Kel: Ahh, yet another chapter of The Professional and the Amateur. I feel soooo good... *stomach growls* .... I think I'm gonna go eat--
Duo: *quickly takes a roll of masking tape and tapes her to the chair* You are NOT gonna put this off any long, Kel!
Kel: .... *sigh* Oh, well... So procrastination won't work this time...
DISCLAIMER: Anything mentioned in this fic isn't mine. Not even the cars.
Not even the bishonen. Not even the apartment. Not even the dirt the characters
walk on. They aaaaall belong to someone else. Everything. I just use the
props and characters to write the story. *pouts* Shoot... *kicks at an imaginary
PAIRINGS: Developing 1+2, 3+4, surprised pairing... *smirks*
STATUS: Alternate Universe
NOTE: You'll most likely hear Duo call Solo, Hilde, and Aunt Helen "coz" at one point or another. It's a little Shakespearean `slang' he picked up from Romeo and Juliet. "Coz" doesn't necessarily mean `cousin', but it's a form of addressing any relative. Also, Solo wants to be like Duo, who's his second cousin, not his `uncle'. Helen is also Solo's grandma (Hilde's her daughter, and Solo is Hilde's son), but you'll frequently hear him address Helen like Duo.
The Professional and the Amateur
"He gave me a car!"
Hilde shook her head from her position across the braided beauty, smiling softly at her dumbfounded cousin and taking a small sip of coffee. The poor boy had screamed outside, which resulted in Hilde immediately going down stairs to find out what all the disturbance was about. There she found him, out cold in the door way clutching a note and a pair of keys. Once she'd finally gotten him up, he apparently had a headache from the fall, warranting the blue ice pack he held to the back of his head. He'd also been saying the same six words for the passed five minutes.
"Are you sure he gave it to you, Duo? Maybe it's somebody else's car," Hilde suggested, even though she knew deep down that the car was definitely his from then on out. That was, until it was stolen... But the keys, the note, and the existence of such a car downstairs, untouched, was proof enough that it was certainly given to him.
"He gave me a car!"
"Well, that was certainly generous of him," Helen put in mildly, smiling in that way of hers. Hilde kind of figured the same thing her mother had. Duo had a little admirer in the form of a handsome young man in expensive jeans. Wether the braided boy realized the same or not, however...
"He gave me a car!"
"Uncle Duo, Uncle Duo," Solo jumped up and down beside his uncle excitedly, a sparkle in his eyes and a skip to his jump, "if it's okay with Aunt Helen, can you pleeeeeaaaase take me for a ride in the really cool car? Please, please, please??"
"Solo, baby," Hilde cooed softly, gently pulling the boy away from his uncle and sitting him down in his chair, "it's not `Aunt Helen', it's Grandma. Call Momma `Grandma', okay?"
Solo pouted. "But Uncle Duo calls her Aunt Helen."
Before Hilde could clear this up, Helen laughed lightly and reached over, stroking a strand of Solo's violet hair fondly before saying, "I don't mind at all, Hilde. He reminds me so much of Duo when he was that age..."
"Coz," Duo finally bit out, the dumbfounded expression on his face even more apparent, "he gave me a car!"
"I KNOW that, Duo!"
Hilde sighed and patted her befuddled braided cousin on the shoulder before lying a plate of pancakes before him. "Only Mr. Yuy can answer that, Do."
That didn't seem to clear things up for her cousin much.
"You gave him a car!"
"I know that already," Heero smiled softly, reclining in the stiff metal chair and placing his legs upon the table top. "I'm the one that asked the lovebirds to have the arrangements done, remember?"
"Yeah, but... A car?"
"It was the least I could do."
"For WHAT?? For allowing him to fall off a bridge? Are you DAFT, Yuy, or are you doing this on PURPOSE?"
"Dorothy," Heero sighed in irritation, giving the blonde a look meaning business as he slowly replied, "Don't question me on my methods and I won't question yours."
"Methods of what?" sniffed the blonde actress, finally taking a seat at the patio table. She was fairly popular herself, considering she'd acted in many movies. The two actors knew each other well, considering she was Heero's step-sister. Long, fair hair and forked eyebrows where her best-known features, but her calculating gaze could put anyone else in the hospital, be it from fear or something else along those lines. "I concur with much protest, but don't you think giving him a car was a bit much? Why didn't you just... I don't know. Send Paragon to pick him up in the Rolls Royce? I'm sure Paragon wouldn't have minded at all..."
"Because Duo doesn't have a car," Heero pointed out.
"Nobody sane living in the ghetto would waste money on a car for good reason, Heero," Dorothy chimed somewhat moodily, a sad look coming over her expression and disappearing just as fast. Heero didn't reply. He knew that, for a better part of her life, his step-sister also lived in poverty before her mother met his father. He would never know how that felt, but seeing it in Dorothy was enough to give him an idea of how bad Duo must have had it.
//And I'll make sure it won't stay that way,// he vowed silently, tightening his grip on his glass of lemonade and taking a quick swallow. "Hopefully he won't be living there for very long."
"Are you so sure he'll take this part?" Dorothy inquired critically, giving Heero the eye before continuing, "Maybe he's afraid of acting in front of a camera."
"Acting in front of an audience is different?" Heero snipped. "Listen, Dor, and think about it. If Duo thought about it as much as I want him to, he should have come to the conclusion that a part in a movie--especially one of the main parts--would consequently mean a lot of money, right? If this movie is a best seller like we hope, Duo will gain a lot of money, thus meaning he can finally move out of that apartment and find another place to live in safety."
Dorothy was silent for a while. "So you think he'll do it?"
"If not for himself, then for his family."
"If I didn't know any better, I'd say that's bordering on manipulation, Yuy."
"Trust me, Catalonia, it isn't meant to be manipulation. I just don't want Duo living in such a dangerous neighborhood." The Japanese boy sighed, placing his lemonade on the table before him and watching the sweat slide down the icy surface of the glass.
Dorothy made a retreat, a small, playful smile fidgeting along her red lips. Her step-brother may have been blind to his own emotions, but Dorothy saw them all too well. His eyes, usually light if not serious, were plagued with worry for the American he was moping for. His mouth, usually in a straight line or smirking slight, was nothing but the opposite as the frown teased his face. She saw it clear as ever, and anyone who knew him well would also see it.
Heero Yuy was, if not in love, than infatuated with a certain bishonen American boy.
//In-ter-est-ing...// "You know, Yuy, I'd say you were smitten if I didn't know you so well." //Yuy isn't the ONLY one of us who knows how to do a slight manipulating of her own...//
Heero seemed to jerk to awareness with those words, only to level a frosty glare in her direction before bluntly stating, "Shut up." But he didn't deny any of it. Dorothy smothered a grin and austerely sent him a look of superiority.
//Changing the subject, are we?// Dorothy mused mentally, replying with a slight quark of an eyebrow, "He's fine. Just busy with his lines is all. He's upset with his part, you know, but he'll never give up the challenge." The blonde actress sighed in exaggerated distress, placing the back of her hand on her brow, closing her eyes, and throwing her head back in the classic damsel-in-distress pose. "If only I can get him away from that script..."
Heero grinned slowly. "Not getting any?"
"Getting absolutely nada."
"You wouldn't know."
"Touche`..." They both laughed, the tenseness in the air long dead and buried. The chatted on light things for a good hour before two more figures finally joined them at the table. With identical looks of perception the step-siblings waited for the two to seat themselves before saying anything else.
"Had fun last night?" Dorothy quipped knowingly, a twinkle in her eyes as the couple blushed pink.
"Of course they did," Heero added smoothly, a grin twiddling his lips, "I mean, wouldn't the noise from the Other Room last night give you at least some clue of their enjoyment."
"I understood enough to know who was seme and who was uke," leered the blonde playfully.
"Be quiet, Dorothy," the blonde boy murmured softly, but grinning at his partner nonetheless. Dorothy didn't blame that grin for anything. The two made a brilliant and astounding couple. Quatre Winner, with his small frame and teal blue eyes sparkling with affection as he looked over toward his taller partner. Trowa's brown hair, styled exclusively, flopped over one emerald green eye that shined with an intelligence, and a sort of fondness for the blonde that fit into his arms perfectly.
They were, as cliche as it sounded, a match made in Heaven.
"So," Quatre quirked a curious eyebrow in the direction of Heero, "How did your admiree like his present?"
"I don't know yet," Heero admitted with a small smirk. "But I suspect I'll find out when I meet him this afternoon. Most likely he'll throw the keys at me and demand I take it back. Or something along those lines."
The other three exchanged curious looks. "Then why not just send your chauffeur after him this afternoon?" Trowa Barton asked peculiarly, his green eyes lighting up brighter than before. If there was anything that Trowa liked more than mysteries, gossip, and secrets, it--or he, as the case may be--was Quatre.
The stubborn tilt of his chin came back with a vengeance as he gave the taller boy a flat look explicitly saying `do not ask'. "I have my reasons." Only a few more minutes did he chat with the other three before he stood up and slipped into his coat. "I have engagements to meet, you know," Heero added with a light smirk and a toss of his moss green hair. He didn't get far before he heard a clear humming of that wedding song from the group, followed immediately by a quirky "pray for the dead and the dead will pray for you" tune coming from someone that sounded suspiciously like Dorothy.
With a grin and a smothered laugh, he went to fetch his metallic silver Formula Firebird.
"Take it back."
Those three words were the first words out of Duo's mouth when he walked into the quaint café sat in front of Heero. Heero simply smiled a small, coy smile and studied the American beauty before him. Opposed to Heero's baggy jeans, Duo wore tight, form fitting, faded jeans and black baggy shirt, also opposite from the Japanese boy's tight green muscle shirt. His chestnut strands were wild around the American's face, but most of the mane was still secured in the braid behind his head.
Duo was almost glaring at him before Heero finally realized he hadn't replied to his demand. Instead, he played the innocent. "Pardon?"
"The car," Duo replied swiftly, fixing a stern look on the Japanese boy. The seriousness was slowly fading, albeit not quickly enough for Heero. Instead, he bounded a grin of the devil in the American's direction before saying one word.
Instead of holding his rigid expression, the sternness quickly melted into, of all things, the most adorable little pout Heero had ever seen. He almost dropped his coffee at the utterly cuteness the other boy radiated at that moment. Gulping, Heero gave the other a wide-eyed look.
No one had ever told Heero, unfortunately, that Duo was the master at pouting. Many a times Duo had gotten his way with this dangerous look of a jutted lip and wide, sorrowful eyes. However, the Japanese boy quickly made up for his surprise by battening down his hatches and smiling again. "I don't like taking a gift back. It's rude."
"But, Heee~eero! I can't KEEP the car!" Duo argued adorably, crossing his arms in a childish manner and sulking prettily. "What `m I supposed to do with the thing? It'll be stripped or stolen by tonight, just you watch!"
Heero opened his mouth the assure the boy.... and promptly snapped his mouth shut. An idea was forming. Oh, yes, what a nice idea it was, too. With an easy, innocent smile born because of years of practice, he replied soothingly, "I'll make a deal with you."
If Duo had cat ears, they would have been twitching curiously at that very moment. The braided boy sat straighter in his chair, staring at Heero. "I'm listening."
"If your car lasts the night," Heero said slowly, putting an emphasis on `your', "then you'll allow me to take you and your family out on an modest dinner and a night on the town. Deal?"
//He can't possibly mean that.// Duo stared long and hard at the innocent looking Japanese boy. //My God, he does mean it.// So, Duo actually considered the possibility of the Jaguar lasting through the night. The chances were, from his experience, slim to none. "Will you take the remainder of the car back? That is, if there is a remainder," he added pointedly, staring grimly at the smiling Japanese boy.
"Of course," Heero replied humbly, nodding his head at his answer. "However, if the car survives this one night, you'll allow me to take you and your family out to dinner and for a night on the town. Meaning that each one of your family members can buy whatever they please, and I'd gladly pay for it. If the car doesn't survive, then I'll take my wounded pride and hope it'll survive where the car didn't. Deal?"
Duo thought about it. He really did. There was no chance whatsoever that the car would even outlive two hours after sundown, so there was no problem with accepting the deal. //But that innocence just can't be real. What's he got up his sleeve?// Finally, deciding to take his chance, he took Heero's hand and smirked. "Deal."
Heero nodded. "Good." Before Duo could say anything more involving the subject, Heero launched the line of conversation to a much lighter one involving politics and the economy today.
Duo listened for a while, putting his two cents every once and a while. Before he knew it the sun was beginning to set and the café had begun to become deserted. In unison the two boys stood, with Heero leaving a generous tip and paying the cashier, left the small coffee shoppe.
The two boys stood beside the purple Jaguar, looking silently at each other for a long while. Finally, Heero asked, "Did you think about it?"
Duo opened his mouth and hesitated before giving his answer. Of course he thought about it. After the car, it was the only thing that occupied his thoughts all morning. He had realized that only something good could come out of acting in a movie. The money alone could provide Aunt Helen's medical care, and Hilde wouldn't have to work so hard with him to pay the bills. He could even quite possibly take his GED and go to college like he had always wanted. They wouldn't have it so rough... And Solo...
"Yes," he replied softly. "I've thought a lot about it. I decided that I should take the part. I mean, it can't be that much different from acting in a play, ne? It wouldn't be so bad to have money for once..."
Heero looked searchingly into Duo's eyes. For what, Duo didn't know. He just knew how his knees practically buckled when Heero slowly smiled in something kindred to relief.
"That's great, Duo. I'm glad." There was a moment of clarity for Duo before Heero lightly pecked a small, delicate kiss on his cheek. And then, all Duo could focus on was the smell of Heero's cologne, and the feel of his velvet-like lips under his eye. It was all gone in a matter of seconds, too short a time for Duo's liking.
With glazed amethyst eyes Duo stared at Heero, a hot fire burning in his gut when the Japanese boy fitted him with a small, desirable smile.
"I can't wait to work with you, Duo," he murmured lowly before turning away and walking to his Firebird.
Duo watched him drive off, staring in the direction the metallic silver car went to and holding his hand to his cheek. A smile of bliss graced his face before the American boy slid into his Jaguar and drove home.
Duo was already making his way up the steps to the doorway of his apartment building when he was stopped by a particularly rough looking man. He was tall, with skin as dark as the night. He wore all black, ripped in places, and black gloves with the fingertips cut off. Hiding his nervousness when he recognized him as one of the men hanging on the apartment building steps just across the street, he turned bodily toward the man.
"Can I help you?"
The man gave him a searching gaze before a flash of white signaled a smile. "Jus' wantin' ta' know if that be yer car." He jerked his head toward the Jaguar.
Slowly, unsurely, Duo nodded.
"`Kay. Me an' `da guys, y'know, we bein' paid lotta money to make sure `dat car don't get a scratch, hear?"
His unsureness left him to be replaced by incredulity. "Say what?"
"Yeah. `Dis guy came ta us las' night, see, and he promises us t'o hunnerd dollahs each `f we make sure nutin' happens ta it, see? T'o hunnerd dollahs a week, man." With that, the ruffian left to join his buddies across the street.
Duo stood on the doorstep, staring disbelievingly at his Jaguar, and then the gang across the street. With a hoarse laugh he turned around and slapped his forehead.
"Yuy, you manipulating son of a rich man's dog..." With a heavy sigh, he went inside to tell his family of the outing they were to have tomorrow.
"I bet he appreciated that, didn't he?" Dorothy laughed once Heero told her what he did.
Heero shrugged. "I didn't tell him."
"I'm sure he'll find out one way or another. And I'm also very sure he won't be happy."
There was a long pause from the girl."... So you aren't going to mention it to him?"
Dorothy laughed louder.
To be continued...
Kel: *pouts* I don't think I'm very happy with this chapter, but... *brightens* I got Heero takin' Duo out on a sort a' date! That's brownie points, ain't it? *pause* Well, C&C still very welcome! *scrams*