Title: Cactus Flower
Author: Justkat2790
Pairing/Characters: 1x2, implied 2xOC, 1+R,OC
Rating: R
Warnings: Yaoi, non-graphic lemon, fluff, profanity,
Summary: Post-canon. Despite sharing a college bedroom,, Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell have nothing in common. Or maybe they do...
Written for GW_Bakery May Challenge – Flower
Xposted 1x2ML, GW_fan, DHML, http://community.livejournal.com/gw_safehouse, http://community.livejournal.com/gw_bakery, http://community.livejournal.com/1x2_fans
Gaaah. Sorry.
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is the property of Bandai, Sunrise and Sotsu Agency. No disrespect is intended to its characters or creators. (Nothing to do with the movie of the same name.)



Part 1. Cactus

So this was University.

Oddly, to Heero Yuy, it felt exactly as if it was still two years ago, back in the war. Him, sharing a room with Duo Maxwell, and dithering, about which bed Duo would prefer.

Heero knew that Duo had planned to live off campus.

Knew it the way that he knew most things about Duo, gleaned from scraps of conversation in passing, or from mutual friends.

Damn Relena for interfering anyway. She knew how he felt about Duo. Had wormed it out of him long ago, with those big, blue eyes and that quivering, lower lip. And seemed to think that, now that the world was at peace, her next project was her best friend.

Or, specifically, his non-existent love-life.

Girls seemed to find that sort of thing much more important than, say, his mental well-being...fine, until Relena stuck her oar in...or whether he was getting enough to eat...also fine, and he didn't *mind* fish and rice for three meals a day, thank you very much.

And, apparently, the first phase in Project Fix-Heero's-Lovelife, involved talking Duo into sharing a room with him.

Heero shuddered to think what sort of argument she'd used. Probably some rubbish about him being suicidal, now that he no longer had a war to fight. He'd already heard more than enough about that, from the university registrar, who'd somehow been convinced, by Her Royal Ex-Princessness, to overlook the small matter of non-existent transcripts and academic records. If Heero had to hear the words *adrift*, *reconcile* and *councillor* one more time, he was getting his gun back from Lady...oops...*Commander* Une, and shooting someone. Probably, Relena.

Well Heero wasn't suicidal. And he didn't need Relena to organise his life for him. Not that a little thing like his opinion would stop her. Damned girl was completely ruthless. She should have been a Gundam pilot.


Regardless of what he, or Duo, wanted, they were sharing a room.


Heero didn't need to look up from his book, to know that Duo had arrived, by the way that the floor shook, the door slammed against the wall and ricocheted back, and a pile of luggage landed on the other bed. The bed that was obviously Duo's, due to the fact that Heero wasn't lying on it.

Heero was relieved to see that Duo still looked much the same as he had a few months ago. Still with his long, swinging braid, which was a relief, when most of Duo's friends seemed to be chopping their hair off in random chunks, and dyeing it red and black. Black leather bracelets, some silver rings, and, Heero peeked sidelong, a small, silver cross dangling from one earlobe. Well that was new.

*"What the heck is that??!"*

Sitting up, Heero followed Duo's gaze, to the desk between their beds.

*That,* was an enormous round cactus, that looked as if it might have been descended from a beach ball, except that it was a sort of silvery, grey-green and covered with a down of white spines.

"It's a cactus." Heero frowned at it, as if defying it to argue. "Relena gave it to me. She said I needed to practice on something prickly."

"What??!" asked Duo in bewilderment. " Practice what? Remote-control basketball?" And Heero shrugged and shook his head in silent agreement. Girls. They were like a completely different species. Who knew what they were thinking. Not Heero, that was for sure.

"Well," said Duo. "It's butt-ugly and it's bigger than Texas. Are you sure you want to keep it there?"

"Yes," said Heero. "Relena gave me this book as well." He picked it up off the bed, where he'd been reading it, and handed it to Duo. "It said that cacti need sun. That spot's closest to the window."

"Yeah. Well it probably also says that cactuses are supposed to live in the desert," said Duo darkly, tossing the book back on the bed, with complete disrespect for the book, and proper plurals. "Not in my bedroom. What if it rolls off in the middle of the night and gets me?!" Frowning, he poked the cactus suspiciously. *"Ouch!!!* Damn thing bit me!" He sucked his finger vigorously.

Heero stared at him dubiously.

"Duo it's a cactus."

"Yeah. I noticed that." Duo made sucking noises.

"It's got *spikes."*

"Yeah. I noticed that too." Duo glared at the cactus.

'Well you're..." Heero decided not to say what he was going to say. "...going to need a hand to get those out."

His phone rang, and he checked the number. Figured. Duo had only been there five minutes and she was ringing up already. One day he was going to have remember to check his laptop for micro transmitters. "Hello Relena," he said. "Hang on."

Hand over the mouthpiece, he looked at Duo. "Do you want some tweezers? I can help."

"No," said Duo, eyeing the phone. "I'm going to see if Trudy's moved in yet. She'll have some. See ya."

And he left, waving carelessly over his shoulder.

Well. Thought Heero. That went well.


In the end, it was academic whether Heero and Duo shared a room, because they saw so little of each other anyway.

The trouble was, thought Heero, that he and Duo had so little in common. Apart from the fact that they could both pilot a Gundam and knew 57 different ways to manufacture explosives from household ingredients.

They had different schedules, different lifestyles and different friends.

Heero had Relena, one boy and two girls in his lab, and a cactus, whilst Duo seemed to be on hugging terms with every good-looking person on campus.

Duo was lively, and funny, and outgoing, making friends wherever he went, where Heero was shy, called anti-social by Duo, and knew nothing about how to talk to people, although lots about how to kill them, which probably didn't help.

Heero was doing IT, specialising in robotics, and Duo was doing psychology, with an emphasis on welfare, which shouldn't have been insurmountable barriers, as Duo knew a fair bit about giant robots, and Heero had been practised on by any number of psychologists, amateur, semi-royal and otherwise.

And really, their timetables weren't that different, so they should have overlapped more, but the problem was that Duo was always out with someone. Usually a different someone, often several someones, at the pub, a band, the movies, Trudy's place, Anna's place, David's place... And as if that wasn't enough, Heero, who would be stuck at home working on his seminar, or his end-of-term project, or watering the cactus, had to deal with a constant stream of gorgeous creatures, both boy and girl, appearing at the door asking for a Duo who wasn't there.

So many, that sometimes Heero wondered if Duo was deliberately keeping them at arms length, moving on before they could get close enough to matter. Or maybe Duo was just having fun.

When he'd pointed that out to Relena, in one of her Let's-Check-Up-On-Heero phone calls, she'd told him briskly, that, in that case, this was the perfect opportunity to get Duo out of his system once and for all. Easy.

Sadly, Heero glanced across to the other bed, where Duo reclined on his stomach poring over a textbook. Bare feet kicking the air, listening to headphones, eating a banana, and waiting for his favourite t-shirt to come out of the dryer, so that he could go to Anna's. Bare-chested, tanned, smooth, muscled, with that incredibly sexy D.E.A.T.H tattoo in gothic lettering all the way across his lower back, just above the smooth swell of his buttocks. As if the braid dangling there wasn't enough...

Wondered how on earth, living with Duo was supposed to help him get over him.

Not easy at all.

He sighed.

It was just going to take a little bit longer, that was all.


Duo was out somewhere, he hadn't said where, but he'd taken a couple of video games with him, so Heero thought that he might be at David's. Duo often went over to David's, with Trudy, or Brianna, or Ian, to play video games, eat pizza, drink beer and generally not study.

So tonight, he was out somewhere, again, despite the fact that it was nearly midnight, and Heero was convincing himself that he didn't care, by reading Relena's fascinating book about cactus.

Relena's book said that plants responded to love and attention. That they liked music. And, specifically, that they liked singing.

Heero wondered if Relena had chosen this book because it had some sort of subliminal sub-text, or just because it was the most annoying. Surely all one needed to know about a cactus was what NPK fertiliser ratio to use, and how much water. And, possibly, where to grab it. Presumably, cacti had a vulnerable spot, like a crab, where one could grab without getting nipped.

However. Nothing about that, just about singing.

And nothing useful, like vocal range, possible accompaniment, or song choices most favoured by cacti. Just singing. One surmised that round, fat cacti might like a full, mellow, male vocal, where something like the prickly pear, which tended towards paddock-sized, might prefer something orchestral. But nothing on that either, or the penalty for improper song selection; if the right song could make a cactus grow, could the wrong one make it deflate like a popped balloon? Hurriedly, Heero turned the page, but there was nothing. Just...singing.

Heero had never failed a mission in his life...well actually he'd failed two...no three...but he wasn't going to think about that right now, or ever again...Heero had completed 99.9679 percent of his missions and he wasn't going to be beaten by a cactus.

If Relena's cactus died, he'd never hear the end of it.

If Relena's cactus needed to be sung to, he was jolly well going to sing, no matter how embarrassing it was. To be on the safe side, he'd picked a time late in the evening, when Duo was most likely to be at Trudy's, or David's, or someone's.

Clutching the book, Heero bent over the cactus, drew a deep breath and opened his mouth. Threw caution to the winds, and warbled the first song that came to mind, which happened to be What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor. Odin had sung it a bit when Heero was little, usually when he was, not surprisingly, drunk.

*"What shall we do with a..."*

There was a click, and the door opened, with it's usual Duo-esque bang.

*Oh hell!* Heero dropped the book like a red-hot poker, and shimmied into bed, rolling under his covers to face the wall.


*Shit shit shit.* Biting his lip, Heero burrowed deeper under the blankets.

Footsteps walked past him into the bathroom, and then out again.

"Heero? What were you doing? Were you *singing?* To your *cactus?"*

Duo sounded curiously muffled, but he didn't sound as if he was poking fun. Warily Heero poked his head out of the covers, a tortoise peeping from its shell, to survey its natural predator.

Duo wasn't laughing because he couldn't. He had a toothbrush jammed in his mouth, which was obviously the only thing keeping him from bursting into wild, gales of hysterical laughter. He was frothing very suspiciously.

Heero flushed bright red, mortified.

Duo went back into the bathroom to spit, and when he came back his face was carefully solemn.

"Did the book say to do that?" Duo picked up the book, and leafed through it. "Oh yeah. Here it is," he said, finding the page with infuriating ease. Probably because Heero had held it open at that page, and bent it back, and put it down, and picked it up again, and deliberated over it, whilst trying to convince himself to make the abysmal error of singing to his cactus, where Duo could catch him at it.

"Plants love music, and especially singing," Duo read. "They will repay their owner's song with a riot of colorful blooms and foliage." He pulled a face. "Eww! Who writes this rubbish?! Trust a girl to buy a plant book about singing." He flipped through it in disgust. "Absolutely nothing here about toxicity, or combustability, or *anything."*

"No," said Heero, agreeing with Duo wholeheartedly. The best thing that could be said about that book, was that it was heavy, with pointy corners, and would make a handy cosh.

"Well then." Duo dropped the book and grinned at Heero. "Get on with it. I want to see old Cactus-guts rioting with flowers and foliage. Although..." he added thoughtfully, "...if he *does* start rioting, best you keep him away from my bed. It might give me nightmares. I saw a movie like that once. With this alien that was a beach ball. Anyway..." His grin widened. "...get on with it!"

Heero stared at him, appalled, his face instantly bright red again.


"Go on." Duo sat on his bed expectantly. "Your cactus needs you."

"No it doesn't."

"Yes it does." Duo folded his hands primly in his lap, with a saintly expression, as much as Duo could be said to look saintly, which wasn't very much. "The book said so."

Heero glared at him, tempted to try out the book's cosh-worthiness on Duo. "I already did," he lied. He had. Kind of. The first three words, anyway.

"No you *d-i-i-id*-n't," said Duo, in a sing-song voice, "I *hea-r-r-rd* you," then, solemnly, "Promise I won't laugh."

Heero stared at him doubtfully.

Duo never lied. It was a point of honour with him. If Duo said that he wouldn't laugh, then he wouldn't laugh.

Heero decided that he would just have to trust him.

He looked at the cactus. Looked at Duo. Tried desperately to think of a meaningful sort of song, that wouldn't make him sound like an idiot in front of Duo, or decompose the cactus, and *still* couldn't think of anything. Clenched his fists, opened his mouth, and a strange sort of squawk came out.

*"What shall we do with a ..."* croaked Heero, watching Duo suspiciously.

Duo stared innocently back, red-faced, his lips firmly closed. Heero decided to look at the cactus, not Duo, and that seemed to help. His voice steadied, and evened out.

"...early in the morning," he sang, but then he made the mistake of glancing over at Duo. Duo was shaking, and staring at his knees, hands clenched in the bedcovers. Grimly, Heero soldiered on. Duo had promised.

"Hooray and up she rises..."

...and Duo exploded into gales of laughter, flopping over on his back and rolling helplessly about on the floor, red-faced and choking. Spluttering and gurgling, *"Shit I bloody well hope not!!"*

Heero glared at him furiously, and hit him with his pillow.

Duo *lied* about never lying.

Open-mouthed, Duo coughed and spluttered into silence, staring up at him with eyes like saucers.

"Heero! You *hit* me!"

Heero had often hit him, but never with a pillow before. He whacked him again, for good measure. What? Did Duo think that Heero didn't know how to have a pillow fight? Well. Maybe he hadn't back in the war. He hadn't had time for fun, back then.

*"Oi!!* Right then!" And Duo leapt to his feet, grabbed a pillow and whacked back, with a fierce war-cry.

Ten minutes of outright war, and the room was a shambles, which took thirty minutes to put back together.

Afterwards, they lay in their respective beds, drifting towards sleep.

There was a muffled snort, from Duo's bed.

"Nightie night Sailor," said Duo, snickering sleepily.

"Good night Duo," said Heero, smiling into the darkness.


Heero hated Professor Jantz.

Not only had he brought their research project and seminars forward three weeks, to allow him to attend a conference in Kuala Lumpur as Emergency Keynote Speaker, but their Macros assignment was due the same day as their final test. Grimly, Heero stuck his exam schedule to the wall behind the cactus, where it could depress him while he was lying in bed, as well as for the rest of the day. Wondered if he could get Recognition for Prior Hacking.

The door slammed open and Duo appeared, leaving a wet hand-print on the door. Duo was covered with sticky, red goo, and an enormous grin. Small, red, chunks, dotted with little, round, black things, oozed down his braid and plopped onto the floor.

Heero stared at him. "Duo...what have you been doing?"

"Well," said Duo. "You know Nathan? And Elliott?"

Heero thought, then nodded grimly. He was pretty sure that he'd seen Duo curled up with someone who might have been a Nathan, and an Elliott, and a couple of girls, in the library once, when it was raining. Not studying.

"Well," said Duo. "If you stretch a rubber inner tube across their bedroom window, you can shoot watermelons into the next dorm block."

"Oh," said Heero, blinking. He wondered how watermelon bombs could possibly compare to the adrenalin rush from chopping the head off a mobile doll. It was just messy and childish. Although... Maybe that was the appeal. But, he decided that he still didn't like Nathan. Or Elliott. Or, Duo being in their bedroom. "So why are *you* covered with watermelon?"

"Oh," said Duo. "They shot back." He stared downwards. "I need a shower."

Carelessly, he stripped bare, and then hunted for his towel, which was found to be a sodden ball, under his bed, where he'd kicked it that morning, whilst looking for clean boxers. "Hey Heero," he asked, sprawled under the bed, naked butt in the air. "Can I borrow your towel?"

"Sure," said Heero in a strangled voice, eyes firmly on his book, book firmly over his lap.

He'd always thought that another man's backside would be pretty ugly, really. Pale and hairy, and probably spotty. But Duo's neat little bottom was a thing of beauty; smooth, firmly muscled, and round as a ripe peach. Heero wanted to touch. Wondered if the perfect peachiness, of Duo's perfect behind, tasted as good as it looked.

"Thanks man. You're a lifesaver," said Duo, wriggling back out from under the bed. "Where is it?"

"Over there," said Heero, pointing blindly over his shoulder, not looking.

Still not looking, as Duo casually draped himself in Heero's towel and headed out the door. Or, as Heero hurled the book and quickly locked the door.

When Duo came back from his shower, Heero was already in bed, hands chastely on top of the covers, as if he hadn't had urgent business of his own to take care of.

"Hey Heero," said Duo, yawning and rolling into bed. "Aren't you going to sing Spike a song?"

Heero blinked at him. *Spike?*

"No," he said shortly. He didn't feel like being laughed at by Duo two nights in a row.

"Aww...go on," Duo grinned at him sleepily. "He liked it. I'm sure he grew a bit. And if you don't his spikes might all fall off or something. I won't laugh this time. Promise!" He spread his hands, palms out, in the universal gesture for Trust me I'm a Doctor. "I won't even look. I'll shut my eyes. See." And he closed his eyes obediently, folding his hands tidily on his stomach on top of the bedclothes, just the very faintest smile curving his lips.

Spellbound, Heero stared at him, completely forgetting that he was annoyed with Duo for laughing at him. Duo was beautiful like that, a Boticelli angel with a long braid, peaceful and serene. Heero so rarely saw him without his enormous grin.

"Well?" Prompted Duo gently, eyes still closed.

Unbidden, words rolled from the past, onto Heero's tongue and into the quiet room. A Japanese lullaby, that Odin must have sung to him, farther back then he could remember.

"Mmm," said Duo, when he finished, rolling over onto his side, and smiling at him sleepily. "S'nice Heero." And then he was asleep.


Heero had late lectures on Thursdays, but his last class was cancelled, so he just had time to catch the canteen before it closed. He skidded to a halt in front of the servery, backpack bumping against his hip, and inspected the contents dolefully. Chicken a la King. Why was it always Chicken a la King, when chicken, onion, celery and capsicum would be so much pleasanter when stir-fried, and presented on a bed of rice, *with* a glass of milk, instead of stewed *in* the glass of milk? Sighing, he held out his plate.

There was a `peal of laughter behind him and Heero smiled, despite his plate of glutinous sludge, with chips.


Heero would know that laugh anywhere.

Spinning in place, he was just in time to see Duo heading out with a laughing, boisterous group of friends. With resignation, Heero watched them go, a lively, dark-haired girl glued to Duo's side, Duo's arm slung carelessly over her shoulders.

Sighing, Heero turned to look for a table. That was the last that he'd see of Duo for the evening.

Except that it wasn't.

When Heero arrived back at his room, Duo was already there, lying on his stomach on his bed, flipping through the cactus book.

"Hey Heero." Duo rolled over and sat up, smiling happily at Heero, in a way that made Heero's insides flip over, so that he had to remind himself firmly that he was giving up on Duo. "This book's not so useless after all. Did you know that mescaline comes from cactus? And that worm thing? Or that they can be used as a source of water in the desert?"

No. Heero didn't know that. Heero had stalled at the bit about the ratio of compost to gravel and vermiculite. Duo had flipped straight past that, to the interesting stuff at the back, in typical Duo fashion. Heero always started at the beginning, and read through to the end, including Tables of Contents and Prefaces. Duo read the ending, before deciding if the book was worth bothering about. Said that he saved a lot of time that way.

"...and some have edible fruit. Good old Spike." Duo frowned thoughtfully at Relena's cactus. "Damn. Try to drink that thing and you'd need a long straw. You'd be picking prickles out of your tongue for weeks" And he pulled a face, sticking out his tongue, by way of demonstration.

Watching him, Heero almost grinned. Duo was very cute when he was being idiotic. "I think you're supposed to mash it up first and then squeeze the juice out," he said, straight-faced. "Idiot."

"Hey!" Grinning, Duo swiped at him with the book. "Who're you calling an idiot? *I'm* not the one singing to a prickly beach ball! Which..." he added. "...you haven't done yet by the way. Get singing maestro!"

So Heero sang, part of something that he'd heard on the radio that morning in the canteen. And, much to his surprise, Duo joined in.


Heero hated Macros 301, almost as much as he hated Professor Jantz. The fact that it was Professor Jantz's class had nothing to do with it.

It was all stuff that he knew anyway, and it was the last class on his timetable, so that it ran over dinner, and didn't finish until 9 pm.

He arrived back at their room, cold, grumpy, and hungry, and his mood wasn't improved by finding Duo poised over his cactus, switchblade in hand.

Aghast, Heero stood frozen in the doorway.

*"Duo! What the heck are you doing?!!"*

The blade sliced, with a squishy sort of slither.

Heero threw his backpack, somewhere, and stormed into the room. If Duo murdered the damned cactus, Relena was going to kill him. But not before he killed Duo. It was only fair. And to use Duo's own switchblade would only be justice.

But Duo didn't seemed concerned with his imminent demise. He turned to Heero, grinning from ear to ear.

"You're a daddy!"

"What?" Heero stopped and stared. His hearing was going. It must be low blood sugar, from lack of dinner. Or maybe this was some peculiar, Duo crack about him and Relena. Duo did that all the time.

"You're a daddy," said Duo again, and Heero sat down on the bed, completely confused. Not in *his* lifetime, not if he could help it. And, considering his non-existent sex-life, pretty much an impossibility anyway.

"Look!" Said Duo insistently. "Spike had a baby!" Proudly, he held out a silver-green thumb on a plate, which on closer inspection, turned out to be a small piece of Spike. Handing the plate to Heero, he sat down next to him, a small dish of gravel between his knees. "It's an offset," he explained. "I read about it in the book."

"Oh," said Heero, inspecting the small, oozing piece of Spike dubiously. It looked like it was going to need microsurgery. "I thought Spike was a boy." Not any more, presumably.

"Idiot," said Duo, elbowing him. "The book said that cacti'll grow from any little bits like this. You just have to stick 'em in some gravel." Delicately, Duo stabbed the thumb with the tip of his knife, having learned his lesson about cactus and prickles, and wiggled it gently into the gravel. Set pot, and new baby cactus, onto the table and surveyed it proudly. "There! A new one!"

Together, they surveyed their new cactus. It was leaning drunkenly to one side, not a good look for a baby, and Duo adjusted it delicately with his knife, until it stood virtuously upright.

"Spike Junior," he said happily. "Cool." And, privately, Heero agreed.

Very cool indeed.

Duo yawned, and stretched, smelling comfortingly of sweat, and Duo. "Oh. I forgot. I got you some dinner. Sorry. Should've told you before. You're probably starved." He stood up, going to the other desk. "Here. Chicken salad. And a bread roll. Hope that's okay. The fish was nice but it would've gone cold."

Speechless, Heero stared at him in confusion, astounded by Duo's thoughtfulness. Not that Duo couldn't be thoughtful, when he wanted to be, just not normally with Heero. And Heero hadn't realised that Duo had even noticed that Heero missed dinner on Thursdays. And it wasn't even Chicken a la King.

"You want to watch a movie?" asked Duo, handing Heero his salad.

Heero stared at him some more. "Aren't you going out?"

"Naah. Don't feel like it." Duo was off-hand. "You have a late start tomorrow don't you? I got a movie. We could watch it if you like."

Heero blinked. Duo never stayed in to watch a movie. Duo always went out, to Trudy's, or David's, or Nathan's place. "Okay," he said doubtfully.

"Cool," said Duo again.

It was Duo's television, arranged to be viewed from Duo's bed, so, happily, Heero sat down on Duo's bed, with his back against the headboard, and devoured his dinner, while Duo started the movie.

Duo clambered onto the bed to kneel next to him. "Here. Sit up. Lean forward." He dragged the pillow out from underneath Heero and shoved it behind his back, then wriggled in companionably next to him, so that he could share half. Stretched his long legs out in front of him, with a contented sigh, and stole a piece of Heero's chicken.

"Good stuff," he said, and Heero agreed.

Thought that he could be very happy indeed, if he could just spend more evenings like this, with Duo.


It was a long movie, and by the time it ended Heero was blinking to stay awake, relieved that he could sleep in, in the morning.

Back in his own bed, he curled up, and was almost asleep, when he heard Duo.

"Sing me a song Heero."

"Too tired," Heero mumbled into his pillow, vaguely noticing that Duo hadn't mentioned the cactus, but too tired to care. "You sing one."

"Hmm," said Duo softly. "Okay." And he sang.

Duo had a light, sweet singing voice. Nothing like his normal boisterous tones. And the song that he chose was in Latin. Suddenly wide awake, Heero listened, entranced, as Duo's voice soared triumphantly, and leapt, and swooped, and sank beneath the weight of an unbearable sadness. He didn't think that he'd ever heard anything so lovely in his life.

When Duo finished, the silence seemed to vibrate with the echoes of his song.

"Where..." Heero stopped and cleared his throat. "...where did you learn that Duo? It's beautiful," he added softly, because it was, like everything about Duo.

Duo was staring at the ceiling, lost in thought.

"Duo?" Heero prompted. He really wanted to know. Duo's heart was in that song.

"Hmm?" Duo rolled to face him, clutching his braid. "Oh. The song. Yeah...When I was little I lived in a church orphanage. I was in the choir." He grinned, but there was a hint of sadness in the smile. "Guess it was the only way to keep me out of mischief in church. I'll tell you about it sometime." He closed his eyes. "G'night Heero."

"Good night Duo."

And Heero slept, with the bright threads of Duo's song weaving through his dreams.


When Heero came in late the next day, Duo was wandering around the room in his boxers, dripping wet, and flinging open drawers and cupboards.

Of course, thought Heero. Friday night. Pub night.

"Hey Heero," Duo looked up as he came in. "Pub night. You coming?"

"Oh," said Heero cautiously, dumping his backpack on his bed. "With you?"

"Yeah," said Duo. "Of *course* with me."

Heero blinked. There was no *of course* about it. Duo had never invited him before.

Duo was throwing t-shirts onto the bed. "There's a stack of us going. Sherry, Cassie, Ian, Nathan. Not Elliott. Elliott's got to work. Umm...Jake, Trudy..." He rattled off a list of names, as if it meant something to Heero.

"Sounds like quite a crowd." Sounds horrible, thought Heero. "I was going to do some research..."

"Oh." Duo sounded disappointed. "Come on Heero." He looked at him pleadingly, hands on hips, then smiled, his irresistible Duo-smile. "I'd really like you to."

So Heero went, and it wasn't horrible after all.

It was noisy at the pub, but not as bad as Heero had expected. And Duo's friends weren't so bad either, just very loud, and given to rapid-fire conversations across the table, about people that Heero didn't know, and bands and movies that he hadn't seen. But that was okay too. Duo dragged him down into the seat next to him, and told him an hilarious story about losing that morning's sociology lecturer to a scavenger hunt. Paused for a moment, to stare, with a mixture of pity and tolerant amusement, at Nathan, who was sticking a spoon on the end of his nose, and then asked Heero how he was going with his gyro problem. Duo had had an idea. They brainstormed it on the back of a coaster, and then another one, stolen from Ian, who was trying to one-up Nathan, by flipping coasters off his elbow and catching them, and by the time they'd run out of coasters, Heero had finished his third beer, and decided that Duo's friends weren't that bad, really. Just very, very young, despite being older than both of them.

Heero was having fun.

He played with his glass, spinning it around and around in a small circle of beer, feeling happily relaxed, until Duo's hand on his stopped him. Just one finger on the back of his hand, but Heero felt it like a jolt of electricity.

"Want another one?" asked Duo. The room was noisy, and he leaned right into Heero to ask, breath stirring the hair around Heero's ear, hand braced on the back of Heero's chair.

Heart racing, Heero turned his head, feeling Duo like a warm presence all down his side, and abruptly Duo's face was right there, so close that their noses almost bumped. Fascinated, Heero stared into Duo's warm, blue eyes so close to his. Lips just a breath away. He wondered what Duo was thinking. If Duo was glad that he'd brought him, if he was having fun too, if they could do this again. Most of all, he wondered what would happen if he moved just a little closer... He swallowed hard, eyes on Duo's lips, trying to remember what Duo had asked him.

Duo drew back a little, still watching Heero. "Beer?" he asked again, lips curved in a teasing smile.

Wordlessly, Heero nodded.

"Okay." Duo squeezed his shoulder, with one hand, as he stood up. He grinned down at Heero, over his shoulder. "Don't run away now!'

Mesmerised, Heero watched Duo wind his way to the bar. One of the girls, Cassie, he thought it was, her hair, a sheet of impossibly straight, impossibly silver, silk, followed, linking her arm through his, as she perched on the brass foot-rail around the bar. She tugged him imperiously down to talk to her, and Heero turned back to their table, not wanting to watch any more. Played absently with his empty glass.

One of Duo's friends leaned across the table towards him.

"Hi," he said. "Heero...right? I'm Jake."

Unlike most of Duo's shorn, dyed friends, Jake had shoulder-length, dark-blonde hair. Nothing like Duo's, but, still, a rather attractive colour, like maple syrup drizzled with honey, and long, untidy layers, that kept slipping into his eyes, so that he had to rake them back with his hand, in a manner that Heero found rather endearing. And blue eyes. Not as blue as Duo's, more of a light grey really, but attractive, for all that.

"I was kinda listening in...it's getting a bit desperate over here." He grimaced at the Nathan end of the table, "Those guys up there are all idiots!" He grinned engagingly at Heero. "You're doing IT right?"

Those blue eyes were fixed on Heero in a way that Heero found both exhilarating and nerve wracking. He searched desperately for a witty reply, but could only come up with "Uh...yes."

"Cool." Jake looked interested. "I did a couple of years of that. I'm a grad student now. Pure Maths. Group Theory."

"Oh,' said Heero, suddenly on comfortable ground. "Ahh. So you work with Professor Lange."

"Yeah." Jake's grin widened. "The old bugger. Does he still throw dusters? And what about... Hang on a minute." He stood up, pulling a face that Duo would have been proud of. "It's a bit noisy over here. I'll come round."


Part 2. Flower

Duo came back with his hands full of glasses and frowned. Jake had taken his seat next to Heero, elbow on the table, his other hand on the back of Heero's chair as he faced him. Jake leaned in closer to Heero, saying something in a low voice that made Heero chuckle, and. Duo felt a flare of possessive jealousy that surprised him. What did it matter to him who his roommate talked to? If someone else could make solemn old Heero laugh? He should be pleased that Heero was actually talking to someone, the anti-social bastard. Meant Duo didn't have to baby-sit him.

Not that he'd minded. Not at all. He'd been having fun until Jake pushed in. Had actually wondered, just for a moment, if Heero could possibly be interested in him, but...

That was just dumb.

Heero was just a bit buzzed, that was all. Cute as could be. Duo didn't think he'd ever seen Heero Yuy not in complete control before, but thought he'd like to see it a heck of a lot more often. Very, very cute indeed. He had this adorable, kind of wide-eyed, innocent look going on, as if he wasn't sure what was going to happen next, and just wanted Duo to show him.

And *damn*, he was looking hot tonight. Drawn irresistibly to skin, Duo's eyes traced the smooth, tanned curve of Heero's neck into the open collar of his silky, blue shirt. Heero always looked great in blue, and this shirt hugged him in all the right places. Heero's muscle was real muscle, not gym muscle, his sleeves rolled up to bare his strong, sinewy forearms, a simple black watch, not like that idiotic thing Nathan was wearing, and his lean, practical hands. Hands that were equally at home with a pen, a gun, or a Gundam. But surprisingly gentle for all that, when it had come to nursing Duo's bruised and broken body, way back when.

Heero had nice hands...

Reluctantly, Duo turned away, dragged into an argument between Cassie and Trudy. He couldn't help trying to eavesdrop on Heero's conversation though. He was just curious, that was all. Wanted to find out what could possibly be so fascinating, that it had dragged Heero out of his shell. He spent so much time trying to overhear Heero's conversation, that he forgot about his own, to the point where Cassie jumped up, and plopped herself into his lap, tickling the end of his nose with his braid.

"Hey Duo! Wakey wakey!" She said, and he snatched back his hair, annoyed. He hated it when people mucked with his hair. "Some of us are going back to my place. Wanna come?" She rubbed her nose coquettishly against his; all sleepy kitten, with amber eyes and silver, blue-starred claws.

"Uhh..." Duo eyes were drawn irresistibly back to Heero, but he was looking away, engrossed in something that Jake was drawing with beer on the table, and Duo shrugged.

Heero was a big boy, he supposed. He could take care of himself, and seemed to be getting on just fine without Duo.

It was a bit of a bummer though. Duo *really* didn't want to leave Heero. He'd been enjoying his company, a lot, but what the heck. They'd probably all hook up again at Cassie's, anyway.

"Okay," he said.

But, somehow, they didn't.


On Monday, when Duo got in from The Dullest Lecture in the History of the Known Universe, Heero wasn't there, and Duo felt an odd surge of disappointment. He'd had a new idea for Heero's project, half way between Doc Linkenbaughe dropping his notes, and him falling asleep, and wanted to tell Heero about it.

It was strange, that Heero wasn't home, because he normally had a free period at that time, and was always in their room, studying.

Heero never *stopped* studying. He really needed to get a life. Maybe Duo should do something about that.

Wandering down the hallway to the kitchenette, to make a sandwich, Duo decided that it was about time that he dragged Heero out a bit more. He had enjoyed being with him at the pub the other night. Quite a lot, really, until Jake had butted in. He should introduce him to more of his friends, the nice ones, and show him around a bit. Maybe Heero would like to see a movie. Or a band. He'd bet his braid that Heero had never seen a band. He wondered what kind of music Heero liked.

His phone beeped, and he checked his messages quickly, but it was just Brianna, texting to say that they were all at David's, and where was Duo? Frowning, Duo quickly messaged back that he was waiting for Heero. Another beep, and it was Brianna again. Old Miseryguts was at Jake's, and Duo should get his butt to David's, pronto, if he wanted pizza.


Duo threw the phone, smashing it against the wall, with a crash that startled him.

How dared she call Heero that? She didn't even *know* Heero.

But that wasn't really what was bothering him.

He was mainly angry with himself, for making her think that in the first place. It was hard to believe that he'd thought that way, only a few months ago. How could he have been so dumb? Heero wasn't like that at all. He might be prickly on the outside, but inside, he was sweet, and cute, and funny, and fun to be with. When he wasn't trying to kill you.

Back in the war, there hadn't really been time to get to know each other properly, and since then, well, Duo hadn't really tried very hard to break through that spiky shell. He'd been a lazy, dumbass, for not making the effort. But there'd been so many other, easier fish in the sea. And besides, all Heero ever thought about was Relena. Duo had decided that Heero wasn't worth the effort. Duo had been an idiot.

Heero *was* worth the effort.

But that wasn't really what was bothering him.

What was really bothering him, was that Jake thought so too.

Well, Heero was at Jake's; so Duo would just have to find someone else to hang out with.

Suddenly not hungry, Duo dumped his sandwich into the bin, and went to retrieve his phone, finding the battery stuck down between the mattress and the wall.

Angrily, he deleted the message, fingers mashing the keys, but in the end he went around to David's anyway, not talking to Brianna.

Krystal was there, and she was really into him, but girls were giving him the shits, so he hung out with Sean, playing the playstation for a while. Sean was a pretty cool guy.

Sean was, actually, just the kind of guy that he liked; sort of asian-looking, with silky dark hair that flopped into his eyes, and Duo glanced at him, sidelong, as they played, but in the end he couldn't get into it, so he went home.

Of course, Heero wasn't there.

Moodily, Duo threw himself onto his bed and stared at the ceiling, finding nothing more exciting that a spider crawling tortuously across it. He checked his watch. It was late, and Heero still wasn't home.

Warily Duo eyed the spider as it marched across the ceiling. It was one of those ugly, long, black ones, the kind that gave you ulcerated sores and gangrene and stuff, and it was currently trecking right above his face. The spider slipped and fell, aiming right for his eye, and Duo jumped, startled, and then relaxed, as it caught itself with a strand of silk. Slipped and fell, slipped and fell, making Duo start each time, and he glared at it, wishing that the damned thing would just fall and get it over with, and where the hell was Heero anyway?! It was a school night, dammit!

Duo sighed, and frowned, disgusted with himself. He was obsessing over Heero. Just because Heero finally had a friend that wasn't Duo. Was he *really* that selfish? He glared at the ceiling, and tried to convince himself that he was just worried about Heero. Which he was! But....

Duo was still staring moodily at the squashy smear where the spider had been, when he heard the click of the lock. Quickly, he flung himself on the lamp and dived into bed, burying himself under the covers. Damned if he was going to have Heero think that he'd been waiting up for him, like some damned girl, because he hadn't. He'd just been thinking.

"Duo?" Heero's voice was quiet, and when there was no answer, he pottered quietly around the room, getting ready for bed, and singing to his cactus; the Japanese lullaby again. Heero smelled faintly of clove cigarettes, even though he didn't smoke, and he sounded happy. Contented and peaceful, and, whilst the cactus might be flourishing with his song, something in Duo withered and shrank.

It sounded as if Heero was managing just fine without him.


Duo was in a bad mood. Had been all morning, probably because they'd run out of milk at breakfast.

He frowned at his notes, as the lecture theatre slowly emptied. Doc Linkenbaughe talked too darned fast, and too German, and skittered from one overhead to the next like a conveyor belt on speed. Making up for yesterday, probably. Duo really needed to re-do the mind map, or he was never going to understand it, when he revised. Sighing, he turned to a new page in his notebook and started to transcribe the diagram, flicking back to the previous page to check his work. Finally finished, he slid his notes into his backpack, and then wriggled under the desk to hunt for his favourite highlighting pen, which had mysteriously vanished. Just another thorn in his increasingly prickly day.

Vaguely he heard someone moving about in the tiers above him. Damn. He must have taken longer than he thought. That was the next class coming in. Sighing, he decided to give up on his highlighter, and wriggled backwards. Abruptly, there was the crack of wood on metal, as if someone had dropped the lid of a flip-top desk, and Duo jerked up in surprise, smashing his head on the bottom of his desk.


Rocking back on his heels, he rubbed his head tenderly, then examined his damp fingers suspiciously. Blood. Damn. He must have hit a corner. Figured. Tuesdays sucked worse than Mondays.

"You don't have to keep me company..."

Abruptly, Duo stiffened, head forgotten. That was Heero.

"...I came early so I could check over my notes from last time."

"But I wanted to..." And *that* was that bastard Jake.

There was a shifting sound from above, and Duo strained to hear.

"...gives me a chance to do *this*..."

Duo was frozen in place, the sound of the blood roaring in his ears almost drowning out the sounds from above him; the soft sighs and murmurs, the slow shifting of bodies and gentle rustle of cloth. Almost, but not quite.

He was kissing Heero. That *bastard* was kissing Heero.

And Heero was kissing him back.

A man. He was kissing a man.

*Heero Yuy was gay.*

Heero was kissing a man, Heero was *gay* and all this time Duo had never known, had thought he was into Relena, and now it was too late.

*Why* had he never known? How could he have been so stupid when Heero was right there in front of him?! Wasted so much time...

There was a small sound, something between a whimper and a gasp, that went straight to Duo's groin, and somehow he just knew that it was Heero, and something inside him burned and coiled tightly. Another choked moan and he realised with a kind of guilty fascination that he was hot and aching, listening to someone else turning his room mate on, and part of Duo wanted to leap up and ask Jake what the hell he thought he was doing, to haul the rat-bastard off and throw him bodily down the stairs by his dishwater-brown hair, but another part of Duo wanted to huddle here and keep listening to Heero making those little, delicious noises...

With a strangled gasp, Duo grabbed his backpack, and slithered soundlessly along between the desks. Escaped through an open, side door, to plaster himself against the wall of the building, chest heaving. Throat aching, and body, heart and soul, yearning for something that he couldn't have.

He wanted Heero.

Heaven help him, he wanted Heero Yuy.


Terrified that Heero might come outside and discover him, Duo fled to the quadrangle.

Heero didn't normally ditch lectures. In fact, Heero had never ditched a lecture, tutorial, or workshop in his life, to Duo's vague horror, but who knew what might happen under the influence of that rat-bastard Jake. It was better to be on the safe side. Duo supposed that he had a few hours before Heero's lecture ended, but he didn't want to take any chances. He didn't think that he could handle seeing Heero and The Bastard right then. Heero's lips, all red and kissed-looking...


He took refuge in a coffee shop. Feigned invisibility hunched over a cappuccino, with his back to the door, cap pulled down, and braid tucked into his lap, but of course, it didn't work. It seemed like every single person in the quadrangle absolutely had to talk to Duo right then. Loudly, and with complete disregard for the fact that he was invisible. Duo liked his friends, but sometimes they could be a pain in the butt.

However, eventually they drifted away, bored by his inattention, and inability to say anything beyond, *hmm?, naah* and the occasional muttered *oh hell, oh shit, oh damn*, and he sat, staring into his coffee, the fragrant steam swirling with images of Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy; sometime-friends, and Gundam pilots-extraordinaire.

Long after his coffee had grown cold, Duo stirred the bitter depths, reliving the past four years. Searching for that single, overlooked something that would have said that Heero Yuy liked other boys, and that he might possibly, maybe, sometime, have been interested in a boy called Duo.

There was nothing.

And now it was too late. Heero had found someone else and Duo was just going to have to deal.

Rather than wait for Heero to not come home, Duo went round to Trudy's.

Trudy wasn't there, but Ian was, lean and willowy, with bitter chocolate hair and blue eyes, and Duo let himself be coaxed into making out on Trudy's couch for a while, part of his new policy of dealing, too numb to care much, and besides, if he couldn't have Heero, then he just had to get over it, right? Move on. But Ian's hair wasn't messy enough, and his eyes weren't blue enough, and every noise he made, every little groan, or subtle shift beneath Duo's hands, had Duo wondering if Jake was doing that to Heero.

If Jake was running his fingers through that silky hair. Undoing that button, and stroking his tongue hotly along the gentle arch of Heero's neck. If Heero would make *that* noise if he bit down ever so gently, and Duo choked, mouth full of the taste of salty skin.

I love him, he thought; Ian completely forgotten.

Until he made some small noise, and Duo leapt to his feet with revulsion.

He couldn't do this.

Had to go.

Rushed from the room with a muttered apology, and some garbled mish-mash about Psych 102 that he didn't even understand himself, and slammed the door behind him, with an overwhelming feeling of relief, and a desperate need to be home. To see Heero.

But, of course, Heero wasn't there.


Morosely, Duo stared at the cactus, chin on his crossed arms, arms on the desk.

It was no good.

A warm, willing body wasn't enough, no matter how attractive. Not without love. If he couldn't have Heero, then he didn't want anyone. No one else would do.

It seemed like Duo really was in love with Heero Yuy.

He drummed his fingers against the desk, knee jerking in time, body anxious for action, even though Duo had no idea how to proceed. If only he could just go shoot something, it'd be a heck of a lot easier.

There was nothing else for it. He was just going to have to get Heero back. Had to show him that Jake could never understand Heero like Duo did.

He glared at the cactus, defying it to argue.

He and Heero had been partners, had watched each other's backs, had bailed each other out, and would do it again in an instant. Which was why he'd followed Heero from L2 to fight again. Why he'd turned up in Heero's college room, with his duffle, when Relena had said that Heero needed him. They'd always be partners, and nobody was taking that away. Not Jake or anybody.

He'd fought in a war; be damned if he was going to let anyone beat him over something this important.

Now he just had to work out how to convince Heero.

Moodily, he nudged Spike Junior into a patch of sunlight with one finger, moving him around to find the perfect spot. Counted his soft, baby spines. Their baby was growing up. Duo smiled, despite himself. Must be all Heero's singing...

"I don't know how to love him..."

He began to sing, feeling his way at first, then gaining confidence, and volume, as words and memory flooded back. It really was the kind of song that needed to be roared triumphantly. A song that Sister Helen had loved, and that, a much younger, Duo had warbled along with her, handing her the pegs, as she hung out the endless piles of washing, and patiently picked up the things that he dropped. A song from some old musical, that Duo wouldn't be caught dead singing normally, or even admit to knowing, but somehow, just now, it seemed to fit.

"...What to do and how to move him..."

"He's a man..." Duo jumped and sat up, as another voice joined his, familiar and warm.

"He's just a man, and I've known so many men before, in very many ways..."

Suddenly, Duo didn't want to sing any more.

"Odin used to love that song," said Heero. "I think that maybe he heard it from somebody that he knew, before he found me."

"Yeah well... Hope it works on the cactus!" Duo laughed shakily, and then, before he could stop himself, because he could never shut up, because he'd always been a half-assed idiot, because he must've left his brain in the coffee shop with his coffee, because his heart suddenly surged up and took control of his tongue, "...it'd work on me."

"What?" Heero blinked at him.


Duo couldn't believe he'd just said that. It was the corniest thing he'd ever heard, even worse than the damned song, he was just going to go away and shoot himself, right now, but he forced himself to keep looking at Heero anyway. His face burned. "If you sang me that song..." It was crazy; it was just Heero, but Duo couldn't seem to stop shaking, and he grabbed hold of the desk, praying that Heero wouldn't notice. "...it'd work on me."

Abruptly, Heero sat down on his bed, his eyes wide and confused. confusion and hope and doubt chasing across his face, so that Duo wondered how he could ever have thought him cold and emotionless. "Duo what are you saying?" he asked doubtfully. "That you'd grow?"

Startled, Duo couldn't help a snort of nervous laughter. *"Hell* yeah!" He choked. "Shit! I mean *no!* I mean...I'm saying...I'm saying..."


Floundering helplessly, Duo latched onto that small hint of hope that he'd seen written on Heero's face. Onto that idiotic question from Heero, which said that, despite the fact that Heero had somehow turned into the hottest thing on two legs, this was still his same old, anal, perfectionist partner, wanting everything spelled out in black and white.

Heart pounding, he eased himself down next to Heero.

"...I'm saying that I *like* you Heero. *Heaps.* And...I want us to be together. To be...umm. You know..." He watched Heero hopefully. "...not just roommates."

Heero's eyes widened, just an instant of astonished delight before his face stilled, but Duo's heart soared. Maybe he wasn't too late after all...

Heart hammering so hard that he could hardly think, hardly breathe, trembling, achingly slowly, Duo reached to cup Heero's face, his thumb gently tracing the curve of Heero's cheek. Saw Heero's eyes darken and heard his sudden intake of breath, and Duo felt the world narrowing down to the single point of Heero's mouth, Heero's parted lips, and he was falling forward, or maybe Heero was, and completely unable to help himself, Duo's eyes slid shut as he brought their lips together in a kiss.

And missed, as Heero swayed backwards.

"No Duo." Heero's words hit him like a shock of cold water.

"What?" Like the shock of G-forces at escape velocity, all his organs falling out through his feet. Duo struggled to reorient himself.

"No," said Heero again, avoiding Duos eyes. Scrubbing his palms nervously against his thighs.


Duo felt the way that he'd felt watching Deathscythe explode. Worse. Nearly as bad as when he'd thought that Heero was going to smear himself into a little blob on Libra, even though he hadn't loved Heero back then. Not like now. Not like now, when Heero didn't want him back.

"Oh." Miserably, Duo forced a laugh, trying to turn it into a joke. How could he have been so dumb! "Sorry buddy. My mistake. I just thought...I just... For some reason I just thought that maybe you liked me. Dumb huh! Sorry Heero..."

"I do," said Heero, fists clenched in the bedclothes, "but..."

"You *do?!"*

Anything else Heero might have said was lost in the pounding in Duo's ears. *Heero* did *like him!*

Overwhelmed with relief, Duo surged forward and finished his kiss, lips determinedly finding Heero's this time. Heero made a surprised little sound, his mouth opening, and Duo hummed happily, his tongue forcing its way inside, and taking control of Heero's mouth. For a glorious instant, Heero kissed back, his lips moving uncertainly beneath Duo's, warm and soft, and very, very sweet, but then abruptly clamping shut as Heero placed a steely hand against Duo's chest and shoved. Hard.

"Duo! I said no! Get *off !*"

"Heero?" Completely confused, Duo stared at him from the far end of Heero's bed, where he'd landed. *Damn.* He propped himself up on his elbows. "But why? You *like* me. You just said so and I like you so what's the problem? Is it Jake?" Panic-stricken, Duo fought to get the words out, past the sudden lump in his throat. *Oh God please don't let it be Jake please don't let it be Jake...* "Because he...I..."

"No," Heero sounded surprised, turning around completely to look at him. "What's he got to do with anything?"

"Because he kissed you!" said Duo bitterly, as if he himself hadn't kissed forgettable scores of boys and girls, in the not-so distant past. "In the Rotunda Theatre. I heard you!"

"Oh. You did? Oh..." Heero's ears turned bright red. "He took me by surprise," he said uncomfortably. " I don't like him like that. I wasn't expecting it and it was.... " Heero's looked down at his hands, his entire face reddening. "I do like you. I always have but..."

"So what's the problem?" asked Duo, shifting uncomfortably himself, his own face warming, remembering Heero in the Rotunda.

"You are," said Heero baldly, and Duo blinked. *Ouch.* He pushed himself back up into a sitting position.

"You like me now," said Heero seriously, "but tomorrow it'll be someone else. You'll be off with Nathan... or Cassie... or...or someone. You've done nothing but screw your way through the entire campus since we got here. Why should I be any different? You're probably only interested now because I'm the only one left!"

Duo winced. Heero said *screw*. That must mean that he was deadly serious. Heero never said words like screw, or fuck, or nope. Although he seemed to be getting the hang of *nope*.

"That's not true!" Said Duo desperately, knowing that it was, but...

Duo had done exactly that, but...

Trudy and Nathan and...

But he couldn't even remember their names. Couldn't even picture their faces when he looked at Heero. Heero's blue, blue eyes and silky, chocolate hair. His lean body, that Duo knew almost as well as his own; tight and hard with compact muscle, and his broad shoulders, just starting to fill out into adult contours. Duo ached with the need to touch that strong chest, to learn the new shapes of those muscles for himself, with hands and lips and tongue.

"But I don't want anyone else," he said urgently. "I want you!! You have to believe me! It's true! Heero you have to let me prove it to you!!" And he grabbed Heero's arm, dragged him backwards onto the bed, and kissed him again. And this time, he put his entire heart and body and soul into it, and he wasn't letting Heero get up until Heero promised to believe in him, the way that Duo wanted to believe in Heero.

He kissed Heero with every sneaky trick he'd ever learned, with lots of tongue, licking and sucking, and ...*oooh that was nice*... determined to convince him, holding him down, and Heero writhed beneath him in a way that only made Duo want to press down harder, so he did, happily, gasping for breath before invading Heero's mouth again. Letting go of one of Heero's wrists so that he could slide his hand under Heero's T-shirt, discovering perfect, smooth, warm skin and tiny, hardened nipples and Heero shivered and whimpered into Duo's mouth in a way that made Duo *ache,* and Heero was so....*mmm*...his mouth was perfect and Duo tilted his head insistently, tongue revelling in the innocent depths of Heero's warm mouth, thinking that now his fingers had explored up, it was time they tried *down*, reluctantly abandoning those delicious nipples to trace over the shuddering ripples of Heero's belly.

*"Oh hell..." *

Heero was whispering something, Duo thought foggily,

*"...oh... I have to... I... ohhh... oh damn..."*

but Duo couldn't be sure, the whisper was very quiet, and his heart was pounding very loudly, and maybe he was mistaken, and then he stopped thinking about it altogether, because the next moment Heero was flipping him over effortlessly and crushing him beneath him, every inch of that lean, muscled body pressed against him.

And Heero was just so damned *strong*, somehow, Duo had forgotten, but now, pinned beneath that powerful body, he remembered, and those hands that could bend steel were holding him down, so that he couldn't...*ahhh*...holding him in place for Heero's mouth, Heero's tongue, cupping and stroking him, and Heero's hard thigh was nudging his legs apart and sliding between them, a hot, insistent pressure that made Duo gasp and arch up against him, fingers digging into Heero's shoulders hard enough to bruise, but he couldn't seem to let go.

*"Wait,"* he said, gasping for breath. "Wait..." Because they had to stop, had to remove clothes, had to find lube so that Duo could drive Heero crazy with wanting him, had to...*oh god*... "Wait...I..." But Heero didn't want to wait, and just pressed harder against him, mouthing and licking his neck, his collarbone, his...*ohhhhh damn*...his nipple through his shirt, fingers jammed between them, wrenching buckles and buttons and zips, so that Duo trembled and whimpered, and ached and throbbed and groaned, needing more, and if Heero didn't stop now he was going to... "Oh god...just let me..." He scrabbled for Heero's hand. "You have to...ahhh..."

Heero bit down hard, sucking hotly and Duo jerked up against that muscled thigh, forgetting Heero's hand to tug his hips closer against him, rocking helplessly beneath him. "Oh...Heero I ...I'm gonna...ohh...Heero...*Heero*..." Writhing under Heero's hands, Heero's lips, Heero's husky whisper, "Sshh... Duo shh...so beautiful ....it's all right ..." Heero's eyes fixed on his face. "Want you so much ...want you..." His mouth a desperate gasp of pleasure and need. "Just let me...*please*..." And Duo wanted to watch him back, wanted to see him, but he couldn't, he had to close his eyes, had to press up, and up, into Heero's hot, calloused hand.

And then Heero's mouth descended on his, invading, demanding, rough and desperate with need and want and *love* and Duo could only clutch at him desperately and let Heero engulf him like a tidal wave.


Duo curled against Heero's chest, warm and blissfully happy, despite the fact that he was sticky and his belt buckle was digging into his hip. There were bits of hair in his mouth and he pushed at them with his tongue, trying to spit them out, too relaxed to brush them away with his hand, and not willing to let go of Heero long enough to do so.

Mmm. He nuzzled his face into Heero's chest. Damn Heero smelled good. He clutched tighter, feeling happier than he ever had in his life. He never wanted to let Heero go. He wanted to hold him forever. He wanted to...

Duo's fingers clutched empty air as Heero rolled into a sitting position, running a hand though his hair. "Damn," said Heero softly, and Duo jerked upright. That didn't sound good.


"I'm sorry Duo. I shouldn't have done that." Despite the fact that it was Duo who'd attacked him in the first place. "I should go. Or something." Despite the fact that it was Duo who was lying, sticky, panting and dishevelled in the middle of Heero's bed. "I'm sorry." He said again. "It's just that I wanted you so much. I always have. Ever since I met you and then when you...I couldn't...I'd better... umm... You probably have to go..."

Heero braced himself to stand up, and Duo grabbed his wrist, panic-stricken and confused.

"What? Wait! Heero don't go. I like you too. I told you that. What's wrong? I thought..."

"Duo I can't do this."

"But why not? It was good wasn't it? More than good..." Duo shivered in remembrance and some embarrassment. Damn. He shouldn't have rushed Heero. Should have taken his time but it had just been so damned *hot...*

"Duo you're not interested in a relationship." Heero inspected him dubiously from beneath his tangled layers of hair, blue eyes burning into Duo's, and Duo clenched his fists, gripped with the insane urge to stroke that hair out of Heero's eyes. The way things were, Heero might kill him.

"But I am," said Duo anxiously. "I know that I wasn't, but it's different with you. I don't know why. I don't know how this stuff works. I just know that I really, really like you Heero. And if you liked me too, that'd be just awesome."

"But Duo you like everybody," said Heero simply. He looked down at his hands. "Why should it be any different with me? I'm not interested in being a...a...an *amusement* for you Duo."

Duo ached for the pain he heard in Heero's voice. This was his fault. He'd done this.

"It's my fault," he said miserably. "I never should have dumped you after Mariemaia. I should have known. Should have realised... Should have tried harder, but I just never, ever guessed and ... I'm so sorry Heero. All this time... Shit!" It was no good. He couldn't do this lying down. Maybe he'd be more convincing standing up. Frantically he rolled out of bed, landing on his knees beside it.

"Heero I...ugh!" Impatiently he wriggled out of his sticky jeans, and, then, his wet shirt for good measure, kicking them away. "Heero it's *different* with you. It is!! Can't you *tell?!* Hell!! I can't talk! I can't even *think!* I... Heero I was so turned on I couldn't even get my damned *pants* off a minute ago! Doesn't that tell you anything?!"

"That you're very uncoordinated," said Heero, possibly serious, possibly not.

*"No!!"* Duo was indignant. He was normally very good at getting his pants off, and something was seriously screwed up here, because Heero was the one being funny, and Duo could hardly string two words together. Or maybe Heero was just being his usual factual self. Duo couldn't tell. Duo didn't know anything any more. Duo didn't think that he'd ever been so anxious in his life.

"It means that it *matters!*" Said Duo desperately. "That I *care!* I care about *you* Heero. Nobody else. *Really.* I didn't know I did until... but I do and we have fun together and you're the only one I trust and I care what you're doing and what you're thinking and where you are and who you're seeing and..." Duo had a sudden vision of Jake, and choked, and swallowed hard. "...that you're well. And happy. I *love* you Heero." Duo was having trouble speaking for the lump in his throat. "I do. I really do. And I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy with *me..."*


"...and you don't have to say yes right now but *please* Heero...what?"

*"Yes* Duo. I said yes. I want to be with you too, I always have. I just didn't ever think you'd want me too." Kneeling up, Heero gently cupped Duo's face in his hands, bringing their lips together, and tugging Duo back into bed by the ears, with all of that impossible, improbable, completely irresistible strength.

And this time, it was tender and sweet, and Heero held him possessively, cocooned in his arms and rocked him with the slow inevitability of the tide, until Duo was gasping for air and drowning in love and sensation, and it was damned lucky that boys didn't cry, because otherwise, he might have wanted to.

And this time, he even managed to get his pants off.


Duo lay warm and cosy, pillowed snugly against Heero's shoulder and thought idly of pushing their beds together. It sucked that dorms didn't have double beds. Or maybe they could move out together, at the end of the semester. Get a house. Just him and Heero. That would be pretty cool.

To think, that only three months ago he'd thought that Heero was prickly and colourless as his cactus. How could he possibly have thought that? Beneath his solemn exterior, he was warm, and funny, and bright, and beautiful, just waiting for the right conditions to blossom into the wonderful person that Duo had discovered. Or maybe, just waiting for Duo to relax his defences long enough to let him in.

Duo's gaze was caught by a flash of colour beyond Heero's shoulder. He stared, wide-eyed, at luminous, spidery drifts of pink and orange, with a ruby heart of fire.

"Heero! Your cactus! It's flowering!"

"Huh. Maybe it loved your singing." Heero swam upwards from the salty depths of Duo's neck, not very interested in his cactus right then. He kissed him. "Or, maybe it's like me..."

He kissed him again, deeper this time, tongue finding all the hidden recesses of his mouth, rolling him over and settling on top of him like a warm, familiar blanket. Broke the kiss with a happy sigh and rested his forehead against Duo's, lips moments from his own, as if he couldn't bear to be parted, even for an instant.

"...maybe it just loves you."


Maybe when Spike Junior flowered they could give him to Relena.




Author's Notes.

Legal drinking age is assumed to be 17-18ish, because getting drunk, stoned and idiotic is an integral part of university life, and I'm sure that the Gundam pilots would never do anything illegal, apart from shoot things or blow them up. Except possibly Duo. And Trowa. And, probably, Heero, but it would be in a good cause. And Quatre would only do it if his lawyers said it was ok. But definitely, Wufei wouldn't. Unfortunately, he's not in this story.

Once again, inspired by another short story. But it's different. Different I tell you!!! Go read his and see. It's a very cute story, and much hotter than this one. You'll love it.

So. Inspired by this story,
http://www.matthewhaldemantime.com/1/tenweirdthings.html and with a vague reference to a fic someone wrote somewhere about Heero being given a plant to practice on, and then he was supposed to move on to a pet before he tried a real relationship. It was a nice story; I'm sorry I don't remember more details. You know who you are. Maybe you'll let us know.