8-10-2000

And Never the Twain Shall Meet
Part II

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Heero stepped into the night air. It was a good deal cooler out here than it was in the dorm, and he was thankful that he had had the foresight to wear his jacket. The street where his building stood had become quieter, most of the people having moved toward the lights of the main part of the campus. He couldn't help but think of that moth again. The science building, where Duo had his physics class, was just about half a block around the next corner.

Heero crossed the street and started in that general direction. As he neared the corner coffee shop, he couldn't help but glance out of the corner of his eye through the large plate glass window. The couple he had seen talking on the sidewalk below his dorm room window was in there... somewhere. Why did he even give it a second thought? He reasoned that part of his training was to gather as much information about potential enemies and allies as possible... it was just second nature, even in the absence of a threat. The information could be filed away for future use. In one sidelong glance he took in the image of the entire coffee shop. His brain quickly sifted through the image he had stored, and there, in his minds eye, seated away from the window, was a slim figure with a braid that reached halfway down the back of the chair then wrapped around to lie in the persons lap. Heero almost did a double take, the surprise registering on his face as a frown. What the hell is Duo doing here?

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Duo had never realized just how interesting this physics stuff could be. He had balked at Heero's urging him to sign up for the class, but as Heero had explained, "If you're going to spend the rest of your life piloting a Gundam, you should at least know why it works." That made sense to Duo but he still didn't like the idea of sitting through a torturous physics class three days a week. He had read through the class availability again and found one class available on the last day of every week from 6:30 to 9:00 at night. He decided that getting all the misery over with at once was better than prolonging it over a week's time.

What Duo hadn't anticipated was that the person teaching the class could make all the difference in the world. He had actually enjoyed attending. The professor was animated, funny, and passionate about his teachings... and Duo liked him immediately. The book he was skimming through didn't have nearly the same flare, but as he sipped his coffee, he realized he actually could make sense of some of it now.

His long graceful fingers caressed the handle of his silver thermo-mug when all at once he felt as though someone were watching him. Duo glanced up from his book without moving his head. No one paid him any particular mind. He looked down at his fingers playing over the mug's handle. "You've just got the new school jitters... again" he quipped to himself. Then, through a furrowed brow, he focused on the mug itself. On the shiny surface he could see an image of the window behind him. He casually lifted the mug in his hand and propped his elbow on the table, still not lifting his head from where he was presumably reading his book. He eyed the mug suspiciously, and there, in the mug's silvered surface, he spied a highly distorted and very skinny looking Heero Yuy. And Duo smiled.

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Heero stood for several moments watching Duo drink his coffee... and what is he reading anyway? Duo never reads. Then, he saw - he had been had. He could tell, even from behind, when Duo was smiling. That's when he noticed the silver mug perched near Duo's eye. Damn, score one for Duo. He resigned himself to joining Duo inside.

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As Heero approached the table, Duo feigned reading his book. Duo, very deliberately, noticed Heero's tennis shoe clad feet first... and slowly raked his eyes over the rest of his lithe form until he was greeted with Heero's perpetually brooding countenance.

"Heero! I didn't even see you come in!" He feigned surprise. He was actually glad to see him.

Heero opened his mouth to reply with a scathing retort, but a waiter, who seemingly appeared out of nowhere, was there prompting him to try their special of the day, "a delightful hazelnut-strawberry mocha", before he could even take a seat.

Heero ground his order through his teeth "Real coffee... black and strong." The waiter seemed to shrink.

"I'll have another daily special, please." Duo batted his long lashes and flashed his cheesiest grin at the frazzled waiter who momentarily flushed crimson, and vanished.

Heero turned his chair backwards and flung one lanky leg over it to sit. He considered Duo for a moment. "What are you reading?" His mouth fell open slightly when Duo flipped the book closed. He couldn't believe that Duo... Duo of all people... was sitting in a coffee shop at 9:30 on a Friday night... reading about... physics!?

Duo wished he had a camera at that moment. He grinned wickedly as he emptied his mug. No one else would have noticed it, but the look on Heero's face was priceless... incredulous even! It was the most surprise he had ever seen Heero register outside of a battle environment.

Heero opened his mouth to say something when the waiter returned with two fresh hot mugs for the boys. "One coffee..." he said, placing a steaming silver mug in front of Heero, "...and one...special." The waiter beamed as his eyes sparkled at Duo for a moment before he went back about his business.

"I think he really likes me!" Duo grinned.

"Obviously." Heero lifted an eyebrow. "Duo, why are you here studying on a Friday night?"

It took a moment for the change of mood and subject to register with Duo. Heero's mood changes were just that way. It was a sincere question, and he knew that Heero knew that something was on his mind. Heero had never really expressed an interest in what he did before. Duo became solemnly silent for a time.

"Heero, have you ever thought about what you would do after the war?"

Heero didn't see what that had to do with his question, but he answered it...in his own way. "I don't plan on living that long, Duo," he answered simply.

"You know, Heero, it's like I've all of a sudden realized that this war isn't going to be around forever....at least I hope it isn't. But at the same time, I can't imagine my life without it. I honestly have no clue what I would do with myself. I've screwed off at every school we've been to, and I've never taken my education seriously. The only guarantee I have of a passing grade is your ability to hack into the next school's computer. And th..."

"Stop!" Heero was angry, and the patrons at nearby tables were aware of it. He glared at them one by one as they reluctantly returned to their own space. He looked back at a wide eyed Duo. In a whispered but just as angry tone, he continued. "You cannot think about that. You are a soldier first and foremost. Any other consideration is selfish. You cannot think about life outside the context of this war... there is no life for... us... outside this war... period!"

"What if you survive?" It was a simple question that Duo asked. Heero hadn't expected it. Only four words. But did he see a momentary flash of...fear?!... register on Heero's face?

Heero shifted uncomfortably. He couldn't even picture himself without the war... without purpose. He was going stir crazy as it was, what with no battles to fight now. Battles had occurred in fits and starts up until three weeks ago, and now... nothing.

"I will not survive without the war." He looked at his untouched coffee.

"Oh yes you will Heero, I will make certain of it. Oh - yes - you - will."

Heero opened his mouth to counter until he looked up at Duo's face. What was this? Duo's jaw was set, a bright light of determination flashed through his huge eyes. He stopped, clamping his mouth shut again. He did not want to get into another argument with Duo here in the shop.

Heero considered his coffee mug again and grasped its handle. He noticed that Duo's face had suddenly brightened and he was waving his hands madly over his head. Damn he is so moody! Duo was not looking at him though. Instead, he was looking at a partition across the room. Heero finally took a swallow from his mug and peered back over his shoulder.... and promptly sputtered coffee all over himself.

Duo was by his side in a flash. "Damn, are you OK?" he asked patting Heero soundly on the back.

Heero, nodded his head to the affirmative and waved Duo off. It wasn't so much that he had seen that man again, but the fact that Duo apparently knew him, that caught him unawares.

Once he was certain Heero wasn't going to drown in his own coffee, Duo sat down and motioned with a smile for the man and his sister to come see him before they left. The towering figure waved back and gave Duo a 'just one minute' sign.

"That's Kaylin and his sister Megg!"

Duo knew them both!?

"Those two are a hoot!" Duo slapped his knee and giggled, flinging his braid over his other shoulder. He finally noticed a paling Heero. "Are you sure you're OK?! You don't look so good all of a sudden!?" he asked with genuine concern.

"I'm f...*cough*... I'm fine... just went down the wrong pipe."

A moment later, the towering, muscle bound, blonde boy and his beautiful red headed sister were standing at their table.

"Hi Duo!" they chimed at the same time.

Duo, always the conscientious host, introduced everyone.

"Megg and Kaylin, I'd like you to meet my roommate and best friend, HeeroYuy. Heero...Megg and Kaylin Reinmann"

Heero waved his hand, but said nothing. His mind was moving a mile a minute.

Did he just call me his best friend? Well, if I ever had a friend, I guess Duo would fit the "clinical" definition, but we have never referred to one another in those terms before. They would have to discuss it later.

His more immediate concern was, how the hell does Duo know these two? Heero flashed back to the conversation he had heard while eavesdropping from the window of his room. They had mentioned a third person, someone who was a lot of fun to be around. Could they have been referring to....

"Kaylin, why weren't you in class tonight? Everyone was wondering about you."

Heero, had it been in his nature, would have sighed with relief. A classmate, of course! How could I even think that Duo would...could be....would do....

"I came into town early this weekend..." Megg said, stepping in and wrapping her arm possessively around Kaylin's narrow waist. Kaylin wrapped one massive arm around his sister's delicate shoulders and pulled her a bit closer, continuing the sentence for her "... it seems that she feels that we weren't spending enough...quality time together."

Heero shifted uncomfortably. Yeah, so I've heard.

"Anyway, we're off to see a movie. I'll see you in class next week, Duo. Heero, it was nice meeting you as well. You guys take care!"

With that, the siblings waved a goodbye and were on their way.

Duo watched them leave the shop, returning his attention to Heero's stony gaze once they were gone.

"What?" Duo asked, grinning ear to ear.

Heero stood. "Get your stuff and let's get out of here." Heero fished in his pocket and pulled out enough to cover the cost of the three coffees with a generous tip.

Duo noticed and looked a bit surprised, but said nothing... for a change.

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The two boys strolled silently toward their building. Duo would occasionally kick at a rock, and Heero was just putting one foot in front of the other with his hands clasped behind his back. If any of the conversation... the serious part of their conversation... had affected Heero, he didn't show it. Duo couldn't help but be mystified at how the boy with almost zero emotions, could be constantly engaged in such deep thought. What the hell does he think about? Duo wondered. He would get inside that head some day.

For a change, Heero was the first to speak.

"Did you know that your friend likes boys?"

Duo stopped in his tracks and looked at Heero with his mouth hanging open as Heero continued to walk. "How could you know that!? You just met him! And... and you didn't even say one word to him! Damn it, Heero, I know you're a good soldier and all, but there is no way in hell you could have known that!"

Heero stopped and turned, facing Duo from about ten feet ahead. "So you knew already?" Heero rested his weight on one foot, crossed his arms, and cocked his head, waiting for an answer. He could see that the other boy was now completely flustered and squirming.

Duo flushed a bit at the hidden accusation. "Well, of course I already knew..." Heero cocked an eyebrow, "... his sister and his boyfriend... or lover... or whatever you want to call him, pick him up at the science building every Friday night after class."

Heero just stood there and looked at him.

"Heero, how the hell did you know about this, he's not exactly your typical suspect sissy boy?!"

Heero righted himself, shoved his hands into his pockets and motioned, with a jerk of his head, for Duo to follow.

Making their way across the street and back to their room, Heero related the scene he had witnessed on the street below their window. As he keyed the lock to their room, he finished his story.

As they entered the room, a realization hit Duo. "You...you thought... you thought it was me, didn't you!?"

"Well, when we were in the coffee shop and I saw that you knew them both... I... well I just thought that..."

Duo fiercely turned his back to Heero, his long braid swinging wildly and almost hitting Heero in the face.

He watched Duo silently as the boy's shoulders started trembling. Damn he is moody tonight. And, as Duo turned back toward him, he could see a tear streaming down Duo's cheek... because he was laughing so hard!

Duo gasped, falling back on his bed. "Oh - m'gawd... You thought I was making it with him?!" Duo grabbed at his aching belly and laughed harder at the look on Heero's face. "Heero! You give me far too much credit... I am truly flattered." Heero almost goggled at him. "Oh... oh... oh... heeehheheh... STOP... your killing me," he cried kicking his feet in the air.

Duo abruptly took control of himself and sat bolt upright on the edge of his bed. With his best puppy dog eyes, he reached out and grabbed Heero's hand. "But Heero, you must surely know by now..." Duo looked like he was about to break into another episode of hysteria, "...you must know by now that I am only for you." And Duo slid off his bed - so much myrth in his laughter

That was it. Heero couldn't take it anymore, and he actually... smiled.

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