4-29-2001

disclaimer: the boys aren't mine. i just manipulate them for my own personal enjoyment.
title: momentary lapse of reason
rating: *this fic is not yet rated*
author: jana
archive: shinigami & wing
feedback: it's necessary to live...so, yes!
warnings for entire fic: shounen-ai/yaoi, angst, duo/heero torture, language, sap, small lemon-ish spots(?), AU (AC 200)
spoilers: none
pairings: odd....can't explain but it involves heero and duo and 3X4 implied.
notes: another one that came to me in dreamscape. yes, i know, i have weird dreams. you should see what happens after i eat pepperoni pizza ^_~

//heero's thoughts//
:: duo's thoughts ::

 

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 31

At precisely 5:30, Quatre, Trowa and Wufei returned home from work. It was Quatre and Wufei's turn to prepare dinner and Trowa entered the den to relax before their evening meal. He was quite surprised to find the two asleep on the couch and a small smile formed as he looked down at them, but soon disappeared as Quatre made his way into the room.

"What is he doing here?" he asked, shocked by Heero's presence.

"No idea. Let's go inside and leave them be." Trowa replied, taking his lover by the arm.

Quatre allowed himself to be pulled from the room, taking one last look at Duo wrapped in Heero's arms. He had mixed emotions about what he saw, frowning at what should have been at heartwarming sight.

++++++++

The two remained silent about Heero's return until they entered the kitchen, immediately relating the news to Wufei. "Heero is back." the blonde stated as he stood beside the raven haired young man.

Wufei was taken back by the news as well. "Did Duo invite him or did he just show up?" he asked.

"No idea." Trowa replied. "They are asleep in the den."

"We should have been informed he was coming. He should have told us.. or Duo should have." Quatre noted, his voice reflecting his annoyance at the situation.

Trowa nodded in agreement as did Wufei.

"This isn't just about the two of them. I think that one of the two of them would have realized that by now." Trowa added.

Wufei lowered his head. As much as part of him was pleased by the sudden turn of events, there was a great deal of anger that still remained. There were issues that needed to be resolved amongst the five. He had come to learn of Duo's strong feelings for Heero while he cared for their braided friend after Heero left. "Duo is well aware of that, Trowa. He more than any of us has been hurt by what Heero did. I'm certain he won't let him off the hook that easy."

"From the looks of things, I'd say Duo has already forgiven him." the blonde returned sharply.

++++++++

Heero woke with his ams still wound around his braided friend. While he was thrilled at what had taken place so far between them; he knew there was a long way to go. Smiling as he glanced down at the sleeping young man, Heero couldn't help but notice how beautiful Duo looked; he sensed the braided young man was far more troubled than he had let on. He looked so serene and peaceful in sleep; he deserved to be. Heero decided not to wake him.

+++++++++

It wasn't long before Quatre checked in on the two to find Heero awake. The blonde entered the den and Heero followed his stride across the room; his demeanor letting Heero know that he was not happy to see him there.

"Heero." the blonde nodded as he stood before him.

"It's been a long time, Quatre." He told him softly.

"What are you doing here?" he asked sharply, eyeing the still sleeping form in Heero's arms.

Heero looked down at the young man he held. "Duo asked me to come. I didn't see any reason to refuse him."

"And what about the rest of us, Heero?" Quatre asked loudly. "Did it ever cross your mind that any of us may have objections to your showing up here unannounced like this?"

Heero's eyes narrowed as the blonde spoke. "Please keep your voice down, Quatre. Duo is still asleep." He ordered. Ignoring Quatre's scowl at his command, he continued, answering his question. "And no, it didn't cross my mind."

"Well it should have." he snapped back. "Do you have any idea of what the three of us went through with Duo after you left?" he asked harshly.

Heero lowered his head.

"He was a mess, Heero, and it was all because of you and your stupidity. He wouldn't allow any of us to get close enough to him to help him through it. He didn't trust us." Quatre went on, his voice growing louder as he continued.

"I'm sorry. I had no idea." Heero replied softly, looking up at the small blonde.

"Of course you didn't, Heero, you left dammit!" the blonde screamed. "You just fucking left!"

Duo stirred in Heero's arms at sound of Quatre's voice. "What is going on?" he asked.

Moving to allow Duo to come to a seated position sit beside him, Heero shook his head from side to side. "Nothing, Duo. Quatre was just filling me in on what happened after I left.

"Is that what that was, Heero? Nothing?" he returned, looking up at Quatre. "I heard the way he was talking to you.." Duo paused, his eyes narrowing at the small blonde."....and in that tone of voice."

"It's fine, Duo.... really.." Heero told him, gently rubbing Duo's upper arm in an effort to calm him down. "I had it coming. We need to work all of this out." Heero replied calmly.

"It is NOT fine." Duo yelled, rising to his feet to face Heero. "This is between you and me, Heero. If you've got it coming then it's up to me to decide that.." he yelled, emphasising the word 'me' with one finger pressed against his chest. "....and me to give you hell, not him." he shouted toward Quatre.

Heero sat motionless as Duo continued, now adressing the small blonde. "I invited Heero here because I want us to work things out... all five of us. I can understand your anger, Quatre, but don't go off half-cocked before you have all the facts."

"I am not going off 'half-cocked', Duo." the blonde returned. "And I am not the only one who is pissed off that he is here." he finished, arm outstretched and index finger pointed at Heero.

Duo was livid. "You have no right to be pissed off that Heero is here, nor does anybody else. I invited him here, it's my house and it's my Goddamn life." he shouted. "You have no business interferring in this. Haven't you already done enough damage, Quatre?"

Heero saddened as the two fought and rose quietly, heading for the room's exit in an attempt to slip out of the den unnoticed.

Duo turned to see Heero leaving the room and instead of stopping him, turned once again to face Quatre. The look in Duo's eyes was one Heero had not seen in years, it was one the braided young man had reserved for battle... it was the darkened violet stare of Shinigami and it was directed at the small Arabian.

Heero continued up the stairs to his room, watching as Trowa and Wufei ran toward the den at the sound of the two escalating voices.

Lunging toward him, Duo grabbed Quartre by the collar of his shirt and pulled him closer. "Answer me, Goddamit, Quatre!! Haven't you caused enough fucking damage already?" he spat, shaking the small blonde.

Entering the room, Trowa quickly made his way to stand behind his irate friend. "Let him go, Duo." he warned, taking both of Duo's wrists into his hands. "Now." he added sternly, applying more pressure to them.

Duo stared down at the blonde in digust and released his hold on him, pushing him back as he let go of his shirt.

Quatre took several steps backward and adjusted the collar of his shirt. "I want him out of the house." he warned.

"This is my house and I invited him here. We talked all morning and most of the afternoon today trying to work things out between the two of us." Duo started, his voice holding less anger than it had before. "He is not leaving, Quatre. I won't allow you to force him out."

++++++

Heero sat on the very edge of the bed in his room, listening to his friends argue loudly in the den below. He was unable to make out what was being said, but easily recognized the four distinct voices. He was distraught that his presence was causing such trouble between them.

// i knew this was too good to be true //

Picking up the phone, Heero called a cab and waited several minutes before rising to retrieve his laptop and overnight bag. Exiting his room, he quietly made his way down the stairs and into the foyer.

Catching movement out of the corner of his eye, Duo turned toward Heero. "Were you going to tell me you were leaving or were you just going to go?" he asked, his tone somewhere between anger and hurt.

"I was going to call you ater. I think it's best if I go..... I'll call you tonight, okay?" He asked softly.

Duo looked at the sadness in Heero's eyes and nodded once. "I'm sorry, Heero... I didn't mean to.."

"It's okay, Duo." he smiled weakly.

Duo followed Heero outside and stood in front of the doorway as he watched Heero get into the cab.

:: he just got here and he is leaving already ::

Lowering his head after the cab had driven out of sight, Duo bit his lower lip and turned to enter the house. Closing the door, he bounded the steps two by two, heading straight for his bedroom.

+++++++++

Once inside the kitchen, Wufei and Trowa both turned toward Quatre. "What happened in there, Quatre?" Wufei began.

"At first, Duo was sleeping, so I asked Heero what he was doing here. He said that Duo invited him. I told him a little about what happened after he left..... I guess my voice got a little loud, cause.... I woke Duo up." he told them, hesitantly.

"And what did you say to Maxwell to make him so angry?" Wufei asked.

"He was upset at the way I was talking to Heero. He said that the two had been talking.... and that they were trying to work things out." Quatre paused and looked up at the two. "Then I told him that Heero should leave..... that we weren't happy about him being here." the blonde replied.

Trowa looked down at where Quatre had seated himself. "Don't you think you should have waited until Duo was awake to begin the discussion? You should have given him a chance to explain why Heero was here."

"Maybe, but..." Quatre began.

Trowa interrupted him. "I think you should also keep in mind that you never finished your little conversation with Duo, Quatre. I'm guessing that by now they have figured out that it was you who cut off their communication."

Wufei turned sharply at the words and looked over at Quatre. "You what?" he asked.

"It's a long story, Wufei. I made a mistake. I never got a chance to finish talking with Duo about it last night." he frowned. "I guess that could have contributed to Heero's attitude.... certainly would explain Duo's." he concluded.

Trowa looked toward his two friends. "I cannot deny that Heero owes us some sort of an explanation for his actions. He has apparently already started to work things out with Duo. It's a step in the right direction."

"Right.... but until that happens, Trowa, he is not welcome here. I cannot forgive him for what he did to Duo and how it affected the four of us." Quatre told them. "He hasn't even offered an apology."

Wufei and Trowa solemnly nodded in agreement.

"In the meantime, Quatre.." Trowa began, "You need to be a little more sensitive when you are dealing with Duo.... especially now."

Quatre acknowledged his lovers reprimand with downcast eyes and a small nod.

+++++++

Throwing himself down onto his bed, Duo folded his arms and placed them behind his head; sighing heavily. "This is not the way this was supposed to work out." he spoke aloud.

// heero just got here....... and he's gone already //

His eyes closed as he recalled the intense pain he felt as he watched the cab pull away, taking Heero with it. He acknowledged that Heero's leaving was the best way to diffuse the mounting tension amongst the five; removing the cause in an effort to contain the potentially explosive situation.

"Geezus... I understand that they think they are trying to protect me, but it's gotten WAY out of hand. It's AC201 for godssake... I'm friggen 21 years old!! Don't they have any confidence in my decisions? And why should I even care what the hell they think?" Shaking his head from side to side, Duo came to a seated position in the center of his bed. He had no intention of letting any of them stand in the way of healing his relationship with Heero; not at any cost.

Noting it was only 6:15, Duo rose and made his way downstairs to join the others for their evening meal.

++++++++

The three were suprised as Duo entered the room and Quatre waited until he had served himself dinner before offering the braided young man a pseudo-apology.

"Duo..." Quatre started once he had his attention, "I'm sorry if anything I said earlier hurt you in any way. I can assure you that it wasn't my intention." Pausing to see if Duo would respond, Quatre noted the lack of emotion on Duo's face, continuing nonetheless. "It doesn't change the fact that Heero is not welcome here."

"If you are trying to provoke me again, Quatre, it's not going to work." Duo replied sharply, refocusing his attention on his meal. "What I decide to do regarding Heero is nobody's damn business but mine and I'd appreciate it if this is the last time any of you bring this up in my presence. Understood?" he asked, looking up at each one of them.

"Good." he snapped.

Dinner continued in silence.

 

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 32

Sliding his key card through the narrow slit in the huge metal lock, Heero opened the door to his hotel room and reached in to turn on the light before entering. Setting his bags down just inside the doorway, he looked around the large space. It was an enormous room, tastefully decorated and offered more than the standard amenities, but it wasn't where he had intended on spending the night.

Making his way to the far side the room, Heero opened the drapes and seated himself in front of the huge window. It was rush hour and the streets below the 4rd floor of the huge hotel were still noisy with traffic. He smiled at the view, oddly enough having missed the clamor of New York City during his absence.

Taking the menu from the center of the table beside him, Heero looked it over briefly. While he wasn't hungry at the moment, the hotel offered room service for only another hour and certain he would regain his appetite eventually, he dialed the three digit extension and ordered himself something to eat. Slipping his shoes off, he reclined back into the chair and awaited his supper; the events of the last few hours naturally replaying themselves.

Things had gone terribly wrong back at the house and Heero was at a partial loss to understand why. Despite the fact that Duo was more than enthusiastic to see him, he had expected there to more negative discussion between them given what had happened. Taking into account that the two had a lot more ground yet to cover, Heero was still unable to foresee any major disagreements between him and Duo. His confrontation with Quatre was not something he anticipated; nor was Duo's outburst of anger at their Arabian friend.

As much as he wanted to contact Duo and begin to straighten things out, Heero felt it would be best to wait, allowing the four time to discuss what had occurred since he had arrived. He hoped that Duo was able to explain what had transpired between them; certain that if they had more of an understanding it would lessen the hostility felt earlier.

Rising to answer a loud knock on his door, Heero accepted his dinner and returned to sit at the table. His thoughts now headed in a positive direction, Heero lifted the styrofoam cover off of his meal and sat it on the table, his mood turning sullen as he began eating; once again alone.

// so close and yet so far //

Deciding to call Duo after he finished his dinner, Heero hurried through his meal. Rather than risk using the telephone and possibly getting Quatre on the line, he chose to contact Duo via his computer. He had no idea of how things were going and would not take the chance that his call could make things worse than they already were for Duo at home.

Booting his laptop, Heero opened the program that connected the two and typed.

[] you there?

Heero waited patiently for a reply, realizing that Duo was not expecting him to make contact in this fashion.

+++++++

Finishing his chores in silence, Duo left the kitchen and went back up to his room, immediately responding to Heero's message.

[] i am now

Heero smiled and moved forward to type.

[] is everything okay there?

Duo shook his head.

[] no

[] maybe i shouldn't have come to the house, duo

[] it's my house too dammit. i don't want to talk about it

[] i'm sorry

[] it's not your fault, heero.

Heero sighed deeply.

[] where are you staying?

[] holiday inn at laguardia. why?

[] meet me out front in 30 minutes... bring a jacket.

F9

+++++++

Swiftly changing into a pair of black leather pants and a burgundy t-shirt, he stepped into his boots and sat to lace and tie them. Tugging his pants legs downward as he stood, Duo made his way across the room to stand in front of the full length mirror.

Up until now, he hadn't been certain that he would ever ride again. Fortunately, he had not ruled out the possibility entirely and had arranged to have the necessary repairs made to his Harley while he was recuperating. The bike had received much less damage than he had in the accident, the thought of it still sending a chill though him. One year of healing and his irrepressible emotions for a certain dark hair young man found him ready to tackle his fears.

Grabbing his leather jacket from its hangar, Duo slipped into it and reached up to take the two helmets from the top shelf, pausing as he looked at the huge cardboard box beside it. "I'm so glad it's not forever." he spoke aloud, tapping the box lightly with his fingertips. Taking one last look at himself in the mirror, he smiled approvingly at the vision of his leather-clad reflection and shut the closet door.

Making his way downstairs and into the kitchen, Duo entered the garage in silence, uttering not a word to the three young men who watched his every move from their places around the huge wooden table.

++++++++++

The 15 minute ride was fairly relaxing as much of the journey saw him traveling on small side streets. A block before he reached the hotel, Duo's gaze fell on the lone figure standing on the sidewalk in front of the huge building. His smile was a nearly mile wide by the time he brought his bike to a stop. Turning the engine off, Duo lowered the kickstand and rested his one foot on the edge of the sidewalk. Lifting his helmet off with two gloved hands, Duo shook his head to allow his hair to fall back into place and turned to face Heero. "Hey, stranger.. going my way?"

Heero chuckled softly as shook his head from side to side before letting his eyes wander slowly over Duo's body; every inch of his lithe frame encased in tight black leather.

"I'll take that as a yes." he grinned as Heero's eyes finally made their way back upward to look him in the eyes. Reaching behind him, he slipped the extra helmet from under it's tight elastic strap and handed it to Heero. "Hop on."

Heero took the offered head gear, pausing slightly before he put it on.

"Something wrong, Heero?"

"Just thinking about the last time you rode." he replied softly. Heero shuddered slightly as his mind produced a picture of Duo lying in the hospital bed that morning.

"I was a little nervous myself taking her out tonight. This is my first time back on the bike since then." he admitted. "Don't worry, Heero. I'll take it slow." he smiled.

Heero nodded and put the helmet on, strapping it securely under his chin, while Duo did the same.

"Did you eat dinner yet?"

"Yeah."

"Me too. Dessert?"

"Nope."

"Good." Duo replied. "I know of a great new place."

Turning the engine over, Duo brought the bike upright and released the kickstand. Climbing onto the back of the bike, Heero gripped the edge of the seat with both hands. Reaching behind him, Duo took Heero's hands in his and wrapped them tightly around his waist. "Gotta hold on." he smiled, pulling away from the curb.

+++++++

The ride into Manhattan was a pleasurable one. Heero had not realized how much he truly missed the city, enjoying every moment of the 30 minute ride. With his body pressed firmly against Duo's and his arms gently surrounding him, Heero almost wished it would never end.

+++++++

"This place is great." Duo remarked as he removed his helmet. Dismounting the bike, he took Heero's helmet from him and secured the two, pocketing his keys.

Still seated, Heero looked up at the small white sign above the anonymous storefront. "Miss Grimble's?" [4] he asked as he stepped onto the sidewalk.

Duo nodded. "Yup. It's unassuming, but they make the best chocolate orange torte I've ever had." he replied. "Of course, it's the only chocolate orange torte I've ever had." he winked.

+++++++

There was no further discussion amongst the two about the situation at home, Duo's health or what had transpired last year, Duo instead focusing on Heero's job in California and what he had been up to the past year. The day had been filled with much heavy, emotional conversation and the two more than welcomed the light-hearted friendly chat.

Looking down at his watch, Duo noted the late hour. "I guess we should be getting back."

Heero nodded and rose. While he didn't really want the night to end, it was clear that both he and Duo were fairly exhausted and hopefully there would be tomorrow.

++++++++

Slowing as they approached the Holiday Inn, Heero relaxed his hold on Duo and sat back a bit. Unclasping his arms from around Duo's waist as they came to a complete stop, Heero removed his helmet and got off the bike, stepping up onto the sidewalk. "I had a great time tonight, Duo."

"Me too." Duo smiled, "It's been a while since I've been out."

"I'll be here for another few days. Are we going to have a chance to see each other again?"

Duo's eyes widened as he looked up at Heero.

"Did I say something wrong?"

"Yeah.....ya did, Heero." Duo replied. "Do you think that I'm not going to see you just because they don't want me to?"

Heero cringed at the venom Duo's voice held as he referred to their friends. "I don't want to stir up any more trouble than I already have for you, Duo." he replied looking sorrowfully up at Duo.

"If they force me to make a choice, Heero, I don't even need to think twice about it." he returned quite seriously. "How big did you say that apartment of yours in California was?" he asked jokingly before winking.

Heero smiled as the tension was lifted, returning the evening to it's formerly pleasant state.

"I'll pick you up at 8:00 tomorrow morning. We can stay at the house till 4:30. We'll play it by ear after that. Sound okay?"

"Sounds great." Heero nodded, handing the young man his helmet. "Night, Duo..... and thank you."

"Thanks for what, Heero?"

"Understanding...... and giving me a another chance."

Duo offered his friend a wide smile and fastened the strap of his helmet under his chin "We all fuck up, Heero, we're only human after all."

Lowering the dark visor on his helmet, Duo slowly pulled away from the curb and waved back toward his friend, wishing Heero's strong arms were still wrapped around him.

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 33

Looking over at the clock, Quatre sighed, causing his lover to turn toward him. "What is it, angel? Worried about Duo?"

Quatre nodded. "It's late and he's not back yet. It wouldn't bother me so much if he wasn't on that damn bike."

"Sure you would.." Trowa began, stopping abruptly as he heard the front door open. "See, he's home now and everything is fine. Go to sleep now?" he asked, pulling the small blonde into his arms.

"Yeah, Trowa." he smiled.

The two curled up against one another, listening as light footsteps made their way past their bedroom; they could both hear the sound of Duo softly singing an upbeat tune ashe made his way toward his room. Quatre couldn't recall the last time he had heard their braided friend's melodic voice. "He's really happy, isn't he, Trowa?"

"Yes, Quatre, I think he finally is."

++++++++++

Rising the next morning, Duo hurried through his shower opting not to wash his hair as the lengthy process would cause him to be late for his meeting with Heero. Facing his reflection in the mirror, he made the decision not to forego breakfast. Once again dressed from head to toe in slightly less than form-fitting leather he exited the house and made his way to hotel Heero was staying at. Ever punctual as was expected, the dark haired young man leaned against the brick façade of the huge building as he awaited his ride; only several minutes passing before the distinct engine noise of Duo's huge bike filled the air.

+++++++++

"I'd like to pack some stuff up to send home, if that's okay with you." Heero spoke as the two entered the large house through the front door.

"Want some help?" Duo asked, smiling toward Heero. "I've got nothing else to do."

Heero nodded and followed Duo through the kitchen and into the garage. Several small cardboard boxes in hand, the two made their way upstairs and into Heero's room. Setting the boxes down as he entered, Heero looked around the room. "I guess we should start with the clothes." Walking to stand in front of his dresser, Heero reached down to pick up the photo that was lying atop it. He smiled as he looked down at the image of himself and Duo. It was the same picture that Duo had found several months earlier.

"It's been a while since I've seen this picture." he smiled.

Extending his arm to pull Duo toward him, the two stood in front of the mirror and Heero looked down at the picture, arranging himself so that the two were able to imitate the pose.

Duo smiled as he viewed the photo again. "We look like kids."

"We were kids."

Heero glanced down at the picture. "Look at your grin, Duo. I wonder what you were smiling about?"

"I remember exactly what I was thinking about when Quatre took that picture." Duo smiled. His smile turned into a chuckle as he looked up at the surprise on Heero's face in the mirror.

"You do?" he questioned. "This picture must have been taken almost 6 years ago?"

"It was... and I do..... wanna know what it was?" Duo asked.

"Sure." Heero smiled.

Sliding his arm that was already draped on Heero's shoulder around to lie flat against the curve of his back, Duo turned to face a slightly confused Heero. "Promise you won't get angry?" he asked.

"Promise."

Closing his eyes, Duo moved his head forward and tilted it to the side, letting his mouth lightly brush against Heero's. He could feel Heero's body tense as his tongue slid between his slightly open lips, nevertheless parting them to allow the intrusion. Duo slipped his tongue inside to meet with Heero's for just a second before pulling back.

Smiling at the dumbfounded statement on Heero's face, Duo pressed his lips to Heero's again, stealing a quick kiss.

"That's what you were thinking about?" Heero asked, his lips still tingling from Duo's unexpected kiss.

"Yup. It's all I ever thought about. 15.... raging hormones..... you..... I think you get the picture." He winked, making his way across the room. "So what do you want to pack up to send back?" Duo asked, sitting on the edge of the bed.

Heero looked down at the picture in his hands and back up at Duo. "Don't try to change the subject."

"I wasn't. Being that close to you always had that affect on me, Heero. I've nothing further to say in my own defense." Duo smiled.

Heero sat beside Duo on the bed. "We should talk about that some more, Duo."

"What about it, Heero? I thought we covered most of it already."

Heero shook his head. "No. I mean why this was picture out? I'm pretty sure I didn't leave it there."

"I found it a while back.... when I was starting to clean out your room."

Heero raised one eyebrow. "Duo?"

"Hmmm?" he asked innocently.

"Talk..... about the weight loss and about the picture.... and why it's crumbled."

Duo sighed. "There really isn't too much to say, Heero." he began. "I think it's pretty obvious that last year wasn't one of my best."

Taking Duo's hand in his, Heero looked into his violet eyes and nodded his understanding, prompting Duo to continue.

"After the link was severed I became pretty depressed. I'm not even sure why. I didn't even know what I wanted from you after I first found you. I thought that after the way I dismissed you after you invited me to lunch, that perhaps you had done something foolish. I knew I had hurt you that day, I could see it in your eyes." Duo softly told him.

"I deserved it, Duo. I was never angry at you for the reaction you had..... or the way you treated me." Heero replied, lowering his head. "It was very painful for me. I was hurting... for a long time."

"Then why didn't talk to me when I contacted you?" Duo asked confused. "So many months had passed.... I thought that it was time to see if we could both start to put it behind us."

Heero nodded at Duo's reasoning. "I was finally having some success in getting over what had happened here. Your contact sent it all back to the forefront, all the guilt, all the sorrow and the emptiness.... I couldn't handle it again. I'm sorry, Duo." he finished, squeezing Duo's hand tightly.

"I can understand that." Duo smiled. "I thought that I could get over it too, Heero."

"It's not as easy as it sounds." Heero responded.

"No... there was nothing easy about it at all. I struggled with it for months. That is when I found myself in here..." Duo continued, looking around the room "... I wanted pack up all your things. I needed to try to move past what had happened between us and try to get on with my life.... and that is when I found that picture of us.." he paused, looking down at the photograph in Heero's hand. "It fell out from in between some paperbacks up on the top shelf of your bookcase."

Heero nodded slowly.

Duo saddened as he recalled the day he found it. "I realized then that I didn't really want to get on with my life..... it just wasn't worth the effort...." Closing his eyes, he continued softly. ".... it just went downhill from there."

"Duo.."

"Which is where my head was at when I decided to reopen the link two night's ago....... it didn't even matter to me if we ever spoke again.... I just needed to know that you were there." Duo paused, looking up at Heero to gauge his reaction. "I know, I'm pathetic." he smiled weakly.

"I don't think you're pathetic, Duo." Heero gently told him.

"You wouldn't be the greatest judge of character here, Heero, considering some of the things YOU'VE done." Duo returned, the serious look on his face soon turning to somewhat of a smile.

Heero laughed lowly and shook his head, "Hai. Maybe we're both pathetic." He started, turning toward Duo, "Or maybe it's that we're in love with each other."

Heero looked nervously over at Duo, searching his face for some indication of how his words were received. He hadn't planned on bringing up the topic, though he thought about constantly. He had resigned himself to wait for Duo to broach the subject, but the timing just seemed right.... now he had never been more unsure of himself.

Duo sat motionless for a moment, before turning toward Heero. "Perhaps it's both." he smiled.

++++++

Ten o'clock found Duo hungry and given the amount of weight he had lost, he dared not ignore his body's request. "You wanna go downstairs and get a quick snack? I'm starved." he smiled toward Heero.

Heero nodded and followed Duo downstairs and into the kitchen, seating himself at the table. Watching Duo searching through the refrigerator and cabinets, he couldn't help but smile. "Can't find anything interesting?" Heero asked.

Still searching, Duo rose up onto his tiptoes, stretching up to see what was on the uppermost shelf of the small cabinet. "I think it's gonna be peanut butter and jelly." he replied, resting back down onto the soles of his feet as he closed the cabinet door. "Want one?" he asked.

"No thanks." Heero replied, his eyes following Duo around the room as he gathered everything he needed.

Seating himself beside Heero, Duo took two slices of bread and set them on his plate.

"I don't suppose you had a chance to talk with anyone last night or this morning. Did you?" Heero questioned.

"Everyone one was asleep last night when I got home and they had left already by the time I got up this morning." Duo returned. "What is it that I'm supposed be talking with them about anyway, Heero?"

"I thought that if you told them a little about what we talked about that they might not be as hostile toward me next time... especially Quatre. It's really something I should do myself.. if he would give me the chance."

Duo looked sternly over at Heero. "Quatre isn't liable to listen to me any more than he is you. He just doesn't get it, Heero. I'm not going to bother wasting my time and neither should you."

Heero's confusion was obvious as he stared at the young man seated next to him.

// how could he think it's a waste of time? //

"I don't understand, Duo." he told him softly.

Duo slammed the knife he was holding down onto the table. "I am fucking tired of being manipulated... first by you and then by him!!" Duo yelled.

Heero looked over at Duo, confused by his words and by the anger with which he spoke them. "Duo.... I thought you wanted to try and work things out between all of us?" Heero asked, his voice tinged with sadness at Duo's hurtful words.

"I do, Heero..." Duo spoke, his voice not nearly as angry as it had been just moments ago. "...but how can we get anywhere when he won't even acknowledge that what he did was far worse than what you did. How am I supposed to begin to forgive either one of you?"

Heero rose and turned to cross the room.

"Where are you going, Heero?"

"Back to my hotel. I need to call a cab first. Is it okay if I use the phone?" he asked, unable to turn to face Duo.

"Please don't go, Heero..." Duo choked out.

Heero closed his eyes as he stood in the center of the large room listening to the tearful pleas of the man he loved. Duo was right... what he had done was not something he had expected Duo to forgive him so easily for....despite all outward appearances, apparently he had not.

Duo put his hands on the table and pushed his chair back before rising to stand. "I told you yesterday, Heero." he started, taking several steps toward the motionless form in the center of the room. "I have no intention of ever letting you go again." he whispered, wrapping his arms around Heero.

"What do you want from me, Duo?" Heero asked softly as he settled back into Duo's embrace. "I've poured my heart out to you..... left myself completely open.... and vulnerable. Do you know how difficult it was for me to do that? It was my only option...." Heero paused, biting his lower lip as he choked back his tears. "..... I don't know what else I can do to show you how much I regret what I did...... " Heero lowered his head and let his voice drop off to barely a whisper. "....or how much I love you."

Duo tightened his grasp on Heero, resting his head on his shoulder. "I know, Heero.." Duo whispered through his tears, "I just can't seem to get over it..... when is it going to stop hurting so much?"

Turning within the tight circle of Duo's arms that surrounded him, Heero placed the fingertips of his right hand under Duo's chin and pushed upward until shimmering violet eyes were forced to meet his own. "I can't make it stop hurting, Duo... but I promise I'll still be here when it does."

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 34

The memory and mood of Duo's earlier outburst faded rather quickly and neither one of them made reference to it as morning turned to afternoon. Heero had come to the conclusion that it was a much needed emotional release and sensed that Duo was quite relieved at having gotten the growing anger out of his system. The braided young man wasn't the only one feeling the pressure lifted.

Ever since he'd arrived and Duo had questioned him about his long hidden emotions and ensuing actions, Heero had been on edge waiting for the second shoe to drop; he knew there had to be more to their confrontation... this morning was an monumental step. It seemed that the two had succeeded in laying everything out on the table and now were ready for the healing process to begin.

+++++++

"There is surprisingly little here I miss." Heero commented as he stood in the center of his bedroom. Looking down at the one small box he had barely managed to fill, his eyes turned toward Duo who sat quietly on the edge of the bed.

Making his way to where Duo sat, Heero smiled and lifted his chin. "I didn't mean you."

Duo looked up. "I know." he replied, his statement still solemn. "But it's nice to hear you say it anyway." he smiled weakly up at Heero.

Heero looked down at his watch. "It's almost 3:00. I have to be leaving soon. Are you sure you don't mind taking this to the post office tomorrow?"

"No problem, Heero."

Sealing the box, Heero neatly printed his address and Duo's return address on it and set it down in the center of his dresser. "We've an hour and half hour left. Do you want to...." he started, turning to address Duo. Shaking his head slightly, Heero crossed the room and covered the sleeping young man with a light blanket, kissing him gently on the cheek. "Oh, Duo... What am I going to do with you?" he mused as he looked down at him. A smile worked its way onto his face as he answered his own question.

++++++++++

Duo's rest had a significant impact on his demeanor; he woke with a smile to Heero's soft voice. "I guess I was tired." he winked, stretching before bringing himself to the edge of the bed. "Time to go?" he asked, yawning as he looked over at the clock.

Heero nodded. "It's almost 4:30. I can take the bus back."

Duo stood. "Nah. I'll be fine in a few minutes. Be right out." he smiled, closing the bathroom door.

Heero let out a sigh of relief; Duo's willingness to drive him back to the hotel would give him the oppportunity he was looking for.

+++++++++

As hoped, Duo had cheerfully accepted his invitation to dinner. Heero had chosen a small, out of the way restaurant that wasn't likely to be busy on a Saturday night; leaving them sufficient time to linger and talk after their meal.

"Do you have to go back right away?" Heero asked as he dismounted the bike outside the hotel.

"Nope. Have no plans for the evening." Duo returned.

"Want to come up for a while? Maybe watch a movie?" He asked.

"Sure." Duo smiled. "I'll go park the bike and meet you back here."

+++++++++

Duo sat in one of the chairs by the window and unlaced his high top boots, setting them neatly under the table. "Anything in particular you wanna watch?" he called, his voice loud as he called to Heero through the bathroom door.

"Don't care. You pick something." Heero returned at an equally high volume, ensuring Duo could hear him over the running water.

Duo removed his leather jacket and draped it over the back of the chair before throwing himself down onto the bed with a loud sigh. Lying with his legs crossed at the ankles, Duo positioned a pillow behind him and leaned back against it.

Heero looked across the room from the now open doorway of the bathroom, "You look comfy." he smiled, toeing off his shoes as he entered the room.

"I am." Duo grinned, pulling the pillow next to him out from under the bedspread. "Join me?" he asked, propping the pillow up against the headboard.

Heero sat hesitantly on the opposite side of the bed before moving to sit next to Duo. He stretched his legs out and lay back against the pillow; wondering if their close proximity on the bed was causing Duo to have thoughts similar to his.

+++++++++

Duo's choice of entertainment for the evening had been a good one. Heero enjoyed it for the most part, though he lost concentration when Duo reached out to hold his hand about half way through it. He had, or course, not rejected the offer, thought it was more than mildy distracting. When the movie ended, their hands were still clasped tightly together on the bed between them.

Duo grabbed the remote control with his free hand and pointed it at the television. The room quieted as the screen blanked and the two turned toward one another.

"I'm leaving tomorrow night."

Duo closed his eyes and nodded, opening them almost immediately to look at Heero. "I don't want you to leave again, Heero." Duo told him, squeezing his hand as he spoke.

"I'm not welcome here." Heero reminded Duo.

"I know. You have a job and stuff to get back to anyway." Duo returned.

Heero nodded and releasing Duo's hand stood beside the bed. "Why don't you come and spend some time with me out in California, Duo? You could certainly use a vacation."

Duo's smile was wide, though his apprehension was still visible through it. "I don't want to get in the way."

"You won't be in the way, baka." Heero returned, grinning at Duo's wide smile at his use of the word. "I have to go to work, but there's plenty of stuff you can do in the area during the day. I can make you a list. What do you say?"

Duo stands and nods. "Yeah. I think I'd like that, Heero."

"Good." Heero smiled. "Let's see if we can book you a flight."

Sitting at the table, Heero logged onto the net and brought up the schedule of flights leaving New York for California in the next few days. Scrolling down through the long list, Heero paused and looked up at Duo. "Can you be ready by tomorrow at 3? There are still seats left on my flight."

Duo nodded emphatically.

"Great." Heero replied, looking back down at the screen. "Return flight for next Saturday okay?"

"Perfect." Duo smiled.

Heero ordered the roundtrip ticket and waiting just moments for the confirming email, jotted the necessary information down and logged off. "All set." he smiled looking over at Duo. Heero stood and crossed the room, stopping several feet from where Duo was standing. His voice suddenly took on a serious tone "What are you going to tell them, Duo?"

Duo took two steps toward Heero and wrapped both arms around his waist. "That my Prince Charming has finally showed up and is dragging me off to California with him." Duo replied in a high pitched voice, his hand clutching at his chest to further the effect.

The two laughed loudly and Heero lifted his arms to surround Duo in return and placed a gentle kiss Duo's forehead, allowing his lips to remain there. He closed his eyes as Duo tightened the embrace for just a moment before breaking it. "I should be going. It's 11:00 and I have some packing to do." He smiled faintly.

Heero stepped back. "I'll call you in the morning, okay?"

"Yeah. Are you sure about this, Heero?" Duo asked with uncertainty.

Heero nodded. "I am, but if you're not....."

"I'm very sure, Heero." Duo smiled widely.

Slipping his jacket back on and grabbing the two helmets, the pair made their way down to the parking garage.

"Talk to you around 10:00, too early?" Heero asked.

"Anytime is fine. I don't think I'll be getting too much sleep tonight." He replied, starting the engine. "Night, Heero. See you tomorrow." he added, lowering his visor.

Heero nodded and watched him drive off. "Night Duo."

+++++++++

Quatre lie in his bed awake long after his lover had fallen asleep. His thoughts were drawn to Duo and all that had happened amongst the five in the past few days; the blonde was not proud of his behavior as he looked back on it. He had barely given Heero a chance to talk before practically jumping down his throat. It was apparent that Duo had been able to work through enough of the issues he had with Heero to allow some type of healing to begin. His actions toward their former friend not only put more distance between them, but had angered the very person he had sought to protect in the first place. Duo had every right to be angry with him for a host of reasons.

Quatre frowned. "How am I ever going to be able to make this up to him... up to them."

++++++++

Duo returned home and set his alarm for 8:00. He was too tired to pack tonight and having made his position clear the night before, Duo planned to let his friends know he was leaving out of courtesy more than anything else. He knew they would give him no resistance and hoped that his elation regarding the trip would allow each of them a clearer understanding that things between himself and Heero were finally headed in the right direction; hoping they would follow suit.

Settling himself into bed, Duo turned out the light and brought the mountain of blankets up over himself; thoughts of his soon-to-be lover sending him off into one of the first good night's sleep he'd had in ages.

++++++++

Any doubts that Heero had over his decision to invite Duo to stay with him had vanished at the look in the braided young man's violet eyes. He hadn't been entirely sure how Duo would react to his idea; his response regarding how he planned on telling the others still surprising him. Heero chuckled as thought back to the squeal in Duo's voice as he spoke. It had succeeded in making levity of his words, but Heero's soft kiss and the embrace that followed sent the appropriate message; they were both quite serious about taking things to the next level.

Heero covered himself with a thin sheet and rolled over to hit the switch on the wall, throwing the room into total darkness; thoughts of his soon-to-be lover sending him off into one of the first good night's sleep he'd had in ages.

Momentary Lapse of Reason
Part 35

"Good Morning."

All eyes were on the doorway of the large kitchen as Duo's salutation filled the room. Three voices cheerfully returned his unexpected greeting and he made his way to the table.

"Coffee?" Trowa asked from his place by the stove.

"Great. Thanks, Trowa." Duo smiled, taking a seat beside Wufei

"So? What brings you down here so early on a Sunday morning?" Wufei asked.

Nodding his thanks to Trowa as he set a large mug of coffee down in front of him, Duo smiled and waited for Trowa to take his seat beside his blonde lover before making his announcement.

"I'm leaving this afternoon to spend a week out in California with Heero. I didn't know if any of you had plans for the day and I wanted to make sure I told you before I left." Duo looked at each of his friends faces after he had finished speaking. There were several smiles and one knowing smirk amongst them.

Duo almost laughed as he addressed the grinning young man seated beside him. "What, Fei?"

"Nothing, Maxwell." the raven haired young man smiled, placing his hand on Duo's shoulder. "You look very happy.. for the first time in a while. I'm glad for you."

"Sounds like a plan." Trowa smiled toward him. "A good one."

"Yes, Duo. I'm happy for you as well." Quatre told him. The blonde's voice held it's typical depth of sincerity and Duo nodded his appreciation of their supportive words.

"Thanks. I'm really glad that Heero invited me out to stay with him." Suddenly urged on by the positive aura in the room to fill his three friends in as how his relationship with Heero was developing, Duo continued. "I think we've managed to get beyond everything that happened last year... at least for the most part. The rest of it will work itself out over time."

Duo paused for a moment and looked at the three whose full attention he held. "I think a lot of what happened could have been avoided if there was a little more communication between the five of us. Yanno?"

There were three well-intended nods and Duo continued, letting them all in on the one thing that he hoped would give them the much-needed insight into the problems the five currently faced. He hoped it would remove the greater part of their reluctance to accept Heero back into their lives. "The biggest hurdle we managed to work through... was Heero admitting that he has had feelings for me.... almost since we first met."

His words were received with great surprise as expected. "Yeah... that was pretty much my reaction when I figured it out." he smiled. "Like I said... communication. Anyway...." he continued, "Things are still in the friendship stage between us. I'm not in any rush to for the relationship to progress..... I don't think Heero is either, but it will happen when it happens. Both of us want it to."

There could be no denying the elation in Duo's voice or the sparkle in his violet eyes as he spoke; they told the whole story... is was one the three young men seated around the table seemed to be delighted to hear.

++++++++

As planned, Heero phoned the house at 10:00. "Morning, Duo."

"You're right on time." Duo smiled, looking down at his watch.

"And you expected otherwise?" Heero asked playfully. "Did you sleep well?"

Duo nodded into the phone. "Yeah. You?"

"Hai. Can you be ready by 3:30?"

"Uh huh. I'm a light packer. Shouldn't take me more than 15 minutes."

"I'll see you then, k?"

"Yeah. Umm.. Heero? Everyone is home today. Just thought I should let you know."

"That's fine. How did they take the news, Duo? Did you tell them yet?"

"I told them first thing this morning. They were happy for me... for us."

Heero smiled into the phone. "Something we all finally agree on. That's good news, Duo. Good news, indeed."

"Yeah, it sure is. I'll see you at 3:30. Bye."

"Bye."

+++++++

Duo showered and was in the process of blow drying his hair when he heard a knock on his bedroom door. Turning the dryer off, he called out. "Who is it?"

"It's Quatre? May I come in?"

"Sure. The door is open."

"Just wanted to let you know that we are going out for a while and I also wanted to say goodbye."

"Where you headed off to?"

"Actually, we thought it might be better if we weren't here when Heero comes to pick you up. Not that any of us see it as a problem." He added quickly. "It's just that since we haven't spoken yet, we felt it might be a little awkward."

Duo nodded. "That's fine."

"I think that little talk of yours helped this morning, Duo." Quatre began. "Trowa was the only one who even entertained the idea that Heero had feelings for you. I dismissed it, as did Wufei. It wouldn't have mattered anyway if we knew, he still went about things all wrong." he looked up at Duo as he finished.

"Actually, Quatre, that is where you are wrong." Duo smiled. "It would have made all the difference in the world. Everything that happened could have been avoided, saving us all a lot of grief. But that is neither here nor there." Pausing, Duo placed his hand on the blonde's shoulder. "All that matters now is that we work through this."

The two made their way out into the hallway. "We'll talk more when I get back. In case you have forgotten, Quatre, you and I still have some issues that haven't been dealt with." Duo told him.

Quatre lowered his head as Duo looked sternly over at him. "I haven't forgotten, Duo." he replied, lifting his head moments later. "Well, have a good time, Duo and make sure that Heero feeds you well while you're out there. You look terrible." he smiled.

Duo shook his head lightly and chuckled. "Yes, Mother.", he replied sarcastically, grabbing his upper arm after Quatre mock slapped it. "Sorry, Q. Couldn't resist." he grinned.

The two made their way downstairs to find Wufei and Trowa standing at the bottom of the steps.

"Behave yourself while you're out there, Maxwell." Wufei warned as he hugged Duo.

Duo stepped back and addressed his friend. "I always behave." he winked. "It's just not always good behavior."

"No words of wisdom, Trowa?" Duo asked jokingly as he turned toward him.

"No. I think you've got everything pretty much under control, Duo." he smiled, reaching forward to shake Duo's hand. Duo reached forward to hug Trowa, receiving a firm pat on the back in return. "Thanks, Tro." he whispered.

Duo stepped away and smiled at his three friends. "This was quite an unexpected send-off. I'm only going to be gone for a week, you guys. Sheesh!" he told them, joining them in the laughter his comment had generated.

He followed the three into the foyer and stood in the open doorway until they had backed out of the driveway. Closing the front door, Duo leaned against it. They knew as well as he did what this trip held in store. Duo smiled at the thought and hurried back up to his room... Heero would be there in less than an hour.

[4] Yup! Miss Grimble's was a real place and without a doubt had the best chocolate orange torte ever made!! Unfortunately, they closed several years ago. *sniffs* ... and just in case anyone is wondering.. yes, I am a native New Yorker ^_~