Title: Find Me
Rating: this part would definitely be, say G-ish. fluff-ish. a stupid part. but amusing, both to write and (hopefully) to read. :)
2 credits is about a dollar.
oh yeah, i mention a Friday's somewhere on West 42nd street. i'm not POSITIVE it's there, but there's one AROUND there, okay? i'm not sure exactly... so i made it up. =X can't think of anything else.
-----FiND ME [3/?]-----
Duo grinned as he walked into his tiny penthouse apartment. His customers always paid fairly well, and this one had been so drunk that he'd shoved ten 1,000 credit bills in Duo's pants. Ten thousand credits. He could live like a king for over a month.
"What's your pay tonight?" Duo turned to see a girl standing in the doorway. She'd been the one talking to him before and after the incident with the messy-haired boy.
"Hey Bella," Duo greeted her with a familiar nickname.
Bella grinned and walked into the room, throwing herself onto the couch. She looked up at her best friend. "Hey Koi," she answered in kind. "What's your pay for tonight?" she repeated. Duo knew she wasn't trying to get cash off of him, just curious.
"Ten thousand credits plus the 350 I got before"
Bella's eyes widened in appreciation. "Damn, Koi. How good *are* you?"
"I'm *good*," Duo smirked playfully. "Nah, the guy was drunk and decided he had too much cash on him."
"You didn't decide *for* him, did you?" his friend asked in amused tones.
Duo adopted a false injured air. "Me? Would I ever do that?" He didn't wait for a reply. "Actually no, he really did give it to me."
"That's great," Bella nodded. "Gonna take a few weeks off?"
He winked. "Unless that boy shows up."
She began to laugh, leaning back on the couch. Duo walked backwards until his legs hit his bed, then he sat down. "You're really into him, aren't you?"
Joining her in laughter, Duo replied, "I just want to see if I can make him fall in love with me."
Their eyes locked and both grinned, understanding each other perfectly. Bella finally nodded. "All right, then. You planning on falling in love?" she asked seriously. He was her best friend and she wanted the best for him. She didn't want him hurt but she really wished someday Duo would fall in love with someone - rich- who loved him nack and who would take him away from this hell.
Duo's eyes turned slightly wistful. "It'd be nice to love someone and have them love me back," he said simply. Bella nodded and sighed heartily for him. "But," he said, recovering his cheery composure in nanoseconds, "that's in the future. This is now. You hungry? Want dinner?" It was 5:36 in the morning.
Her eyes turned soft. Duo was certainly the kindest person she'd ever met in her life, and this simple gesture was far more benevolence than she was generally faced with on a day to day basis. "That'd be nice," she said quietly. "Yeah, I'm hungry."
It was give and take, take it give; law of the streets. If someone offered you something, friend or enemy, you took it. Don't refuse something 'cos you felt bad taking things. That was the problem of the giver. In return, give whenever you could. The unwritten law. The only way for them all to survive. For any of them to survive.
"Great," Duo enthused. "Give me a little bit to wash and get changed." He yanked open an unresisting drawer, pulled out a handful of black, and shot for the shower. Bella smiled as he slammed the bathroom door in his haste.
It was a full 40 minutes before Duo returned. Bella wasn't surprised; she'd spent the time reading some of the comics strewn around Duo's room. When he walked in, dressed in loose-fitting black pants and a loose black shirt with a high collar, he found Bella on her stomach on the couch, kicking up her ankles, and reading a hentai manga.
"Ahem," Duo coughed. He was roughly toweling his hair dry, and grinning at the impression Bella made.
Bella, startled, fell off the couch. "Damn, Koi," she muttered, rubbing her now-throbbing posterior. "Can't you, like, make noise coming out of the bathroom or something?"
Duo smirked. "Sorry, Bella." As he stepped forward, Bella shoved the comic under the couch, muttering under her breath. "Bella, *what* were you reading?"
Meekly, Bella fished the manga out from under the dusty couch and held it up for inspection. It was probably the dirtiest and most graphic comic Duo owned. He began to laugh.
"Bella, what is your occupation and why were you embarrassed at reading that?" he inquired, stifling laughter.
Bella giggled. "I'm a night girl, thanks. And I'm a *good* girl, at that."
Duo fell on the couch in laughter, and after a moment of mock anger, Bella joined the laughter.
It felt good to laugh with a friend. Bella was the only friend he really had. Sure, there were 'cliques' of the 'night girls' and 'night boys' but it wasn't exactly the same thing. He felt close enough to Bella to tell her everything. There were few other people he felt the same way with. Most had died when he had been young. Scared though he was that his affiliation with Bella would get her killed, he was more afraid to let her go. A small part of him needed her to retain parts of his sanity that were deteriorating. Parts that hadn't deteriorated already.
Eventually Duo bounced off the couch. A glance out the window showed a faint light at the edge of the cityscape. It was nice living near the shore of the Hudson River: the water was gross beyond belief, but it had a nice, simplistic feel, to see an occasional sailboat go down the river, or the crew boats go up. Nice.
"Are we going?" He smoothed down his outfit a little. "Actually," he giggled, "it's more like breakfast now."
"Mm-hm," Bella said, yawning. "Wow, I'm tired."
"Or you could just sleep," Duo offered. He yawned, too. "That sounds like a good idea." Yes, sleep was certainly something he'd missed out on for too many hours.
Bella hauled herself onto Duo's couch. "Mind if I crash here ton- this morning?"
Duo shook his head, going to the closet to drag out a spare - albeit somewhat ratty - blanket. He draped it gently over her. "Don't mind at all. I'm going to sleep myself. Good night."
"You mean good morning, you idiot," Bella murmured sleepily.
"Whatever." He sneered at her, and inelegantly threw himself on his own bed, his hair still wrapped in the towel. "I hate sleeping with wet hair," he muttered to himself.
"Then dry it," Bella answered, voice muffled into the armrest of the couch, almost asleep.
"Yah, I would if I could."
"Go get mine."
Before Duo could open his mouth to reply, though, he heard a low buzzing snore coming from his couch. He muttered to himself incoherently before flopping over and deciding to deal with the stupid hair.
It was nearly 3 in the afternoon when Duo woke. Bella was still snoring softly on the couch, one arm flopped over the back, one leg off the couch. Duo snickered seeing her. 'That's got to be majorly uncomfortable', he reflected. It was too tempting. Ignoring the towel that fell off his head, he snuck over to the couch.
"AHHH!!!!!" he suddenly screamed.
"WAH!!!" Bella yelped, immediately awake and just as immediately on the floor in a crumpled heap of person and blanket. "Mlhrph," was the next thing she said, blanket in her mouth and comvering her head completely.
Duo started laughing and fell into the couch Bella had vacated.
After a few moments, she extricated herself from the tangle and sat up indignantly. "Koi, *what* was that for?!"
Her friend smiled at her benevolently. "To wake you up. It's 3 o'clock."
"And we went to sleep at 7 in the morning," she retorted. "Since when is 8 hours of sleep enough?"
"Since now," Duo simpered, hauling himself into his bathroom. "Oh yuck," came wafting out the door. "SHIT!"
Bella giggled. "Duo, what's wrong?"
"Is probably in a tangled mess, huh?" she said pragmatically. The only reply she got was several curses as Duo began to brush out his hair.
When the hair had been brushed out and braided, a full hour had passed.
"You know, Duo," Bella said the moment Duo came out of the bathroom. "I could've still been sleeping while you did your hair?"
"Why didn't you go back to sleep?"
Bella rolled her eyes. "I can't go back to sleep when I've been woken up already," she snapped, flopping backwards onto the couch.
"Sheesh, calm down," Duo answered, unruffled. "Let's go get, uh, lunch?" He glanced at his clock.
She had to laugh. "All right. Where are we going?"
In response, Duo hauled a battered phone book out of a drawer. He put it on the table and gestured for Bella to come over. "You pick. Wherever. Find the fanciest, most expensive restaurant you think your stomach can handle and we'll go there."
Bella groaned. "Damn, Koi, just take me to McDonald's and get me a number 5 or something."
"No way," Duo answered. He pulled out a chair and shoved Bella into it. "Come on. Open to a random page and see what's there. I'll go get, like, Joe and Michelle and Sugar and tell them to come out with us."
With that, he sprinted out the door, leaving Bella with the phone book. After a momentary sneer, she began to search with gusto.
Duo, meanwhile, went down the hallway to another tiny apartment and unceremoniously banged on the door. "Joe, Shug, stop fucking, get dressed, and haul ass to my room. Bella's picking us a restaurant and we're going out for lunch." He didn't wait for a reply, but instead continued down the hall, took a left, and up a set of stairs.
At another door, he simply opened the door. "Michelle?" he inquired, poking his head in.
"Yeah?" Michelle came out from her kitchen, carrying a yoga book.
Duo jerked his head out the door. "Wanna come out with us? I hit pay day and I'm taking Bella, Joe, and Sugar out to lunch. Might go run and get the twins, too."
"Sure, I'll come. Let me change and put on my make-up, there's a doll," Michella drawled.
"Meet me in my room," Duo nodded and closed the door behind him.
"Yeah, I guess I'll invite the twins," he said to himself out loud.
The hallway was barely lit and the window at the end was barely large enough to poke a hand through, much less let light in. The wallpaper was peeling, there were water stains and food stains and various other stains all over the place. The carpet couldn't justifiably be called carpet anymore. Rather, it was a shaggy mess on the floor. But it was home. Before knocking on the twins' door, Duo reflected, 'it's shit here, but we're cool with it. That's got to be fucked up'.
Duo let himself into the twins' apartment. Even through the door he could hear their piece of crap TV at full blast. There was no way they would hear a knock.
"Jess? Eryn?" The two girls turned their heads simultaneously. Jess reached forward to lower the volume.
"Hey Duo," Eryn said cheerily. "What's up?"
"Want to come out with a bunch of us for lunch?" He leaned restlessly on the doorframe. The twins' apartment was semi-furnished, unlike most others. Rumor was it they had a little money set aside from a dead parent or something, which always left Bella and Duo speculating together as to why they were on the streets. Duo usually shrugged it off; they had the only functioning computer in the house, which meant everyone went over there Saturday morning - if possible - to watch cartoons.
"Who's 'a bunch of us'?" Eryn inquired coolly.
Duo grinned, knowing that Eryn would soften up in moments. "Oh, me, Bella, Michelle, Joe, Sugar. Wanna come?"
"Nah," Jess answered for them. She smiled a little. "We already ate, and pretty well, too. But thanks for the offer."
"No problem." In moments he was out of the room and back in his apartment. His stomach was grumbling and he wanted too eat soon.
His guests were assembled in his main room, poring over the phone book still. The dingy table was completely surrounded by bodies.
"You want maybe foreign food?" Sugar called out to him.
"Might be nice," he answered. "Hell, we may as well try something new."
Sugar nodded, and pulled herself away from the cluster. "Let's go to that Thai place, then."
"What do you know about Thai food?" Joe gently mocked his girlfriend.
"Nothin'," she said, "which is why it'd be nice. New food."
"How about we just find the nearest, say, Friday's and indulge in real, American food," Michelle suggested.
Duo looked around for the general consensus. "Sounds good," he nodded. "Find one?"
"Yeah, there's one a coupla blocks away," Sugar drawled. "Let's go." She pulled on the jacket she'd dropped on the couch and handed Joe's to him.
"Cool," Bella said, pulled herself out of the chair.
"Hey Duo," Sugar said softly. "Thanks for inviting us."
"No problem," Duo said for the second time that afternoon. "What are friends for?" he winked.
It wasn't entirely like that. On the streets it was all a game of survival. Give and take, take and give, but above all, *survive*. Friends were there for the flighty things: lunch sometimes, hanging out, talking to. But never ever spill your darkest deepest secrets. Lock those up and throw away the key, that was the rule. Friends weren't for telling things to, they were for joking with and maybe sharing a little cash inflow with. Those were the rules.
Duo shrugged and walked out with his friends. He always followed the rules. The only thing was, if the rules didn't suit him, he often made up his own.
Heero had woken up at 7:30, but quickly realized there was no reason to. Back at the base, his alarm had always gone off after he'd woken up, so although there was no alarm here, he was still up soon after the sun.
It was slightly cool. Fall was certainly a delicious warm with the sprinkling of cool winds, wrapping one like wings. New York was obviously different from San Francisco, and weather was one of those things. Heero decided to relish the difference.
First thing he did, though, was go back to sleep. It was fascinatingly difficult, Heero concluded, after an hour had passed and he'd no more slept than he'd sprouted wings and flown. An inner clock told him it was ridiculous to sleep at such a late hour, although his mind protested he was supposed to be on vacation. The inner clock won. At 8:45 Heero gave up and got out of bed.
He pulled out the little hotel booklet again. There were 2 breakfast cafes in the hotel and one right outside. The 2 inside opened at 8, the other at 8:30. Hence, all were open now and Heero had a choice. Wonderful.
Either way, he was going to go eat breakfast, so getting dressed seemed like a good idea. Heero nonchalantly chose a pair of black jeans and a blue shirt and slipped them on. He opened the door and looked down the hallway. Which way was out...?
Heero finally decided to go left and see where that took him. Down a flight of stairs and through 2 hallways later, he'd passed by the swimming pools, several vending machines, more rooms, a set of squash courts, and 2 ice machines. No cafes. He was getting frustrated beyond belief, not to mention hungry.
'Squash courts,' Heero thought to himself. 'I found the squash courts but not food. This is ridiculous'.
It took another 20 minutes of meandering before he found the first cafe, and he was in no mood to go looking for the other one. it would suffice. Seating himself at a booth, he ordered a bagel and coffee. And he let his mind wander.
It was beyond 5 o'clock when Duo and his friends reached the Friday's.
"I haven't been to a Friday's in a while," Michelle drawled. "Some mark wanted to get me dinner 'fore me fucked me. Not sure why."
They pushed forward and into the building.
Inside, it was slightly dark, and had a smoky aura... but no smoke. Duo was bemused. "I should come somewhere like this often," he declared. "I like it."
"You haven't even eaten the food yet," Bella giggled, elbowing him in the ribs.
Duo gave her a mock scowl and rubbed his ribs. "Yo, Bella, that hurt."
"Did not," she tossed back. He sneered at her.
"Table for 5," Michelle told the waiter, who had been standing by rather impatiently.
Trowa had called in, early afternoon. Heero had forgotten that Quatre, Trowa's boyfriend, was Quatre Winner, owner of Winner Enterprises which, in turn, owned nearly anything worth owning. He'd offered a tour guide through New York City, knowing that without that incentive, Heero would spend the time in the hotel room, sulking over Wufei as usual.
So now he was supposed to meet this tour guide for an early dinner. Trowa had hinted that the tour guide was a business partner of Quatre's and had been duly warned: if Heero wanted him to go away, it was advisable that he leave, before things got violent.
Heero sighed and checked the address of the restaurant on the piece of paper he'd hastily scribbled it on. West 42th Street. Well, this was West 42th Street. He figured after walking the length of the road, he'd find the restaurant eventually.
Or he could take another glance at his paper, Heero realized. Trowa had also told him it was between 8th and 9th Avenue. That would make it considerably easier.
Finally the 5 were seated, a feat more difficult than first imagined. First Duo had wanted a window booth, so that had to be haggled. Then Bella complained that they were too far from the TV, which she wanted to watch. And then it was Michelle's turn to point out that the booth they were in was somewhat cramped. Finally, the waiter, harassed beyond belief, ushered them into a corner booth, next to a window and about 2 yards from a TV. All 5 youths smiled benevolently.
Heero pushed open the door into the restaurant, and began to look around. His survey was halted as he was approached by a young man in a crisp business suit. "Mr. Yuy, I presume?" he said slightly nervously. Heero had to smile inwardly, wondering what Trowa or Quatre had told this man about his temper and usual desire to be alone.
"Yes, sir. And you would be the man Quatre sent, correct?"
A nod. "I'm Mr. Andros. Here, I have a booth reserved for us. I brought a handful of phamplets and maps and we can go over where you'd like to go sightseeing." Through this mini-speech, he carefully directed Heero - without getting too close to him - to a little booth on the side. Heero followed placidly. He took a look around the restaurant. It was a nice restaurant: apparently one of a chain, and well-off. A glance at a menu, though, revealed reasonable prices.
When he looked around again, though, his eyes was drawn to a corner.
Duo rubbed his hands in an anticipatory gesture before diving into his steak platter. Sugar laughed at him as a huge steak rapidly began disappearing into Duo's stomach.
"You could eat anything, couldn't you?" she said fondly, ruffling Duo's bangs.
Duo glanced up sheepishly at the older girl. "Probably." He grinned.
And in that moment, he looked around. And saw a pair of familiar prussian blue eyes staring at him. Duo's froze for a second, in shock. Then he recovered, and a slow smile slid across his face. He winked once, then turned his attention back to the steak.
Heero, meanwhile, was speechless. He was positive that was the boy he'd seen on the street the night before. So what was he doing here?
Back to Part 2
On to Part 4