title: Rattlesnakes
fandom: Gundam Wing
characters/pairings: Duo/Trowa, Duo/Heero, past/one-sided Quatre/Trowa, Quatre/OFC, past/one-sided Relena/Heero
rating: Mature
warnings: violence, drugs, abusive relationship, depression, suicidal tendencies, cutting, non-con sexual situation, sex, bad language
summary: Duo and Trowa are forced to try group therapy.
notes: see notes

Trowa leaned his head back, the top of his head digging into the arm of the couch. His back arched upwards, and his hands griped Duo's arms tighter. He sighed, a ragged noise that made his stomach quiver. Duo was nibbling on his neck, under his ear, his hands on Trowa's chest. Duo was looking for Trowa's 'spot.' They had discussed Trowa's 'spot' many times over the last week, and Duo had become zealous on the subject of finding it. Trowa pushed his feet against the end of the couch, shoving his groin up higher into Duo's.

Dr. Clarkson's couch was not nearly as comfortable as either Trowa's or Duo's, but it was a forgivable fault given that the only other option was to be talking about their abandonment issues with a doctor who was currently jacking off watching them dry hump.

Duo's mouth was hot and wet. Trowa felt a little like that heat was seeping into his skin, invigorating his flesh and shocking his nerves. Duo's braid had slipped over his shoulder and was swaying slowing, hanging over the edge of the couch. Trowa watched it with half-lidded eyes as Duo squeezed his nipples and sucked on his ear.

Sighing, Trowa placed his hand on the skin just above Duo's pants, slipping it down so that he could squeeze and grope Duo's ass. He grabbed as much of flesh he could, and held Duo still as he drove his hips up again, and again. Duo gasped, and Trowa knew the sound by heart. He felt like he lived for the sound.

Duo griped Trowa's shoulder and gritted his teeth. His eyes were closed tightly, and he wiggled his rear a little so that he could throw Trowa's leg over his hip. They continued to push and grind into each other, their bodies undulating against each other. Duo moaned, though he tried to bite back the sound so that it was trapped in the back of his throat. He bit Trowa's neck playfully, then whispered in Trowa's ear, "I'm gonna cream my pants..."

Trowa groaned, his head lolling back, exposing his neck to Duo's mouth and tongue.

The urgency had left when the timer rang, indicating the end of the session. Dr. Clarkson was sitting so that he was facing away from them, his pants open and his hand hidden.

Trowa was glad that Dr. Clarkson used his left hand. He was still able to sign the forms that Duo grabbed off of his desk with his right hand.

It took a long time to catch his breath. Trowa leaned against the back of the elevator, watching Duo play with the end of his braid. Trowa lowered his head as he smirked.

"You know," Trowa spoke softly, "I think it's very likely that Dr. Clarkson knows that we are lovers now."

Duo's eyes flicked to Trowa for a second, and then he burst out laughing.

The sound of Duo's laughter made Trowa's heart beat a little faster.

Duo kept laughing as the doors opened, needing Trowa's assistance to move. The sedate business people in the lobby collectively watched the strange pair of young men with a mixture of disdain and shock. Duo even needed help lighting his cigarette out on the sidewalk.

Duo looked up at Trowa with wet, bright eyes. "You are really funny, Tro."

Trowa's back stiffened properly. "I know." He said it with enough disgust that it was obvious he thought more people should realize how funny he was.

That only made Duo laugh longer.

They walked to the bus stop together, Duo laughing and wiping tears out of his eyes as they walked. But when the bus came, it was so full of people that neither Duo nor Trowa made the slightest movement to get on. They walked to Duo's apartment because it was closer.

Trowa walked very close to Duo, his hand swaying at his side so that it brushed against Duo's ass periodically. If someone was walking by them without paying attention, they probably wouldn't have thought anything of it, but anyone watching them would have been very suspicious.

The very fact that overt homosexuality was still somewhat taboo on the rock made the whole walk all the more exciting. Trowa was looking forward to some very good sex when they got to Duo's apartment.

Leaning close to Duo's ear, Trowa spoke conversationally. "So. Did you cream your pants?"

Duo smiled teasingly. "Hm... only one way to know for sure, I think..."

Trowa felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise. He let his hand brush against Duo's back. "Oh, and how is that?"

Duo sighed dramatically, stretching his arms above his head. "Welllllll... I've always found the direct approach... useful."

Trowa lowered his eyes, biting the inside of his lip to keep from grinning. "It's a long way to your apartment."

Duo looked at Trowa over his shoulder with surprised delight. "Think we can find someplace... closer?"

Trowa scanned the street with discerning eyes. There were the usual assortment of shops and business offices, but he kept looking. They walked closely enough so that they could feel each other as they brushed against each other, and each step heightened the tension that was coiling in Trowa's belly.

Finally, he spotted his quarry about three blocks later.

"There." He put his hand on Duo's back, and directed him across the street.

Duo laughed when he realized where they were headed, but he dutifully did as he was directed.

Trowa slid his credit card through, and after it had been processed, the door to the photo booth unlatched. Duo slipped in first, and Trowa followed, closing the door after them.

There wasn't much room in the booth. There was a small shelf that was supposed to be a seat facing a cheerful screen with directions on how the photos would be taken.

They ignored the screen. Duo leaned his shoulders against the side wall, and spread his arms out, giving Trowa full access. Trowa smirked, looking Duo up and down before he moved. It was a bit awkward, but he sat on the shelf, and put his hands on Duo's waist. He ran his finger across the top of Duo's jeans twice before he quickly unbuttoned them, sliding the zipper down slowly.

There was a flash of light.

Trowa pushed Duo's jeans down a little and kissed Duo's lower belly. He hooked his fingers under the waistband of Duo's boxers and pulled them down, inch by inch, greeting the newly revealed flesh with his open mouth.

Another flash.

Trowa found Duo's half-hard cock and the crusty remains of Duo's earlier climax. He licked the palm of his hand, and then took Duo's cock into his mouth. He had been studying Duo's oral techniques with all due diligence ever since Duo's demonstration in the park, and he hoped to show Duo the fruits of his study. Meanwhile, he cupped Duo's balls in the palm of his hand, and brushed his thumb over the space between Duo's cock and balls.

Flash.

Duo groaned, biting his tongue as he arched his back, pushing his groin forward into Trowa's mouth. Trowa sucked hard, using his one hand to massage Duo's balls, and the other hand to tease Duo's hole.

Flash.

Duo came quickly, Trowa alternating between sucking on the tip of Duo's cock as if it were a baby bottle, and deep throating Duo, milking him. Trowa continued to lick and clean Duo as the aftershocks of the orgasm shook Duo's frame.

Flash.

"Wow," Duo heaved, his eyes glassy. "You get a lot of pictures for two credits."

Trowa nodded thoughtfully. It was true.

After Duo had rearranged his clothes, they slipped back out of the booth, collecting their pictures as they made their way back out onto the street.

It took another twenty minutes to get to Duo's, mostly because neither of them felt much like walking quickly. It was chilly enough that they both huddled in their coats, especially after what they had just done, but it was twilight, and the waning light was dark and shadowy. Their encounter had left Trowa feeling very aware of his body, and he felt like he could actually feel every breath enter and leave his body. Each step seemed distinct, and Trowa felt inclined to stay out walking with Duo for a long, long time.

It was therefore almost a disappointment to get to Duo's building.

Duo got the door, smirking at Trowa over his shoulder as he made his way inside, trusting Trowa to follow. Duo stopped to get his mail, and suddenly, the space of five feet felt like a chasm to Trowa; he needed to be closer to Duo.

He put his hands on Duo's waist, and kissed the back of Duo's neck, pushing aside the braid with his nose. Duo's whole body shuddered with pleasure, and Trowa needed to press his chest against Duo's back so that he could feel the shiver all over.

"So," Trowa asked conversationally, "what do you want to do tonight?"

Duo must have been in a good mood, because he burst out laughing again. The sound pleased Trowa so much, he put his arms around Duo, bringing their bodies as close together as they could be, burying his face in the back of Duo's hair to breathe through the air through the filter of the thick, chestnut hair.

"Maxwell!" The voice was an unwelcome, unfamiliar intrusion, so Trowa held his position firmly. "I don't want no more trouble from you, now!"

Trowa lifted his head from Duo's hair to glare at the squalid man standing by the side door in the lobby.

The man shuffled from one slippered foot to the other, still glaring. "Hmph. You got another man. You better not be running any damn business from that apartment, you little shit, or..."

Duo sighed, and turned to face the man. "Relax, Jack, nothing's going on."

The man ran his hand through his greasy black hair. "Eh, you've been nothing but trouble since you first crossed that door, yeh disgusting little colony brat."

Trowa turned a little to face the man, keeping one arm on Duo's shoulder and the other at his side, his hand balled into a fist. His lips were deformed in a snarl as he seethed. The man's eyes went wide, and he took a half step backward. Trowa continued to hold his expression, even as he smirked internally. He could still be a good mercenary.

Duo closed his mailbox, and smiled at the man, making a kissing gesture. "Night, Jack."

They walked up the stairs together, Duo whistling a low tune off-key as they took each rickety step one at a time. Trowa watched Duo from the corner of his eye the whole time, trying to analyze how Duo was reacting to the man in the lobby. He expected Duo to say something. It wasn't usually difficult to get Duo to talk, but the other man seemed perfectly content to just whistle.

He wasn't particularly good at whistling.

Duo was unlocking the door to his apartment when Trowa decided to ask.

"What was that all about?"

"What?" Duo looked at Trowa as he opened the door in perfect puzzlement. "Oh, you mean in the lobby? Oh, that was just my landlord. He's a dick."

Trowa stepped inside of Duo's apartment, his hands in his pockets and his eyes straight ahead as if he hadn't just asked a question.

"It was just that... well, Heero was over yesterday." Suddenly, there were a million things Duo needed to do with his hands. "We were arguing... and the dumb ass fuck of a neighbor was bangin' on the wall... And I mean, the only way we could've really been bothering him is if he had his fuckin' ear pressed against the fuckin' wall anyway... But Heero was really pissed, and he threw a coupla things around..."

Trowa's eyes darted around, looking for clues of Heero's violence, but the apartment was in its usual state of organized disarray, so it was hard to distinguish potential rubble from intentional piles.

"Anyway, after a while, he kinda threw me to the ground... Well, then there was this pounding on the door and shit. The fuckin' neighbor had called the fuckin' cops on us." Duo shook his head, his eyes narrowed as they silently interrogated the carpet. "So the cops are at the door, saying they're gonna bring the door down if we don't open up, and I've got my ankles up by my ears and Heero's in me..." Duo blushed, rubbing his hands over his arms in embarrassment.

Trowa looked down at the carpet in sympathy.

"Anyway. It was this big fucking mess. Heero didn't want to give the cops his id, since he's supposed to be Relena's fiancé, and shit, so there was all this screaming and yelling for damn near an hour... Well, finally the cops left, and there wasn't too much else to it, except my landlord is a dick and my neighbor is a fucking busybody ass." Duo shrugged, sighing quietly.

Trowa nodded patiently, his eyes still on the carpet.

Duo sighed. "Can I fix you something for dinner? Maybe some pasta?"

Shrugging, Trowa nodded minutely in assent.

Duo headed for the kitchen, seemingly glad to have something to do. Trowa stayed in the living room, picking through Duo's cds with dissatisfaction. He felt an anticipatory anxiety straining his nerves, and he wanted to unwind. Images of Duo, his back on the floor and his legs in the air, being assaulted by Heero crossed over his vision like a wave through a field of grain.

There was so much violence and anger in Duo's life, and it caused Trowa to be even more lethargic than was his wont. The burning pressure of desire that had consumed him in the doctor's office and in the photo booth had dissipated, giving way to the searing, lasting heat of the embers.

It was now immediately urgent that he had his hands on Duo's skin.

He quickly checked to be sure that all the locks and the safety bolt on the door were securely locked, and then he progressed into the kitchen. He stood in the doorway, watching Duo for a moment, taking stock of the other man's movements, waiting for the right moment to move in.

Trowa slipped off his shirt, leaving it on the floor where he had stood and he went to stand behind Duo as he stirred the sauce.

Duo was using a store-bought sauce, and adding some spices and fresh vegetables that he had already cut up. The water for the spaghetti was boiling away, and as Duo stirred, he watched the spaghetti pot, making sure it didn't boil over.

Trowa leaned in, placing his lips on Duo's neck gently, giving Duo a moment to shudder before putting his hands on Duo's body. At first, he just let his hands touch Duo's hips, but then he slipped one hand over to Duo's groin, cupping Duo carefully.

"You've already come twice, haven't you." Trowa placed another kiss on Duo's neck, this time opening his mouth a little as he kissed Duo's flesh.

Duo leaned back, inhaling loudly. "Hm... that's true... I have..."

Trowa's other hand came around Duo's front as well, sliding up under Duo's shirt to rub Duo's chest. Whispering right into Duo's ear, "I bet I can get you to come again."

Duo let the spoon sit in the sauce, and his arms drifted back to touch Trowa's flanks. "What would you bet me?"

Trowa smirked against Duo's skin. "What do you want?"

Duo laughed, low in his chest, and rubbed his ass against Trowa's cock. "Mm, I think what I want is back here somewhere... Oh, yes, there it is..."

Trowa groaned as Duo ground his ass against his cock, his braid moving up and down Trowa's chest like a rope. "I think the spaghetti is ready."

Duo laughed again, and Trowa could feel the reverberations from Duo's back against his chest. "Yeah, ok."

Duo poured the water with the spaghetti out into the colander, which was waiting in the sink. He then dumped the pasta into a large plastic bowl, and poured the sauce in with it. He took the bowl to the table, pushing Trowa back, and guiding him to sit down. He then dumped large piles of Parmesan cheese from the tube on top of the spaghetti.

He pulled off his shirt, and straddled Trowa, sitting facing him in his lap. He pulled the bowl of pasta next to them and caught Trowa's eye with a smirk.

Duo put his hand up next to his face, the fingers spread out just a little so they weren't touching each other. Duo continued to smirk as he deliberately stuck his hand in the bowl of pasta, mixing the sauce and cheese into the spaghetti. If it was hot, Duo didn't show any reaction, his eyes fixed on Trowa's the whole time.

When the spaghetti was sufficiently mixed, Duo pulled out a few strands of spaghetti, held between two fingers. He tilted his head back, and opened his mouth wide, raising and then lowering the pasta into his mouth.

Trowa ran his hands up and down Duo's skin, a smile playing with his lips as he waited for Duo to swallow.

Then, it was Trowa's turn. He obediently opened his mouth for Duo and swallowed the spaghetti in the same way that Duo had. He could not take the waiting anymore, and so he pulled Duo's face down for a quick kiss. He would have feasted on Duo's mouth, but Duo apparently wanted him to have a decent meal before satisfying his hunger.

They ate several handfuls of the pasta before Duo gave in to Trowa's insistence, and the spaghetti was forgotten as they consumed each other. The plastic bowl, still half-full, splattered to the floor as Trowa pushed Duo up onto the table. Duo tugged at Trowa's pants from underneath Trowa, their mouths occupied with the task of tasting each other with fervent discrimination.

Trowa pulled out the condom and small tube of lube from Duo's pocket before he divested Duo of his pants. When he had his prey perfectly bare, he took his time with properly sampling all the various offerings of the banquet Duo had spread out for him. He found the spot on Duo's neck that made the other man's skin quiver, and he took small bites from Duo's nipples.

They were gasping and groaning, enough to give Duo's neighbor a painfully hard erection were he listening in tonight as well, and Trowa had no thought to delay any longer. Duo was as hard as iron under him, and Trowa rolled the condom over Duo's cock easily.

Duo prepared Trowa quickly and completely, and then Trowa speared himself on Duo, rolling his hips as he moved up and down with swift movements, until he had Duo completely encased. They panted and growled as Trowa started to move again, Duo groaning and leveraging himself against the hard surface of the table to push up into Trowa.

It never lasted long enough.

Trowa pulled up, letting Duo fall out of him, and then collapsed on top of Duo. Duo's hand came up and ran up and down Trowa's spine in a comforting gesture. They stayed as they were until they were cold enough and stiff enough to necessitate movement.

They showered together, Duo's hair still in a braid. They mostly just ran their hands over each other's bodies, lathering up their hands with soap before they rubbed with long strokes down each other's skin. The water was cold by the time they had washed each other the sixth time, but it was then that they started to react to each other's ministrations, and they kissed deeply as their hands worked to bring them off again.

Duo didn't even bother to dry off before falling into bed, and as long as Duo was already getting the bed wet, Trowa decided it didn't matter if he did, too. He put his head down on Duo's stomach, and traced lines from Duo's belly button down to his hipbone.

When Duo asked about his childhood, it was such a dissociated question, as if the words had just floated down from the colonies, and Trowa felt nothing when he heard them.

He spoke, the side of his mouth against the smooth, taut skin of Duo's abdomen. He said things that he had never even consciously thought about before, and put an order to things that he had never examined. He would speak for several minutes in a row, and then lapse into silence for moment, but Duo never interrupted him. The only reason that Trowa knew that Duo was still awake was because of the movement of Duo's belly as he breathed, sometimes faster when Trowa spoke of something painful, and because of Duo's fingernails running through his hair.

When Trowa lapsed into a final silence, he felt as if he were not connected to what he had been talking about. He felt as if they were just words, and they had no meaning in the context of his existence. You could not frame experience and pain and sorrow and emptiness with shallow things fixed by definition. Trowa's eyes were open and clear as he stared out at Duo's room over Duo's skin, and felt like he was not really in that room with Duo, touching him.

Duo sat up, and drew Trowa to sit up with him. Duo's hands came out to hold Trowa's face, and Trowa found that he did not want to be looking into Duo's eyes.

Duo's eyes were so beautiful and deep, and Duo seemed to be like a vortex, pulling Trowa in with the power of his blank, unblinking gaze.

Duo leaned in, and kissed Trowa's lips reverently. Trowa's mouth did not move. He remained utterly motionless, allowing the touch, the only reaction the fluttering shut of his eyes.

He did not see as Duo moved to kiss the line of his cheekbone, or the crest of his brow. He did not see Duo move closer to hold Trowa, pressing their chests together, nor did he raise his arms to complete the circuit. He did not watch as Duo kissed his temple, and down his jaw, down his neck, and back up again on the other side.

He only opened his eyes as Duo moved away, slowly taking his hands off of Trowa's head as he put distance between them.

"You have no idea what you are to me."

There was more emotion in Duo's words than in Trowa's whole account.

They lay down together, on their sides facing each other, but it was hours before they fell asleep.

Trowa had Duo's braid in his fist as he closed his eyes and let dreams overtake him. He knew that Duo was still awake as Duo's hand was gently rubbing the back of his head, but he could no longer keep his eyes open.

When he did open his eyes again, he was still holding Duo's braid, and Duo was now asleep, the pale morning light defining their surrounding more starkly than necessary.

A dangerous swelling filled Trowa's chest, but he dutifully ignored it.





It was now too cold to eat in the park, though they kept trying to every day. Duo never seemed to think to wear a thick enough coat when he went out, preferring to bundle up in his trench coat as the weather got chillier.

He would look up at the sky with furrowed brows, and mutter about how the colonies never had this kind of biting wind. Trowa tried to watch him with clinical fascination, but unfortunately, the effort was not a total success.

They found plenty of out-of-the-way corners to eat their lunches, although they tended to consume more nourishment from each other than from their meals. It was this steady diet of sex that enabled Trowa to reach the point where he felt that he reasonably could expect to get laid regularly, as if it were his due.

So, when Duo had to work through his lunch, Trowa felt righteously indignant over the loss of a quickie.

It didn't help that Duo was working on the on-board computer of a covert land vehicle, and therefore was on the network all day.

The last thing Trowa needed in his horny misery was to get email notes every ten minutes with a suggestion of something they could try after work.

Duo was the child of Satan, Trowa decided, fidgeting uncomfortably in his office chair as he reorganized his email so as to infuriate any tech person who might have some reason to look at his email. This decision was reinforced when Duo realized that he could take small pictures with one of the tools he was using to fix the computer.

Trowa was right in the middle of trying to decide whether a picture of Duo's left nipple belonged in his "Unofficial office nonpolicy" folder or his "Regulation of nonoffice sanctions" folder when his boss peeked around the corner of his cubical.

"Trowa? I was hoping I could have a word?"

Trowa minimized his email program without even looking at the screen, his heart pounding a little from nearly being caught. He reluctantly stood up, hitting the keystrokes that would start his screensaver as he did. At least if anyone wanted to snoop on his computer, they would need to have his password.

Duo's nipple was safe.

Trowa's boss walked to his office through a circuitous route around the office cubicles that was either a product of his insanity or because he wanted to parade Trowa around. Either way, Trowa was bored, and he wanted to get back to reading dirty messages from Duo.

When they got to the office, his boss went straight to his computer, checking his email and his voice mail at the same time. Trowa stood impassively in the doorway to the office, eyeing the plaque commemorating his boss' excellence in the field of something made up with disdain. The office could not even properly be called an office; it was simply a slightly larger cubical whose walls went all the way up to the ceiling, and had a door. The desk was a shelf that ran around the border of the office's far wall, and there was a round table behind where his boss sat at his desk, and a large dry erase board with scribbles in various colors, decorated with various acronyms, which would only have made sense to the criminally insane.

"Sit down. Close the door behind you." His boss pulled out a red file folder from the stack on his desk, and he turned his chair to sit at the round table.

Trowa repressed a sigh with some effort which he was sure would not be appreciated, and he did as he was instructed. He sat at the table with his feet flat on the floor and his hands at his side.

His boss opened the file folder and rummaged through the papers, keeping his eyes down and his hands busy. "Trowa... Trowa, how long have you worked here? It's been about two years, right? ...No, it's been eighteen months. You came to us highly recommended. Commander Une herself placed you here. Do you feel you fit in here, Trowa?"

Trowa blinked. He had no idea at all what his boss was getting at. "Yes."

Trowa's boss blinked several times, and then he looked down at his papers again. "Yes, well... I see that you have been written up six times. Six times. Six times in eighteen months. Does that seem proportionate to you?"

Trowa had no idea what was proportionate. He supposed that if your boss didn't have the slightest clue how to do his job and wanted to blame someone who did, then getting written up only six times might be considered an accomplishment.

"I just can't help feeling like you don't really want to belong here."

Trowa was certain that he didn't. He was also certain that anyone who did want to belong was under the influence of the kind of drugs that no one enjoyed being on.

"It's your attitude, Trowa. You have an air about you... Do you know what I mean? Do you know what your attitude tells me?"

With any luck, his attitude was telling his boss that he was an ex-mercenary and that dicking around with him like this was a stupid thing to do.

"Your attitude tells me that you think you are above this work. And that is truly distressing, because you know that nothing in the Preventers organization could get done without what we do. We facilitate the processes that make justice and peace possible. Do you know how important peace is, Trowa?"

Trowa narrowed his eyes. He had fought and nearly died for this peace. He had killed for this peace. If this fat-assed piece of shit moron thought he was going to sit and be lectured about peace, then he was going to have to lower his estimation of his boss' intelligence even further.

"Peace is what all right-minded people want out of life. Isn't that what you want out of life, Trowa? I mean, I'm sure you discuss this with... er, with your mental health professional, but I think we can both agree that peace is the best goal anyone can work toward."

Trowa straightened himself up in his chair. "Peace isn't a goal."

His boss had to bite off what he was going to say next to respond. Sputtering, he stared at Trowa. "What?"

"Peace isn't a goal," Trowa reiterated, calmly.

"Of course it is! What do you think the wars were about?" His boss narrowed his eyes and stared at Trowa as if he were examining something on his carpet that may or may not have been a bug.

"The people of Earth, represented by Oz, were fighting for dominion of resources in the colonies. We were fighting for self-determination. The goal I fought for was the elimination of Oz. Peace was a by-product." Trowa spoke calmly and determinedly, his arms crossed over his chest casually. He stared directly into his boss' eyes. He didn't feel any need to emphasize his role in the war relative to his boss'.

Mouth opening and closing like a fish, his boss stared at him, unable to meet Trowa's gaze entirely. "But... What... Do you think you deserve preferential treatment for the... for what... for your role in the...?"

Trowa was immensely bored. "Of course not."

"But you think you are above regulations!" His boss accused, even pointing a finger at Trowa.

"No."

"But you come here with an attitude, act superior to your co-workers, and flagrantly ignore regulations and standards!" His boss was actually sweating. If the room wasn't so small and close, it might have been humorous.

"Everyone has an attitude. It's impossible to go anywhere without one. I don't act superior to anyone. And I follow regulations and standards." Trowa wished right then that he had died in the war more than anything, and he wished that when he had died, that this fat little man had been standing under his Gundam, and that the last thing that he had seen in the world would have been the blood spurting as his boss went splat under Heavyarms.

Slapping a pink form on the table in front of Trowa, his boss accused triumphantly, "You've been told repeatedly that you need three authorizations for any non-compliance remediation action, and you've even been written up once for it, but again we're behind on our NCRAs because of your negligence!"

Trowa leaned over the form idly. "I do have three signatures."

"You have a technical legal representative and a quality advisor, but you also need a process manager's signature." His boss leaned back in the chair with obvious satisfaction.

Trowa frowned. "You signed it. Here. I left it on your desk a week ago. I don't think you signed it in the right place, though. Isn't it supposed to be over here?"

His boss blinked, and then turned bright red.

By the time Trowa got back to his desk, he had seventeen messages from Duo. He didn't bother to open any of them. He just replied to the most recent one.

To: Duo.Maxwell@Preventers.org
From: Trowa.Barton@Preventers.org
Subject: re: Missed lunch

We both missed lunch. I think we should take a coffee break. Now. In the shower rooms near you.

Now.





Trowa was actually working. It wasn't as bad as he thought it would be. Except he was itching to get it done. There were too damn many forms to fill out, and he kept getting emails reminding him of his deadlines. He didn't need to be reminded of his deadlines. He wasn't stupid, or deficient. He could keep track of them himself.

It wasn't a good day for Duo to visit, but Duo didn't ask before sitting down in Trowa's cube.

"God, this morning has fuckin' sucked!" Duo leaned back in the thin chair, pushing the plastic back with his shoulders so that his head was almost touching the cubical wall. "I just cannot believe how fucking stupid people are!"

Trowa eyed the open documents he had on his computer, the forms covering his desk, and the stacks of standard procedure manuals on the floor. "Yeah?" He didn't want to be rude, but he had work to do, and he wasn't sure he had time for Duo right then.

"I got fucking evicted. Fucking landlord went and fucking evicted me!" Duo glared at Trowa, his arms crossed over his chest.

Trowa blinked, his hands nervously moving away from his keyboard.

"I got home this morning to change and shit, and my fucking door has this orange notice on it. So, I went to go talk to fuckin' Jack about it, and he wouldn't even open the fuckin' door to talk to me, he just yelled at me from behind his fuckin' door that I had to leave or he'd call the fuckin' cops on him. So I get to work late, didn't even have time for a fuckin' shower, and I have to go straight to legal. Fuckin' jackasses tell me that the eviction is perfectly legal, and I don't have any fuckin' recourse. So that's it. I'm fucked." Duo racked his hand through his bangs, and Trowa noticed that his hands were shaking a little.

Trowa shook his head in something that probably appeared to be disbelief.

"So then I go to the fuckin' relocation department, cuz I have to be out of my place by fuckin' Friday. They tell me that housing is tight right now, but they can get me a new place in about four or five months. In the meantime, they tell me, they can put me up in a motel. Not a hotel, mind you. Oh, no, not for the fuckin' junkie Gundam pilot, no, no, they can put me up in a motel. For five fuckin' months!!" Duo's voice had risen to the point where, in combination with his language, he now officially constituted an office disturbance, but Trowa certainly couldn't care less about disturbing his lazy co-workers, so he didn't say anything.

He did think that Duo looked rather pretty with his cheeks pinked and his eyes blazing, but he thought that in the back part of his mind that wasn't in control of his reactions.

"I have three fuckin' days, no one will help me fight this shit, no one will help me find a place to move, and the best they can offer me is a fuckin' motel. Some fuckin' human resources department we got, huh?"

Trowa knew this was the point where he was supposed to speak, because Duo was glaring at him rather pointedly. "Why are you being evicted?"

Duo rolled his eyes, a dramatic motion completed by tossing his hands in the air. "Oh, some fuckin' nonsense about fuckin' breach of contract. My fuckin' nosy neighbor has called the cops on us somethin' like five times, so now that legally makes me a disturbance to the building, and they can fuckin' legally evict me. Bastards."

The word 'us' seemed to Trowa to loom rather largely in that sentence, so he let his eyes drift over Duo's shoulder, his expression blank.

"I don't know what they fuckin' expect me to do. I don't know what I'm supposed to do with all my shit. I can't fuckin' afford to put myself up in a motel for five months, and pay for some storage place for my shit, too. I mean, I can unload a lot of it, but if I were getting another place, I would just need more shit. It's a fuckin' nuisance, man. And this kind of crap would never happen in the colonies, let me tell you. People mind their own shit in the colonies. You don't fuckin' call the cops on your neighbors unless they're killing each other, and you don't evict people and put 'em out on the street without givin' a fuck about what they're gonna do just because of a little noise. I'm hardly ever at home anyway! Fuckin' prick next door, let me tell ya, in the war, he wouldn't have lasted ten minutes with me, that's for damn sure..."

Duo had worked himself up into such an impressive lather, it seemed a shame to disturb him by interjecting, but Trowa did have a lot of work to do, so he didn't want to postpone. "You could stay with me."

For a moment, Duo was just silent, still glaring at Trowa's recyclables bin. Then he seemed to drain away, all the rage and bitterness slipping away, washing off of him. When he was clean of all the bile, he turned his wide, guileless eyes to Trowa.

"I... I didn't come here to, you know, beg or fish for an offer or anything, you know?" Duo seemed actually meek, which was a strange look on him.

Trowa shrugged one shoulder. "I have plenty of room. I have a spare bedroom, even. For your stuff, or whatever."

Duo shifted in his chair, leaning forward. "Well, I mean... I mean, I appreciate that, I do, but, well, isn't that kind of a big step?" The uncertainty made Duo seem even paler.

Trowa leaned back in his chair, and he picked up a pencil to tap on his thigh. "I'm just suggesting an alternative. It's no big deal."

Duo rubbed his palms up and down his legs. "Well... If you don't mind... I guess it could be, I dunno, fate or something." Duo looked up at Trowa guiltily, hopeful.

Trowa attempted to smile. Sighing, he nodded briefly. "I think it would work out well."

Frankly, the idea appealed to him more and more with each passing second. Duo would live with him. They would sleep in the same bed every night, and eat together every morning and night. They would take the same bus to and from work, and they would go to therapy together and go home together. Duo would watch tv and listen to music, and make Trowa do things.

It was a good idea.

Duo smiled shyly. It was such an appealing expression, Trowa wished they had time for a coffee break. "Well... Tro, if you're sure... and you don't mind... Well, I think that would be, you know, the best thing that's happened to me all fuckin' day."

Now it was easy for Trowa to smile. Duo nodded to himself several times, and then he leaned forward quickly, kissing Trowa chastely on the lips. "Thanks, Tro. You're a lifesaver, you know?"

Trowa sighed, content.

"I gotta run. I called my boss, but I haven't even been there, yet. I'm gonna catch so much fuckin' hell for this... I'll prolly be working late, but I'll come by your place, then, and we can, you know, talk and stuff." Duo stood up awkwardly, fidgeting a little as he did. "Thanks, Tro."

Trowa nodded, putting his pencil back down on his desk.

Everyone avoided him all day at work, which made it possible to finish all his forms before the deadlines, despite the constant email reminders.

All in all, he had to say, it was a good day.





Trowa washed down the countertops in his kitchen. He didn't have the slightest clue why he was doing this. He had been cleaning his apartment all day. Both he and Duo had taken the day off of work to move Duo in. They had been forced to tell Dr. Clarkson about their plan yesterday when he had mentioned that Duo had been evicted. Dr. Clarkson had been very interested in the idea of the two of them living together, and had asked far too many pointed questions about their sleeping arrangements.

Duo had been right. They never should have let him know that they were lovers.

After therapy, Trowa had wanted to help Duo pack, but Duo had been resistant, and eventually he explained to Trowa that he needed Heero's help to move, because he had to borrow Heero's car to take things to Goodwill and to get everything else over to Trowa's.

Trowa didn't sleep at all last night, and had cleaned the whole apartment in an attempt to prevent any possible thoughts about what Heero and Duo were doing on their last night in Duo's apartment.

He had wanted to be the one to give Duo's apartment a send-off.

Duo was supposed to be coming today to move in with all of his things, but it was already past noon, and Trowa hadn't heard from Duo yet. He should be worried, knowing that Duo was with Heero.

Instead, he contemplated cutting. Since it would be much harder after Duo moved in, anyway.

He had finished in the kitchen, several times, and was standing in the hallway that lead to the bathroom, when the door started to open. He had given Duo his key already, so he knew who it was.

He didn't move to go to the door. He waited to hear Duo's voice.

"Tro! Hey, Tro! C'mon, man, give me a hand, willya?"

Trowa moved sullenly, his feet feeling heavy. Duo was pushing the door open with his rump, while holding a large box and pushing another box with his feet. Trowa opened the door for Duo, watching with curiosity as Duo managed to shove and carry three large boxes in with him.

Duo grinned at Trowa. "Honey, I'm home."

Trowa shook his head, trying to feign amusement. Duo looked haggard, from the puffiness of his eyes to the way his braid look frayed. His exhaustion spilled out of every pore on his flesh. Trowa felt like he should want to comfort and soothe Duo, but he couldn't work up to that reaction. He was still worn out from cleaning all night and being bitter.

He just wanted the moving to be done.

"I got rid of most of the furniture last night, but I have some shelves and things like that. I figured I didn't need a bed or a couch. Heero got a truck from Relena's convoy, and we got most of the stuff here. Heero's down with the truck. Let's just shove this junk in and get it all up here. I'm already sick to death of moving."

Trowa couldn't agree more. He didn't really want to go down and work with Heero to get Duo's things, but he didn't really have a choice.

Heero was indeed in front of his building, in the back of a small truck looking utterly disgusted. Heero was wearing tight jeans and a t-shirt that could have been painted on, with the sleeves rolled up. His hair looked slick and styled, and Trowa had the definite impression that Heero was the only one of the three of them to get any sleep last night.

Heero shoved boxes and crates and shelves at them, but he made no move to get out of the truck, nor did he attempt to communicate with either of them. Duo and Trowa made six trips up to Trowa's apartment, and each time they filled the elevator to capacity. Trowa's apartment was beginning to look very crowded.

When Heero was tossing the last box at Duo, he grunted and muttered something. Heero jumped out of the truck, pulling the door shut as he went, and got in the cab. Duo caught up with Trowa and headed to the elevator again.

Sighing, Duo hit the button for their floor. "Heero's gone to get rid of the truck, and then he's gonna get some shit from his place that's mine. And that'll be all of it. Damn, this moving shit is a pain in the ass. Fuckin' eviction..."

Trowa digested the information carefully, painfully aware of a drop of sweat working its way down his temple. He hated sweating. It was dirty. The only thing that could make sweating worthwhile was exhilaration, and there was none of that in moving boxes and such from one place to another.

"Did you have lunch?"

Duo was looking at him, and Trowa was reminded why he had thought this was such a good idea. Duo's eyes were so expressive and clear. Trowa thought about the question. "No." He hadn't even had breakfast. Or dinner last night.

Duo nodded, weary. "Yeah, me neither. Let's order something. Delivery. I want food to come to the door."

Trowa agreed silently.

They pushed the boxes out of the way while they waited for the pizza to come to the door. Mostly, they just shoved everything into the empty spare bedroom, to be sorted another day. Trowa had not known what to do with the spare bedroom when he had first occupied the apartment, so the only furnishings were a futon and a small end table, with a lamp on it. Duo's things filled up the room quickly.

Duo had also brought a small chest of draws for his clothes, which fit nicely into a corner of Trowa's bedroom... which was now Trowa and Duo's bedroom.

They didn't bother unpacking Duo's clothes. They had done enough.

Trowa sat down on the couch and allowed Duo to lie down, Duo's head in Trowa's lap and his feet over the edge of the couch. Duo fidgeted and stretched, getting comfortable. Trowa found his fingers slipping into Duo's hair, very much against his will.

It wasn't fair of Duo to be so attractive and desirable,

When the buzzer for the door rang, neither moved. Trowa remained motionless until Duo sighed and got up, moving like an eighty-seven year old man. He fumbled for a minute, trying to find the right button to answer the call on the unfamiliar panel. "It's about damn time, we're starving."

"Just buzz me in, already." Heero's nasal grunt sounded more annoyed than normal.

Duo sighed, and leaned on the buzzer for far longer than necessary. He turned, a bit ashamed, to face Trowa, though his eyes stayed down on the carpet. "He's just gonna drop off some stuff, some cds and shit like that. Shouldn't take more than a minute."

Trowa didn't respond, or move to get up until the knock on the door heralded Heero's entrance. He stood up slowly and went to the door deliberately, getting there before Duo could stop him.

Trowa held the door open enough to see that it was, in fact, Heero standing there. He did not open it any further right away, just taking a moment to look Heero over.

Heero sneered at Trowa, and pushed his way past.

"Good, that's the last of it, then," Duo nervously stepped forward, trying to stand in between Heero and Trowa, but not managing it perfectly, "I'll take that and..."

Heero dropped the box intentionally. The sound of cracking and breaking shook Duo, sending him reeling back.

"So," Heero nearly growled, looking at everything but Duo and Trowa, "this is where you live. Small. Don't the Preventers pay you better than this?"

Trowa shrugged, noncommittally. "I spend most of my money on classic pornography. I think of it as an investment."

Duo couldn't help laughing out loud at that, which earned him a hateful glare from Heero. He turned away from Heero and kept chuckling to himself.

Heero grunted. "I guess that's it, then." His words were rather pointedly directed at Duo.

Duo kept his back to Heero, but he stopped laughing. "Yeah."

Heero crossed his arms over his chest and cast disdainful eyes over Trowa. "You are a fool. After everything I've done for you today, you should get me a drink."

Duo's back stiffened, and then he went quickly to the kitchen.

Trowa leaned against the wall next to the door, and lowered his chin so that he could glare at Heero from the relative privacy granted by his bangs.

Heero didn't look at Trowa at all, but he did speak to him, in a low rumble. "He'll come back to me, you know. You're just a diversion. He is mine."

"He's not a possession, Heero." Trowa responded in the same low voice, not wanting Duo to hear their conversation either.

Heero snorted, smiling viciously at Trowa. "Yes, he is. He is my possession. You can't give him what he needs, and you damn well know it."

Trowa didn't have time to respond, because Duo came back just then, shoving a pop can at Heero. "This is what we have. Now that you've politely broken all my stuff, why don't you go back and help Relena organize her nail polish?"

Heero opened the can with a grunt, and downed half of it right there. Trowa was pretty sure Heero was posing as he drank on purpose, but Duo wasn't even looking at him.

Duo's eyes were fixed on his own shoes.

Heero left without any further discourse. Trowa closed the door rather firmly behind him.

Duo clearly wanted to make some sort of joke after Heero was gone, but he wasn't up for it, and anyway, the pizza guy buzzed just then.

Trowa paid for the pizza, but when he was done the transaction, Duo had already gone to the bedroom, laying flat on his back across the bed.

Sitting down next to Duo, Trowa allowed himself, for the first time, to appreciate the fact that he and Duo were now living together.

"Hungry?"

"Tired," Duo responded, and he sounded it.

Trowa nodded, and put his head down next to Duo's belly.

Trowa's hand drifted over to Duo's body, slipping under Duo's shirt, pushing the material up before spreading out over Duo's skin. He pushed himself a bit closer, and let his lips touch the bare skin of Duo's flank. He slowly opened Duo's pants, taking his time.

Duo sighed, and arched his back a little in response to Trowa's ministrations.

Trowa pulled the zipper down, and let his hand push further down Duo's pants, running down the skin of Duo's leg, pushing Duo's pants down a little, drawing Duo's boxers down with the pants. He brought his hand back up, and tangled his index finger in the hair of Duo's crotch.

When Duo started to speak, his voice sounded foreign.

"I told him that it was over... that I couldn't see him anymore."

Trowa did not speak. He did not know what to say. He cupped his hand under Duo's balls, and fondled them gently.

"I... I didn't know... I couldn't think... I couldn't live with you, and leave to go be with him, so I told him..."

Trowa knew that he needed to say something, but he didn't have anything to say. Instead, he lifted his head and put his mouth on Duo's cock.

Duo moaned, and writhed on the bed.

Duo's cock grew big, and the vein running up its length pulsed with heat. Trowa slipped his lips over the head, and let his tongue and his mouth speak for him.

Duo groaned in response, and his limbs spread out over the bed haphazardly.

Trowa consumed Duo, taking long, pleasurable moments to express his feelings over what Duo had told him. He hummed his contentment down Duo's length, and Duo screamed for him in reply.

They ate the cold pizza on their bed naked, and stayed in bed, entangled in each other, long into Saturday.

Trowa did not think about what Heero had said, even though he knew that what Heero had provided for Duo was not something he was prepared to supply. He did not think about it every minute of the day, all weekend long.

On Monday, the box that Heero had dropped was still exactly where it had landed when they left for work together.





The music was turned all the way up again. Trowa lived in a corner apartment, and the only neighbor who he shared a wall with was deaf. When Duo learned that, he went out of his way to be noisy as much as possible. Trowa didn't mind. Much. He liked Duo's taste in music. Mostly.

Work had been long and brutal. There were constantly people who were supposed to be important coming in, calling meeting, and railing about deadlines. Trowa had a headache.

He wanted to make love to Duo.

It didn't seem like an unreasonable thing to want. Looking at Duo dancing in his boxers in the kitchen as he fussed over the stove, it seemed like a perfectly natural thing to want. Duo's braid swung back and forth as his head bobbed from one side to the other, and Trowa was immobile with desire.

He continued to watch Duo for several minutes. He cleared his throat a few times, but he didn't manage to get Duo's attention, and he could not form the words with his throat to jar Duo from his dance.

It was only when Duo landed after a particularly athletic turn and ended up facing him that Duo realized that Trowa was there.

"Tro!" Duo's smile was a bit wide as he jumped over to Trowa. "You're supposed to call out, 'honey, I'm home!' when you get in the door. Silly Tro." Duo leaned up on his toes to kiss Trowa teasingly in the corner of Trowa's mouth.

Trowa bit back a sigh. Duo was still mostly lucid. He didn't know how Duo managed to drink as much as he did, but it wasn't something he was prepared to enter a conflict over. Duo was his own person; he would determine for himself how much he should drink.

Duo took Trowa's arm and dragged him into the kitchen. "I was makin' dinner. Do you ever get the urge to cook... just for no reason at all, just to cook? Anyway, I made potstickers. Well, I tried to... I dunno how well it worked. Here, test for me."

Duo picked up a set of chopsticks, and picked up a single item from the wok. He held it up for Trowa, cupping his other hand underneath. Trowa opened his mouth warily, but he didn't want to discourage Duo, so he tried to hide his unease by closing his eyes. Duo sighed softly, and placed the end of the potsticker in Trowa's mouth.

Trowa bit down, and just let the heat dissipate through his mouth before he began to chew.

It wasn't an entirely unpleasant treat.

Trowa opened his eyes, and smiled softly at Duo, who beamed in response. Duo started to sing as he turned back to the wok, and Trowa's eyes fell on the half-empty tumbler of vodka next to the plate of done potstickers.

Trowa went back to the bedroom, and changed his clothes slowly. Duo would be done cooking by the time that he got out again, and they would eat. They would sit on the couch together, and Duo would make Trowa listen to some music or watch some movie or tv. Trowa would put his arm around Duo, and Duo would put his head on Trowa's shoulder. Later, they would have sex in the bed.

It hadn't taken them long to establish a rhythm.

Trowa went directly to the living room, keeping his eyes straight ahead to avoid any eye contact that might encourage Duo to talk to him. Duo had rearranged the settings on his vidphone as soon as he could, setting up the caller id and message box. Trowa had never cared that much for either feature, as he only ever really heard from Quatre or Catherine. He certainly didn't encourage people at work to call him.

But Duo got more calls, irregularly, but with a high enough frequency to warrant the use of extras. Trowa did enjoy scrolling through the list of callers, just to see how few of them Duo actually bothered to return. It didn't surprise Trowa, for instance, that Duo faithfully returned all of Howard's calls as soon as he could, but rarely ever picked up, much less returned, Hilde's calls.

Trowa was aware of some left over feelings on Duo's end for Hilde, but he couldn't identify what they were. Duo could be remarkably elusive when he wanted to be.

Frowning, Trowa stared at the caller id log. He called up the menu that showed outgoing calls. His frown deepened.

Duo came out of the kitchen, whistling and swaying his hips. It hadn't taken Trowa long to learn the various stages of Duo's drunkenness. Trowa wasn't sure if it was because Duo had left work early, or because he had had just been drinking hard, but Duo was about as drunk as he got right now.

Duo bumped into Trowa purposefully, grinning broadly. "I finished. Come sit down and I'll feed you dinner."

Trowa did not resist. He sat in the middle of the couch, and Duo straddled his waist, holding the plate perfectly level as he did. Duo's smile attempted to become seductive, but the drunkenness interfered with it. "Open wide..." Duo held a potsticker out, moving it in circles as a mother does for a baby.

Sighing just a little, Trowa opened his mouth, and let Duo feed him. Duo smiled, and for a moment he looked really beautiful. Then he slurped up a potsticker himself.

Clearing his throat delicately, Trowa raised an eyebrow at Duo. "Heero called today."

Duo did not appear to react to that, but Trowa knew well enough to know better. "Yeah." Duo held out another potsticker, and Trowa obediently ate it.

"Twelve times."

"Yeah," Duo shrugged, slurping up another potsticker quickly.

Trowa opened his mouth in anticipation of Duo's fingers. He swallowed the potsticker quickly, and cocked his head to the side, looking at Duo passively. "You called him back."

Duo smiled too brightly, and wiggled his eyebrows. "Jealous?"

"No."

Duo sagged.

"I'm concerned." Trowa carefully kept the emotion out of his voice.

Duo pushed a potsticker around the plate in a circle, sopping up more of the sauce. "Yeah."

"You ok?"

Duo shrugged, and ate another potsticker sullenly.

Trowa wondered if maybe Heero's call was to blame for Duo's drinking tonight, but he didn't want to ask. It was too obvious a question. He took the plate and set it aside. Carefully holding Duo's waist, Trowa started to nip at Duo's neck.

Duo sighed, and reclined his head back. "You have a nice apartment, Tro."

"It's ours, now." Trowa spoke softly against Duo's skin, and he hoped that Duo heard him. He never felt like this place belonged to him, so he saw no reason why Duo could not make it more a home than he had.

Duo pushed his hips against Trowa's lap. "You're nice, Tro."

Trowa kissed Duo's lips gently and slowly.

Duo giggled, an oddly masculine sound, and threw his arms around Trowa's neck. "You're too nice for me, Tro, but I'm glad you don't know it."

Trowa sighed, and leaned back against the couch. He was glad to get back to their routine.





It wasn't that late yet. There was still plenty of time to enjoy the moment. It turned out to be one of Duo's better ideas.

Tuesday night wouldn't seem like a good night to go out, but Duo knew the club, knew the crowd, and knew that Tuesday was a far better day to go out than most. There was a really good dj who had the music pumping in an electronic, primal rhythm, there was enough room to move around, it didn't take that long to get a drink, it wasn't that smoky, and he got to watch Duo cavort in his low-slung leather pants and mid-drift baring white long-sleeved t-shirt.

This was definitely one of Duo's better ideas. Trowa didn't even feel that out of place in his tight jeans and black turtleneck.

Trowa sipped a martini while Duo slithered over the dance floor. This was much better than another night of watching Duo fidget and fuss, pacing distractedly from one room to the other. It wasn't easy to adjust to living with someone, and Trowa knew that it had been several weeks since Duo had seen Heero, who was gone with Relena to L3 for an economic convention.

Duo no longer spent any time with Heero at all, really, now that he was living with Trowa, just as he had said, but he did seem to take a masochistic pleasure in calling up Heero for a dose of verbal abuse. Trowa did not understand it or like it, but it wasn't his business. Duo was no child.

Children did not put their hand between their legs as they danced with their backs to some stranger who was clearly going to be disappointed when they left the dance floor alone. Trowa smirked, and took a long, slow sip as he caught Duo's eyes.

Duo was having a good time. Trowa was too, though he wasn't going to show it until he got Duo home again. Duo liked to dance more than Trowa did, but it was fine, because Trowa liked to watch, too.

It was a very good idea, Trowa thought.

Trowa turned to order another drink. He had never had this much to drink in his life, but he had slowly been acclimating his system to alcohol since Duo had moved in. It was just easier to have a drink with his lover than to watch Duo get drunk while being stone sober himself. There was a nervous college-aged man at the bar next to him, who kept swirling his drink in his glass, so that some slipped out and spilled on the bar from time to time. His back was to the dance floor, but he kept looking over his shoulder, his small, dark eyes darting around erratically.

He looked at Trowa as Trowa waited for another martini. The bartender here was a lot better than Duo was at pouring a martini. The shaker moved almost too fast for the eye in his practiced hands. It was a pleasure to watch. The young man leaned over, his eyes darting out over the dance floor, and he smiled at Trowa uncertainly. "I guess you don't like to dance much."

Trowa shrugged. He didn't like being coerced into conversation. He preferred to talk to people only when there was cause to. He greatly preferred to be left alone.

The young man had not noticed Trowa's reticence. "It's a good crowd I think. I mean, lots of people."

Trowa raised an eyebrow, and paid the bartender, generously tipping.

"So, what about you? You come here often?" The young man's eyes settled on Trowa, a hint of fear coloring them.

Trowa shook his head once, raising the glass to his lips with precise care.

The young man nodded vigorously, and rubbed his hands over his arms. "Yeah, me neither. I don't go out a lot. I hate crowds. But my boyfriend dumped me, and there aren't that many places to meet people... Not on Earth, anyway. I hear it's completely different in the colonies. In the colonies, people don't judge people. That's what I heard, but it's probably not like that, not really. What do you think? You ever been to the colonies?"

Trowa did not want to continue this conversation. He wanted to finish his drink and join Duo on the dance floor. Maybe make a trip to the bathrooms. With a dismissive sigh, and replied shortly, "People are more laid back on the colonies. Find out for yourself."

He turned back to the dance floor, his eyes scanning for Duo. The young man was staring at him with stunned apprehension. "You... you really think so? I'd like to, you know, I want to transfer there next year, but my father... Well, my mom died in the war, and my father says..."

Trowa interrupted him with derision. "I know what your father says. I've heard it before. Go, or stay, whatever." He couldn't find Duo. He stood up to walk around a little to get a better view of the whole club.

He had only turned his back for a second.

He was contemplating getting worried when someone jumped on his back, their long arms trailing over Trowa's chest decadently.

Trowa stumbled forward two steps, and then latched on to Duo's arms.

"Got you!" Duo exclaimed from far too close to Trowa's ears. "You're mine now."

Trowa felt himself grin, which was unexpected. "Am I? And what do you intend?"

"Ooooh, nothin' but evil, I'm afraid. I'm quite a demon, you know." Duo rubbed against Trowa's back as he snickered, brushing his cheek against the back of Trowa's neck.

Trowa turned around, holding Duo's arms so that Duo would remain still. "I know."

Duo grinned sloppily. "You know." Duo surged forward, and sucked Trowa into a kiss.

Trowa frowned as Duo led him onto the dance floor. Duo was frantic and wild, haphazardly gyrating and bumping into Trowa. Trowa did his best to keep his hands on Duo, but Duo was a dervish.

They got back to the bathrooms, but Duo was sweating hard, and he could barely keep breathing. It was going to take too long to get Duo hard, anyway. Duo brought Trowa off with his hands, and then laughed like a hyena when he wiped his hand on the stall door.

They took a cab back to their apartment. Duo kept trying to put his hands in Trowa's pants. It would have been pleasant if Duo could have stopped laughing for five seconds. Trowa was developing a headache.

Trowa was low on cash when they were leaving the cab, and Duo insisted that Trowa fish through his pockets for money. Duo put his hands on his head and pushed his hips out, and invited Trowa to try his luck.

When the cab driver decided to leave without the rest of his fare rather than watch Trowa paw Duo for the money, Duo actually fell onto the sidewalk, he was laughing so hard.

Trowa had to restrain Duo from singing 'The Sound of Music' in the elevator by putting his hand over Duo's mouth. Duo decided to take that opportunity to suck and lick Trowa's palm.

It was deeply annoying to be turned on by someone who wasn't cogent enough to get it up in return.

Duo tripped on the way to the door to their apartment, and fell flat on his face. This was so amusing, he started to laugh loudly enough to wake their nearly deaf next-door neighbor. Not relishing another eviction, Trowa lifted Duo up bodily and hauled him into their apartment.

Trowa was irritated, and frustrated. He wanted to go to bed.

Duo thought that was a great idea. He pulled off his shirt in a tragic mockery of seduction, and crawled over Trowa like a monkey.

"Troooo..." Duo cooed, still giggling a little, "wanna take me for a spin? C'mon... let me rev you up, babe..." Duo bit Trowa's ear a bit harder than necessary.

Trowa grunted, annoyed with himself for being aroused by Duo's clumsiness.

Duo rubbed his face against Trowa's like a cat. "Mm, Tro..." Duo's arms moved to hold Trowa, and his fingers dug into Trowa's sweater, as if trying to break through to the skin. "Tro, you always taste so good, Tro... And you smell good, too. I like to lick your cock..."

Trowa groaned, and leaned back against the headboard, feeling moderately put out by all of this, but not willing to bring it to an end.

"You smell best of all when you are sweatin', you know that? Like a fuckin' opiate, man, you are a head rush..." Duo writhed in Trowa's arms sinuously, pushing his hands down Trowa's tight jeans.

Trowa found himself sucking on Duo's neck absently, because it was right in front of his mouth and he liked to suck right there anyway.

"Tro... I don't think we should've had burritos for dinner."

It took Trowa a full seventeen seconds to comprehend what Duo was saying, and then he was carefully leading Duo to the bathroom with all due dispatch.

One advantage to the braid was that it meant that Trowa didn't have to hold Duo's hair as he knelt before the toilet. Trowa made sure that Duo was all right where he was, and then he started to run some cool water. He put the washcloth under the water, and listened as the sound of the water rushing down the drain partially washed away the sound of Duo hacking and emptying his stomach.

Trowa turned off the water when Duo seemed to take a break, and he wrung the washcloth out thoroughly.

Duo was clutching the edges of the toilet with both hands, his head bent down and his shoulders heaving. Trowa knelt down next to Duo, and pulled Duo's shoulders back gently. He flushed the toilet, sucking away the odor, and he wiped Duo's face and mouth with the cloth. Duo looked dazed, his eyes unfocused and his body shivering. Trowa leaned closer to Duo, sharing his body heat.

"Sorry, Tro."

Trowa shook his head and shrugged his shoulders, meaning to say not to worry about it.

"Not exactly the perfect end to the evening, is it? Sitting on the bathroom floor, instead of being in bed..."

Trowa brushed the cloth down Duo's face, dismissively.

"You tried to kill yourself in a bathroom."

It was a statement and a question at the same time, so Trowa forced himself to speak in response. "Yes."

Duo stared at the tile, forlorn. "That's why you don't like bathrooms much."

That was definitely a statement, so Trowa felt no urge to reply.

"What was it like? What did it feel like?"

Trowa stared straight ahead, willfully seeing nothing. "Cold."

Duo shivered, and huddled closer to Trowa. "I'm sorry," he said, his voice dripping with self-contempt, "You don't deserve this. You shouldn't be stuck with someone like me."

Trowa considered the words and tone before answering. "I don't mind."

Duo sighed, and pressed his face to Trowa's chest. "I'm sorry."

Trowa frowned, wondering at Duo's apologies. He kissed the top of Duo's head, leaving his nose next to the sweaty chestnut hair for just a moment. "You ok? Want to go back to bed?"

Duo sighed, closed his eyes, and nodded once.

Trowa put Duo to bed, and put the trashcan next to Duo's side of the bed. He got into his pajamas, and sat on the bed next to Duo.

It occurred to him to unwind Duo's hair from the braid while he was asleep, but he didn't have the energy. He fell asleep on top of the blanket, his hand next to Duo on the bed.

When Duo first tried to pry his eyes open, he was aware only of a queasy, pounding pain all over his body. He felt too dizzy and too sick to even try to move, and he was asleep again within a minute.

Later, the light from the window made it impossible for him to keep his eyes closed. Blinking and huddling himself into a ball, Duo peered out, finding Trowa sitting in the window.

Trowa was watching him, his hands wrapped around a coffee mug.

Duo blinked several times, and groaned.

Trowa watched Duo for another moment, and then unfolded himself from his position in the window. He knelt down on the floor next to Duo, and pushed a glass of water closer to Duo. "How are you feeling?"

Duo groaned, and tried to hide under the covers.

Trowa nodded. "I called us both in. I thought we could spend the day in bed."

Duo snorted and then groaned. "I don't know what you had in mind exactly, Tro, but I'm pretty sure I'm not up for it..."

Trowa stiffened a little, and made a dismissive noise from his nose. "I was going to read. I don't envy you. I've always heard an ecstasy hangover was the worst."

Duo seemed frozen for a moment. "I just wanted to feel good."

Trowa nodded, and pushed the glass of water closer to Duo. "I'm not judging you."

Duo sighed. "Why not? Everyone else does."

Trowa narrowed his eyes. He would have pointed out that Heero was not everyone, but he couldn't. He leaned over and kissed Duo's brow gently, pushing Duo's bangs aside with careful fingers. Duo opened his eyes slowly.

After several moments' contemplation, Duo took the glass of water and sipped it.

Trowa got into bed next to Duo, and got his book out. Duo drank most of the glass of water, and eventually gave into the need to go to the bathroom. He refilled his glass while he was up, and then fell into bed like he was a ton of bricks dropped from high above.

Duo fidgeted, sighing, until he finally stilled. Trowa watched Duo as much as he read his book, dividing his attention between his bedmate and the words on the page with exact equality. He was so intent on completing both tasks that he was taken completely by surprise when Duo spoke.

"What are you reading?"

"The Stranger."

Duo grinned, looking more like his normal self. "Ah, sweet, comforting nihilism."

Trowa felt one corner of his lips turning up. He tried to discourage it.

"Read to me."

Trowa blinked. "I've never read to anyone before."

Duo wiggled over, and put his head in Trowa's lap. "It's been a long time since anyone has read to me."

Trowa put his hand on Duo's head, running it over Duo's messy hair lazily. He began to read, finding himself lingering over the words as he concentrated on the enunciation. The words became larger than their placement on the page, and the collective connotation of the gathered phrases loomed ephemerally before them.

Trowa expected Duo to fall asleep to the sound of his voice; on the contrary, the other man's eyes became ever clearer and brighter, until Duo set the book aside, and placed his dry lips against the skin he exposed at Trowa's belly. Duo undressed them without preamble, and Trowa let Duo push him to his back.

Duo entered into him slowly, Duo's hands soft against Trowa's skin, Trowa's leg hooked absently over Duo's shoulder as they pressed their bodies together. It was slow, and long, and torturously pleasurable. Trowa closed his eyes and arched his back, feeling like the sand on the beach on a stormy day at high tide.

When it was over, Duo arranged them so that he was resting in the wet spot, and he cleaned Trowa patiently with his tongue. Words were spoken, but Trowa wasn't interested. He didn't need to know that his sweat dressed him perfectly, or that his body was a miracle.

He only needed Duo's hand in his own, Duo's leg between his own, and Duo's breath on his body.






notesPart OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five • Part Six • Part SevenPart EightPart NinePart TenPart ElevenPart TwelvePart ThirteenPart FourteenEpilogue



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