Kel: Oooo, I feel so very good about this chapter, I'm not KiDdInG...
Duo: *hopefully* Does that mean you'll work on it faster?
Kel: *without pause* Probably not. Now that you-know-who is here... Nope, probably not. *scrams*
Sephy: *drily* That's typical.
Duo: *snaps his fingers* Damn. *sighs*
DISCLAIMER: Not mine, don't sue. Please. My pockets can't take the torture...
PAIRINGS: Developing 1+2
WARNING: Nee... Heero's getting a little OOC... *grins* But he's so
CUTE that way! *cuddles smiling Heero plushy*
STATUS: AU (Alternate Universe)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'd just like you to know that no one who is really a theatre fan would mind an all-male Romeo and Juliet cast, if you aren't familiar with the ways of the olden times plays. During the Shakespearean times, women were not allowed on stage for any reason. So men ended up playing the roles of women all the time, and no one really minded much back then. Duo's band of actors just re-acted the olden times ways because 1) they wished to be unique, and 2) they didn't have a female member in their group.
The Professional and the Amateur
Duo was in awe.
Before him sat the most expensive piece of machinery he himself had ever had the chance to see. In the dim enlivening of the nearly dusk light, the convertible was of a midnight blue so dark it was nearly black. The interior was of an ivory color, cleaned of any dirt or other soils. Even the hub caps looked to be made of pure, polished silver.
Duo nearly drooled at the sight before turning slightly dazed violet eyes toward one Heero Yuy. "That can't be your car."
Heero's eyes--those beautiful Prussian orbs--were filled with slight amusement as he diligently took his keys from his coat pocket and walked toward the blue Porsche, answering Duo's comment without saying a single word. Docilely he followed, still reeling from recently passed actions.
It wasn't really his time to leave the hospital; in fact, the doctor had recommended that Duo stay another night to assure a full recovery. However, the braided American refused to have it, promptly demanding to be released and letting him see the bill. When the doctor claimed there was no bill, Duo had been shocked.
"What do you mean?" he asked suspiciously, looking at the doctor out of the corner of one eye as he buttoned up his black shirt. "This is a hospital, isn't it? There's always a bill to be paid."
The doctor, a Cantonese looking woman with unique ponytails falling over each shoulders, and a nice pair of light blue eyes, smiled simply and stated that the hospital bill had already been paid in full. "Your friend already took care of all the arrangements," she'd reassured him. "If you'll wait a while, he'll be here in a few minutes to take you home. He's already been notified of your discharge."
Duo didn't know anyone with enough money to stick his or her neck out like that, but he had a nasty suspicion when he thought about it. Maybe it was that director dude wanting him in that play he and Heero Yuy were talking about? He still didn't know about their proposal that he take the place of this Maggie girl. Maybe the director guy was trying to butter him up?
Or maybe... Duo let go of that idea in a millisecond. Heero couldn't possibly be kind enough to pay for his bill! The guy barely even knew him, and vice versa. Heero, as much as it hurt to admit, just didn't seem like the guy to make quick friendships. The Japanese boy was most likely just very worried about the poor moron who fell off the bridge, was all. Heero couldn't see him any more than that--
The second those words had come to mind, Heero had stepped expectantly through the door. A few nurses stopped to stare at the handsome young boy, and even a few were whispering about them. Duo made no reaction of noting him other than letting his eyes slide over the Japanese boy's outfit.
Heero wore baggy jeans of a black color that hung off his narrow hips, showing a simple peek of boxers, and a thin white muscle shirt glimpsed from between the open flaps of his cobalt blue over-shirt. The sleeves were rolled to the elbow, and an overcoat was supported at the bend of one elbow. His eyebrow was raised in a suggestive manner as he stood in front of the surprised American boy.
"Are you ready to go?" he asked, his nasal voice echoing his wit as his Prussian eyes twinkled--not merrily, but it was something close to that.
"You did NOT just pay for my hospital bill," Duo blurted, staring up at the Japanese youth in amazement and incredulity. //He didn't. He really didn't. He just decided it would be courteous to pick me up. That's all. Howard Stiles sent him to butter me up because, damn that old coot, he knows I have something of a fixation on the him. And that old coot also knows that if Heero tried hard enough, I just couldn't say no to anything he asked.//
With a proud tilt in his chin, the Japanese boy said in a slight haughtily manner, "I did," and left it at that. Duo didn't even care that Heero was building himself a high horse. He was astounded that the Japanese boy would go to such lengths to please Howard.
Duo paused, hesitant to even touch the blue beauty that posed before him. "Um... this is your car?..."
Heero paused before the driver's side door, his hand pausing in front of the door handle before he swung the door open. "One of them," he said simply, and left it at that. Duo almost cursed, but instead he choked on his tongue.
"I bet you have NO idea how unintentionally conceited that sounded," he murmured placidly, mostly to himself, before he opened the passenger's side door and gently slid in.
"Shitsurei desu ga?"
"No~thi~ng!" Duo sung out, smiling broadly when Heero noticed his slip from English to Japanese for the first time. "It's okay, man," Duo announced in good humor. "I understand Japanese, remember?"
"Aa. Soo desu ka." With a slight tilt at his lips, the Japanese boy started the car with little to no hurry. Once they were well on their way, he finally asked, "Where do you live?"
"By the river--you know, the one I almost drowned in?" Duo smiled in remembrance, acquiescently giving the other the directions. Heero merely raised one eyebrow in reply, but Duo made it his duty to pretend to ignore him. It was a known fact that the side of town he lived on wasn't very safe. Gangs and criminals lurked in the streets at night, and anyone dumb enough to wander out there during lights- out was as good as dead. Or raped, depending on what kind of gangster or criminal that found you first.
"I still don't know what those explosions were about," he added thoughtfully. "What was that, anyway? You never really told me."
"The explosions?" Heero frowned, and then remembered. "I thought I did tell you."
"Aa. The explosions were special effects, needed for the movie being filmed there."
"Honto ni? There's a movie being filmed there?" The braided boy searched futilely for the memory of ever being told there was a movie being filmed anywhere in the city, but he drew a blank. With little reluctance he admitted he wasn't very updated when it came to movies; he didn't have a television to watch anything, anyway. He rarely had the time to go see nee releases at the cinema. What was the point of keeping up with anything that went on in the movie world?
"Hai," the Japanese boy eyed Duo critically for a second, making it long enough to note the loosened braid, half undone due to the loss of the hair tie, flap like a whip in the wind. The long-haired beauty probably didn't even notice the missing hair band. //That's going to be a bitch combing out,// Heero winced. "Everyone's been touchy about it lately. The locals have been having a field day with your accident. Ever since word got out about the subject material of the movie, the fanatics have been grasping at strews trying to find something wrong with it."
Duo seemed to jump in his seat, a guilty expression crossing his gamin face. "Oh, geez, I didn't set anything back did I?"
Heero's eyes softened, still on the road before him. "No. Don't worry about it. These days, any script written will draw out the crazy and the close-minded. It's also why Mags quit. She didn't feel comfortable playing a male role and still getting the guy."
"Oh..." Duo's eyes widened. "Oh! Oh, it's like that!" The formerly braided boy turned in his seat to stare at Heero. "It's a movie promoting free love, isn't it? Some of those `close-minded' people you were speaking of are the kind against homosexuality and the like, right?"
"And this Mags person... But you want ME to be a replacement for someone named Mags!"
Heero blinked, stunned. //Didn't we already cover this?// "Hai."
"Dude, you did NOT just tell me you wanted me to be in a movie!"
Heero was even more confused than ever. Didn't the other know? "Well, yes. Jennings spoke highly of you, and he rarely ever gives praise. Howard thought that you'd have enough talent to be a proper replacement for Mags, hopefully even better. I thought you knew."
"I DIDN'T know!" wailed the long-haired American into the cool, crisp night air. "I thought you guys were talking about a play or something! I've never been in a movie before! I'm just some two bit amateur. I did Romeo and Juliet for fun, man. I don't really know how to act!"
Heero slowed to a crawl and pulled over on the shoulder of the road, killing the engine and staring the surprised and befuddled American straight in the eyes. With slow, deliberate movement, he reached over and caressed the side of Duo's face. "And I'm a professional actor," he said softly, his smiling eyes showing his confidence. In himself or him, Duo would never really know, but the confidence was definitely there. "Don't worry about it, Duo. All I--we can hope for is that you'll accept Howard's proposition. You'll be perfect for the role, I just know it. I'll help you as much as I can, and I know you'll do just fine, should you accept. Just please, think very carefully about it. Okay?"
Duo couldn't speak. It was that thing he knew would happen. All Heero had to do was asking him outright to take the part, and the poor American knew he wouldn't hesitate to say yes. Somehow, Duo knew that Heero was aware of this. That's why he asked him to think about the proposal instead of outright asking him to do it. With a slow nod of his head, observing the warmth of those hands rubbing along his jaw line, all Duo could do was nod weakly. "O- okay..." //God, I hope that didn't come out as squeaky as it sounded...//
Heero nodded, a wide smile splitting his face and melting Duo's resistance in an instant. With slowness he removed his hand, as if reluctantly, from Duo's person and started the car up once more and merge expertly back into the little traffic along the highway.
"I'll walk you up."
Duo smiled weakly before opening the door to the car. "That's really unnecessary, Heero. If you leave your car alone for even a minute, there's no telling how fast it can be stripped."
"I insist," Heero replied, already beside the formerly braided American's side of the car, holding out an elbow as an offer to take it. "The car will be fine. If it isn't, I'll just call Wufei and ask him to go over to my place and bring my Lincoln Continental. He won't mind, since he loves borrowing the damn car, anyway."
"You're one of those rich types that collect cars because you can, aren't you?" Duo said dubiously, taking the offered arm and glancing around nervously. He could already see a gang across the street eyeing the tempting car hungrily, but one look from Heero seemed to quell their thoughts immediately.
The Japanese boy had that effect on people. A glare from him, it seemed, could freeze a penguin. Duo was already affectionately dubbing the glare the Yuy Glare o' Agonizing Doom.
"I like cars," he stated simply, leading Duo to the broken down apartment building without a pause.
"So do I, but I don't own `em all," Duo said sardonically, a touch of longing in his tone of voice. //I'd maim to own at least some semblance of a vehicle, though...// he didn't add, keeping his mouth shut further of the conversation. He didn't feel it was a comfortable subject material anymore. That gleam in the other boy's eyes was scary...
"Hn." Heero paused to survey the broken lock of the apartment house door critically, grunting once more as a mere voice of his disprovement of Duo's living quarters.
He heard the formerly braided boy curse vilely, and Heero nearly grinned. Apparently the American just found out that his impossibly long braid wasn't exactly a braid anymore. Cursing fluently in four different languages, he ineffectively began brushing his fingers through the tangled mass and cursed harder and more.
Once Duo finally gave up his futile mission, they walked inside the shambled apartment building. It smelled of mildew and old liquor, and a deep smell of cigarettes intermingling with the distinct scent of weed. Further down the hall, Heero could see clearly a woman on her hands and knees, her face buried in the man's zipper. There was no doubt what the woman was doing when the man let out a low moan and filthy whispered words sliding out of his mouth. "Slut" and "suck it" seemed to make up a majority of the utterances.
Heero raised his brow and looked over at the flushing Duo. His violet eyes stayed in contact with the ground as his cheeks flared in redness, and he hurriedly pounded up the stairs. With a small quark of his lips he followed the mortified American and never mentioned the incident again.
They soon stood in front of a peeling apartment door marked D69 on the third floor, Duo finally looked up into Heero's eyes with a small, if not a bit meek, smile.
"Thanks a lot, Heero," he said softly, holding a few strands of chestnut hair in his hands. "I really appreciate what you did and all. Paying for the hospital bill and taking me home... well, you didn't need to, or have to, but I'm glad you did. I swear I'll find some way to pay you back."
Heero frowned. "Duo, I don't want you to pay me back. I did it because I wanted to. It's as simple as that." With an affectionate smile, he once again ran his thumb over Duo's jaw. "Think nothing of it."
"It's not simple to me, Heero!" Duo argued. "And I will think something of it. No one's ever done that for me be--"
The door swung open then, flooding light in the dark hall. Suddenly, without warning, a small figure let out a squeal and glomped onto Duo's waist. Tightly. Duo gasped for breath and spread his arms, looking down to find a small child wrapped around his waist.
The child was no taller than Duo's ribs, and his hair was a deep violet color that brushed his shoulder. His eyes were wide and sparkling with happiness and relief, a matching shade of Duo's own eyes. He wore a pair of pajamas that looked to be old and favored, filled with small sports balls and tools.
Duo's amethyst eyes softened and he wrapped his arms loosely around the child. "Hey, Solo," he said quietly. "Shouldn't you be in bed, sport?"
"`Course I should be," Solo remarked off-handedly, staring up at Duo adoringly, "but Momma and Aunt Helen are all worried about ya! Where ya been, anyway? You haven't been home all night and day!"
"Well, I had an accident... but Mr. Yuy right here," he jerked his head toward the silent Japanese boy, turning the little boy's attention onto him, "he helped me, see? Even took me home in that cool car outside. Didja see that car?"
"Uh-huh," nodded the boy, in obvious awe. "Saw it outside my window. `M just surprised it ain't been stripped yet!"
"Which could be in process even as we speak," Heero said in dry amusement, but sounding like he didn't really mind at all. Kneeling down, he offered a hand to the boy. "I'm Heero. Nice to meet you."
"Your name is hero?" said the skeptical boy with wide eyes.
Heero smiled. "Uh-huh. My name is Heero."
"Wow..." The boy's eyes turned back up, looking at his uncle. "Hero's your hero, ain't he, Uncle Duo?"
Both of the older boys laughed. "Yeah," Duo said softly, looking at Heero with admiring eyes. "Heero's my hero."
"Wow..." Running back inside, the little boy yelled out, "Aunt Helen, Momma, Duo's back and he brought his hero!"
Duo choked on his tongue and flushed red once again, ripping his eyes away from the Japanese boy to stare at the ground. Heero, however, simply chuckled softly and smiled in the direction of the little boy's retreat.
"He's a nice kid."
"Yeah..." Duo held a fond note in his voice. "Would you like to come in?"
//Yes.// "I don't want to intrude," Heero replied instead. "I need to be going. But Duo, do me a favor. Will you meet me at the corner of Mable and Fourth tomorrow afternoon? I'd like to talk to you again..."
"I... well..." //Dude, he's asking you to meet him on a day you have no work, especially since you don't work at Fortunado's anymore! Goforitgoforitgoforit!// "Sure. Tomorrow afternoon, Mable and Fourth..."
Flashing a grateful grin, Heero bowed and murmured "Ja ne" before turning to leave the apartment. With wide eyes Duo watched Heero leave, feeling his knees weaken. A sudden thought struck him.
//Mable and Fourth? Damnit, that's all the way across town! How am I supposed to get to Mable and Fourth?!//
Outside, Heero dialed a number on his ever present cellular phone and waited. "Yeah, Quatre? I need you and Trowa to do me a favor..."
The Next Day....
Duo yawned widely, rubbing his sleepy eyes into wakefulness. He remembered last nights events clearly--how Hilde cried and hugged him, telling him how worried she'd been about him, especially when Carla called to ask them why he'd been late for work. They'd all thought Duo had crashed over at her house, having no desire to wander the streets at night like usual. Aunt Helen just smiled that mysterious smile and said nothing, content that her nephew was home and safe again. It had taken three stories to get the excited Solo back to sleep, and they all had to be about cars.
The problem he had that day involved cars. Or lack of one. Duo had no way of getting to Mable and Fourth, and Heero made no indication that he would pick the braided boy up. Considering he knew of no one off that day, he couldn't very well ask to borrow a car. So what was he supposed to do?
"Duo, you have someone outside asking for you!" Hilde called, carrying the groceries inside. Ever since the accident five years ago, his older cousin never went outside when it was dark. She always did her shopping early in the morning, when gangs and lawbreakers crawled back into the holes they came from.
"Gotchya, coz," he replied, exiting the apartment to walk down the two flights of stairs in order to get to ground floor. Curious, he stood behind the screen door and noticed the delivery man.
"Good morning," he said automatically. The delivery man returned his greeting and held out an envelop and a clip board.
"Sign here, please." Duo did so with little flurry, taking the light envelop from the man. Inquisitive, he opened the brown enwrap and pulled out a simple note.
Here is a little something from me to you.
Blinking violet orbs were the only reaction to the simple letter. Finally Duo reached deeper into the envelop, his smooth fingertips encountering cold metal. The object clinked together as he pulled it out, observing a pair of simple keys and some sort of device on a key chain. Confused, he looked up...
His heart hitched, catching in his throat as he stared. A metallic purple Jaguar XKE sat in front of the apartment building, gleaming in the morning light. He dropped the empty envelop and stared for a good two minutes...
That is, before he screamed...
"HE GAVE ME A CAR?!?!"
To be continued
Kel: *cackles* I couldn't decide which car to use, so I decided to use `em all at one point or another! Aren't I grand? Wahahahah!
Duo: I LIKE this chapter. I like this chapter a LOT. *drools*
Sephy: I have no complaints... But we'll see how long this lasts...
Kel: Shut up, Sephy. *grins* ^.^v C&C welcome! Please feed the starving author! *stomach suddenly growls* Oh... I've been working all day with updating and writing, and I tell you... I'm hungry...