12-21-2003

Title: Home
Author: Calic0cat
Story Completed: December 2003
Genre: Yaoi, Friendship, Romance
Pairing: 1x2 Rated: NC-17
Warnings: Swearing, Lemon, PWP
Archives: Also at Lev's Lair http://www.gwaddiction.com/levlair/ and at http://calic0cat.freeservers.com/ (my site) and at Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat. Anyone else - please ask.
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.

Notes: The guys are in their late twenties in this fic.

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

Author's Notes: Feedback is appreciated.

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Duo chewed his lip nervously as he set the table and checked the progress of the home-cooked meal. This evening was special. Maybe he shouldn't say anything, at least not tonight... Maybe he should just - let Heero keep pretending. Hell, maybe he was all wrong about the whole thing and he was making something out of nothing.

'But I don't think that I am. He doesn't like it let alone enjoy it. And for whatever reason, he's faking it instead of telling me what the hell's wrong...

'I have to force him to admit there's a problem. Our whole relationship is based on how close we are. We do *not* keep secrets from each other. If I don't bring this out in the open, things'll just keep getting worse. And I don't know if I *could* just keep doing things the way we have been now that I've noticed...' Duo closed his eyes for a moment and made a silent wish that he was just - doing something *wrong*. That Heero wasn't having second thoughts about their entire relationship.

Moving into the bedroom, Duo started getting things ready for the evening, his thoughts running in anxious circles around the subject. He and Heero had been together for a whole year now. Tonight was the actual anniversary of the day that they'd decided - after a great deal of discussion and one hell of a lot of careful consideration - to give a physical relationship a try.

Neither of them had had much luck with relationships, despite having tried damn hard for a number of years. They'd both dated. Had a few short-lived relationships. Had both *wanted* long-term relationships. Lifelong relationships.

But neither of them had ever found anyone that they genuinely wanted to spend the rest of their lives *with*. No one who really knew them, understood them. No one that either of them had been able to trust enough to *let* that person know them fully. No one that either of them had been able to feel anything more than a strong caring for.

Except each other.

They'd been best friends for years. Their first loyalties were to each other and in many ways they had already shared a closer intimacy than either of them had with anyone else. They had confided in each other, spent more time in each other's company than on dates, argued and made up, looked after each other when one of them was sick or injured... When it came right down to it, the only real difference between their relationship and that of life partners - whether married or not - had been sex. For either of them to continue to search for someone to share his life with when they already *had* a virtually ideal "someone" in each other had seemed pretty damn foolish. So they'd decided - after a lot of very serious consideration and embarrassingly frank discussion - to give it a try.

They had known that they cared for each other - *loved* each other. That had never been in question. What *had* been in question was whether or not they could make the sex aspect work. Neither of them had been completely turned off by the idea but - well, they hadn't been exceptionally turned *on* by it either. They'd taken things slowly - very, *very* slowly - because of that.

Kissing had been kind of - weird - at first.

Okay, more like *really* weird. It had taken time to get used to making out with another man. The fact that the man in question had been his best friend, someone that he cared very deeply for and trusted implicitly, had been the only reason that Duo had been willing to keep at it until "weird" turned into "kind of nice". And once they'd really gotten used to it, the kissing and caressing had turned out to be damn good.

By the time they'd moved on to a little mutual masturbation, they'd been pretty sure that things were going to be okay. That they were both at least marginally bi. But - not a whole hell of a lot more than marginally. It was only the fact that they loved each other as much as they did that made them pursue the possibility. There had been no sudden onslaught of lust or desire. They had had to *work* at developing a physical relationship. And they had. Slowly, painstakingly, over the course of months, they'd learned each other's bodies. Had learned how to arouse, to please, to seduce. And with time and familiarity and the sheer wonder of sharing sexual intimacy with someone that they had complete trust in and loved deeply, the desire had slowly grown. And as well as loving one another, they'd slowly fallen *in* love with each other.

For a while, Duo had thought that things were going great. Heero had insisted on being uke when they'd finally gone all the way for the first time and despite being a little sore the next day, he'd seemed fine with it. If anything, he'd been a little reluctant to trade places the next time, in fact, but they'd settled into trading off fairly regularly. Though penetrative sex wasn't something that they did on a daily basis so "fairly regularly" still only worked out to about once a week and the total number of times for them both combined was barely into double digits.

The rest of the time, they did other things. Blowjobs or handjobs or just plain cuddling and kissing. And all of *those* things Duo had no doubt that they both enjoyed.

But...

Duo scowled at the lube and wipes he'd just placed on the bedside table. 'But I don't think that he *likes* being uke. I think he doesn't enjoy it much, maybe not at all. He's too tense and I know that he hasn't climaxed on at least one occasion, maybe more since he tried to hide it that time and almost succeeded. He tried to blame it on being too tense and tired from work but once I started thinking about it, I realized that there had been other signs that all was not well. I'm betting that's why he prefers to be taken from the back - so I can't see his face. Maybe I'm doing something wrong. I just don't understand why he hasn't *said* something.'

Unless Heero was starting to reconsider the whole male-male sex decision and was trying to figure out how to break the news to Duo. And that was a possibility that Duo did *not* want to consider.

He glanced at the clock and realized that Heero should be getting home any minute now. He should have just enough time to check on dinner before meeting Heero at the door...

***

Heero sat in the driveway and stared at the house, knowing that Duo was waiting inside. Probably with a very nice dinner prepared and a wonderful evening planned out. Most of which, Heero *was* genuinely looking forward to. There was just one specific part of it that he was - less than enthused over. He'd been seme the last time that they'd had actual intercourse so that meant that this time, he had to be prepared to be uke. 'This is *not* a big deal, Yuy!' he reminded himself. 'It burns, stings, aches, but nothing worse than a hard workout. It's uncomfortable but it's not like Duo ever hurts me. He's careful and never rushes things; he always waits for me to tell him that I'm ready for the next step. And he takes *his* turn without complaining; I can't very well back out when it's *mine*...'

No. No way was he going to do that. Their relationship was too important to him to risk unbalancing it by refusing to take his turn as uke, no matter how much he disliked it. 'I don't want Duo to think I've changed my mind about us because I *haven't*. Everything else about our relationship is so *good*; I can't risk losing it because of one little thing that I don't like. It's not worth it.' He'd just have to hope that eventually he would get used to it, maybe even learn to like it.

Seeing the kitchen curtains stir, Heero climbed out of the car. Duo knew he was home and would be wondering why he was just sitting here. He didn't usually waste any time heading into the house. The door opened just as he got to it. "Hey babe, something wrong?"

Heero shook his head silently, pushing the door shut behind him as he stepped into Duo's welcoming embrace. "Just - thinking. Thinking about how much I love you. How glad I am that we decided to try this," he murmured, cupping Duo's face with one hand and gently stroking his thumb over Duo's cheek. "How wonderful this past year has been and how much I'm looking forward to many more years with you..." He leaned forward, bringing their lips together softly. Tenderly.

He loved holding Duo, kissing Duo, waking spooned together in the morning. Loved coming home to find Duo waiting for him. Loved spending quiet evenings together, talking and reading. Loved making love with Duo - in every way but that one. It was a small price to pay and Heero would pay it gladly if it meant having the rest.

Duo had been concerned by the length of time that Heero had sat in the car, unmoving. He didn't completely believe that there was *nothing* wrong - but after Heero's declaration and the very sweet, loving kiss he was currently enjoying, he was prepared to dismiss his earlier concern that Heero was second-guessing their relationship. No, there was some other reason behind Heero's silent stoicism over his dislike for being uke, assuming that he wasn't imagining it.

Flicking his tongue lightly over Heero's lips, Duo invited a deepening of the kiss. Heero accepted the invitation, stroking his tongue over Duo's and tracing the familiar contours of Duo's mouth. They kissed for long, languorous minutes, affirming and strengthening the bond between them. When Heero finally reluctantly drew away to catch his breath, Duo smiled softly and murmured breathlessly, "God Heero, I love you more every day..." He brushed a light kiss over Heero's lips. "You've got time to shower and change into something comfy before dinner if you want. Or you can keep me company while I fix the salad."

"I'll change into something more comfortable but I'll just wash up," Heero responded. "Then maybe we could shower together later?"

Duo smiled slowly at the suggestion. "Sounds good to me..." He gave Heero another quick kiss before heading off to the kitchen.

In the bedroom, Heero stripped out of his Preventers uniform gratefully. He would be glad when the day arrived that he would no longer have to put it on, at least for a while. 'Not long now. Duo's almost halfway through his Masters. Once he's back working and bringing in a steady income, it'll be my turn...'

Preventers had paid their way through getting their Bachelors degrees; they'd actually been *required* to complete them as a condition of employment - as had many others who were recruited right after the war. The agency had made special arrangements with a local university in order to accommodate work hours and class schedules. He and Duo had both planned to get their Masters the same way but once they'd decided to move from best friends to life partners, they'd altered those plans.

Rather than put the strain of going to school while working full-time on their fledgeling relationship, they'd chosen a different option. They'd flipped a coin and Duo had ended up taking the first leave of absence. Once he finished his Masters, he would go back to work and Heero would have his turn at being a full-time student. After that - well, they'd have to wait and see. By then, they'd both be thirty and Heero didn't think that either of them was going to want to stay at Preventers - at least not as field agents - long enough to repeat the process for a Ph.D. They already had joints that complained on damp mornings and bones that ached in cold weather; their bodies would only take so much more abuse.

Pulling on a pair of worn, comfortable jeans and an equally worn but comfortable shirt, Heero had to grin slightly at the idea of dressing like this for a special occasion like tonight. He would have dressed up more if Duo had but he was taking his cue from the comfy favourites that his lover was wearing and the delicious smells coming from the kitchen. Tonight was all about comfort and love and *home*. Dinner wasn't something fancy like lobster or even steak. Judging by the odours from the kitchen and the smudge of flour on Duo's cheek, Heero was betting that it was a beef potpie with dumplings. Simple, nourishing, and a favourite of them both.

***

Duo went about the task of fixing the salad automatically, mind running through the various ways that he could bring up the subject that needed to be discussed. He knew that he had to be careful in his approach; Heero's silence on the matter went against all the guidelines they'd set down before they ever did anything more than kiss. That alone was a serious issue even before getting into the question of exactly what the problem itself was.

'Not till we're done eating,' he decided. Heero had put in a long day at work; Duo didn't want to bring up a subject that could put their meal on hold indefinitely before the guy got a chance to refuel. He finished preparing the salad and set the two bowls on the table just as Heero entered the kitchen.

"Smells good," Heero remarked. He crossed the room and pulled Duo back against him, inhaling the scent of shampoo and aftershave and just plain *Duo* as he nipped gently at Duo's ear and murmured, "Not as good as you, though..."

Laughing softly, Duo leaned back against Heero and let the last of his concern slip away as he turned his head to meet Heero's kiss. Whatever was wrong, it definitely wasn't Heero having changed his mind about their relationship. That didn't mean that it wasn't important - it was - but it *did* mean that they had a damn good chance of fixing the problem because neither of them wanted out.

The kiss was a deep one and it was with an effort that Duo reminded himself that he wanted Heero to eat before they did *anything* else. "Now that you've tasted the cook, how about tasting the meal, hmm?" he grinned. "You wouldn't want all the cook's hard work to go to waste, now would you?"

"No, I guess not," Heero sighed. "Even if the cook *is* more appetizing..." He nipped Duo's earlobe just hard enough to make Duo retaliate with a flick from a handy dishtowel as he turned away. Duo snickered at Heero's startled jump. An instant later he found himself pinned against the refrigerator, both wrists captured by one of Heero's strong hands while the other hand tickled him unmercifully. Laughing so hard that he could barely catch his breath, Duo still put up a token resistance. He didn't bother trying to twist his wrists free from Heero's grasp; he didn't have the leverage for that. He just let himself go limp, leaving Heero's hand on his wrists as the only thing keeping him upright. It didn't do any good, Heero just let him slide down the fridge and followed him to the floor.

Heero broke off the tickling, hearing the hitches in Duo's laughter that would lead to a painful bout of hiccups if he persisted further. He loosened his grip on Duo's wrists, not wanting to bruise them and not needing to hold on so tightly now that Duo wasn't squirming to escape the tickling. Smirking slightly, he asked, "Do you yield?"

Duo's eyes sparkled with mischief and love as he managed to gasp out, "Depends... on the terms... of surrender..."

"Hmm... I think a kiss will do nicely..."

"What, you're not going to have your wicked way with me?" Duo batted his eyelashes theatrically. "I think I'm insulted..."

Heero snorted in amusement and kissed Duo, brief and hard. "Later..." he promised as he rose, easily pulling Duo up with him. "After dinner. I wouldn't want the cook's hard work to go to waste, after all."

The meal passed in comfortable companionship. They talked about Duo's upcoming assignment due dates and Heero's day at work. About finding a gift for Sally and Wufei's baby shower and whether Howard was really going to follow through on his threat to retire and move to Hawaii at the end of the year. About a dozen other inconsequential little things that happened to cross their minds at that particular instant in time. Just enjoying each other's company in much the same way that they had a year ago before embarking on their daring attempt to alter their relationship.

And it had been daring. They'd both thought long and hard about the risks involved. If the attempt to add sex to their relationship had completely failed, their friendship would - they'd hoped - have been strong enough to handle it. If, on the other hand, one of them had turned out to be completely straight and the other hadn't - well, that would have been a lot tougher to deal with. Maybe their friendship could have survived that, maybe not. Fortunately, they hadn't had to find out.

Instead, they'd ended up with a friendship that was even stronger and deeper than before, a bond of love between them that continued to strengthen, a level of intimacy that neither had ever previously experienced, and a sex life that was getting better all the time as they continued to learn and explore and experiment.

'Or at least it *will* keep getting better as long as we're both open about it...' Duo qualified silently. He hated to force the issue but he didn't want to risk waiting for Heero to tell him that there was something wrong. He wasn't quite sure how long the problem had been there - hopefully not long before he noticed it - but he had a sinking suspicion that was not the case.

"Want to have dessert in the livingroom?" Duo asked as he rose from the table.

"In front of the fireplace? Sure," Heero nodded. "You get dessert while I clear the table?"

"Got it," Duo agreed. He cut a thick slice of apple pie for each of them. The pie was still steaming slightly and the scoop of ice cream that he added to each dish started to melt right away. He carried the dishes through to the other room, hearing the clatter of the dishwasher being loaded as he went. There was just enough time to arrange the throw pillows on the rug and turn up the gas fireplace before Heero joined him.

They stretched out on their sides, facing one another. Somehow, Duo's teasing attempt to steal a bite from Heero's plate turned into them each feeding the other. Comfortable companionship shifted slowly towards desire again.

"The meal was delicious. My compliments - and thanks - to the chef," Heero murmured softly, setting the dishes out of the way before sliding closer to Duo.

"Can't take credit for the pie, I'm afraid," Duo admitted with a grin. "Bought that pre-made at a fundraiser at the U. Just had to bake it, not make it." He ran his fingers along the smooth curve of Heero's jaw, grin softening to a smile as he realized Heero had shaved before supper. He hadn't noticed earlier. 'Though I sure as hell would have if he *hadn't*...' Duo didn't exactly mind the rasp of stubble - though it had definitely been on his "weird" list when they'd started testing their limits - but one of the first things they'd discovered was that his fair skin broke out like crazy from it. Since at the time they had not been "out" - hell, they hadn't even been sure yet that there was a closet to be out *of* - it had been a distinctly embarrassing discovery. Stubble rash was rather unmistakable.

"Well in that case, my compliments and thanks for the chef's good taste in selecting it," Heero responded, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth. He brushed a feather-light kiss across Duo's lips and ran his hand over the curve of Duo's jeans-clad hip and buttocks, feeling the firm muscles flex beneath it.

"You're welcome," Duo murmured back. He fluttered his eyelashes in deliberate reminder of their earlier horseplay. "Is this 'later'?" he inquired in mock innocence. He slid one knee forward to rub against Heero's groin and asked, "Going to have your wicked way with me now?"

Heero raised one eyebrow and fought down the temptation to take up Duo's offer. "Hmm, I think it's your turn to have your wicked way with *me*..."

Duo's eyes narrowed. "It's my *turn*?" he asked carefully. He hooked one leg over Heero's just in case he tried to avoid the discussion by taking off. "What do you mean, 'turn'?"

Heero closed his eyes for a moment, cursing his slip of the tongue. He swallowed hard, met Duo's eyes, and offered honestly, "I mean you had to be uke last time so..."

"*What?!* Heero Yuy, for god's sake, don't tell me you're keeping *track*!" Duo bit his tongue to keep from saying anything more. That had already come out as far more confrontational than he'd intended.

Very slightly and reluctantly, Heero nodded as he dropped his gaze to where Duo had grabbed a fistful of his shirt.

"Well *shit*." Duo took several deep breaths, trying to figure out what the hell was going through Heero's head. "Why?" he asked gently but firmly. Heero's shoulder moved in a slight shrug, an obvious sign that he didn't want to talk about this. Suddenly, Duo's suspicions regarding Heero's dislike of being uke clicked into place with the whole "turn" reference. "Heero, are you only taking your 'turn' as uke because you want to be fair? Even though you don't enjoy it?"

Keeping silence was one thing, outright lying to Duo was a completely different and totally unacceptable situation. Heero admitted, "Yes..."

The whisper was so soft that Duo barely heard it. He wrapped his arms around Heero and held him close. "You *idiot*. We knew going into this that we had to be open and truthful about things. That there might be some things that one or both of us wouldn't like. Why the hell didn't you *say* something? Why try to hide it?"

Shuddering in a mixture of relief that this was out in the open - he wouldn't have to pretend anymore - and fear of what the end result would be, Heero hastily tried to explain. "Because it didn't *matter*. It's okay, really. It's worth it. Everything else is good. I don't want..."

Pressing his lips to Heero's to stop the jumble of confused words, Duo tried to get his own thoughts in order. It sounded as if Heero thought that their entire relationship hinged on his willingness to go through with a sex act that he didn't like. That was just... seriously disturbing to say the least. 'Okay, we did do a lot of talking about balance, about keeping things fair, when we were first trying things out... That the pleasure had to be mutual before we'd move on to the next step... That must be behind this somehow...'

Breaking off the kiss, he pulled back just enough to meet Heero's eyes. "It's *not* okay, buddy. We promised to be open about all of this and you tried to hide something. That is *definitely* not okay. But if what you're saying is that you *do* like everything else about our relationship, including the *other* ways we make love, then yes, *that* is okay; our *relationship* is okay, or will be once you get rid of this silly notion about taking turns."

Heero shook his head sharply and protested, "I can't ask you to do something that I won't. And I don't want to give up that sense of connection, of... of *oneness*..."

Duo pressed his fingers to Heero's lips, stilling them. "Heero, I enjoy being uke just as much as I do being seme. You would not be asking me to do something I don't like.

"It's no different than me not being able to get past the gag reflex to deep throat you or to let you come in my mouth. I still try it once in a while because I *want* to be able to do those things for you and maybe I'll eventually be able to handle it - but I don't try nearly as often as you do those things for me. You do those things for me because you *want* to, right?" His eyes narrowed suspiciously as he demanded, "You *do* enjoy them, don't you?"

"*Yes*," Heero assured Duo hastily. It was abruptly coming home to him just how badly he might have undermined their relationship by trying to hide this. Now Duo was going to second-guess *everything*. "It's just being uke that I don't enjoy. I'm sorry, Duo, I should have told you."

"Yeah, you should have," Duo answered flatly. There was no sugarcoating this. Lack of communication would destroy their relationship faster than anything else. "Heero, did it ever occur to you that maybe you not liking it has to do with something *I'm* doing wrong? Maybe changing positions or spending more time on foreplay would help. We can try some of those things and see if it makes a difference. Hell, maybe I just need to make sure I'm hitting your prostate enough."

Heero grimaced. "No, that is definitely *not* the answer."

"You don't like that sensation?" Duo asked in disbelief. Heero shook his head. A faint memory of something from the research they'd done before deciding to try a sexual relationship flickered through Duo's mind. "What about other stuff? Fingering, rimming?"

"Fingering is okay until you hit the prostate. And the time that we tried rimming was - a lot better than 'okay'." Heero's response was prompt and frank. Duo was cutting him some slack over his previous silence; he wouldn't risk ruining that by not being completely open now. Talking about this kind of thing had been incredibly difficult at first but since they'd made it a rule that they wouldn't actually try anything that they couldn't even discuss, they'd had to gradually become accustomed to it. 'Until you kept your mouth shut when you should have talked, Yuy...' he thought disgustedly.

"Stop beating yourself up," Duo ordered, bracing one hand on Heero's shoulder and shaking him slightly. He knew damn well what that tiny line between Heero's eyebrows combined with the tension in his jaw meant. That was his "I fucked up" expression. "Yeah, you made a mistake by not telling me there was a problem. You know it was a mistake, right?"

The answer was prompt and firm. "Yes."

"You won't do it again, right?"

"Right."

"Okay. It's over and done with. Learn from it and let it go," Duo said. He leaned forward and kissed Heero tenderly, reassuringly. "We're okay. This isn't going to wreck things. Keeping things balanced does not necessarily mean everything has to be identical. As long as the *enjoyment* is mutual, things are balanced."

Heero kissed him back thankfully, pressing their bodies as tightly together as possible. He didn't want to lose this...

When Heero finally let him come up for air, Duo murmured softly, "C'mon. Let's go have that shower you suggested earlier. Then you can have your 'wicked way' with me." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and grinned in satisfaction as he succeeded in getting a snicker out of Heero.

As they headed down the hall, Heero asked, "Do you really think changing positions would make a difference?"

Duo sighed and admitted, "Probably not if you don't like prostate stimulation. There was a vague mention in passing of the fact that not all guys *do* enjoy it in one of those articles we read last year. I'll have to look it up again to be sure but I don't think there's much we can do to change that. Not if you don't like it at *all*. That's the result of physiology; it's not something that time and experience will change. Sure, ninety percent of sex is mental but that remaining ten percent is kind of important too."

"I'm still - willing..." Heero offered hesitantly. He really thought it was a small price to pay for their relationship. He'd gone through far more unpleasant things for much less worthwhile reasons.

"I know. And if we can find a way to at least make things less *un*pleasant for you, to let you get at least *some* pleasure from the act, then I may take you up on the offer once in a while. *If*," Duo emphasized heavily. "But I enjoy making love in all the ways that we do so it really won't bother me to give up *one* way, Heero." And it wouldn't. Heero had honestly tried and, for reasons beyond his control, simply didn't enjoy it. End of story. There were lots of other things that they could do that they both enjoyed; why get stressed over that one act? He reprimanded gently, "As for you being willing to tough it out - how much do you think I'd actually enjoy taking you now that I know that you *don't* enjoy it?"

Chagrined, Heero flushed. "Sorry..." Sometimes, even after all the years they'd been friends, he forgot that Duo didn't put a price on anything in their relationship. After so many years when *everything* good in his life had a price, when every brief moment of pleasure was balanced by a far greater period of onerous duty, it was hard to completely leave that mindset behind.

"S'okay," Duo said simply, bumping shoulders with Heero companionably. They both had their own baggage to deal with and sometimes it got in the way despite their best efforts. They'd just had to learn to accept that fact and work with it.

"Being uke... really doesn't bother you?" Heero asked cautiously as he stripped and climbed into the shower. After his own first experience, he'd been extremely hesitant to trade places. He'd been afraid that Duo would hate it even more than he had; that they'd finally hit the one thing that they wouldn't be able to adjust to. And by then, he'd already known that no one else would ever fit into his life, balance him, understand him, *complete* him, the way that Duo did.

"No, it doesn't," Duo said firmly. Joining Heero in the shower, he continued, "Heero, I'm more sorry for *your* sake than my own that you don't enjoy prostate stimulation. For me it's - god, that *alone* would make the whole experience worthwhile." He wound his arms around Heero's neck and pressed their bodies together tightly. Huskily, he murmured, "But that's not the only good thing about it... I love feeling you inside me... filling me... part of me..."

Heero closed his arms around Duo and dropped his head to nuzzle Duo's neck, shuddering at the impact of Duo's words. That feeling of *connection* was something that he loved too, though he definitely preferred experiencing it from the other side. "Love you," he groaned against Duo's throat as he nipped and sucked and kissed his way up to Duo's ear.

"Don't m... mark me; got a s... seminar in the m... morning," Duo warned unevenly, tilting his head back to bare his neck. He shivered under the combined onslaught of Heero's hands caressing his back and ass while Heero devoured his neck. "Too d... damn old f... for h... hickeys..." he gasped in protest, clutching at Heero's shoulders as his knees threatened to buckle.

Heero snorted in quiet amusement. "Not *hickeys*," he corrected, nipping gently, "love bites." He latched onto Duo's neck again, ignoring Duo's half-hearted protest - but also moving down closer to Duo's shoulder where a high-necked shirt would hide the mark.

Duo groaned and resigned himself to wearing a turtleneck in the morning. Heero had a real thing about leaving at least one potentially visible love bite on him unless he protested *very* firmly. And most of the time - like now - he couldn't summon up sufficient irritation to do so. "Possessive bastard," he grumbled affectionately. "You just want everyone to know I'm taken."

"Mm-hmm," Heero smirked, admiring the reddening mark with satisfaction.

"Asshole," Duo muttered in mock annoyance. He stretched one arm out and managed to grab the soap. The hot water wouldn't last forever; if they intended to actually wash one another they needed to get at it. A bigger hot water tank was one of the top items on their list of future home improvements. But with only one of them working - the pittance he got for being a Teaching Assistant at the university didn't amount to much - they had to watch their spending pretty closely.

Heero pressed an apologetic kiss to the mark he'd left, the darkness of the mark suddenly seeming more like a bruise than a love bite. "Duo? Do these really bother you?" he asked abruptly. He'd always assumed that Duo would be more insistent or just pull away if he genuinely objected. Had thought that the half-amused protests were just part of their usual teasing... But maybe he was wrong...

Duo shook his head and kissed Heero reassuringly. "No, not really, it's just a little embarrassing when a student or one of the profs stares. I would have made a point of saying something when we *weren't* fooling around, just so there'd be no doubt that I was serious, if it *really* bugged me." He started to wash Heero with tender, caressing strokes. "Heero? While we're on the topic... Do you really mark me to show I'm taken?" he asked curiously. He'd just assumed that was merely part of their kidding around but maybe it wasn't entirely. He *had* remarked to Heero before that a couple of the girls in one of the seminars he was a Teaching Assistant for were very flirty and starting to get on his nerves.

Flushing slightly, Heero admitted, "Maybe. At least in part." It was more complicated than that though; he liked seeing his love marks on Duo and knowing that he'd put them there and that Duo had let him. He grabbed the shampoo and started work on Duo's hair as soon as Duo finished rinsing him off.

"Mmm, that feels good," Duo murmured, practically purring as Heero massaged the shampoo through his hair and right down to his scalp. He spent the rest of their time in the shower enjoying Heero's loving touches and careful cleansing job. In the back of his mind, though, he was thinking about Heero's admission and wondering whether maybe it was time for them to make a more visible acknowledgement of their relationship.

Duo wasn't sure whether he really wanted to bother with a wedding; same sex marriages were only recognized in a handful of countries and on a couple of colonies. And anyway, they'd taken care of the paperwork giving power of attorney and all other legal rights to each other not long after they'd started working for Preventers, years before any thought of something more than friendship ever crossed either of their minds; there was no legal need for a wedding to take care of that detail. But maybe a private exchange of vows and rings wouldn't be a bad idea; Heero seemed to like the idea of a visible sign that they were together and "unavailable" and he wasn't exactly averse to the notion himself. 'Maybe we need to say the words to each other too... We've never really come right out and promised forever even though it's been implicit in the plans we've made for the future...'

Heero turned off the shower and bent to clean the long strands of hair out of the hair trap over the drain while Duo squeegeed the water off of the tile and glass surrounding the shower stall. He stepped out behind Duo and disposed of the hair while Duo rummaged in the cupboard for a towel. As he straightened from the waste basket, Duo surprised him by wrapping his arms around him, swirling the huge bath sheet around them both. Heero sighed contentedly as Duo just laid his head on his shoulder and held him for a while. He leaned his own cheek against Duo's and soaked up the peaceful intimacy of the moment, letting the last of his concern over their sexual relationship drain away. The quiet warmth of their connection reminded him how deeply they were committed to one another as both friends and lovers. Reminded him that he should have known Duo would take any problem in stride. Would accept him unconditionally.

"You know this is forever, don't you?" Duo whispered. "That I love you and want nothing more than to spend the rest of my life with you?"

"I do." The soft murmur was both acknowledgement and vow. 'No more hiding things. Duo loves me; I love him. Have faith in that and we'll make everything else work out...' He pressed a kiss to Duo's cheek and whispered, "I want to be cleaning your hair out of the drain when it's grey instead of brown and you have to help me straighten back up after bending over that far."

Duo chuckled quietly at the mental image conjured up by Heero's words. "Sure sounds like love to me..." He turned his head to meet Heero's lips with his own in a tender, lingering kiss. Duo laid his head back down on Heero's shoulder again for a few moments before reluctantly drawing away. He hated to break off the embrace but it was sort of a necessity if they ever wanted to get around to the ravishing part of the evening and he was pretty sure that they both still did. Though there certainly had been other evenings when they'd changed their minds before they made it to the bed and had ended up just kissing and caressing and holding one another until they finally fell asleep.

Heero regretfully let Duo pull away and dry them both off. Much as he loved making love with Duo, there were times that just being together - holding and being held - was what he wanted. Needed. Especially when emotions had been running high as they had tonight. Instead of wrestling them under tight control as he'd been trained to, he would let them run their course in the security of Duo's embrace. Duo was the one person in the universe that he *could* let go with; the one person that he trusted enough to drop his guard that completely in the company of.

Tonight... tonight he was torn. Part of him wanted to just spend the evening curled up together with Duo, soaking in the sense of peace and contentment that went along with that. The rest of him... well, *that* was remembering Duo's teasing invitation to have his "wicked way" with him. 'It's early still. There's time for both,' he decided, watching appreciatively as Duo - back muscles rippling, thighs and butt tightening - stretched to drape the damp bath sheet over the top of the shower enclosure.

Duo squawked in startled surprise as he turned from hanging up the towel and was promptly slung over Heero's shoulder. "What the hell do you think you're doing, Yuy?!"

"Having my 'wicked way' with you," Heero deadpanned as he turned towards the door, careful not to let Duo hit anything in the process. He squeezed Duo's ass cheek firmly for emphasis and added, "You have a problem with that?"

"Problem?" Duo repeated. His momentary irritation at the casual manhandling - Heero *knew* that he did not, generally speaking, like being carried - faded. It might be kind of fun once in a *long* while as long as Heero didn't make a habit of it. "Oh no, no problem," he assured, stealing a grope of his own and snickering as Heero's steps faltered for an instant. "In fact, I insist that you carry on..."

"With pleasure," Heero growled as he entered the bedroom. He tossed Duo onto the mattress just hard enough to make him bounce, then pounced, nuzzling Duo's belly and ribs to make him laugh and squirm in "helpless" protest.

Pillows went flying and bedding became rumpled as they tussled playfully, wrestling and groping as they rolled around on the bed. Duo spared a moment of regret that he hadn't had a chance to braid his hair - it was going to be a real bitch to get the tangles out of after this - but he didn't really care. Heero would help with it. And he wasn't about to say anything to break the mood. It had only been over the past couple of months that he'd finally gotten Heero to stop taking sex so damn seriously and have *fun* with it. And it had been even more recently that Heero had stopped trying so damn hard to be gentle all the time.

Convincing Heero that he wouldn't break and that he *would* say something if things got too rough hadn't been easy but Duo had finally persuaded him that the same degree of forcefulness that they'd used in horseplay as best friends was perfectly acceptable now that they were lovers. Not out-and-out rough stuff; pain was *not* a turn-on for either of them. More like - being truly and completely uninhibited. 'It's not that I don't love how gentle and tender he can be because I do. But I also love his strength and power. It's part of who he is; I don't want him to be forced to keep it under such tight control all the time...'

Pinning Duo down with his entire body, Heero looked at his lover's flushed, laughing face and smirked. "Gotcha," he murmured, lowering his head to kiss Duo. Despite their mutual state of arousal, he took his time with the kiss, leisurely exploring the contours of Duo's mouth with deep strokes of his tongue. His fingers released their firm grip that had been holding Duo's wrists outstretched, twining through Duo's fingers instead.

Duo surrendered willingly to Heero's kiss, lovingly caressing his partner's tongue with his own. Time ceased to matter. Hands and lips, teeth and tongues, wandered. But throughout all the wandering, their mouths kept returning to each other time and again. When Heero's weight resting on him finally started to become uncomfortable, Duo rolled them both to their sides without ever breaking their embrace.

Hand gliding over Duo's solid back, Heero was subconsciously aware of the different skin textures he passed over. The faint pucker of scars. A burn here. A bullet wound there. A slash from a knife, a jagged scar from punctured and twisted Gundanium. He knew the story behind each and every mark on Duo's body, from the nail puncture on the sole of one foot - a legacy from Duo's street kid days when going barefoot was more common than not - to the cluster of circular cigarette burns on one shoulderblade - courtesy of an Ozzie interrogation. Just as Duo knew the meaning of every imperfection that marred *his* skin.

Knew, understood, and accepted. Just as they each accepted everything else about each other, both the good and the bad. The things that they loved and the things that aggravated the hell out of them. The endearing quirks and the annoying habits.

Draping one leg over Heero's hip, Duo pulled them closer together. He gave a low moan at the back of his throat as the pleasurable ache in his groin increased at the contact. Heero smothered his answering groan in another kiss, delving deeply into Duo's mouth until the desire to bury another part of himself inside of Duo became too strong to deny any longer. He broke off the kiss. "Love you... Want you..."

"Then take me, lover..." Duo invited huskily, rocking their groins together. Heero groaned and kissed him fiercely then lunged for the lube on the bedside table.

Heero slicked up his fingers hurriedly but thoroughly and shifted to kneel between Duo's spread legs. He stretched Duo as quickly as he dared, backing up to two fingers and adding more lube when three fingers drew a sharp hiss and involuntary tensing from Duo.

Duo drew slow, deep breaths and concentrated on relaxing. After several moments, he met Heero's eyes and told him, "Okay, babe. Try again." This time three fingers were uncomfortable and made the stretched muscle burn a little but didn't actually *hurt*.

Forcing himself to slow down, Heero kept a close eye on Duo's expression while he prepared him. He didn't hit Duo's prostate, not yet. He didn't want the pleasure from it to conceal actual pain. They didn't have enough experience at this yet to be entirely sure of their limits. So far, they'd managed to avoid any tearing and he really didn't want to risk changing that situation by rushing things too much.

Finally, the discomfort faded. "Now," Duo moaned as he rocked against Heero's fingers.

"Sure?" Heero asked even as he started to withdraw his fingers.

"Yes," Duo hissed emphatically. "Want you in me... *Now,*" he demanded.

Heero leaned over and managed to snag the fallen pillows. Hurriedly, he piled them against the headboard and moved to sit leaning back against them. They hadn't tried this position before but it seemed as if it would be less awkward and less taxing on Duo than other face-to-face positions were. They both preferred the intimacy of being face-to-face. Though when he'd been uke, he'd usually managed to get Duo to take him from the back so that he didn't have to worry about controlling his expression to hide his true reactions. He didn't like having to control himself that way around Duo. And even when he *did* try to for some reason, Duo was pretty good at seeing through to the truth.

Heero's actions had puzzled Duo for a moment, then he'd realized what Heero had in mind. Once Heero had settled himself and held out his hands in silent invitation, Duo immediately crawled over to him and carefully settled straddling him. "Slow and careful," Heero warned, putting his hands on Duo's hips to steady him.

"I remember," Duo acknowledged. According to their research, the hazard of this position lay in two things - the initial penetration which was all too easy to rush, possibly causing a tear, and the depth of penetration which could be uncomfortable for beginners. Which was why they'd avoided trying this before. They still weren't exactly vastly experienced but they weren't really beginners anymore either. Reaching down, he held Heero's erection with one hand while he carefully lowered himself onto it. He hissed as the sphincter muscle protested, burning a bit from the stretching. Heero's grip on his hips tightened, reminding him to take things slowly. "S'okay," he assured Heero softly. He was being very careful. Duo wouldn't risk hurting himself; he knew that Heero would blame himself for any injury. Slowly, cautiously, Duo continued to lower himself until Heero was fully sheathed within him. "Oh *god*..." he murmured breathlessly. "Just... gimme a minute..." The penetration was *definitely* deeper. It felt damn good and kind of uncomfortable at the same time. He shifted slightly and froze again, forced to give himself a few more moments to adjust.

Leaning forward, Heero kissed Duo hungrily for long, breathless moments. Duo pressed forward into the kiss, eagerly losing himself in the familiar connection. Distracting himself from the sting and burn, the decidedly odd feeling of being stretched and filled. Letting the kiss's simultaneous hunger and tenderness - the sense of completion and intimacy it gave - distract him from the discomfort and help him relax.

Taking Duo's softening erection in one hand, Heero teased, stroked, pumped until it revived, beginning to firm again. He continued to kiss Duo deeply, both to distract him from the discomfort and to deepen the sense of connection between them. Pulling back from the kiss for a moment, he murmured, "Home. The two of us together, this is *home*." He swooped forward hungrily, parting his lips eagerly to allow entry to Duo's searching tongue. When they had to separate to breathe again, Heero said urgently, "I didn't tell you that I didn't like it because it was worth it for this feeling..."

Duo pulled Heero close to kiss him again. "S'okay, I understand..." he reassured Heero. And he did. This was the ultimate intimacy, the ultimate act of trust and faith and love. Allowing someone inside in every way - body, heart, and soul. The sense of togetherness, of oneness, of *home*, that went with it was something that they both felt and neither wanted to give up. It honestly didn't matter which of them took which role; they were making love together regardless.

Judging that his body had finally adjusted to its fullness, Duo moved tentatively. Heero groaned in response before moving his own hips slowly, slightly, carefully. He wanted to make this last. To draw out the pleasure and sense of connection as long as he possibly could. He raised his knees, shifting his position slightly and giving Duo more support. They moved together, unevenly at first before they found the rhythm and began to move in harmony.

Time stretched. Became malleable.

Hands drifted in tender caresses. Mouths met time and again. Bodies rocked together, slowing or breaking rhythm whenever climax drew too near. Lips murmured soft assurances and endearments. Duo's tangled hair hung around them, damp with the sweat slicking both of their bodies.

Finally, they could no longer stave off the inevitable. Pressure built, their rhythm quickened, and, with an inarticulate cry, Duo surrendered to climax. Duo's inner muscles clenching tightly around him provided the last impetus that Heero needed and he followed with a near-silent gasp as Duo collapsed onto his chest.

Long minutes passed, the only sound their laboured breathing. Hands shakily rubbed arms, thighs, sides, anything they could reach, reassuringly. Duo lifted his head slightly from Heero's shoulder and pressed a kiss to the hollow of Heero's collarbone. Heero kissed Duo's temple in response.

Eventually, reluctantly, Duo lifted himself, feeling Heero's cock slip gently out of him. Softly and with a certain amount of amusement, he murmured, "Shower?" as he moved away.

"Bath," Heero corrected. "Hot." Soaking in a nice hot bath would help keep Duo's muscles from being as sore in the morning.

"Okay," Duo agreed, acknowledging the wisdom of the change. A warm soak tonight might make the difference between a pleasant ache and being too sore to sit comfortably in the morning.

"Go ahead, I'll be there in a minute," Heero urged, leaning over to kiss Duo gently. Duo nodded his acceptance and headed for the bathroom, knowing that Heero intended to strip the bed before joining him. After they cleaned up, they would remake it with the fresh set of bedding that he'd set out earlier.

They didn't always shower or bathe and change the bedding after making love but when they got as sweaty and sticky as they had tonight, they preferred to do so. Plus the roughhousing they'd done earlier had left the bed disordered and wrinkly. 'And I am *not* sleeping with my hair soaked with sweat and semen,' Duo added silently as he adjusted the temperature of the water filling the tub. Stiff, crunchy hair was *not* on his list of things he enjoyed waking up to.

Heero efficiently stripped the bed, rolling the soiled bedding into a tidy bundle. He dropped it into the hamper as he entered the bathroom. Together, he and Duo climbed into the still-filling tub. Duo sat in the vee of Heero's legs, his knees drawn up to fit the tub's length. He leaned forward, ducking his head under the water to wet his hair, then sat up again. Heero worked shampoo through Duo's hair, lathering it thoroughly. He paused for a moment as Duo shifted to reach the tap, shutting off the water before the tub overflowed.

Duo made a contented sound as Heero resumed work on his hair. They didn't talk, just soaked in the warmth of the hot bath and the continued intimacy. Sudsy hair draping over his shoulder signalled Duo that it was time to dunk his head and rinse. He let some of the water out and added more hot before Heero applied the conditioner to his hair. When the slimy strands were draped over his shoulder again, he leaned back against Heero to wait while the conditioner did its job.

Twining his fingers through Duo's, Heero squeezed gently. The answering pressure was all the response that he received. The only one that he needed. The silence surrounding them was a comfortable, companionable one that neither of them felt any urge to break. Heero waited a full ten minutes - being shampooed twice in one day would really strip Duo's hair - before reluctantly murmuring, "Time." Duo sighed softly as he moved away and dunked his head to rinse out the conditioner.

Climbing out of the tub, Heero had a towel ready and waiting when Duo joined him. He wrapped Duo's hair in another one before briskly drying himself with the still-damp towel from their earlier shower. While Duo was towel-drying his hair, Heero returned to the bedroom and remade the bed.

Once the worst of the moisture was out of his hair, Duo gathered up his brush and went back to the bedroom. The bed was freshly made, the covers turned back, and Heero was already sitting against the headboard waiting for him. He surrendered the brush to Heero's extended hand and settled himself between Heero's legs. Heero carefully worked the tangles out of Duo's hair, brushing it until it hung in a shimmering veil. He braided it securely and fastened the end with an elastic taken from the handle of the brush before laying the brush on Duo's lap.

Duo moved to put the brush on the nightstand, conscious of Heero moving the pillows and lying down behind him. He turned off the light and curled up next to Heero, pulling the covers up as he did so. Settling on his side, face-to-face with Heero, Duo kissed him tenderly. "Happy one-year anniversary, buddy," he murmured.

Heero brushed the back of his fingers gently across Duo's cheek. "Happy anniversary," he responded softly. "The first of many..."

"Mmm..." Duo agreed as Heero kissed him again, long and loving. When he finally had a chance to speak again, he decided that it was an appropriate opportunity to mention the idea he'd had earlier. "We've never talked about it before but I was wondering whether maybe we should get rings?"

"Rings..." Heero repeated, a slow smile spreading across his face. "I think that's a good idea... You're done shortly after noon tomorrow. You could meet me after work and we could go look at some..." He liked the idea that they would be wearing a tangible symbol of their commitment.

"Sure," Duo agreed, a bit startled by how quickly Heero wanted to pursue the idea. 'Glad I thought of it; it obviously *does* appeal to him...' "Did you want anything more? A ceremony, I mean? I don't mind if you do..."

Heero thought about it for a moment, then shook his head slightly. "Not unless you want one. Our friends all know we're together and the legalities are all in order already. And *we* know that we're committed to each other; we don't need some governmental rubber stamp to prove it."

"That's pretty much how I feel too."

"Just the rings then."

"Mmm-hmm..." Duo snuggled closer to Heero, one leg sliding between Heero's. Heero draped an arm over him and tipped his head so that their foreheads touched. Breath mingling, bodies entwined, they both relaxed and slowly drifted off to sleep, content, secure, and, above all, at home...

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