Title: Hearts in Tune
Author: Karen, The Huntress
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing or its characters
Warning: Yaoi, romantic with a hint of sap
Hearts in Tune
by Karen, The Huntress
The New Orleans night was close, made more uncomfortable by the pressing throngs crowding the sidewalks. Dressed in tight black slacks and a silky gray shirt that accentuated his slim physique Duo drifted down the boulevard with a relaxed stride befitting the city's casual attitude. His neatly braided hip length hair tapped rhythmically against his trim black-clad butt as he weaved his way through the constant stream of people.
It had been two weeks since Duo Maxwell moved into a modest studio loft in the heart of the French Quarter. Although he had recently graduated from college Duo had no desire to become a low-level cubical worker with an impersonal company. His salary from managing a gift shop barely paid the rent and kept him fed but he was more than willing to "live lean" as long as he could be near his first love...jazz.
Duo knew that the best entertainment was not necessarily found on Bourbon Street but in the smaller clubs tucked away from the main tourist attractions. The musicians who frequented these out-of-the-way spots were not interested in steady money instead they played for the pure pleasure of the music. They gladly put their heart and soul into each session for the meager rewards of appreciative applause, free drinks and a share of the night's receipts.
Acting on a friend's recommendation Duo crossed a side street stopping before a nondescript building. Tinted windows cast a yellowish glow on the pavement. Indigo light danced over the twin earrings adorning Duo's left earlobe as he tilted his head upwards to read "Midnight Blues Cafe" spelled out in bright blue neon. "This must be the place." he mumbled under his breath.
As Duo opened the door the scent of stale smoke combined with beer and whiskey wafted out. Inside a pair of sluggish ceiling fans did little to disperse the hazy atmosphere or ease the humidity that clung to every corner of the room. To the left a scratched, time worn bar lined with padded stools took up most of the wall. To the right circular tables and chairs formed the seating area. At the room's center back a raised semi-circle platform served as a makeshift stage. A single chair, a microphone and a keyboard were the only items on the stage framed by a navy blue curtain.
There was only one unoccupied table as the limited spaces were filling up quickly. Checking his watch Duo noted that it was ten o'clock. "The first session should be starting soon." he thought as he ordered a beer and claimed a chair near the stage.
Hushed conversations buzzed above the clinking of glasses. Couples leaned close engaging in whispered tête-à-tête. More cigarette smoke added to the overall smog. At the bar an inebriated man stared into his glass seemingly lost in his own thoughts or perhaps he was just studying his blurred reflection in the ice cubes. Occasionally he and the bartender exchanged a few words then the lone patron would ease back into his solitary contemplations. Creaking floorboards redirected Duo's attention from his discrete observations.
Four men about Duo's age climbed three steps to the stage. The quartet offered an interesting assortment. A petite blond with wide azure eyes adjusted the keyboard's controls. The tallest man whose odd bangs partly covered his green eyes carried a flute. The third member sporting an ebony ponytail was Chinese, the saxophone his instrument of choice.
The final performer also had Asian features but tousled brown hair and blue eyes indicated European influence in his background. He sat down on the chair balancing an acoustic guitar on one knee then lowered the microphone until it was inches away from very sensual lips.
"Good evening." His low voice broke through the murmured din successfully silencing the crowd.
The guitar owner's husky baritone sent a shiver racing down Duo's spine that didn't stop until it tingled between his legs. Duo suddenly realized that his mouth had gaped opened as he stared at the sexiest person he had ever seen. For a fleeting moment the beautiful male's eyes locked with Duo's fixed sight then the scorching gaze was gone.
"Welcome to the Midnight Blues Cafe. Before we get started I would like to introduce my friends. Quatre Winner on the keyboard. Trowa Barton, the flute. Chang Wufei, the saxophone," he identified each player in turn, "and my name is Heero Yuy. Our first song is "The Look of Love"."
Quatre led off with the beginning notes then Trowa and Wufei joined in the measured melody. Finally the guitar's soft cords wrapped around the music like a velvet blanket. As the stage lights glowed on his golden skin Heero Yuy leaned near the microphone. "The look of love is in your eyes; a look your smile can't disguise."
If it were possible for an angel to walk among men the heavenly chorus would be minus one singer. Heero's silky voice embraced each word, stroked each sound with the gentle caress of a familiar lover.
Each inflection enfolded about Duo until the lilt of the lyrics held him spellbound. Deeper and deeper Duo fell into an erotic vortex and his only hope of rescue was being lifted by Heero's sweet soulful sounds. Duo didn't hear the next few lines through the hypnotic haze then "We'll take a lover's vow and seal it with a kiss." broke the mesmerizing modulation causing his frontal region to strain against his already taut pants.
Duo's heart pounded, his throat was dry and he didn't realize he was holding his breath until his lungs begged for air. This was not the first time Duo felt this way. However in the past it had always been a female that had triggered the reactions. After all he was a hot-blooded male with active hormones but now his libido levels were being challenged in a totally different way.
In one gulp Duo nervously finished his beer but the fermented brew did little to alleviate the dryness or rid him of a stubborn emotional lump that stuck in his windpipe. "Whoa Maxwell, rein it in." he whispered shocked by his uncomfortable attraction to the other man.
Duo's common sense told him to leave immediately. As the logical part of his brain debated with his body that was now operating on pure sexual instinct, Duo wiped his sweaty palms on his pants and wondered what in the hell should he do.
"The look of love." repeated in his increasingly dazed mind. Each syllable wormed its way into his soul laying bare all his inhibitions. In one simple phrase every barrier to what Duo perceived as "normal" was shattered. Softly sighed syllables blew across the powdery remnants dispersing them until not a trace remained.
The last keyboard cords were played. The flute's final notes blended with the saxophone's mellow tones. Guitar strings vibrated sending their shockwaves straight into Duo's fluttering heart. Then mercifully Heero's entrancing voice let go allowing Duo to breathe again.
"Leave now." Duo's mind ordered as Heero's boring blue orbs once more captured his sight. The mysterious man sat in silence, his fingers resting lightly on the guitar strings and his full attention concentrated solely on the obviously awestruck customer with the braid.
Duo lowered his eyes breaking Heero's magnetic connection. Bracing his hands on the table he cautiously began to stand. He had serious doubts that his wobbly legs would support his weight much less carry him all the way to the exit. "Don't look back." his mind advised even though his body demanded one more lingering glance.
He made it as far as the bar before the confused infighting got the better of him. Flopping on the stool next to the meditative drunk who barely acknowledged the younger man's presence, Duo clearly his arid throat and, with some difficultly, ordered another beer.
The bartender tilted his head; a grin flickered over his mouth. After many years he had developed a keen insight into the matters of the heart. As an amateur analyst he could easily recognize full-blown infatuation. This was not the first time he had seen Heero Yuy cause such fascination. Heero's expressive eyes and honey rich voice had tempted both female and male customers.
Whether Heero had a preference for one sex or the other the bartender didn't know. Another important thing he had learned was that what went on in people's private lives was none of his business. So he kept to his nightly task of dispensing drinks and advice but he never stopped studying the subtle looks and body language that spoke volumes about someone's heart and soul.
The young man sitting on the bar's opposite side clearly had a bad case of the afore mentioned infatuation. His breathing came in ragged puffs and there was an unmistakable shiver along his shoulders. In the smoke muted light a gleam of moisture shimmered on his upper lip. Heavier beads of perspiration plastered his reddish bangs to his forehead.
"Want another beer?" the bartender asked retrieving the empty glass and wiping up the wet ring it left behind. The young man nodded "no". "Make this one stronger." he replied without making direct eye contact. The drink was served then the bartender moved on leaving Duo to wage his internal war.
The second song in the set began. More melodious notes and cords floated from the stage. Duo fought the overwhelming urge to turn around. He knew that if he did he would become hopelessly lost in brooding blue eyes and a voice that would make any angel break the commandment concerning envy.
The music's resonance lulled the patrons into a soothed composure but it did nothing to relax Duo. He sucked in another hard inhalation waiting for that voice to grab hold and wrap around his soul like a syrupy spider web. Downing the gin and tonic that went straight to his head Duo gave into his brain's counsel, planted his feet on the floor and prepared to leave.
Heero knew that most of the Cafe's customers were transient tourists. They would spend an evening or two cruising the clubs then disappear into the night never to be seen again. But Heero could not let the stranger sitting only a heartbeat away vanish into the midnight hours.
When the alluring man moved toward the door Heero's heart skipped a beat. When he stopped at the bar the pausing prodded him to leave the stage. "Play this one without me." Heero instructed lying his guitar on the floor.
A light touch on his arm frozen Duo in place. An involuntary shudder followed so closely that he had no chance to keep the shiver at bay. Slowly he turned his head hoping that the hot hand didn't belong to Heero and at the same time praying that it did. Then steely blue met daze violet and lustful fireworks exploded over Duo's entire body.
Heero gazed down at the young man who had been the center of his attention since the initial meeting of their eyes. "Would you...like...to dance?" Heero asked with an uncharacteristic shyness that made the request come out in halting bits and pieces.
The man with the extraordinary eyes had a completely unreadable expression fixed on his face. Heero couldn't tell if his failure to respond was due to surprise or if he was considering the obviously gay invitation. Duo continued to stare.
"I'm sorry." Heero apologized. His hand dropped away as he started to return to the stage.
Two steps away. Duo blinked not certain that the vision before him was real. The invitation to dance resounded on some subconscious level like a phantom lullaby. Another step. "Answer him you fool!" his mind screamed.
"Wait." The single word was barely heard above the music. Heero pivoted in place but made no effort to move forward. Despite his uneasiness Duo locked his eyes squarely on the man that made his heart beat wildly. "I would like to dance." he accepted offering his hand.
Heero didn't try to hide the delighted smile as his fingers curled around the extended hand. "May I be so bold as to ask your name?"
"Duo." Heero repeated in a Southern sugar coated tone that made Duo go weak in the knees. "Let's find somewhere a bit more private." he suggested guiding his dancing partner toward a shadowy area adjacent to the stage.
"Are you sure no one will mind if we dance?" Duo wondered.
"The only person I have to answer to is the owner and he doesn't care."
As Heero escorted the young man passed the stage Quatre cut his eyes at Trowa who in turn nodded at Wufei. Never missing a beat the trio slowed the song to a romantic meter.
"I'm not sure how to do this." Duo admitted when he and Heero reached the secluded area.
"You've danced before haven't you?"
"Yes but not with a man."
Heero smiled trying to put his partner at ease, "There is no difference, relax and let me lead."
Duo took a deep breath to slow his thumping heart then placed his hands on Heero's shoulders. Heero slipped his hands around Duo's slender waist. "Are you all right?" Heero asked noticing Duo's hands trembling on his shoulders.
Duo couldn't form the words to reply. Heero's liquid cobalt eyes once again held their sway. That honeycomb voice seemed huskier than before and those lips...Duo just nodded "yes".
Two bodies began to sway in a tight circle. It wasn't so much dancing as rocking from side to side. Trowa leaned over the platform's edge employing his flute's satin strains to set a romantic mood.
Then it was as if everyone in the Cafe faded into the background. The bartender and the sodden loner making love to his whisky became ghostly whiffs blending perfectly with the smoky haze. Even Quatre, Trowa and Wufei evaporated until nothing was left but the music.
Heero reached up draping Duo's arms over his shoulders to close the gap then repositioned his hands so that his fingers tangled in the braid brushing along Duo's hips. Quickly the music took over. The dulcet harmony helped Duo loosen up. Laying his head on Heero's chest their pliable bodies pressed together. Then the embers that had been smoldering between the enthralled couple blazed up as sultry as the New Orleans' night.
At that definitive moment two souls became one and two lives were changed forever. The music stopped but the dancing pair still swayed to their heart's tempo, a bond forged by passionate heat and tempered by a coolness only jazz could create.
After that fateful chance encounter Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell became inseparable. Each evening Duo would sit at his reserved table falling deeper in love with Heero and his music. When the last set ended and the blue neon went dark Duo and Heero would return to the loft. Above the bustling street, sheltered from the world they would share a bed and their private rendition of "The Look of Love".
Thank you for reading!!!
Hearts in Tune--Karen Hickman--October 2002