10-13-2003

Title: #7 Fall Fair
Series: The Holiday Series
Author: Calic0cat <calic0cat@fastmail.fm>
Story Completed: October 13, 2003
Genre: Yaoi, Fluff, Sap, Romance, Holiday Fic
Pairing: 1x2x1
Rated: PG-13
Warnings: OOC, Swearing
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: Seventh in the Holiday Series (written for Labour Day).

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

Author's Notes: Yes, this is late. Really late. But better late than never, right? Hopefully the next one will be ready on time... Thanks to Sunhawk for a few editing suggestions. Feedback is appreciated.

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"Chocolate finished his breakfast so I put him out in the yard till we're ready to leave," Heero said as he walked up behind Duo.

"Good. Shouldn't be more than an hour or so, tops, 'fore we're ready to go. That should get us to the fair just in time for the gates to open," Duo answered, slicing open a bagel. He shifted a bit to the left so that Heero could reach past him to get down the breakfast dishes while he dropped the bagels in the toaster. They were used to working together like this in the kitchen - and in the bathroom too; sharing the sink and mirror saved a lot of time in the mornings. They were so in tune with one another that they rarely got in each other's way. The occasional brush of shoulders or hips was merely a quiet reminder of their closeness, of the intimacy between them.

Duo loved these everyday routines. Things like the run that they took the dog on early every morning. Doing household chores like laundry and sweeping. Fixing meals and tidying up afterwards. All of those small things that were so very ordinary and yet... 'And yet so very *extraordinary* simply because they are so very *normal*. Things that couples everywhere do...' Things that, just a few short years ago, he'd have never dreamt he would someday be doing himself, let alone together with Heero, his partner in life. He hoped that he never stopped appreciating these moments; never made the mistake of taking them for granted.

"It should be interesting. Neither of us has ever been to anything like this before," Heero commented as he set the table.

Duo sliced a grapefruit in half and put a portion on each of the plates that Heero held out to him. "Well, I guess the midway is probably a lot like the one at the circus but the rest of it should be really unique. And if we don't enjoy it today, we won't bother going back tomorrow."

Heero mm-hmmed in response as he set the plates down and opened the fridge to get out the jelly. Duo grinned and turned to tend to the toaster.

Going to the fair might have been his idea originally but Heero was just as curious now that they'd decided to go. He had a feeling that they'd be going back tomorrow no matter what today was like. The agricultural events - the horse show and the 4-H livestock show in particular - were completely outside of their realm of experience. The 4-H livestock show was today, as were the draft horse and pony classes, but the other horse classes were all tomorrow. 'And of course, the parade is tomorrow too. Along with the outhouse race, whatever the hell *that* is...'

Whatever it was, it sounded like it - and the rest of the fair - should be interesting. And if it wasn't - well, he and Heero would still be spending time together. And that alone guaranteed that he would enjoy himself.

***

Heero ran an appreciative hand over the SUV's dash as he started the vehicle. They'd traded his sports car in on this just a few weeks ago. It was infinitely more convenient for hauling camping equipment and for taking Chocolate to training classes and for pet therapy visits at the city hospital.

Duo's motorcycle was still here but they were considering trading it in on a different bike. Something better suited for riding double. Duo's bike wasn't really designed for that type of usage; it was barely even street-legal, meant more for offroad use. A double load made it awkward and hard to balance and the seat wasn't really long enough for two to ride together comfortably. And while it would be vastly more practical to just sell it and buy another vehicle like their - and it was *theirs*, not just his, both names were on the ownership and insurance - SUV, riding a motorcycle together was too damn much fun to give it up entirely.

"All set?" Heero asked as Duo climbed into the vehicle.

"Yep. Chocolate's in his run with a Kong stuffed full of peanut butter and treats and a supply of fresh water, the house is locked up, I've got my pager and cellphone in case we get called in, and I've got the sunscreen too. I'm good to go."

Heero nodded and smiled in response to Duo's cheerful grin. "I've got my pager and phone too, plus the directions and map to get to the fair. And my camera's behind the seat."

"Great. Let's hit the road!"

As he pulled out of the driveway, Heero found himself still smiling. He was looking forward to this. Neither of them had ever had much exposure to farm animals or *anything* farm-related. The agricultural fair would be something entirely new for them both. And the novelty of doing things just for fun or out of curiosity - not because it was necessary for a mission - was something he didn't think that he would ever get tired of.

Not that it required something unusual to make him smile anymore. The corners of his lips seemed to find themselves lifting automatically in Duo's presence, no matter what the two of them were doing. Even the most mundane of household chores became bearable if not actually pleasant when they worked together. And the more enjoyable things, like today's excursion... Well, those were not just "pleasant", they were *fun*.

And as for the sex - well, that was sweet and tender, fun and exciting, hot and passionate... Incredible... breathtaking... intimate. A wonderful expression of the love they shared.

A love that, during the war, Heero would have never believed he would - *could* - ever experience. 'I never expected to survive the war, let alone to have anything approaching a normal life... To have friends and a home, to love and be loved in return, to be understood by someone the way that Duo understands me... To have anyone truly *know* me, know my past in all its darkness and ugliness, and still love me...'

Sometimes, his good fortune still astounded him. A smile tugged irresistibly at the corners of his mouth.

"Thinking good thoughts, Ro?"

Glancing across at his partner, Heero discovered Duo watching him, a soft smile on his face. "Just thinking that during the war I'd have never believed any of this - our life together, us heading out to just spend the day having fun - could ever happen. Thinking about how lucky I am," he answered before turning his gaze back to the road.

"How lucky *we* are," Duo corrected firmly.

Heero's smile grew and he echoed, "How lucky *we* are."

***

Feeling slightly self-conscious, Duo closed his hand around Heero's extended one. He didn't really mind holding hands at the mall or someplace else crowded and busy but he felt a little odd about it here at the fair. This early in the morning, the crowd was sparse and he was slightly concerned about how noticeable they were going to be. The street kid in him didn't like to attract attention. But there were enough people around that it was unlikely anyone would do more than glance askance at them or maybe mutter a comment or two and holding hands really was pretty damn innocuous. He wouldn't refuse just because it made him a little uncomfortable; he'd told Heero that he was willing to be more open about their relationship in public and he wasn't going to retract that offer.

'Besides, once we get busy doing things and the place gets a little bit busier, I'll get over it. It's not that big a deal...' Duo decided silently. He smiled and squeezed Heero's fingers in response to the questioning look that Heero gave him. Heero had gotten pretty good at noticing when he was uncomfortable; evidently he'd picked up on his hesitation now. "S'okay, Ro," he said reassuringly. "Hey, why don't we start over at the horse show? It was supposed to start right when the gates opened..."

"Okay," Heero answered. "Which way?"

Duo glanced at the map of the fairgrounds that was posted near the entrance. "End of this path then a right. It's way back at the back. Yeesh, next to the *midway* of all things. Wouldn't ya think that the noise from the rides would bother the horses?"

"Well, the midway doesn't open till afternoon so maybe the horse show will be done by then..." Heero shrugged as they started walking.

"Maybe." Duo looked around curiously as they walked. The buildings housing the craft and baking contest entries, etc., were off to the left. They'd wait to visit those later in the day when the sun was at its most intense; it would give them an excuse to get out of the sun. His complexion was fairer than Heero's so he burned more easily but they were both colony-born and raised so they were much more sun-sensitive than those born and raised on Earth. A few short years of living on the planet hadn't changed that. Sunscreen and practical clothing helped but even the strongest protection wasn't complete; it was best just to stay out of the sun when it was at its most intense if possible.

Booths and tents, some for food and some for crafts and other goods, lined the walkways to the right. Very few of them were open yet. The midway lay beyond them, its game booths barely visible from herethough the looming Ferris wheel could be seen easily.

They continued past a display of lawnmowers and garden tractors; Duo had to laughingly drag Heero away from checking out a riding mower big enough to cut their condo's entire backyard in about two passes. Then it was Heero's turn to drag Duo away as they passed a display of antique tractors dating all the way back to pre-colony days. Duo made a mental note to return to that area later; a sign advertised hourly demonstrations of a steam-powered portable sawmill and of a horse-powered ice cream maker beginning just before noon.

"Somehow, I don't think we're going to have any trouble finding things to keep us busy, Ro," Duo grinned as they finally reached the area fenced off for the horse show. He'd seen all sorts of things worthy of further investigation on their walk and they hadn't investigated even close to the whole fair yet.

***

"Over there, Ro," Duo snickered, poking Heero in the ribs and pointing.

Heero followed Duo's gesture and immediately brought his camera up for a picture. The little girl's head barely reached her pony's nose but she was certainly having no problem making it stand still while waiting for the judge to reach her. In fact, the swaybacked pony was pretty obviously *asleep* - hipshot, eyes closed, and head hanging low. After a great deal of tugging and foot stomping, its mistress finally persuaded it to meander slowly across the ring, turn, then stroll even more slowly back. Almost the instant that the pony came to a halt, it fell back asleep.

After watching the halter classes for a while, they decided to head back to the livestock barns. The ring for the 4-H livestock show was back there and they were both curious as to precisely how someone could show a pig or a sheep or a turkey or any of the other animals that the kids were supposed to be showing. "*Geese?!*" Heero said in disbelief. "How on earth do you show a *goose*?! Aren't they supposed to be kind of bad-tempered?"

"That's what I thought," Duo answered. "At least, that pick-your-own place that we went to for peaches last month gave me that impression. They had all kinds of 'Beware of Goose' signs up and that guy who wandered into a fenced-off area sure didn't waste any time getting the hell out of there when one chased him..."

Heero shrugged and said, "Well, I guess we'll find out if we wait around long enough." The first classes scheduled were swine, followed by sheep, then fowl, then the cattle - beef followed by dairy. As he and Duo climbed up on the bleachers and took a seat, a girl wearing a 4-H T-shirt entered the ring.

Raising a microphone, the teenaged girl began, "Welcome to our 4-H Achievement Day. The four H's in 4-H stand for Head, Heart, Hands and Health. The four-leaf clover that you see on the signs here is the club's symbol. Each leaf of the clover stands for one of the H's. The 4-H colours are green and white, representing youth and agriculture.

"But the 4-H program isn't just for farm kids. 'Learn To Do By Doing' is the club's motto and the 'doing' includes projects in a wide range of different areas of interest. Kids can choose projects in areas such as crafts, food, sewing, computers, photography, gardening, woodworking, welding, and many others in addition to the livestock projects like dairy, beef, swine, and poultry, that you will see in this ring today. The goal is for club members to learn something new and projects should be challenging but not impossibly difficult."

Heero found the explanation very interesting. He'd been under the impression that 4-H was strictly a rural club, meant solely for farm children and focussing specifically on agriculture. He hadn't realized that topics such as photography, woodworking, and welding could also be part of the program.

As the girl continued on to explain how the classes would be judged, Heero stole a quick sideways glance at Duo. His partner was watching and listening intently, soaking up all of the information being given. Heero shifted a fraction closer to him so that their legs touched, Duo flashed him a quick grin, then they both turned their attention back to the showring. It was definitely turning out to be an interesting day.

***

By the time that the first set of swine classes finished, Duo was starting to feel a bit restless. The show had been different and kind of interesting and he wouldn't mind seeing a bit of the dairy and beef classes later on but he wasn't particularly interested in watching another batch of kids herd their swine around. Bumping his knee against Heero's, he caught his partner's attention. He asked quietly, "Wanna go walk around a bit?" Heero nodded readily in response and stood to make his way off of the bleachers, Duo following close behind him.

"It's getting close to lunchtime, maybe we should see what there is to choose from..." Duo suggested.

"It looks like the midway booths are starting to open up even though the rides aren't running yet," Heero commented. "We could wander through those, see what they have on offer, then decide. I know that the 4-H booth here has shishkabobs and burgers... And there was a church booth over by the entrance that had full dinners - chicken or spareribs, I think..."

"Actually, that sparerib dinner sounds awfully good... Maybe we should just head over there now; get there before the shows break for lunch and the lineup gets long..." Duo willingly slid his hand into Heero's clasp as they started towards the church food booth. They hadn't attracted too much attention earlier by holding hands and the fair was getting considerably busier now. It was far easier to go unnoticed in a crowd.

The church booth was just starting to serve meals and the lineup was very short. In a matter of minutes, they had their food - one chicken dinner and one rib one so that they could split them, plus thick slices of freshly baked pie - and were seated at a picnic table inside a tent. They sat opposite one another, legs and feet touching companionably under the table.

"You need to put more sunscreen on after lunch," Heero murmured, tapping the tip of Duo's nose. "You're starting to get a bit pink on the tips of your ears and nose."

Duo made a face. "Damn. Guess I should've worn something other than a ballcap; it's not providing enough sun protection.

"Don't think you're burning yet but you'd better put some more sunscreen on too, just in case." Duo knew from past experience that Heero could show little sign of sunburn during the day yet by evening turn out to be badly enough burned to start peeling right away.

Heero nodded slightly in acknowledgement before dividing up the dinners. After that, the only sounds made by either of them were those of appreciation for good food, cooked to perfection and made even tastier by appetites encouraged by a morning outdoors.

***

Pleasantly full after their meal, they strolled through the buildings full of crafts, baked goods, and crop samples. Heero coaxed Duo into posing for a picture beside the winning entry for tallest sunflower; at 25 feet in height, it was almost half as tall as a Gundam.

"Imagine carving *that* thing for Halloween..." Duo snickered, gesturing towards the prize-winning pumpkin. It tipped the scales at just over 1000 pounds. "You'd have to crawl *inside* the sucker just to clean out the guts!"

"Assuming you could even cut it," Heero said. "It must have a very thick rind to support that kind of weight."

"True," Duo answered. "Of course, you could always just paint a face on it..." he added thoughtfully.

Heero grabbed Duo's elbow and hurriedly steered him away from the display. "Forget it, Duo. Not only would it be a miserable job to move it but it would have to be stored somewhere for almost two months. We do *not* have somewhere to put it between now and when we start setting things up for the fundraiser."

"I suppose..."

Watching Duo glance wistfully back at the huge pumpkin, Heero resigned himself to getting contact information for the grower and finding a way to arrange for that pumpkin or one of similar gigantic proportions to be made available next month. The Preventers were putting on a Halloween fundraiser for the children's ward at the city hospital and Duo was on the planning committee. He had put in countless hours of research and the plans that were originally limited to a small Halloween fun fair had grown and altered beyond recognition. Local law enforcement and firefighters were now involved with the event along with the city's amateur theatre troupe and several school drama clubs. Heero wasn't on the planning committee but Duo's involvement automatically guaranteed that he would be helping in any way that he could.

Including by obtaining gargantuan produce if his partner wanted it.

Heero smirked and shook his head slightly as he directed Duo out of the building. The types of "missions" that he undertook had certainly changed. There was one thing that all of his self-assigned ones had in common however - making Duo happy. And that was a mission objective that he had no problem working towards.

***

A brief stop back at the 4-H showring was enough to satisfy Duo's curiosity regarding the "how" of showing cattle. The antique tractor display was bypassed for the time being due to the large crowd gathered to watch the demonstrations so they arrived back at the horse show just in time for the "Child and Pony Costume Class". The costumes ranged from traditional - two children dressed as "bride" and "groom" riding in a cart with a "Just Married" sign on the back - to humourous - a Norwegian Fjordhorse hitched to a cart sporting cardboard car-shaped cutouts on the sides and a sign asking "Have you driven a Fjord lately?" - to just plain imaginative - a little girl dressed in a school uniform with a sign reading "Mary" on her back and leading a pony covered in a wooly sheep costume. While Duo was busy applauding the children's efforts as the judge handed out ribbons and midway vouchers to all the participants, Heero was busy taking pictures.

"Y'know, Ro, you should enter the photography contest here next year. We haven't been in the building with those displays yet but I bet your pictures are just as good as anybody else's. And I think that there's a class specifically for photos taken at the fair..." Duo was pretty sure that they'd be back again next year. They were enjoying themselves and it wasn't exactly an expensive day out. Weekend passes for the fair had cost less than tickets to a two-hour movie and their entire meal hadn't cost any more than popcorn and pop at the theatre.

"Photography's a hobby; I just take pictures for our own collection and for fun," Heero objected.

"So you enter a few for fun," Duo shrugged. He caught the faint frown on Heero's face and abruptly realized that maybe entering a contest wasn't a good idea for Heero. 'Too many associations with that whole "gotta be perfect" crap that J pushed on him all the time...' Casually, he shifted sideways and leaned against Heero before adding, "But then again, it'd be a pain having to worry about getting waivers signed by the people in the pictures and meeting all the other criteria... Guess that'd kind of take the fun out of it, huh?" He left the whole competition-wrecking-the-fun issue unspoken; they both knew what he was really talking about.

"Yes," Heero agreed quietly.

'Yep, definitely not one of my better suggestions...' Duo decided. "Sorry, Ro," he murmured softly. "Didn't think it through before I spoke." He slid his arm around Heero's waist and squeezed gently for a brief moment.

Heero murmured back, "S'okay."

Duo smiled softly and dropped the subject.

***

After watching the first driving class, Heero suggested that they explore the midway for a while, then come back to see some of the team hitches later on. Duo was in agreement, so they headed off to check out the game booths and vendors.

"Hey, Ro, look over here. Think it'd be fun to get one done?"

Following the direction that Duo had indicated with their joined hands, Heero looked at the signs and samples plastered along the porch railing of the "log cabin". He pointed to one of the sample images and smirked, "As long as *you're* the one planning to wear the dress and the feather boa..."

The indignant "Yuy!" and thwack of their clasped hands against Heero's chest did not come as a surprise.

"Well, *I'm* certainly not going to be the one dressing as the dance hall girl," Heero deadpanned.

"Yeah, well, neither am I, asshole..."

Heero just grinned at the affectionately muttered insult. "I suppose we could just settle for both dressing as gunslingers," he sighed, shaking his head in mock disappointment.

"Well, it's a damn sure thing that I'm *not* dressing up like some cheap barroom tart anyway," Duo grumbled. Heero could see the corners of his partner's mouth twitching as he tried to prevent himself from grinning. Duo raised one eyebrow in inquiry and said more seriously, "But I take it that you *do* want to give it a try?"

Running a critical eye over the samples and price lists, Heero nodded. "It does sound like fun. Especially if we opt for a genuine daguerreotype..." The daguerreotype was expensive - damn expensive for something that they were just doing for the hell of it - but after all, very few photographers worked with the antique medium. It wasn't something that the casual hobbyist like himself would ever get involved with. Even serious photographers working with the medium on a regular basis usually only ended up with one good shot in every ten. And considering how the images were made, that in itself made for one very expensive picture.

Daguerreotypes were made on copper plated with pure silver that was polished to a mirror surface. The silver was made light sensitive by exposing it to iodine and bromine vapours, then after the picture was taken the plate had to be developed over hot mercury vapour. Making daguerreotypes was a complicated, painstaking process involving chemicals that had to be carefully handled. And even after the image was produced, the final piece had to be sealed under glass in an airtight case.

The process was centuries old yet it produced incredible detail and tones unmatched by any other form of photography. The plate was a single solid sheet of silver. Photons of light reacted with the silver at the molecular level in a way that could only really be seen with the use of a scanning electron microscope in order to produce an unbelievable level of detail. The final piece was metal and each daguerreotype was one of a kind and could not be duplicated. The whole idea of having such an enduring image made just for fun held an undeniable appeal for Heero.

"A daguerreotype, huh?" Duo whistled softly as he read through the price list. Meeting Heero's eyes, he smiled and shrugged, "What the hell, why not?"

***

Duo grinned up at Heero as the photographer fussed with arranging the brim of Heero's cowboy hat. This little idea was going to cost more than their fair passes and meals for both today and tomorrow combined. But he was hoping that it sort of made up for his faux pas earlier over the photography contest. And they *were* having fun with the whole thing.

By the time that they'd each picked out an outfit, there had been more than a few additional teasing suggestions involving dresses, garter belts, and feather boas. And Heero had taken advantage of the few moments that they were alone in the small costume room to steal a hard, fast, breathless kiss that left Duo semi-seriously debating whether he really wanted to stay at the fair any longer today.

"Okay, that's just about got it..." the photographer muttered. He stepped back and eyed them critically. "Hmm..." Leaning forward, he twitched Heero's long duster a bit to the side so that the hand resting on the butt of the gun in the leg holster was more clearly visible, then adjusted the playing cards in Duo's hand slightly. He nodded in satisfaction, cautioning, "Just hold that position now, fellows."

Duo was very conscious of the warm weight of Heero's hand on his shoulder. He kept his gaze firmly fixed on the cards in his hand, trying not to burst into laughter from sheer self-consciousness. Just before the photographer took the picture, a soft, "Duo..." drew his gaze up to meet Heero's and the poker face he'd been trying to hold was replaced by an affectionate smile mirroring the one on Heero's face. The photographer might not be too thrilled about the change in their pose but hey - *they* were the ones paying for the picture, after all.

***

Heero quite happily handed over the payment for the daguerreotype. The photographer had taken several plates with them in different poses but that first shot - the one with him standing slightly behind and to the side of Duo, who was seated with one elbow resting on a table and a poker hand in his grasp - was the one that he liked best.

"Why do I have the feeling every other card player would have folded about two seconds after *that* moment?" Duo murmured, his chin resting on Heero's shoulder as he surveyed the image in Heero's hands.

Genuinely curious, Heero asked, "Why do you say that?"

Duo laughed quietly, "Ro, no gambler would be dumb enough to actually *beat* me with you hovering protectively like that."

Heero blinked and looked at the picture again. He flushed as he realized that the expressions on their faces and something subtle about his own stance had turned the "sheriff warning the gambler" pose into a "sheriff supporting his partner/lover" pose. "Oh," he said simply.

"Yeah - 'Oh'," Duo echoed.

Heero was pleasantly surprised when Duo gave him a swift bear-hug and brushed a kiss across his cheek before pulling away from behind him. Duo would accept his displays of affection in public readily enough but it was rare in the extreme for Duo to initiate one. They were semi-sheltered by the photography "cabin" that they were standing beside but this was still a very public place for Duo to do something so obvious.

"Hey, let's go see if they're showing the team hitches yet, Ro. There was this one really neat idea that I came across for the Halloween fundraiser..."

"Oh no, not *another* idea..." Heero complained theatrically as Duo grabbed his hand and started off towards the horse show ring. He dragged his feet slightly in apparent protest. Duo just chuckled and towed him along.

That grin was tugging at the corners of Heero's mouth again.

***

Duo jotted down a few more notes about insurance coverage and booking deadlines as he slowly walked away from the horse trailers. Heero's hand against his back steered him safely around other people and clear of the bustle of horses being unhitched. He had several good possibilities for Halloween; it was largely a matter of getting approval from the rest of the planning committee so that he could start making arrangements.

"I don't think the horses would have any trouble with what I've got in mind; the damn midway is practically in the ring with them and most of them don't even seem to notice," he commented as he tucked away his notes. It was pretty amazing; the Cobra ride was clearly visible spinning away mere feet away from the show ring and most of the horses barely even flicked an ear in its direction, despite the shrieks of its riders.

"They are surprisingly calm," Heero agreed. "But then, think about the mounted patrol's horses; they're like that too."

"Yeah, that's true..." Duo's brow furrowed in thought as new possibilities occurred to him. There were so many ideas to choose from... Oh well, he'd do some more thinking about it later.

"Y'know, Ro, I'm about done in. Too much damn sun and I don't think we've been drinking enough water. How about we take a Ferris wheel ride then call it quits for today?" he suggested. He'd rather leave while they were still having fun rather than hang around till they ended up overtired or bored. Especially if they were going to come back tomorrow for the parade, horse show - he was curious about the barrel racing and pole bending in particular - and tractor pull.

"Mm-hmm," Heero acknowledged, taking Duo's hand again and turning their steps towards the rides.

The wait in line for the Ferris wheel was surprisingly short. Checking the time, Duo realized that was probably because most people were taking a break for supper. "Eat when we get home?" he offered as they were seated.

"Good idea," Heero answered.

Duo noticed a few dirty looks directed in their direction as Heero wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulled him close. He automatically started to tense up, then consciously decided to ignore the unwanted attention and snuggled closer to Heero. 'Why the fuck would we even be riding this thing if not to cuddle?' They were leaving after this anyway; he'd just mention the - additional notice - to Heero, who'd probably noticed it himself; they'd pay extra close attention to their surroundings on the way to their vehicle and that would be the end of that.

"It's been a fun day, Ro," Duo observed quietly. "If we end up coming back tomorrow, though, we need to bring water bottles and make a point of drinking more." He wrinkled his nose, feeling the pull of tight skin, and added, "And I need a different hat. Dig out that Tilley one that I use when we go camping, I guess. It gives a lot more sun protection."

Gentle fingers brushed over his face. "Your skin's quite warm as well as being pretty pink; I hope you aren't too badly burned..."

"Me too. Have to wait and see in the morning whether I'm fit to spend another day here or not."

The ride lurched into motion for a few moments before stopping again. Heero asked softly, "You were okay with the handholding today?"

Duo turned his head so that Heero could see his expression. "Yeah, I was. Am." He'd felt self-conscious a few times but it hadn't bothered him as much as he'd half expected it to. Which was a definite relief since he knew Heero liked the contact and the demonstration that they were together.

"Good," Heero breathed.

Duo smiled at him and added, "In fact, I think I'll try something else..." And there, at the top of the Ferris wheel, Duo slid one hand behind Heero's head, cupping the base of his skull, leaned forward, and kissed him. And the presence of the crowd moving through the fair below didn't bother him one bit.