7-2-2204

Title: #12 Christmas Presents
Series: The Holiday Series
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: June 30, 2004
Genre: Yaoi, Fluff, Sap, Romance, Holiday Fic
Pairing: 1x2x1
Rated: NC-17
Warnings: Swearing, Lemon
Archives: At Lev's Lair http://www.gwaddiction.com/levlair/ and at http://calic0cat.freeservers.com/ (my site) and at Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat. Anyone with archive permission for my other fics can help themselves.
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.

Notes: Twelfth in the Holiday Series (written for Christmas).

'Thinking'
"Speaking"
*** Time passing or scene/POV change

Author's Notes: I'm never going to get caught up with these... *sigh* Feedback is appreciated.

#################################################

Heero woke, uncertain what had drawn him from sleep. 'Did I hear something?' He listened for a moment. Silence. Then he heard a plaintive whine, muffled by the bedroom door. 'Chocolate... Well, at least it's not the phone, thank god...' After the way that Thanksgiving had turned out, he wasn't entirely sure that he'd have answered the damn thing if it had been ringing. Propping himself up on one elbow, Heero checked the alarm clock. No wonder the dog was complaining; it was nearly two hours past the usual time for his morning run.

The lab whined again and Heero reluctantly slid out from under the covers. He quickly grabbed some clothes and headed for the door, wanting to hush the dog before Duo woke too. Unfortunately, the sound of covers stirring warned him that it was probably too late for that.

The mattress creaking and an inquiring "Ro?" confirmed it.

'Definitely too late. Damn.' He'd wanted to bring Duo breakfast in bed this morning but there was no way that Duo would stay there now that he was awake. "Just going to take Chocolate for his run." Turning back towards the bed, Heero asked ruefully, "I don't suppose you would stay in bed till I get back?"

Duo paused in mid-stretch. "You planning to make it worth my while?" he teased.

"Breakfast in bed?" Heero offered hopefully.

"Hmm. Depends what's on the menu..."

"Waffles with whipped cream and fresh fruit?"

Duo flopped back against the pillows. "Deal."

Heero hadn't actually expected Duo to agree, not after yesterday's irritation over being coddled. "Really?"

"Yeah, really." Duo gave him an affectionate smile. "Hey, it's Christmas. I can put up with a little bit of cosseting. Just consider it part of your Christmas present, okay?"

"Okay," Heero grinned.

Chocolate gave a sharp, insistent bark. "Better get going, that sounded kind of urgent," Duo commented. "I'll be right here when you get back. Promise."

***

Duo waited until Heero and Chocolate left the house before climbing out of bed. He didn't intend to stay up - he'd be right where he'd promised to be before Heero got back - but there were a few things he wanted to take care of before then. Things like taking a quick shower. Gathering certain - supplies... He smirked as he ran through the list. Condoms, lube, disposable wipes...

Breakfast wasn't the only thing that he was hungry for.

Thanksgiving morning was the last time that he and Heero had made love. Since then, they'd shared nothing more than kisses, hugs, and some handholding. For most of that time, Duo really hadn't been in any shape to be interested in more than that. Even during his first few days at home, he'd been quite content with simple cuddling. Now, though, he was ready - eager - for more.

Oh, he wasn't ready for anything too energetic. Duo knew that. His arm and leg were still too weak and cramped too easily for most positions. A few stretches and exercises now would ensure that the muscles were loosened up and weren't as likely to spasm later. But he would still need to be cautious. Heero would have a fit if he ended up doubled up in pain while they were making love. 'Not that I'd exactly be thrilled about it myself...' he thought wryly.

It would be simpler and less physically demanding if he was willing to settle for something other than actual intercourse. But Duo wasn't. He wanted to feel whole and healthy again. Like he'd been the last time that they'd made love. And he wanted to reassure Heero that he really was okay. Wanted Heero to *know* deep down that he *was* getting better.

'It might be tough to convince him that it'll be okay, that I'm ready for this. But once he understands how much it means to me, I think he'll give in.'

Duo chuckled quietly as he headed off to make his preparations for Heero's return. 'Hell, if he argues about it, I can always tell him it's part of *my* Christmas present...'

***

Despite the temptation to skimp on Chocolate's morning run, Heero
didn't. Duo had promised to wait for breakfast in bed; an extra ten or fifteen minutes wouldn't change that. 'Consider it part of my Christmas present...' Heero snickered at the thought as he and Chocolate reached the turnaround point of their run. 'Only Duo would consider breakfast in bed to be a present to the cook rather than the one being fed...' Well, if that was what it took to get Duo to gracefully accept a bit of coddling, Heero had no objection. It wasn't as if there were a whole lot of other presents to be exchanged. Just one big one and a couple of small ones each.

Although he and Duo were making a point of celebrating holidays - of creating their own family traditions - they'd never planned to make a really big deal out of Christmas. Choosing and decorating a tree together, hanging a few strings of lights, watching some old Christmas movies, exchanging a few presents... Spending time with their friends - their family... Just a simple celebration that was about as far from the crass commercialization that seemed to characterize the holiday as they could get.

Duo's extended stay in the hospital had resulted in their plans being pared down even further.

Heero straightened the imitation pine wreath, centring its red bow more precisely, before unlocking the condo's front door. That simple wreath represented their sole outdoor decoration. Indoors, there were a few lengths of cedar roping - artificial but good quality - twined together with strands of plain white lights.

Those few items - chosen and purchased as a couple before Duo's injury and hung by Heero under Duo's supervision once Duo returned home - were the sum total of their holiday decorations. Heero had had neither the time nor the inclination to decorate more extensively on his own. He'd intended to at least pick up a tree after Duo came home from the hospital but Duo had vetoed the idea, admitting that he kind of liked the simplicity of the roping and white lights. Heero certainly hadn't objected; he'd never quite understood the allure of a dead tree dropping needles all over the floor in the first place. And wasting storage space for eleven months just to put an artificial tree up for one seemed equally pointless. The roping was attractive and stored quite compactly; it and the wreath together would only take up a few cubic feet of storage space, something that was at a premium in the small condo. Maybe they would decorate - and celebrate - more extensively next year but, for this year, they were content to keep things simple.

Once inside, Heero dried the dog's wet paws with the towel kept on a hook behind the door for just that purpose. Only after Chocolate was reasonably clean and dry did he unclip the dog's leash. Chocolate immediately took off down the hall to "his" room. The lab was rattling his empty bowl insistently by the time that Heero hung up his coat. "Patience, mutt, it's coming..." he muttered in amusement. The young dog always acted as if he was starving, despite the fact that he got precisely the recommended amount of food for a dog of his breed and age.

Heero fed the dog before doing anything else. By the time that he washed his hands and took out the ingredients for waffles, Chocolate had bolted down his entire breakfast share of feed and was in the kitchen looking hopeful. Heero just shook his head and pointed towards the doorway. "You know better. Out. Go lie down," he ordered. The dog retreated to the hall with the air of one greatly abused. Heero chuckled at the familiar routine.

Chocolate wasn't allowed to have people-food; his own contained all the nutrients and calories that he needed. Nor was he allowed in the kitchen while food was being prepared. The room was too small to have him underfoot. Besides, Heero didn't like finding dog hair in his meal and keeping the dog away during preparation helped decrease the odds of that happening.

Despite consistent banishment from the kitchen, the dog never quit trying. Probably his previous owners had fed him tidbits while fixing meals. Begging was a very hard habit to extinguish once it was acquired; they might never completely break Chocolate of attempting it.

Turning his attention back to breakfast, Heero poured the batter onto the hot waffle iron. He closed the lid and checked the time before taking the blueberries and raspberries out of the fridge. By the time that the first batch of waffles was ready, he'd finished sorting through the berries, discarding the overripe or damaged ones. Those first waffles went in the oven - pre-warmed to a low temperature to keep them hot - while the next batch cooked. Heero had the whipping cream beaten to perfection by the time that the last waffles were done. He placed all of the food on a tray along with a couple of tall glasses of milk. 'Perfect.'

***

Much to his surprise, Duo had actually dozed off once he crawled back in bed. He woke to soft lips pressed to his own. "Mmm..." he murmured as Heero drew away. "Y'know, you make one hell of a great alarm clock, Ro... No way could I ever sleep through one of your wake-up calls. Or wake up grumpy."

Heero chuckled quietly. "Glad to hear it. Ready for breakfast?"

"Sure, just gimme a sec here..." Duo piled the pillows against the headboard and moved to sit leaning against them while Heero retrieved a tray from the dresser. "Looks and smells delicious, Heero. Thanks. Oh, and Merry Christmas, by the way."

"Merry Christmas and you're welcome." Heero set the tray down on Duo's lap then transferred the glasses of milk to the nightstand before joining Duo on the bed. He leaned over and kissed Duo's cheek, murmuring, "And thank *you* for humouring me by letting me pamper you..."

"Hey, it's not exactly a *hardship*, y'know. And I do appreciate it, I just - well, like I explained yesterday, I'm still not used to having someone around who *wants* to take care of me. As long as it's a once-in-a-while kinda thing, it'll be okay."

Well, it wouldn't be quite *that* simple, Duo knew. He'd have to work on gracefully accepting these little bits of pampering from Heero, just like he'd had to work on - and was still working on - being more comfortable with public displays of affection. Street instincts - like his need to always be independent and take care of himself and his reluctance to reveal what (or, in this case, who) was important to him - ran pretty deep but, with effort and determination, they could be overridden. He was more than willing to put the necessary effort into doing so for Heero's sake.

He'd figured out a while ago that Heero wanted - hell, more like needed - those public displays of affection. Needed the open demonstration that he loved and was loved in return, that he was far more than the perfect weapon that he'd been supposed to be. Duo understood and accepted that. And, since Heero's explanation last night, Duo had a better understanding of Heero's current need to coddle him. If pampering Duo made Heero feel that he was actually *doing* something to further Duo's recovery, Duo would do his best to accept the fussing patiently.

He and Heero both had their own little quirks and peculiarities thanks to their respective pasts. Those issues weren't going to just go away. They'd learned to accept that fact and to find ways of dealing with their individual needs that they could both live with. Compromises that accommodated the needs of both of them. "I won't get carried away and smother you with fussing," Heero promised.

Duo quirked an eyebrow and gave him a sideways glance. "Uh huh."

"Okay, okay, I'll *try* not to."

"Okay," Duo agreed cheerfully, adding a dollop of whipped cream to a waffle and sprinkling a few blueberries over top. He playfully offered the first bite to Heero, who wrinkled up his nose in distaste and shook his head. Duo laughed, unsurprised by the refusal. He and Heero had many things in common but a liking for blueberries was not one of them. He popped the bite in his own mouth. Heero slid another plate out from beneath his and held it while preparing a waffle topped with raspberries for himself.

They ate in silence for the most part, just enjoying each other's companionship, the tasty meal, and the novelty of eating in bed. The stack of waffles gradually dwindled until finally Duo was staring unenthusiastically at the last one. Normally, it would be his - Heero had already finished his share - but he still didn't have his usual appetite back. He reluctantly started to reach for it.

***

Duo had been eating more and more slowly. So Heero was a bit surprised to see him reach for the last waffle. Reaching over, he blocked Duo's hand partway. "Duo, don't eat it if you're full."

"But... It's not right to waste good food..."

Calmly, Heero replied, "So I'll freeze it and you can reheat it sometime when you're looking for a snack." Their freezer frequently filled up with odds and ends of leftovers. Duo simply couldn't stand to waste food and Heero had quickly discovered that it was simpler to just save the leftovers than to argue about it. Besides, there were always days when they didn't have the time or the inclination to cook and the frozen leftovers came in handy then.

"But the berries and..." The protest was only halfhearted.

"They'll keep." He didn't give Duo time to object again, standing and removing the tray from reach.

As Heero headed into the hall, Duo called after him, "Hey Heero, once you take care of that, come back so I can thank you *properly* for the great breakfast, okay?"

Turning back, Heero frowned slightly. Duo's tone had been very suggestive. Surely he didn't mean... "That depends what you mean by 'properly'. You're still recovering, Duo. You shouldn't..."

Duo heaved a sigh and waved dismissively. "Go on. Get rid of the breakfast stuff. We'll talk when you get back."

Heero's frown deepened. Duo obviously *did* mean what he'd thought he meant. 'Damn. I don't want to argue about this but I don't think he's well enough yet...' "I don't think..."

"Heero. Go get rid of the tray. Then we'll talk."

Reluctantly, Heero agreed, "Fine." Though really, it was anything *but* fine. He didn't want to argue with Duo today and now that seemed to be inevitable.

Heero didn't rush with his kitchen tasks but it still only took a few moments to take care of the leftovers. The dishes - waffle iron included - were taken care of almost as quickly.

On the way back to the bedroom, Heero spared a moment to check on Chocolate, half-hoping that the dog would provide him with an excuse to escape the upcoming 'discussion'. No such luck. The dog was stretched flat out on his mat. His eyes blinked open for a moment when Heero paused in the doorway but drooped closed again without Chocolate so much as wagging his tail.

Continuing down the hall, Heero barely stepped into the bedroom before he was pounced and tackled onto the bed. Flat on his back with a very solid, very naked, very *determined* Duo blanketing his body, he struggled to get back the breath that had just been knocked out of him.

Duo folded his arms on Heero's chest, rested his chin on them, and smirked. "So. Do we really have to have the discussion about whether or not I'm still too weak to make love? Or can we skip the talk and just *do* it?"

***

Actions were always more effective than words where Heero was concerned. Duo had figured that out a long time ago. Tackling Heero had been a calculated risk. If something had gone wrong and he'd overstressed either injury, Heero would have gone straight into worrywart mode and he'd have probably spent the rest of the holiday season stuck in bed, being waited on hand and foot. But Duo had a pretty good idea of his still-recovering body's limits by now and he'd had the element of surprise on his side. He'd tackled Heero without putting undue stress on either injured limb and he was pretty sure he'd thoroughly derailed any notion Heero might have had regarding him being an invalid. Granted, he'd probably sleep the rest of the day away once they were done but it would be a small price to pay.

Duo couldn't help smirking as he gazed down into Heero's shocked face. He'd very definitely taken his lover by surprise. "Well? I'm waiting..." he urged. "We gonna make love or argue?"

Heero's hands came up to frame Duo's face. Duo leaned into the touch as fingers stroked gently over his cheeks. "You're sure about this? That you want to and that you won't get hurt?" Heero asked hesitantly.

"I'm sure," Duo assured him with a soft smile. "There's lots of things that I can't do yet and I know it. But there's lots of others that I can." Very seriously, he continued, "Heero, I really want this. Want to feel like your partner, not an invalid." His voice dropped low and sultry, "Want you inside me, lover."

Heero still looked very uncertain. Duo leaned down and kissed him hungrily, letting his mouth do the persuading with something other than words. He nipped at Heero's lips, demanding rather than requesting entrance. When Heero's mouth opened, he invaded it forcefully, plunging deeply into the kiss. One hand worked its way between their bodies, sliding up under Heero's shirt. Grinding his hips down against Heero's, he finally - *finally* - felt Heero give in, hips thrusting up to meet his, hand sliding behind his head to hold him in place, tongue and teeth pressing against his own. Duo gentled the kiss immediately, knowing that he couldn't sustain the energy and force that he'd started out with. He'd proved his point anyway - he wasn't weak or fragile.

Of course, he wasn't exactly in peak condition either...

Feeling his leg twinge in protest at the demands being placed on it by the hip grinding, Duo stilled. Lifting his lips from Heero's, he breathed, "Make love to me."

***

Gazing up at Duo's face, at eyes bright and cheeks flushed with passion instead of fever, feeling the weight of solid bone and sinewy muscle pressing him into the mattress, Heero couldn't deny either of them any longer. He wanted to make love just as badly as Duo did. Wanted the reassurance that their lives were getting back to normal, that Duo was recovering. 'I have to trust that he knows his own limits...'

Instead of answering Duo's demand verbally, Heero rolled them both over, resting most of his own weight on Duo but careful to avoid the still-tender injury sites. He kissed Duo tenderly, then pushed himself up to kneel straddling his lover. Grasping the bottom of his T-shirt, he locked his gaze with Duo's. "You'll tell me if you start to hurt," he stated flatly.

Duo blinked, then smiled, slow and sensual and very self-satisfied. "Yes."

Heero nodded sharply, then shucked the shirt over his head, tossing it away carelessly. Duo's hands were already busy at his waist, loosening the drawstring of his sweatpants. Heero rolled clear of Duo before sliding both pants and boxers over his hips and attempting to kick them off. They wadded up around his ankles, stubbornly clinging until, exasperated, Heero sat up and impatiently yanked them the rest of the way off, flinging them across the room. He pounced on his snickering bedmate, silencing his amusement with a deep kiss.

Stroking, squeezing, teasing, groping, their hands explored, becoming reacquainted with familiar territory. Heero hesitated, fingers hovering over the still-livid knife scar on Duo's arm. "It's more sensitive than sore, really," Duo volunteered quietly, lying very still under that careful scrutiny. "Touching it won't hurt me, Ro."

Taking Duo at his word, Heero lightly traced over the scar, first with his fingers, then with his lips, pressing butterfly kisses along the mark's length. Duo shivered and complained, "Hey, that tickles..."

Heero chuckled and ran teasing fingers over Duo's ribs. Duo squirmed and wriggled, laughingly protesting. As Heero ran his fingers back up again, the scarred arm caught his eye, reminding him that Duo probably wasn't really fit for their usual horseplay. All of this tensing and twisting of muscles was likely to set off a cramp in one of the injured areas. 'Stupid, stupid, stupid...' he berated himself silently. Immediately, he firmed his touch, switching from feathery tickles to tender strokes. "Easy, shh, easy Duo..." he soothed. "Relax, take it easy..." He brushed an apologetic kiss across Duo's lips as his partner stilled beneath him. "Sorry, shouldn't have done that," he murmured. "Wasn't thinking. Could've set off a cramp..."

"Wasn't thinkin' about it either," Duo admitted. He made a face. "Leg's twinging a little..."

"Damn." Heero shifted off of Duo and moved down to kneel beside his legs. He lifted the wounded one into his lap and rubbed it carefully. Pressure at the injury site itself had to be very light but the area around it could be massaged more deeply. Heero could feel the muscles quivering; they'd barely avoided triggering a spasm.

"Feels better now, Ro," Duo said after a few minutes. "I think it's okay. C'mere, let's try this again."

Heero stretched out on his side beside Duo. "We have to be more careful if we're going to make love. I don't want to hurt you," he stated flatly. "I don't like seeing you in pain."

***

Cautiously, Duo rolled from his back to his side. "Believe me, I don't much like *being* in pain," he assured Heero dryly. Leaning forward, he kissed Heero and coaxed, "I'm okay now; let's try again."

Well, "okay" was probably a bit of an exaggeration - there was a slight but deep-seated residual ache in his calf and his arm was giving a few warning twinges of its own - but Duo was far from ready to give up. He wasn't about to let a couple of minor aches prevent him from finally making love with Heero.

Heero gave him a long, searching look.

"I'm *okay*," Duo repeated firmly. "C'mon, Ro, I'm not all *that* fragile. I can handle this."

Wrapping one hand around the back of Duo's neck, Heero shifted closer. He kissed Duo once, long and lingering. By the time he drew back, Duo was lightheaded and gasping for air. 'Okay, so my stamina's not quite what it should be...' he admitted ruefully to himself, struggling to get his breath back. 'Heero's not even breathing hard, dammit!'

Heero propped himself up on one elbow and stated calmly and firmly, "Not fragile, no. But not 'okay' either. If we're going to do this, these are the terms:

"One. You just relax and enjoy; leave all the work up to me.

"Two. You want me in you - okay, I want that too. But it'll have to be spoon-style; I know that's not your favourite but anything face-to-face is too strenuous for either your arm or your leg or both.

"Three. You take it easy for the rest of the day; just rest and let me look after you.

"Deal?"

Much as he wanted to bristle at Heero's flatly stated terms, Duo had to admit that they were reasonable and based on cold, hard facts. The fact that Heero wasn't simply informing him that he wasn't ready for this was a big concession in and of itself; evidence that Heero understood just how important this was to him. His lover wouldn't hesitate to deny his own wishes but Duo's were another matter entirely.

Smiling affectionately up at Heero, Duo agreed, "Deal."

***

Heero smiled softly in return and bent to seal the agreement with a loving kiss. "Deal," he murmured against Duo's lips, then brushed their mouths together lightly before moving on to shower the rest of Duo's face with butterfly caresses.

Heero still had a few reservations regarding Duo's degree of fitness but he set them aside. Realistically speaking, there was little chance of causing a serious setback to Duo's recovery. His injuries were long past the stage where the possibility of tearing stitches was a concern. Muscle cramps were painful but far from life-threatening. Exhaustion would be easily remedied with sleep. The only real danger would be that of infection and that would only be a concern if they were careless enough to cause a tear. Since Heero intended to make love to his partner slowly and tenderly that should *not* be an issue. 'Slow, gentle, and tender... But not *too* slowly; he doesn't have the stamina for a prolonged session right now...'

Kisses were interspersed with tiny nips and licks. When he reached Duo's ear, Heero sucked on the lobe gently before tracing its whorls with the tip of his tongue. He blew softly across the damp skin; Duo shivered and moaned in response.

Moving down Duo's bared neck, Heero ignored the thick braid. If he let it out, the hair would end up tangled and soiled. That would necessitate washing it - Duo hated being dirty, especially when his hair was involved - and he doubted that Duo would have the energy for that. 'Besides, leaving the braid in makes his neck so much more readily accessible...' Heero thought as he latched on, sucking hard enough to create a distinctly visible mark. Ordinarily, he would restrict love bites to less visible areas - they looked extremely unprofessional - but Duo would be off work on sick leave for at least a couple more weeks. More than enough time for the mark to fade.

Heero's hands were just as busy as his mouth. They stroked, squeezed, traced random patterns over Duo's skin. Sounds of wordless pleasure expressed Duo's appreciation of Heero's touch. Gently, he pressed Duo over onto his back to gain better access as he worked his way down Duo's body. He licked, stroked, nibbled, and kissed, determined to cover every inch of Duo's skin with loving caresses.

As he reacquainted himself with his lover's body, Heero took note of the changes wrought by Duo's injuries and his battle with blood poisoning. The ribs that were a little more visible, the collarbone that was a bit more pronounced, the puckered and drawn skin of scars that would fade in time but were now so vivid. He kissed each reminder tenderly, silently vowing to do everything in his power to help restore Duo to his sturdy, healthy self.

***

Gentle and careful though Heero was, there was an intensity to their lovemaking that was nearly overwhelming. Duo surrendered willingly to the sensual tide sweeping over him at his lover's hands.

At Heero's tender, clever, oh-so-loving hands...

And his warm, mobile mouth, his lips and teeth and tongue that moved so knowingly over Duo's body, over face and neck, arms and chest, steadily working their way lower...

Duo gasped and moaned, reduced to a preverbal state by his lover's attentions. A single attempt at movement, an overwhelming urge to thrust, was stilled immediately by gentle but firm hands at his hips. Strong, sure fingers and a confident mouth aroused him, opened him, prepared him. And when those hands urged him over onto his side, Duo moved eagerly, crooking his top leg as he settled into position. A pillow was tucked against his chest and Duo gratefully settled his injured arm on its support, a lump filling his throat at the evidence of Heero's loving care for him even in the midst of passion. He turned his head, glancing awkwardly over his shoulder as Heero moved behind him. "Love you, Ro..." he said urgently.

Heero leaned forward and kissed him, deeply and so tenderly that Duo was left aching with yearning as it ended. "Love you too," Heero murmured huskily. "So much..."

Turning his face forward again, Duo swallowed that persistent lump as he felt a kiss pressed to the bared nape of his neck. Comforting kisses showered his neck and shoulder as Heero slowly - oh, so very slowly - slid inside him. The stretching was a bit uncomfortable at first - it *had* been a month, after all - but the discomfort soon faded, lost and forgotten in more pleasurable sensations. Heero's hips thrust one more time and his groin pressed against Duo's buttocks. An arm wrapped around Duo, pulling Heero's chest snug against Duo's back. Heero's breath puffed, warm and moist, against Duo's neck and for a few long, wonderful, moments they remained still, wrapped in the most intimate of embraces. 'This is the one thing that I love about spooning up...' Duo thought, revelling in the full-body skin-to-skin contact. 'I miss being able to see Heero's face, to kiss him easily, to touch him as freely as he touches me. But being wrapped in his arms like this, held so close that it feels as if we really are one body... it almost makes up for missing those other things...'

***

Closing his eyes and resting his cheek against Duo's shoulder, Heero savoured the sweet feeling of connection. Of being both wrapped around Duo and buried deeply within him. Of holding his lover close and being very aware, despite the fact that he was a bit thinner than before, of his sheer, undeniable *solidity*. There was nothing frail about the body in his arms. 'Duo's not back to his full strength and stamina yet but he really is on the mend...' he acknowledged silently, finally daring to believe.

With a certain reluctance to relinquish the moment, Heero finally asked softly, "Ready?"

Duo's arm shifted off of the pillow, hand gliding down Heero's arm and lacing with his fingers. A gentle squeeze and a murmured, "Mmm-hmm," served as answer. Heero returned the pressure before lifting Duo's arm back to its resting place. Softly, he kissed the nape of Duo's neck. Then he began to move, his strokes easy and languorous. His hand slid down Duo's abdomen to curl around Duo's cock, pumping, teasing, encouraging. Duo's still-recovering body was lagging behind Heero's state of arousal; Heero wanted to make sure that Duo wasn't left behind when he achieved his own release.

Duo's incoherent murmurs, gasps, and soft cries of passion urged Heero on and increased his own arousal. He struggled to hold onto his control, determined to see to his lover's completion before his own. "Come for me, koi," he urged huskily. "Need to feel you come..." Murmuring broken words of encouragement, Heero firmed his grip, striving to push Duo over the edge.

Finally, a keening cry of "Heero!" followed by Duo's entire body shuddering in his arms and clenching around him signalled his success. Heero managed two more thrusts before his own climax overtook him just as Duo went completely limp in his embrace.

***

Duo struggled slowly back to consciousness, vaguely aware that Heero was calling him in a rather anxious voice. Prying heavy eyelids open, he blinked in surprise as he found himself lying face-to-face with Heero. Considering that his last memory was of Heero spooned up behind him... 'Oh shit... Must've blacked out... Only did that once before, one of those times we were using a blindfold... Considering how worried Heero was about doin' this at all, he's probably freaking...' In the probably vain hope of defusing his lover's worry, Duo gave him a slow smile. "Mmm, hey there lover." He reached out to stroke his fingers over Heero's cheek and sighed, "God, that was great, Ro."

"Great?"

"Yeah, *great*." The hand that came up to hold his in place against Heero's face trembled ever-so-slightly. "Hey, I'm okay..." Duo murmured reassuringly. Scooching closer, he kissed Heero softly. "Better than okay, in fact. *Way* better."

"But you passed out..."

"Yeah, just like I did one time before, remember?" Grinning, he teased gently, "Guess that's what happens when you love me into a boneless puddle of goo..."

Heero gave a snort of laughter, the worry fading from his face. "I'd forgotten about that other time," he admitted. "You're sure you're okay?"

Tucking his head under Heero's chin, Duo nodded. "Yeah. Just kinda..." he yawned, "...tired. That just-got-loved-into-a-puddle-of-goo-but-god-I-feel-good kinda tired, not the sick-and-achy-and-god-I-feel-like-shit kinda tired." Duo grinned against Heero's bare chest as his remark provoked a chuckle and the rest of the anxious tension drained from Heero's body. 'And an appearance of my-lover-the-worrywart is successfully averted...' he thought with relief. 'Thank god...' He squirmed a little, getting more comfortable. Heero's arm draped over him, hand gliding up and down his back in long, soothing strokes. "Mmm... nice..." he mumbled in sleepy contentment.

"Mmm-hmm..."

"Y'know, you give great post-coital cuddle, Ro..."

***

Heero chuckled softly, the last of his lingering concern over Duo's brief blackout easing. A half-asleep, satiated Duo - unlike a tired, sick Duo - had a tendency to be talkative. In particular, he seemed to feel the need to compliment his partner. Repeatedly. Fondly, he dropped a kiss on top of Duo's head and murmured, "Go to sleep, Duo. You're babbling..."

"Not babblin', s'true..."

Smothering the urge to laugh at the indignation conveyed in that muzzy protest, Heero rested his cheek against Duo's head and soothed, "Okay, okay. If you say so. Thank you. You give great cuddle too." Rubbing Duo's back gently, his words were acknowledged with an incoherent murmur. A few minutes later, Duo's breathing indicated that he had drifted off to sleep.

Sighing in contentment, Heero closed his eyes and prepared for a nap of his own. It had been a long, rough month since Thanksgiving; he could use the extra sleep. Especially with Duo back where he belonged, wrapped securely in his arms.

A none-too-quiet "skronk" and whistle added itself to the soft sounds of Duo's breathing. Heero snickered quietly and grinned. He could already feel the damp trickle making its way down his chest. 'God, it's good to have him home...'

Having his snoring, drooling, cover-stealing, bed-hogging lover home and on the road to recovery was the best Christmas present Heero could ever imagine.

#################################################