Relena -- I don't think...he WANTS me to..."

Heero snarled in frustration. He could feel his erection simply *wilting.* He shifted, too, rubbing himself back against Duo, trying to guide Duo's erection further inside to that wonderful glowing spot...

"Why wouldn't he? GET OFF!"

"I'm trying," Duo replied forlornly, and Heero snickered.

Then reality came crashing down around him.

His head craned over his shoulder. "Relena -- WHAT are you DOING here!?" Absently he wondered if he should detach Duo's still-hard length from his rear, then decided it was already too late for that and there was just the barest fraction of hope that they could finish it., this was *Relena.* Their tryst was finished.

"Looking for you!" Relena sputtered, her face crimson.

"You found me. Get out," Heero snapped, pushing against Duo's lax fingers still wrapped around him.

Automatically the hand pumped once more, then withdrew. Heero gave the blonde-haired girl a flat vicious glare as Duo pulled out and scrambled hastily for a colorful beach towel nearby -- his shorts being too far. He tossed Heero's balled-up trunks at him, face red and furious as he wrapped the towel around his waist quickly.

Heero pulled the trunks on and stood up with a sour grunt. His erection was pretty much wilted past the point of no return, and he felt vacant.

Well. *This* was certainly a scenario he'd never considered. But...maybe she'd realize he was, in fact, not interested. And that there was a very good reason.

Relena was eyeing the reason with venom in her eyes. "Just WHAT do you think you were doing with MY boyfriend!?"

"*Your* boyfriend!?" the two pilots chorused.

Relena nodded stiffly, her eyes a little glassy. "He's...he's MY boyfriend."

Duo broke into slightly hysterical laughter. "Girl, are *you* delusional! Relena-san, you walked in on us having sex, and you *still* think he's yours?"

"You...he...oh," Relena uttered in a very small voice, her cheeks going from red to pale. "'re both...I mean, THAT'S what--" She shut her mouth with a snap, and turned even more crimson than before.

Duo was struggling very hard not to laugh. "You mean you didn't know how it worked before, Relena?"

Her furious glare was answer enough.

Heero was wondering what the fastest, most painless way to get out of this was.

Relena fixated on him. "Heero. Obviously this...this *freak* must have seduced or tricked you into...into *that* somehow." She nodded firmly, eyes hardening. "Tell him you're mine, and I can forget this ever happened."

Heero stared her in the eye, not quite believing the nerve of it, and a muscle jumped in his cheek. "I may be your servant-for-a-day, but you can't order me to do *that*."

Relena's face went white with fury. "Your honor is at stake here, Heero-kun. Tell him you're MINE."

Heero raised an eyebrow but turned to Duo, his jaw working.

Duo looked at Heero expectantly, his expression already crestfallen.

"You're mine," Heero said firmly.

Duo's face lit up.

"NOOOO!" Relena screeched furiously. "*You're* mine. YOU'RE mine!!"

Duo unsuccessfully tried to control a smirk. "Can I get another 'I love you?' Just for added effect?"

Heero frowned at him. "You're trying to play this up for all it's worth."

Duo latched his arms around Heero's waist. "Of course," he replied, batting his eyelashes at the apopleptic girl and lifting a hand to toy with Heero's nipple. Without changing his stoic expression Heero punched him.

"This is NOT happening. This is NOT happening," Relena said, mostly to herself in a very convincing tone.

Duo rubbed his nose mournfully. "Itai!" he complained, winding his arms around Heero's waist again, more carefully this time.

Relena broke. "Get your perverted hands off of him!" She stamped a foot, eyes wide and consumed with thwarted fury.

"Heero, do you want me to get my perverted hands off of you?" Duo appealed, tightening his arms and resting one hand low and hard on his hip.

"No, but if you'd move that one down and to the right, that would be great," Heero replied in a monotone, face perfectly expressionless.

Relena's eyes went very wide. Her nostrils flared.

"This is some kind of joke," she spat, trembling. "Heero is mine...he's always been mine! He belonged to me since the first day we met!"

Duo stared her down. "Heero's with me." He pressed a kiss to Heero's neck. "Ne, Heero?"

"B-But you can't be gay!" Relena blurted. "Duo I could believe...but you, Heero! Masaka!"

Duo's body was a tense wire against him, suddenly. Heero's gaze hardened. "Get out." The words dropped flat, with no inflection -- deadly in the utter lack of emotion.

She glared at Duo. "I'm going to *finish* you for this," she threatened.

He squirmed in Duo's arms, caught a strained, grim expression from the corner of his eye, then hooked his own arm around his lover, pulling him close. "If you so much as *try,* I won't simply threaten you next time. You won't see me coming." His tone was cold as ice and much harder.

"Heero -- you can't want that... that perv--" she stumbled over the black look in Heero's eyes even as Duo stiffened at the insult in her tone.

He didn't answer verbally. But he did turn his head, maintaining eye contact with the flushed, infuriated girl, then cupped Duo's face into his mouth, his eyes never leaving hers as he exchanged a spit-swapping, tonsil-probing, soul-searching, needs-a-private-room-NOW kiss with a very enthusiastic Duo.


"Duo Maxwell. I don't know what you've done to trick him into this, but when I find out, he's MINE."

Relena stormed out of the cabana, hair swirling in her wake, along with the scent of scorched ego.

Duo was practically purring in his ear. "I can't believe you did that." He licked his lips and wriggled happily.

"I was sick of her questioning my taste in men," Heero growled.

Duo nuzzled his ear. "Well, I can't say I dispute *hers,* he replied, delicately biting the lobe, nibbling a little, then sticking his tongue into his ear.

He looked down to eye the upright lump of colorful beach towel rubbing over his tensed thigh. "I take it you want to finish what we started?"

"What a smart person you are!" Duo observed brightly. He slipped his hand lower and snapped the waistband of Heero's trunks. "Still want to?"

Heero caught his wrists and faced him, squaring his jaw and Duo looked a bit startled. Then he leaned forward and kissed his long-haired lover on the mouth, lightly.

"It's something of a relief..."

He took both wrists into one hand, drawing Duo close into his arms. The heart-shaped face was surprised, caught off-guard as he hugged his lover, twining his hands into the long chestnut hair, breaking the elastic band around his braid with a jerk and unraveling the drying soft masses in his fingers. Duo was tense in his arms at first. Muscle by muscle released as he continued to finger-comb his partner's hair, fingers working soft and slow, reassuring. He placed kisses down the cord of Duo's neck, which softened under his lips. And Duo sighed.

"You're not a pervert, or a freak, and you didn't trick me into anything." He kissed his neck again. "And I'm not going anywhere."

"I know," Duo said agreeably against Heero's neck. "It's just...she's so..."

Heero's lip twitched. "Determined? Obsessed? Single-minded?"

"Yes, all of that," Duo agreed, applying teeth to the meaty juncture of shoulder and neck. Heero jerked then grabbed the towel around Duo's waist, stripping it away in a single yank.

"Now, we don't have to pretend anymore," Heero said simply.

Duo gave him a flushed, ecstatic smile, then hands delved into his trunks, digging into the curves of his buttocks and he pulled him roughly against him, so hard and close that Heero rose to his toes for an instant and he snapped at the corners of Duo's mouth, nipping none too gently, before tracing over the upper line of the long, sensuous lip, then pushed between them for a deeper taste.

"Good," Duo murmured back. "But do you really think it's going to be that easy?"

Jolted by the naked arousal pressed firmly between both their bodies he grabbed Duo's slender waist in his hands and succumbed to his instincts, pushing hard against the track of Duo's inner thigh. Duo groaned against his tongue biting down and then letting up to push back, breath huffing into Heero's mouth in rhythmic fits. The fingers on his rear flexed hard, then Duo stripped his trunks off and grabbed his shoulders.

"Mmh?" Heero mumbled, his panting breaths mingling with Duo's. He didn't want to be distracted from the so-satisfying feel of flesh on flesh, velvety and damp, a wet trickle pressing to mark against his thigh.

Duo's blue-violet eyes were fixed so utterly on him, full of a great deal of lust but strangely soft all at once. He wanted to reel back from that look, that utter trust in his lover's eyes that gave up all of himself when he didn't feel deserving of the smallest part of what Duo was determined to give.

"Make love to me," Duo demanded, his voice a sultry rasp, and with a low 'unh' he pushed his naked length against Heero's hardness.

Heero dropped his face into the curve of Duo's shoulder and neck to get away from that look. ".....I....."


He bit into the cord of the neck, ignoring Duo's slightly pained cry, responding to the increasingly hard, quick shoves with similar pressure, rubbing against and past each other and he sucked into the teeth marks, bloodying them. Then he took Duo's mouth again. "Mine," he told him firmly.

Duo only smiled and rubbed his nose against Heero's. Then he squawked as Heero's hands left his waist and he was grabbed up in strong arms and carried over to the cabana bench and deposited on it in a heap, legs splayed.

Heero seated himself beside the long legs and ran a hand up the inside of his thigh, eyes fixed curiously intent on Duo's expression. Duo lifted his hips -- uselessly, remaining untouched as Heero pushed him back onto the bench and slipped a hand down below, to thrust a finger inside of him. Duo released his breath in a rush, head falling back as he braced himself on the bench by elbows, rich brown hair pooling down onto the wood of the bench and spilling between the slats. He gritted his teeth then parted his legs wider, pushing himself onto the questing finger.

"Ahh~h--*" His breath crackled into the charged moment. Heero leaned down to kiss his tight stomach, ignoring the upright angled flesh that bobbled a little, opalescence gleaming at the tip.

"Heero," his lover pleaded as the fingers stroked deep, pushing against the spot that made him groan and squirm. Duo hooked his legs over Heero's shoulders as he climbed all the way onto the bench, fingers still buried deep and working, his thumb stroking over the perineum. Then Heero pulled them out and braced himself over Duo, looking down at the flushed, wanton face, shifting a little to press against the crease of his offered buttocks, and felt Duo's legs tighten, the heels digging into his back to pull him closer. There was only one thing left to do.

He reached down and pushed into him with a low groan more felt throughout his bones than heard, and slipped deeply inside, all the way in, burying himself within Duo to lean forward and kiss his lips, the corners of his open, panting mouth, and whispered inside. "Ai shiteiru."

He applied its refrain to the next few world-shuddering thrusts, the words spilling from his lips as he closed his eyes, pushing himself into the secure embrace of Duo's body. Hands caught at his face, fingers stroking over his cheekbones, his lips, the closed contours of his eyelids that he refused to open, unable to face Duo's ecstatic expression. Then he buried his face in Duo's salty hot skin, shuddering but still choking out the same enslaving phrase that was the only one with the power to set him free.

He paused then squirmed closer, Duo's hands cupping him securely, to expend himself utterly in the space of three hard thrusts, breath fluttering into the sweaty chestnut hair. At the same time he felt wetness jetting against his stomach, and unwillingly smiled against Duo's neck, the expression safely hidden.

They remained entwined for long heartbeats, neither of them wanting to move. Heero didn't want to pull himself out of the tight warmth enclosing him, and Duo seemed quite content to just lie on his back, all his limbs wrapped loosely around Heero's body. Even though his knees were jackknifed up to his chest he seemed comfortable.

"Thank you," Duo whispered against his hair.

Heero remained silent. He knew Duo wasn't just talking about the sex.

Finally he disengaged with a grunt and Duo shuddered, then wrapped insistent arms around him. They curled up together on the narrow bench and he let Duo hold him, stroking his hair. "I was stupid to think you'd leave..."

"Yes," Heero agreed.

Duo socked him in the arm. "Hidoi!" he whined. "You don't have to agree!" Then he subsided, kissing Heero's neck, lips soothing the bruise he'd made earlier.

"You're right, though..." Heero mumbled. "Somehow, it's not going to be that easy."

He hugged Duo tighter, brushing lips over the mark he'd bitten into Duo in silent apology. As long as he and Duo pulled through this, nothing else mattered. Not Relena, or her pride...not judgment, or orientation...just love.

* * *

Quatre stretched his legs to catch up with Trowa's long-limbed strides, tossing his towel over his shoulder and looking at the pool with eager eyes. First living in the colonies, and up in resource satellites for most of his life, and then spending most of his time on Earth in desert areas, he hadn't had much experience with water. At least, not water one could submerge in.

His desert-bred heritage still stood awed at the thought of so much water to waste, that it could play over one's body, and still have plenty.

"Maybe if we find Heero and Duo, we could play a game," Quatre suggested hopefully. Games were another thing that, as a pilot, he simply hadn't had much time for.

Trowa's mouth was fixed in an upward curve as he looked at him.

"Oi, isn't that Relena?" Wufei called to their attention. "Heero won't be far behind -- he's her servant-for-a-day, ne?" There was a sly smirk in the Chinese boy's voice.

Quatre giggled. Whatever consequences it had for Duo, the thought of the completely crestfallen look on Heero's face when he'd lost still provoked mirth.

Relena's face was stormy as she charged up the incline from the cabana, back towards the resort buildings. She saw the trio of Gundam pilots, blinked, and hesitated, looking for a moment as if she might change course. Then her mouth firmed and she kept walking.

"Relena-san, daijoubu?" Quatre asked, concerned. She looked like she was barely suppressing tears, an expression at odds with the anger clouding her aquiline features.

"Iie!" Relena burst out, voice choked with fury. She started to brush past him, but he touched her shoulder, confused sympathy reaching out.

"What happened?"

She stopped, back taut, then turned to face him again. Her fists were clenched so tightly that the drawn skin over her knuckles pulled white. "Heero...Heero was..." She stopped, and looked for a moment as if her face would crumple. "Duo was...they were..."

"Oh." Quatre took a step back, comprehension flitting over his face.

It dawned on her slowly, a light of sick understanding that burned in her glassy blue eyes. "You--you knew?"

Wufei tilted his head at her. "You didn't?" He sounded puzzled, as if the fact of Heero and Duo's relationship were intrinsically obvious.

Relena choked, and in a fanning arc of golden hair spun to stumble back to the main building, breaking into a run.

"I thought everyone knew," Wufei said defensively, his dark sloe eyes matter-of-fact as Quatre and Trowa fixed him with dubious gazes. "Oi! Give me some credit! It wasn't *that* hard to figure out!"

After a brief hesitation they resumed their walk to the pool. Quatre darted a glance at Wufei. " did *you* know?"

Wufei sniffed, drawing his shoulders upright. "*I* was the one who was locked in a prison cell with them while *he*--" and Wufei flicked an accusing finger at Trowa, "was living it up with the OZ officers."

"They didn't," Quatre blurted, surprised.

Wufei gave him a withering glance. "Of course not. But Heero waited until he thought I was asleep to make sure Duo wasn't seriously injured...and then he held him and soothed him until he could sleep without having nightmares."

"That's so..." Quatre trailed off, speechless. He offered a tentative smile to Trowa.

"Isn't it?" Wufei's expression was enigmatic, but the blond Arabian thought he detected a hint of wistfulness in that normally impassive bronze face.

"I wonder what Relena-san will do now..." Quatre mused, throwing a glance over his shoulder at the building where the Peacecraft girl had disappeared.

"I don't think Heero and Duo will stay for much longer," Trowa observed.

Quatre's skin shivered as he recalled the look in Relena's eyes -- wild, completely furious, over and beyond the reaction of a young girl who had lost her first love. She'd been deeply hurt...and now, she would lash out at that source, regardless of consequence. And a girl of her power and wealth had considerable means with which to strike.

The eyes of a wounded animal.

No, a woman scorned.

* * *

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