8-10-2000

And Never the Twain Shall Meet
Part VI

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As Duo pulled away, he looked into Heero's eyes... they were an ocean he could easily get lost in.

*knock* *knock* *knock*

"Hello-hooo," Quatre sang softly from beyond the door.

The two boys just looked at each other and smiled. In that moment they both realized... they both hoped... there would be time... later.

Duo flew off the bed and bounded to the door, opening it fast enough that it startled the young man on the other side. "Hey, Quatre! What's up?!"

Quatre looked at Duo with a rather surprised expression. He had expected... sadness... anger... a black eye and a bloody nose... but there Duo stood... all smiles. Quatre took a step into the room and saw Heero lying on the bed with a distant, glazed look in his eyes. Duo was way too happy right now and Quatre wondered what he might have interrupted. He gave the boy lying on the bed one last lingering look... Gah! He does look sexy! ... before he met Duo's smiling face. "Ummmm... is... everything OK, Duo?"

"Everything is fine," Heero answered from where he lay. Duo looked at him, completely not expecting him to speak. "Everything is... just fine." Heero, for all the world, looked like he was high as he propped himself on one elbow, "I'm... well, I... shouldn't have acted like that in the cafeteria... I just..." Heero shrugged, not sure what else he could say.

"Don't worry about it, Heero," Quatre said as he pushed past Duo into the room. He could see Heero struggling with the unspoken apology, so he gave him an easy way out, "I have days like that too."

Duo watched Quatre as the blonde plopped his intrusive butt on his bed across from Heero's. Well damn... Heero, I guess later is not now! Duo noticed he was unable to close the door completely as he heard a slight "Yieh!" from the door frame. He looked down to where a sneakered foot had found its way into the path of the closing door. He flung it open again. "Trowa! Sorry, man! I didn't know you were out there!" He didn't expect Trowa to be out there... So what's the occasion guys?! Actually, he knew what the occasion was. Heero had acted... unduly defensive. Just like him, they worried about Heero. He had called them his friends a few hours ago... and it obviously had an effect on them.

"Heero, I'm not going to mince words here..." Trowa said it tentatively... almost like he would mince words... if need be. "What the hell was your problem today?" Only Trowa could ask the question and get away with it.

Heero narrowed his eyes with mock threat at Trowa as he slowly sat up on the bed. "Don't fuck with me right now, Trowa... I'm in too good of a mood." An almost imperceptible grin curled the corners of his mouth.

Duo snorted. That is soooo Heero!

Trowa smiled, looking around the room for a place to sit... not necessarily next to Quatre. He didn't want to make Heero uncomfortable just now. He decided on the chair at Heero's desk.

Heero threw himself back on the bed, once again tossing his arm over his face... not sure he could answer the question about his actions honestly.

Duo cleared his throat. "I don't think he's ready to talk about it just yet..."

"I am."

All three looked at the boy on the bed.

"I'm not... but I am..." Heero sat up and looked at the floor in front of Quatre's feet.

"Heero?" Duo was worried what he might say.

Heero placed his index finger against his own lips indicating Duo should hush. He hesitated before he began. "The dream I had last night... well... it was by far the most frightening dream I've ever had..."

WHAT!? Duo was hurt with that remark, mouth gaping... I can't believe he just said that! Well, screw him! What the hell is his problem?! Gah! I'm so confused now! We just... we just had our first kiss for God's sake... and now the dream was the most frightening he ever had?!

Heero looked directly at Duo now, "... it terrified me because I wasn't prepared for it."

Now Duo understood... It's new to you! You don't understand it. If only in your sleep... you felt something for me! That's all I care about right now. We'll work on the conscious part of you... together... be afraid, Heero... be very afraid.... Duo grinned.

Heero continued... "It was something I can't talk about right now... I might talk about it someday soon... but not right now... I... I..."

Duo could see he was struggling for words. "I think we understand, Heero.... I know I do." The tenderness in his voice was obvious to everyone in the room except Heero. An uneasy silence fell over the room as everyone watched Heero fidget.

Quatre cleared his throat. "Heero, this may sound really corny to you... but if you or Duo ever need someone to talk to... Trowa and I... well... we'll listen."

Trowa confirmed it with a nod of his head. "After Duo told us about everything that happened yesterday, we were..."

Heero's back stiffened, a shocked look on his face. "Told you everything?!"

"Oops." Duo backed towards the door, grinning weakly.

"Damn you Duo!" Heero pounded his knees with his fists and lunged off the bed. He glared at Duo, his fists clenched at his side. "You told me that you guys didn't talk about me last night!" He moved threateningly toward Duo.

"Heero, calm down!" Trowa's usually calm, soothing voice boomed into the room. It took all three by surprise. Duo gaped. Quatre jumped. Heero froze. Trowa sat back in Heero's chair and crossed his legs at the ankles and his arms across his chest... a posture that commanded everyone's attention... especially Quatre's. Trowa shook his head. "Heero, you are such an idiot sometimes." Heero's glare told him he better step lightly... but Trowa did not even flinch.

"We all care about you, Heero. We care about Duo too. He needed someone to talk to," Quatre offered.

There's that word again. Why does all this caring have to be going on. Damn it, I have a right to be angry right now! Duo lied... to me! I'd hoped he wouldn't do that anymore. Heero's shoulders slumped as he sat back down on the bed and buried his face in his hands, completely humiliated.

Trowa knew what Heero was going through right now... it was exactly how he felt last night when he realized that Duo and Heero had found out about him and Quatre. "Don't worry, Heero, you'll be ok in a couple of minutes. In that time I want you to think about what Duo said last night about friends... what you said last night about friends. We've all been together a long time. We've grown up together. We've lived through shit that no other being in this God forsaken solar system could ever hope to live through... and yet here we sit... bearing our souls to one another. This is your family, Heero... you're just going to have to deal with that fact."

Quatre swallowed hard. God, I love him!

"I'm really sorry, Heero. I wasn't really talking to them about you... I was talking to them about last night and... about me... and about them. I wasn't trying to tell secrets or lies or anything like that..."

Heero steepled his fingers under his chin as he considered his companions one-by-one. He shook his head. "This is one fucked up family."

Everyone chuckled... everyone agreed.

Duo, seeing that Heero had more or less accepted the situation, sat on the bed next to Heero, bouncing happily. He began prattling on about what they all might do for the rest of the day.

Quatre looked at the clock on Heero's desk. "Actually, Trowa and I were planning on practicing. We have a recital next weekend."

Heero raised an eyebrow. "Perhaps you would like a small audience then."

Duo's clapped his hands together. "That would be perfect! Oh! Can we please listen to you guys play? We haven't heard you in so long!"

Quatre and Trowa looked at one another... how could they refuse Heero and Duo's plea. Trowa confessed first. "I'm afraid we're a little rusty. We haven't played for some time and we're a bit out of practice."

"You'll be fine!" Duo was insistent. "Pleeeeeez?"

Heero rolled his eyes.

Quatre shrugged. "I guess it'll be ok." He looked at Trowa. "We need to get used to playing in front of people again anyway... but you guys better not laugh if we make a mistake!"

Well, Heero knew he wouldn't laugh. He actually envied them their ability. They played beautifully together.

"No way, Quatre! I would never laugh if one of you hit a bad note... come to think of it... I've never heard either of you hit a bad note..."

Quatre hesitated. "Well... ok. We'll be practicing in the recital room in the basement of the music building at 1:30... room sixty-nine... and don't you dare say a word, Duo!"

Duo's eyes grew enormous and his face turned bright red... he couldn't help but burst out laughing.

Heero... poor Heero, just didn't get it. "I don't get it."

Trowa sputtered and Quatre started laughing. Duo was rolling on the bed holding his sides, laughing so hard and deeply, he wasn't making any sound.

*GASP* "Maybe..." Duo was having trouble speaking. "... maybe someday you will!"

Quatre was crying now and Trowa was doubled over with his forehead against his knees.

....Heero crossed his arms and frowned. That was the second time today he obviously didn't get the joke.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Back in their room, Trowa and Quatre gathered their instruments and music.

"Do you think they'll be OK, Trowa?"

Trowa nodded, "I think they'll be just fine. Duo's already decided... Heero just needs to wake up and smell the coffee."

"Do you think he will?" Quatre thought he would, but he wanted to know if Trowa thought so as well.

Trowa shrugged. "Even after all these years, I still have trouble reading Heero sometimes." Trowa thought for a moment. "The fact that he hasn't killed Duo yet says a lot."

"Trowa!"

Trowa smiled. "I didn't mean it literally. He obviously cares for Duo. How deeply...?" Trowa shrugged again.

Quatre thumbed through the music they were to perform. "I hope they make it, Trowa. They make such a... complete set. I noticed it a few minutes ago... when Duo was sitting next to Heero. Didn't you?"

Trowa looked up from where he was cleaning one of the valves on his flute. "Yes, I did actually. The Dark and The Light. Night and day. Opposites attract. I saw all of it. It.... affected me... somewhat."

Quatre smiled. "Kinda like us, no?"

Trowa smiled. "Well, I think we're both a little more middle of the road. Granted, I'm the quiet, reserved one and you are the consummate extrovert, but Heero and Duo... they're at extreme ends of the same scale. It will not be easy for either... they'll have to meet somewhere in the middle. Each will have to give a little of himself to the other..."

It was when Trowa said things like that, that Quatre was reminded why he loved the dark haired boy so much.

Trowa continued. "... I know Duo is willing..." Trowa placed his instrument gently into it's case. "... but he hasn't learned self control. I also think Heero is willing... but he hasn't learned to... lose control. It'll take a personality like Duo's to draw him out of his... darkness." Trowa looked meaningfully at the blonde haired boy. "Much as you draw me from mine."

Quatre felt like he was being hugged from the inside out.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"So! Are you mad at me?!"

"Hell yes, I'm mad at you! You need to learn when to keep your mouth shut! You talk too much without considering the consequences! What if I threw your mouthy ass into the hall and told you to get your own damn room! What if I..."

Duo leaned over and kissed Heero tenderly, lovingly.

Heero never realized there was more than one kind of kiss. This one made his heart flutter. It warmed the coolness that had crept into his demeanor. It made him forget his words. Why was I yelling at you? Does it really matter? Was it that important?

When Duo stood up Heero just looked at him, mouth working... but obviously at loss for words. "Because, Heero, if you did throw me out, we couldn't do that anymore." Duo brushed his long fingers across Heero's jaw.

"Duo, I hope you know what the hell you're doing, because I sure don't."

Duo shrugged. "It doesn't matter, Heero. We'll figure it out... together."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

By the time Heero and Duo reached the music building, they were soaked to the bone. The only dry part on them was from their shoulders up where they had held their jackets over their heads. The five block sprint through the torrential downpour had winded both of them.

Duo's side had started cramping. "Ohhh!" Duo was doubled over, leaning against the door frame. Had had one hand on the spot where his abdomen ached.

"Duo, are you OK?" Heero moved next to Duo, placing a concerned hand on his back.

He felt Heero's hand on him, which kind of took him by surprise. He started to raise his head to say he'd be fine in a second... but his progress was halted by a vision he could not draw his eyes from. There, next to him, quite close, was Heero's water soaked jean-clad privates... the outline quite suggestive. Duo panted... "Ohhh! I'll be OK... in a minute." He was going to enjoy this for as long as he could.

Heero began going on about how they should both start an exercise regiment and how not having the war would cause them both to lose their physical acuity.

Blah, blah, blah... Heero, sometimes I think you talk too much! Duo could hear his voice but had no idea what Heero was saying. He was mesmerized. A resounding thwack on the back of his head brought him quickly to a standing position. "Gah! Heero, whad'ja do that for?!" Duo rubbed the back of his head.

"I think you know." Heero crossed his arms and looked at Duo, a glint of mischief shone clearly in his cobalt eyes.

Duo blushed as he continued to rub the spot where Heero's hand had met the back of his head. "Guess I got caught, huh?"

"I guess you did." Heero said, a mildly playful tone in his voice.

At that moment, a shuttle pulled up just outside the building where Quatre and Trowa disembarked and bolted for the front doors.

Heero and Duo just looked at each other. "A shuttle." Heero said shaking his head.

"Well I, for one, am glad we didn't take it." Duo glanced down at the intriguing contours in Heero's pants again.

The other two boys were stepping through the first set of double doors where they paused to shake off the rain.

Heero looked into Duo's eyes. "Yes, you did need the exercise." As he said it his eyes flashed down to Duo's midsection, his gaze lingering momentarily. Duo did not see.

He thinks I didn't see that... ohhhh but I did, Heero. Yes indeed, I did.

As Trowa and Quatre stepped through the second set of doors their expressions registered surprise. They looked the two soaked boys up and down.

"Why didn't you guys take the shuttle?! It's pouring out there!" Quatre had adopted his matronly tone.

Heero shrugged. "Didn't know about it."

"Nobody told us!" Duo added an exaggerated accusation.

Trowa snorted. "Sorry guys, we thought you knew."

"Hmm." Duo patted his foot, hands perched on his slender hips.

Heero turned and started walking and Duo followed.

Duo could hear the two behind him snickering and he glanced over his shoulder. Heero had stopped because he didn't really know where he was going... and Duo ran right into him almost sending them both to the floor.

Duo was exasperated. "What are you two laughing at?!"

Quatre was too busy blushing to answer.

"Can I give you a little advice, Duo? Next time you decide to go walking in the rain..." Trowa's lips curled into a suggestive smile, "... make sure you wear those pants."

Duo looked down at himself. The combination of the rain soaked material and being so close to Heero just moments ago had obviously had... an effect... on him. He quickly held his jacket in front of himself and looked at Heero.

As the other two boys moved past them, still giggling, Heero gave Duo a quick smile. "Yes, well, playbacks are a bitch... aren't they?"

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Room sixty-nine..." Duo said in mock awe. Everyone around him chuckled... except Heero.

As the four boys walked in, Heero leaned into Duo's ear. "Would you please explain that to me sometime?"

Heero and Duo moved toward the top row of seats. "I'd be more than happy to," Duo almost growled.

Trowa and Quatre headed for what would have functioned as the stage in the room where a baby grande piano and several music stands sat around parquet tiled risers. Trowa disappeared for a time and the lights in the room seemed to undulate for a moment as Trowa adjusted the mood of the room. Finally the lights where Duo and Heero sat went out completely and the lights on the "stage" were left very dimly lit. Quatre almost looked like a dream... an apparition... an angel... in that light.

As the two spectators took their seats Duo noticed that Heero had left a seat between them. Duo quickly got up and closed the gap. He moved to place his arm on the rest only to find the spot already taken by Heero's arm.

"That's why I sat one seat away, Duo!" Heero whispered. He started to get up and move one seat farther down the row... but Duo had intertwined their fingers.

"I will follow you all the way to the end of the row, so you might as well sit... and enjoy." Duo smiled at Heero and kissed the palm of his hand.

As the two performers adjusted and tuned their instruments, Heero leaned over and asked Duo a question. "So what's so funny about the room number?"

Duo still couldn't believe he didn't know. How am I going to put this? "Sixty-nine is a term used for a ... well, a... sexual position."

Heero was curious. "Go on..."

"Well, consider how the number is drawn, Heero. Six and nine. They're like the same number... but one of them is turned so they face each other... but in the opposite direction. Now pretend that it's two people..." Duo waited to see if the image would register with Heero.

Oh, it registered all right. Heero's wide glistening eyes were all Duo could see in the darkness of the room. Heero said nothing. So it has a name. People actually do stuff like that. When I dreamed about us doing that... I thought there was something wrong with me!

Duo strained to see Heero better in the darkness. "What?!"

"In the dream... we did that... sixty-nine... thing."

Duo growled softly, squeezing Heero's hand tightly. The image it conjured in his mind... the idea that Heero had actually dreamed about them doing that... "Is it hot in here to you?"

The question went unanswered as the two performers finally took their positions.

Trowa began to play a slow, beautifully simple melody as Quatre waited for his cue. It was the kind of melody with which a mother might sing a child to sleep. So lovely, it was a melody that tugged on one's heart strings. When Quatre began to play, the effect was pure musical bliss. The two boys blended so perfectly... in every way.

Heero reached across with his other hand and lightly stroked the back of Duo's hand where their fingers lay entwined.

It startled Duo for a moment... a touch so feather light... he thought something was crawling across his hand. He looked up to find Heero's eyes fixed on his. Duo still could not make out an expression in the darkness, but Heero's eyes said enough. Heero leaned across the seat, and gently kissed him. Ohhhh Heeeero. Duo swooned. Where is this coming from? All at once you are so tender... so gentle. Is it the music?

The music, the lighting, Duo's soft, sweet lips... what's happening to me? I've never felt like this before. I want to pull you to me right now and never let go, Duo. What is this ache I feel, this compulsion... to be near you? You are such a loud-mouthed brat sometimes, but now, I'm slowly realizing, it's a part of you I need... a part that I couldn't live without. How could I need you so badly?

In the back of his mind, Duo could hear the music reaching a breathtaking harmonious climax. Heero. Oh God, Heero, what you do to me! I feel like I could fly right now... Look, Heero, no Gundam! I want you so much. You've been such a cold callous bastard for so long... and now... now here you are, making love to my lips. I don't understand you, Heero... so expressionless... yet so expressive. I need to know you. I need you!

How long they had kissed, neither one knew... but it was obviously too long. For as they separated their lips and opened their eyes, there stood Quatre and Trowa, in the now fully lit room, gaping at them from the stage.

Trowa and Quatre tucked their instruments under one arm and began applauding.

Duo stood and took an exaggerated bow as Heero slid down in his seat.

Heero twiddled his thumbs nervously as he looked up at Duo. He is so comfortable with this. Why can't I be?

Duo came bouncing down from where Heero still sat. "That was so beautiful! You guys don't need any practice."

Trowa cleared his throat and spoke so only the two closest boys could hear. "I just hope it has the same effect on our next audience." Trowa winked at Duo.

Duo blushed slightly as Heero finally made his way to the rest of the group.

Quatre moved to stand in front of Heero and smiled up into his eyes... searching. "So what did you think, Heero?" He asked softly, placing a hand on Heero's arm. It's ok, Heero, don't be ashamed... be joyous.

Heero couldn't help but smile at Quatre. He could see the boy's heart in his eyes. "It was quite... moving." I know that's an understatement, but it's the best I can do.

Trowa nodded his head in appreciation of Heero's comment. It was truly a compliment coming from him.

As the musicians gathered their belongings, Heero and Duo began moving slowly toward the door.

"I'm not sure what came over me, Duo... I..."

Duo grabbed his hand as they walked. "Did you want it to happen, Heero?"

"I didn't plan it, if that's what you mean."

"No, that's not what I mean. Did you want it to happen?"

Heero scratched his head. "Yes. Yes, I did," Heero stated firmly.

"And so did I. Don't try to apologize every time something like this happens... it makes me think you didn't want it to."

Heero leaned against the door and looked into Duo's eyes, then looked down at the floor. "Every time we kiss I feel... funny inside."

Duo wasn't sure how to take that. "Could you be a little more descriptive?" Duo waited patiently for an answer.

"I feel...." then the word that he had been looking for came to mind and he once again looked into Duo's eyes. "... desperation."

Duo knew exactly what he meant. Love, longing, physical and emotional need... all along with the uncertainty of the whole situation... "I have that same feeling, Heero."

"You do?!" Heero was truly surprised to hear it.

As the room's lights adjusted to their original settings, Duo continued. "Yes, I do. I'm just as scared as you are, Heero. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do next... or even if I should do anything. I'm afraid of doing something that will put you off. I don't know what I would do if that happened."

Ok, Duo is being real now. Maybe I should at least give it a try. "Duo, I can't say that I'm ready to jump into this with both feet... but I am willing to take small steps. I ca..." The word got caught in his throat and he squeezed his eyes shut, forcing it past his lips. "... I care about you, Duo." Their conversation was cut short as the other two boys approached.

Quatre and Trowa smiled at each other as they noticed the two standing there holding hands. They were obviously engaged in a very serious discussion. Trowa switched the hand with which he carried his case and took Quatre's hand in his own, looking at Heero and smiling.

Heero nodded his understanding. Now I get it... at least a little bit.

As they left the room, Heero trailed behind a bit and got one last look at the door they had just come through. Room sixty-nine... I never would have imagined...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Everyone piled into Heero and Duo's room. They were all dry now since they had taken the shuttle back to the dorm.

"So guys, what's the plan for the rest of the day?!" Duo positively bubbled as he sat on the bed.

"Picnic?" Trowa grinned as he sat the instruments by the door.

Duo snorted, "Right! Just let me change my pants first!"

Everyone laughed at that.

Heero started to sit at the desk, but a get-your-ass-over-here look from Duo made him think better of it. He sat with Duo on the bed.

Quatre saw the exchange and smiled inwardly. "There's not much to do with the weather the way it is. Whatever it is, I think we had better to restrict it to indoor activities."

Duo threw his hands up in the air. "Well, that settles it then! There is only one thing to do if we're all cooped up in here..."

"Duo!" Heero slapped him on the leg.

Duo rubbed his stinging leg. "Not that Heero! Geez, that's not all I ever think about!"

Heero was blushing. "Oh..." was all he could say.

"I'll go get the glasses and a bottle." Quatre picked up the instruments to take them back to the room.

As Quatre left, Trowa sat on Heero's bed, leaning his back against the wall. "So, Heero, has Duo explained the insinuation of the number of the recital room yet?"

Heero nodded, smiling slightly.

"Of course I did! He even told me that wammmfffff!"

Heero slapped his hand over Duo's mouth, glaring at him.

"Sorry, man... I forgot," a wide-eyed Duo said through Heero's fingers, looking downright ashamed of himself for almost saying too much.

Trowa looked at them for a moment, wondering what that was all about. He decided it was probably better not to ask. "Quatre and I wrote the piece we played today."

Heero looked at him. "Really?!"

Trowa nodded. "We wrote it in one night. I was just playing different melodies, making things up as I went, when Quatre stopped me and said, "Play that again!" So I did. Before we knew it we were writing the notes down and refining it. It took us 'til about six in the morning... I still can't believe how naturally it all came to us."

"That is so cool! I wish I could play a musical instrument." Duo had found something else to envy the couple for. He noticed Heero looking at him.

"You can sing." Heero reminded him.

"Hah! I can't really sing. That's just something I do to get on your nerves."

"I'm not talking about the times when you're trying to get on my nerves. I'm talking about the times when you don't even realize you're singing. Have I ever told you to stop?"

Duo couldn't believe his ears.

"Heero's right, Duo. I've heard you sing as well. You really do have a beautiful voice. I wish I were so lucky."

Duo looked from one to the other. "You guys are just saying that to make me feel better!"

"Now, Duo, you know that is not in my nature." Heero made his point.

Quatre came back in with a small box, filled with the afternoon's entertainment, and sat on the bed next to Trowa.

Trowa reached into the box and held up Heero's glass with a questioning look in his eye.

Heero nodded.

Quatre filled each glass and handed them out.

Trowa cleared his throat, raising his to propose a toast. "Here's to family."

Everyone gave a "here-here"... even Heero.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The four talked and drank and laughed all afternoon. By dinnertime everyone was quite full... of alcohol. Quatre had had to retrieve another bottle, which they had managed to put quite a dent in. The four boys had ended up sitting in a circle in the middle of the floor.

"When's Wufei due back?" Duo asked.

"Tomorrow evening. Wait...." Heero couldn't think straight. "... no, tomorrow's Saturday..."

Quatre giggled. "Today is Saturday!"

"No... then he's due back tomorrow evening... "

"Heh! You said that already. You are drunk, Heero." Trowa pushed playfully at Heero's shoulder.

"Let's go eat! I'm starving!" Duo was trying to stand up, but he couldn't seem to get his feet underneath himself. He had just started having some success when Heero pulled him back down to the floor. "Umph!"

"Stay!" Heero pointed a finger at Duo.

Someone knocked at the door. Heero looked around the room to see who wasn't there, trying to figure out who it could be. He looked drunkenly at Quatre. "Did you say it was Sunday?"

Trowa was on his feet, but he was leaning against the door laughing. "Gah! I stood up way too fast!"

Quatre had had the good sense to take it easy, so he decided to help Trowa answer the door. "Trowa, you're going to have to move or I'm not going to be able to open the door." Quatre's head swam. Whoa! Maybe I've had more than I thought.

"Oh yeah," Trowa said as he stood, swaying slightly.

Quatre opened the door. Both he and Trowa gasped at what was on the other side.

Duo looked over his shoulder to see what had happened. "Kaaayyyyliiiiin! What in the world? Come on in, man!"

Kaylin couldn't get by the two boys who stood staring at him in the doorway. "Duo, I just wanted to know if I could borrow your notes from yesterday's class."

"Trowa! Quatre! Move and let the man in!" Duo waved his arm wildly back and forth as the two made a path for Kaylin.

Heero pointed at them accusingly. "You two... stop it!"

They both continued admiring the beautiful blonde boy.

"Hey man, why don't you stay and join us for a few." Duo patted the floor with his palm.

"Really, Duo, I don't want to intrude, I just wanted to borrow your notes."

Heero snorted. "Nonsense! It's Sunday evening..."

"SATURDAY!" everyone shouted.

Heero waved his hand and nodded his head. "... Saturday... and you... it's just not right to be studying."

Everyone looked at Heero, very surprised by the invitation, however drunkenly it may have been extended.

It surprised Kaylin the most. Heero hadn't even spoken to him when they first met. He considered the offer for a moment. "Well, OK, maybe for a little while."

"Yaaaay!" Duo cheered and bounced closer to Heero so Kaylin would have a place to sit.

Trowa closed the door and got the extra glass Quatre had brought in case Heero had, for some unforeseen reason, decided against using his own.

Quatre more or less fell to the floor next to Kaylin. "Oooof!"

"Mmmm. You said I was drunk." Heero admonished, putting his hand on Duo's knee.

"I did not... Trowa said you were drunk."

Trowa chuckled as he took his place next to Quatre. He filled the glass and handed it to their guest.

Kaylin sniffed the contents and smiled at Trowa. "Brandy!? You guys aren't cheap dates, are you?"

The two sets of boys looked at their respective partners and started laughing.

Kaylin was lost. "Was it something I said?"

Duo giggled and leaned over and whispered something in Kaylin's ear, pointing back and forth between Quatre and Trowa.

"Hey, hey, HEY!" Trowa didn't like what he thought was being said.

Kaylin raised his eyebrows. "Ohhhhhh..."

"Damn it, Duo!" Quatre and Trowa said it together.

"I told you, you talk too much, Duo." Heero squeezed his knee.

"No, no, no... it's OK, guys." Kaylin looked at Trowa then Quatre. "Let's just say... I know how you feel." Kaylin held his glass up to them, wiggling his blonde eyebrows.

For the second time in five minutes, the two boys gasped at Kaylin.

Duo nudged Kaylin in the side. When Kaylin looked at him, he motioned with his eyes to where Heero's hand lay on his knee. Duo smiled proudly.

Kaylin was shocked. "You guys, too!?"

Heero looked down at his own hand and sighed. "Yes... and we have you to blame for it... partially."

"Me?!? How so?"

Duo laughed. "It's a long story. I'll tell you some other time."

Heero again pointed at Trowa and Quatre, "You two... stop it! Gah! Why don't you take a picture?"

Quatre looked with a dazed expression at Heero and began giggling uncontrollably.

Heero chuckled and shook his head. Well, that was silly.

Trowa couldn't help but start laughing. Quatre's joy was always so contagious.

It spread like a wildfire. Soon, everyone was laughing, and no one knew exactly why.

Heero wasn't exactly laughing out loud - he was laughing, nonetheless. "You are all crazy!"

Duo wiped his eyes. "Whew! What the fuck are we laughing at?"

Kaylin blinked his watering eyes. "I don't know... and I haven't even taken a drink yet!"

"Oh man! Quatre, please stop laughing." Trowa begged.

Quatre went completely deadpan, prompting another round of laughter. "I just don't see what's so funny." Quatre said with exaggerated innocence. He daintily sipped from his glass, batting his long lashes at everyone.

"You are just full of yourself this evening, aren't you?" Heero shook his head, still smiling.

Once the laughing subsided a bit, Kaylin finally got to taste his liquor. He looked at his glass, smacking his lips. "Wow, this stuff is smooth."

Duo raised his glass. "Winner private stock! The best stuff on the planet... or off."

"Winner?" Kaylin asked, not knowing what Duo meant.

"Quatre's family name," Trowa offered.

Heero watched for a reaction from Kaylin, wondering if the name meant anything to him. If it did, he could be a potential threat. Apparently, it didn't ring a bell. Good, I would hate to have to kill him... would be such a waste.

"So, Kaylin, where's your sis?" Duo asked.

"She had to get back home... a wedding or something she had to attend. That's why she came to see me early this weekend."

"I love weddings." Quatre looked dreamily at Trowa.

"Ooooo!" Duo instantly became excited. "Let's have a ceremony!"

Trowa shook his head. "No way! I know what your twisted little mind is thinking, Duo... forget it."

Quatre looked hurt. "You mean... you wouldn't marry me... if you could?"

Trowa shook his head again. "It's just documentation, Quatre. I've seen too many people lose sight of what's important in a relationship once that document is signed. It changes things somehow."

Quatre rolled his eyes. "I'm not talking about a real marriage. I just mean a ceremony."

Trowa thought for a moment. "Well... yes, I suppose I would..."

"Yaaaay!" Duo bounced up and down.

Trowa looked at Duo, "... but not here... not now."

Duo pouted.

Trowa smiled at Quatre, "I would take such an occasion very, very seriously." Trowa addressed the rest of the group. "I don't even have words to describe how I feel about this man..." Trowa put his arm around Quatre's waist and pulled him closer. "... and, while a little mock wedding would be... cute, it would be... well it would..."

Everyone knew what Trowa was trying to say, he just couldn't find the words to finish his thought.

Duo nodded, almost ashamed he had had the silly idea. "I get it, Trowa. I just thought it would be fun." Duo sighed, another idea shot down, he took a swallow from his glass.

Heero looked seriously at the other couple. "What would you do on the honeymoon?"

Duo, completely caught off guard, spit his brandy all over the place. The only one not in the path of the spray was Kaylin.

"DUO!?" they cried out collectively.

"I'm sorry! God! You heard what he asked! I couldn't help it!" Duo complained as he wiped his mouth on the back of his hand.

Kaylin was laughing again.

Heero crawled a couple of feet to the closet and got a towel for everyone. After wiping his face and arms, he tossed the towel to Trowa, who first wiped the liquor off of Quatre, then himself.

"What do you think they would do on their honeymoon, Heero?" Duo, exasperated, hands on his hips, looked behind himself where Heero still sat.

"But... they've already done that!" Heero pointed out defensively, scooting his butt across the floor so he once again sat next to Duo.

Trowa shrugged, palms face up, smiling... all innocence. "More of a good thing?" He let his hands drop to his lap and grinned suggestively. "...a really good thing."

Quatre blushed deeply. "Trowa!"

"Well!? It's true!"

Kaylin smiled at his glass before emptying it. "I wish I had a relationship like that," he said, placing his empty glass on the floor in front of him. Quatre refilled it for him.

Duo leaned forward a bit and considered Kaylin's expression for a moment. "I thought you did."

Kaylin snorted. "We have sex, but that is all it is... sex. There is no commitment... no love. He's very entertaining to be with, he can tell a story like no one I've ever heard... but he always needs to be the center of attention." Kaylin shrugged his massive shoulders. "He's convenient... that's all. I know it and he knows it."

Quatre looked sad. "Are you ok with that?"

"Well, I'd rather be involved in something a little more meaningful. I guess when I'm ready, I'll move on."

"I had no idea it was like that," Duo said.

Heero leaned his back against the bed behind him. "Is that what we are, Duo... convenient?"

Duo wore a very hurt expression. His mouth hung open as he stared at Heero, unable to speak. He felt as though his heart had stopped beating.

Trowa ran damage control. "Could you live without him, Heero?"

Heero considered the beautiful, braided boy with the Prussian eyes for a moment. "No... no I couldn't," he admitted.

"Well, there's your answer then," Quatre said softly.

Duo felt himself start breathing again.

Kaylin coughed uncomfortably. "Sorry guys, I didn't mean to bring everyone down."

"It's ok, Kaylin." Duo blinked, still upset by the question, but relieved by the answer. "I want any doubts to be put to rest as quickly as possible. It was a... reasonable question."

He had to admit it, Kaylin's description of his mate fit him to the letter. No wonder Heero had thought he and his sister were talking about me. The only difference is that the center of my world has suddenly shifted.

Duo chuckled. "Let me teach everyone a new word, one that describes my universe now... Hee-ro-cen-tric." Duo smiled at the whole group. "Everyone, repeat after me." Duo sounded just like a gradeschool teacher. "Hee-ro-cen-tric."

No one repeated it but Quatre and Trowa smiled. They new well enough what he meant.

Kaylin watched Heero blush as Duo giggled.

"Bah! Duo, you are so melodratic sometimes." Heero puckered his lips. He was too drunk to try the word again.

"Melodratic! Hah! Me-lo-dra-ma-tic. Repeat after me, Heero. He-ro-cen-tric-me-lo-dra-ma-tic"

"Shut up, Duo." Heero grabbed his braid and tugged lightly.

Kaylin took a deep drink from his glass, suddenly realizing something. "Wait a minute, you two... " he pointed at Heero and Duo "... you two just realized how you felt about each other?!"

"You win the prize." Duo could be such a smartass. "I thought you understood that."

"So you two haven't... uhh... "

"Nope." Duo shook his head, almost pulling the braid out of Heero's grip. He rested his chin in one long fingered hand. "Any advice?"

Trowa answered the question for him. "Yeah, use plenty of lubricant."

"Oh my gawd!" Quatre squealed, covering his mouth in shocked embarrassment.

Heero sat straight up, looking in horrified shock at the other dark haired boy.

Duo and Kaylin doubled over in laughter.

Trowa smiled quietly. His advice had the desired effect on everyone. He winked at Heero over the rim of his glass as he took another swallow.

"Ohmygawdohmygawd!" Quatre was about to come to pieces.

Duo gasped for air. "Oh, Trowa..." He tried to speak but lost that ability again when he saw the catatonic look on Heero's face. "Oh, Heero... *gasp*...Trowa... *gasp*...I can't believe you said that!"

"I don't think my advice would have been so good," Kaylin admitted, still laughing.

Quatre hid his reddened face against his lover's chest.

Heero had nowhere to hide, but he wished he did. Maybe if I just crawl under the bed... He pushed himself to a sitting position on Duo's bed where he sat for a while, swaying slightly. He looked down at the group of people sitting in the middle of his floor talking and laughing.

So, this is my family, well... Kaylin's just a really distant cousin right now... but I've never felt this way about these people before. I'm actually enjoying myself this evening. Trowa, his sharp whit and quiet aggressiveness, so intelligent. Quatre and his kindness and compassion, so angelic. Kaylin, who I wouldn't know from any other person on the street, but he seems ok, and not too hard to look at. And then there's Duo, smart as a whip, not afraid of too much, wears his heart on his sleeve, has a passion for life... and a passion for me. I'm as drunk as a skunk right now, but this is the first moment in my whole miserable life I have felt like more than just a machine... I finally feel... wanted. Heero suddenly realized Duo was looking up at him holding out his hand as the others continued to talk. He took Duo's hand and leaned over, giving Duo a quick peck on the cheek before standing up. "I have to go pee," he mouthed.

Duo smiled. "Ok," he mouthed back, letting go of Heero's hand. He went back to conversing with the others.

Heero left the room and headed for the bathroom. After relieving himself and washing his hands, he decided it would be a good idea if he went and got some food for everyone; he was quite hungry himself. He headed for the cafeteria and ordered one carryout container of food for each of them. He had to give the names and room numbers of each person he was getting a meal for since only one full meal per person was permitted. When he got to Kaylin he realized he couldn't remember the man's last name and he didn't know the room number.

"I cain't give ya' a dinna' for 'im without the info, sorry." The grandmotherly lady smiled at Heero. She could tell he was drunk.

Heero looked downcast.

The old lady felt sorry for him; she had a soft spot for the students. He was obviously trying to do a good deed and now he couldn't, all because of a silly rule. "Tell ya' what Ah'll do, sweety. Ah'll give ya' anuhtha dinna', but Ah'll hafta' take it off yer meals for t'marah... that means ya' only git two meals t'marah."

Heero smiled, "That's very kind of you, thank you." He knew she didn't have to do it for him, it was just a random act of kindness. Heero hadn't planned on eating breakfast tomorrow anyway, but her actions were not lost on him.

He stacked the five containers and grabbed them with both hands, securing them under his chin. As he headed back to the room, he realized the potential problems he might have negotiating the stairs. It was only one floor, two small flights of stairs, but not being able to see and in his current condition, he was afraid he might have problems. He sat half of the containers down and carried the rest to the top, then came back and retrieved the others. Once he had them stacked and secured again, he headed back to the room. He kicked lightly at the door, unable to knock.

"Come in!" he heard Quatre sing.

What was it with Quatre and doors anyway? "I can't," he sang back.

Kaylin opened the door and let Heero in. Everyone cheered when they saw what Heero had done.

"Yeah, yeah. A little help here, huh, guys?"

"Sorry." Kaylin closed the door and took the top three containers from under Heero's chin. Heero handed the remaining two to Quatre and Trowa.

He took two more from Kaylin and handed one to Duo.

"Heero, my hero!" Duo gushed.

"You got one for me, too?!" Kaylin was surprised.

"Yeah, couldn't let you to just sit and watch us eat." Heero said as he sat next to Duo once again.

"Well... thank you, Heero, that's very nice of you."

Trowa was the first to open his container. Some kind of meat in some brown gravy, some beans and potatoes, and a piece of bread. Trowa looked around for a moment. "Umm... I hate to be the one to ask... did you get any silverware?"

Heero scrunched his eyes shut and leaned against the bed, groaning.

"Not to worry!" Quatre chirped. He tried getting up and fell right over Kaylin.

Kaylin caught Quatre over one massive shoulder, leaving Quatre's rear end sticking straight up in the air.

Trowa laughed and swatted Quatre's butt. "Hands off him, Quatre."

"Weeee! I'm flying!"

Duo lay back on the floor and looked up into Quatre's grinning face. "You're drunk!"

Quatre giggled and Duo's face disappeared as Kaylin slowly let him slide the rest of the way to the floor. "Going down." Quatre announced happily. He rolled and sat up, now behind Kaylin. "Ok, let me try this again." Quatre pushed himself up, this time using Heero's bed for support. Once he was satisfied he wasn't going to fall over again he headed for his room. "Be back in a minute!" He left the door open as he departed.

"Sorry guys," Heero apologized.

"Hey, man, don't worry about it! It's the thought that counts!" Duo patted Heero's chest, letting his hand linger a bit.

"Yeah, Heero, I'm famished. This was a really good idea." Trowa was sincerely grateful.

Kaylin was distracted. He was still looking at the door where Quatre had left. A slap on the knee got his attention and he whipped his head around to find Trowa grinning at him.

"He's quite a flirt, isn't he?" Trowa intoned, already knowing the answer.

Kaylin blanched. He had gotten caught admiring someone else's lover. "I uhh... well he uhhh..."

Heero and Duo listened intently to the exchange. They hoped this wouldn't get ugly.

Trowa chuckled evilly. "Don't worry, Kaylin. Look all you want... 'cause he and I are doing the same to you."

"What?!" Heero was incensed.

Trowa shrugged matter-of-factly. "We always check out other guys. It's harmless really." Trowa leaned into the circle a bit to make his point. "We like to look at the menu... but we always eat at home."

"But that's not right..." Heero complained, "... is it?" He looked to Duo for an answer.

Duo held up a finger as he thought about it a while. He slowly started shaking his head as he formulated a response. "No, I don't see anything wrong with it, really."

Heero threw his hands up in the air, frustrated.

Duo, crossed his arms and looked at Heero as though he were looking at a small child. "Heero, look at Kaylin."

Heero averted his eyes and tried to look everywhere except at Kaylin.

"Heero!" Heero's head snapped to meet Duo's eyes. "Please, for me... look at Kaylin."

Heero huffed and looked at the huge boy.

Kaylin squirmed uncomfortably under the scrutiny of those cobalt eyes.

Trowa thought he might know where Duo was going with this little experiment. He placed a finger on his lips as Quatre entered the room carrying five sets of linen rolled silverware.

Quatre sat down and handed the utensils to each person.

"What's going on?" Quatre whispered, noticing Heero looking intently at Kaylin.

Trowa shushed him again. "You'll see in a minute."

Duo continued. "Now, tell us what you see."

Heero looked at him, surprised by the request. "I can't do that!"

Duo rolled his eyes. "Yes, you can, Heero. Please, try."

Heero looked again at a nervously smiling Kaylin. "Well, he's... very... handsome..."

Kaylin started blushing again.

"Good... more..." Duo prodded.

"He's very muscular and very attractive."

Quatre's mouth was hanging open as he heard the words coming from Heero's mouth. He looked at Trowa, still confused.

Trowa smiled and rubbed Quatre's leg comfortingly.

"Ok, now close your eyes, and in as few words as possible, describe the last sunset we watched together. Forget about the circumstances we were in... just describe the sunset."

Heero closed his eyes. All at once he could see the colors and feel the warm breeze against his bare arms. He could feel the earth he sat upon and the bark of the enormous tree he leaned against. He could see the first stars twinkle into existence as the day gave way to the tenuous twilight. He could smell the soil and hear the night creatures begin their night music. He could sense Duo there with him, next to him, breathing lightly.

Heero parted his lips so the word could escape unhindered. "Beautiful." Heero's eyes flew open and he looked at Kaylin. "Beautiful," he said again.

"Th...Thank you, Heero," Kaylin stammered.

Duo took Heero's hand in his own. "Don't you see, Heero? Beauty is beauty, whether it's a breathtaking sunset, or an emotion filled piece of music, or even another human being. To not appreciate it would be a tragedy." Duo kissed the back of Heero's hand and rubbed the spot with his thumb.

"Oh, wow! I get it." Heero was in awe. "I actually get it, Duo!" Heero's excitement was barely contained. Duo had, in a matter of a few minutes, completely obliterated another wall.

"Somebody wanna tell me what's going on?" Quatre asked sweetly.

Duo chuckled. "You are what's going on, you little flirt!"

Everyone laughed except Quatre. "Hey! I am not little!"

Trowa laughed even harder at that as he and the others unrolled their silverware.

Kaylin figured he would try to explain what had happened since he had started the whole mess. "It seems I got caught, well, checking you out... as Trowa put it. At the same time, it seems as though you've been caught checking me out."

Quatre squeaked and started turning cherry red.

"Well, Trowa explained that neither of you are ashamed to admire other people, and Heero didn't approve... at first. So Duo... well Duo explained it to him... rather adeptly I might add." Kaylin popped the lid on his container and started devouring his food.

As everyone ate, Heero, surprisingly enough, was the most talkative. "... and that five-hundred foot high waterfall Duo and I found... that was beautiful... and the stars above the earth's atmosphere are beautiful... oh, and Relena...

Everyone except Kaylin looked up at Heero, horrified.

"Relena!?!?" Duo complained.

"Now, Duo, don't get me wrong, she is beautiful... even though I would like nothing more than to ki.... "

Trowa coughed loud enough to stop Heero from finishing his sentence. He glanced at Kaylin who was oblivious to what was almost said.

Heero finished his thought "... be rid of her. And then, of course... there's you, Duo."

"Ooooo... nice... very nice save, Heero." Quatre's eyes twinkled merrily.

Duo finally smiled. "Hnnn... much better."

Trowa chewed his food, considering Heero for a moment... yes, he was coming along quite nicely.

As people were finishing, Duo was collecting the empty containers. Heero was still eating and Duo just sat and watched him, smiling the whole time.

Heero felt Duo's eyes on him and he looked up. "What?!"

Duo sighed and shook his head. "Nothing." Actually, Duo was smitten. You're crazy, Duo... even watching him eat makes your heart beat double-time.

"Mmmm. I needed that." Quatre said, wiping his mouth. He took a sip of brandy and swished it around in his mouth. Throwing his head back, he gargled loudly.

"Quatre!" Trowa wrinkled his brow.

Quatre swallowed his liquor and giggled impishly. "Expect the unexpected," he said suggestively.

Kaylin was watching everyone openly now. He would be lying to himself if he said he didn't want every single one of them. Quatre was too damn cute for his own good. Trowa was downright sultry. Heero, dark and mysterious, left a lot to the imagination. And, Duo... Duo was just out there. He knew, however, that they were all spoken for. That was a boundary he would never cross with any of them. He knew already that these young men would be his friends and he would not violate that trust.

Heero took his last bite of food and dropped his fork into the container. "I was way too into that."

"Into what?" Kaylin asked.

"That food." Heero patted his full belly.

"Well, remember you only ate half of your lunch today." Duo reminded him.

Heero shook his head. "I remember acting a fool today." After a long while of staring at the tiled floor, Heero peered up through his unkempt bangs, a big grin on his face. "You guys really wanna know what my dream was about last night, don't you?"

Duo looked worriedly at Heero. "If you tell them, Heero, just remember tomorrow that it was not my big mouth that told them."

"Duo, I'm am shit faced, but not that much so so I .." Heero stopped and tried again. "not-so-much-so-that... I would forget anything... at least not yet."

"He told you, Duo?" Trowa inquired.

Duo nodded. "Right after I came back to the room from lunch."

"Are you sure you can tell us in front of Kaylin, Heero?" Trowa cautioned him with the question.

Heero caught on. They still thought it was one of his murderous-blood-filled-rampage nightmares. Heero smiled. "Ohhh, I think it's safe for Kaylin to hear this one."

Trowa and Quatre were intrigued.

"Tell us," Quatre said quickly, conspiratorially.

Heero opened his mouth to speak and realized he needed to do one more thing before he told them. "Duo... is it ok with you?"

Duo nodded excitedly, grinning ear to ear.

Heero leaned into his circle of friends. "Well, in this dream..." Heero sounded like he was telling a ghost story. Everyone leaned in farther, even Duo. A couple more inches and everyone's nose would have touched in the middle. "In this dream... Duo and I were sucking and fucking like it was the end of the world." Heero quickly pulled his face from the circle and leaned against the bed, lacing his fingers behind his head. Heero had gone for shock value. He was abundantly successful. Everyone just stared at one another, not breathing. Heero thought that they would make a good sculpture for a fountain.

"Ohmygod." Quatre's voice was an almost inaudible squeak, his face frozen. He started bouncing his crossed legs up and down and slapping his knees with both hands. "ohmygodohmygodohmygod." Quatre's head briefly poked up from the group.

Heero just leaned back, smiling.

Quatre's head disappeared again.

Duo turned his attention to the right, finally looking at Heero. "We fucked too?!"

Heero was all piss and vinegar right now. "MmmmHm."

Duo quickly looked back at the others, their faces still inches apart. "He didn't tell me that part of the dream."

"I gather he's not prone to this type of behavior," Kaylin surmised.

Trowa sputtered. "Not unless he's had a lot to drink and even then..."

Heero listened to their conversation with amusement. They talked about him like he wasn't there. He supposed that that was true to a certain extent. Certain parts of the old Heero, the Heero they knew twenty-four hours ago, were gone.

"Quatre, breathe!" Trowa told him.

Quatre started hyperventilating.

Duo buried his face in his hands. "Eee ghad. I've created a monster."

That more or less broke everyone up. Quatre leaned back on Heero's bed, clutching at his oxygen deprived chest.

Everyone looked at Heero. "You wanted to know." Heero shrugged off all blame. It was a very Duo-ish tactic... but no one could think of an argument.

Trowa just had to ask. "So... did you enjoy it?"

Heero could see Duo holding his breath again, waiting for the answer, anticipation evident in his eyes. "Of course I did," he said softly.

Duo blew the air out his lungs, puffing his cheeks.

Quatre was finally calming down. "Oh... oh my... I was not at all prepared for that. I guess it does explain why you became so angry at lunch today. I'm glad you didn't decide to tell us right there in the cafeteria." Quatre laughed weakly.

"Oh, no... no, no, no... that would not have been pretty at all," Duo agreed. "Even I would have wigged out... I think."

"Not you, Duo!" Kaylin chimed in. "I've heard you talk like that before."

"Yes, but you have to consider the source and the circumstance," Trowa pointed out. "We would have had to tie Duo down, I'm sure."

"Now there's a mental image." Heero was on a roll... without realizing he was on a roll.

Quatre looked like he was about to cry, or faint, or something.

Kaylin, on the other hand, didn't mind the image at all.

"Heero!" Duo gaped at him. "What has gotten into you?!"

"This..." he indicated by emptying his glass, "... and this..." he indicated by sitting forward and kissing Duo firmly on the lips.

"Wow... now that was really nice, Heero." Trowa had never, in all their years of breathing, sleeping, eating, and living with each other, seen Heero act tender toward anyone. It surprised him more than the revelation of dream had. Sure he had caught them kissing in the recital room earlier that afternoon, but that was just a kiss from his perspective. This kiss had a context, and to hear Heero's words and see him do it... it instantly transformed Heero in his mind.

Quatre decided to cry. Not overdo it... just one tear running down his cheek. Quatre sniffled.

Trowa looked back at him. "Here now, why are you crying, Quatre?" Trowa asked wiping the tear away.

"That was so sweet... and I'm so drunk." Quatre admitted.

"Uuuuuh, I think... maybe it's best if I get going Duo." Kaylin sounded uneasy all of a sudden.

"No, you don't have to leave, man!" Duo grabbed Kaylin's forearm.

"Duo, I... I have some things to think about. Seeing all of you together... it's really got me thinking now."

Duo patted his arm understandingly. "Ok. You know where we live if you need anything."

"And if they're not here, they're usually in our room, down the hall, around the corner, fourth door on the left... you're welcome anytime, Kaylin."

"Thanks guys." Kaylin stood, towering over them all... the gentle giant.

"You still want those notes?" Duo reminded him.

"Nah, don't think I'll get much studying done tonight."

"Why don't you come sit with us at lunch tomorrow?" Heero offered.

Kaylin smiled down at him. "Sure. What time?"

"Oh I don't know... around noon I guess." Heero looked around the group for confirmation. Everyone nodded.

"Ok, I'll see you guys tomorrow then." Kaylin opened the door to leave and started to pull it shut behind him before poking his head back in for a moment. "Oh... and uh... have fun." He winked, and was gone.

Quatre stared at the door. "What a really nice guy, Duo."

"Nice looking too," Trowa smiled, nudging Quatre with his elbow. "Duo, I must say the company you keep is definitely improving."

"Hnnn... I don't know what it is about him... maybe because he's selfless and open... he kinda reminds me of a really big version of Quatre."

"I am not little!" Quatre was getting tired of all the references to his size.

"He didn't say you were little, Quatre." Heero almost sounded fatherly. "Even if you were as tall as Duo, Kaylin would still be a really big version of you."

Quatre crossed his arms and pouted, unsatisfied with the reasoning.

Trowa leaned into Quatre's ear and whispered at length, the whole time rubbing the inside of Quatre's upper thigh.

Quatre's facial expression changed at least three times - embarrassment then surprise then humor.

When Trowa was done, Quatre was giggling again.

"How'd you do that?!" Duo wanted to know.

"He just pointed out that if Kaylin were a really big version of me, that certain aspects of his... anatomy would be... unmanageable."

Heero and Duo's eyes went wide and Trowa and Quatre both fell into a fit of laughter. Out of necessity they had all seen each other naked at some point in the recent past. Quatre easily outranked them all.

"What?! Quatre! Here I always thought you kept a pair of socks stuffed down there!" Duo knew better... he just wanted to antagonize Quatre for the hell of it. It worked.

Quatre sputtered, trying really hard not to laugh. "Why, you braided, bobble-headed, bite-sized... boob!" Quatre had such a mean streak when he was drinking.

Everyone looked at Quatre with momentary surprise... and lost it.

Quatre sat with his back against the bed, chuckling at his own outburst and the effect it had on the others.

"I am not bite-sized!" Duo defended with tears of laughter in his eyes, trying his best to sound just like Quatre... and succeeding to a large degree.

Quatre picked up his glass and swirled the liquid around, looking coyly at Duo. "Relatively speaking... of course." Quatre downed the last of his drink while everyone around him fell apart yet again.

Duo was in hysterics and Trowa was doubled over, holding his belly. Quatre refilled his glass, emptying the bottle.

Heero sat with his head down, not making a sound, but chuckling hard enough that his shoulders bounced up and down. When he raised his head, Quatre could see his cobalt eyes, wet with humor.

Quatre's mouth hung open. My God! He has tear ducts after all!

Heero smiled. "That was priceless, Quatre." He said it quietly enough that only Quatre could hear it above the other two boys' laughter. Heero raised his glass in appreciation... someone had finally hit his funny bone. Heero quickly wiped his eyes as the other two recovered.

"Ohhhh Quatre...*sniff*...that was priceless man...hheheh." Duo wiped one eye then the other. He noticed Heero looking at him oddly. "What?"

Heero just shook his head.

Trowa pulled himself together. "Well... ahem... I don't think we'll be able to top that moment." Trowa tipped his glass back, emptied it, and placed it lip-down in front of him.

"That's no fair I just filled mine again!"

Trowa picked his glass up again and held it out so Quatre could pour some of his drink into it. Quatre poured half. "Whoa, whoa, whoa! Damn! Do you want me to pass out on you?!"

"As long as you're touching me." Quatre sighed.

Duo and Heero both groaned.

Trowa looked at them. "Hah! You guys are just jealous!"

"Envious!" Heero blurted out before he could stop himself. He looked at his glass, "... envious... not jealous."

"Hmmm... so the truth will out, eh, Heero?" Trowa teased him.

"Can't say that I blame him, Trowa." Duo was going to come to the rescue. "Look at you two... you're totally addicted to each other even after two years. I've seen couples who can't stand each other after two weeks! Any reasonably sane person would want the kind on relationship you have."

Heero was looking at Duo funny again. "Did... did you just say two years?!"

Everyone had forgotten that Heero wasn't present when that little piece of information came to light.

Quatre held Trowa's hand, bracing himself for what was about to come.

Heero looked repeatedly from blonde to brunette. He couldn't even remember where he was two years ago. "Two years..." he repeated softly to himself. It seemed like such a long time ago. "How did it happen?"

That was not the question any of them had expected.

Quatre smiled, remembering the whole scene very clearly. "For a long time I thought all he wanted from me was sex... I though for a long time that it was all I wanted. Slowly, I started to realize that I had feelings for him, feelings that I had ignored for... well... probably since I first laid eyes on him. But I wouldn't give in to it. I finally got really aggravated with him following me around one day and told him to 'stay the hell away from me'." Quatre was getting misty eyed.

Heero and Duo listened carefully as Trowa continued the story. "I was devastated. I wanted to run and hide... he had never spoken to me like that before. He was standing at the sink rinsing out a glass or something and, in a fit of desperation, I grabbed him from behind. I was just going to hold him and finally tell him how I really felt. He elbowed me as hard as he could and broke two of my ribs."

Both Duo and Heero gasped.

Heero nodded. "I remember that morning now. We were at the cottage."

Duo was animated. "I bandaged your ribs for you! You both told me you had fallen or something like that."

Heero continued. "I remember finding broken glass in the sink when I came down for breakfast and there was no one around. I went searching the house and found Duo in your room tending your wounds."

Duo and Heero looked at Quatre. "I... was... in my room bawling my eyes out." Quatre confessed. "I hadn't meant to hit him hard enough to hurt him. Just enough to get him off of me... I didn't know what he was trying to do. Later that day, while you two were out checking on the Gundams, I went to see what the hell his problem had been."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

... "You idiot, Trowa... what the hell is your problem anyway?!"

Trowa was near tears from the ache in his side and the ache in his heart. "Why the fuck did you have to hit me so hard!"

"What was I supposed to do, Trowa!? Huh!? What did you expect!? Did you expect me to just stand there and take it!?"

Trowa looked at him with confused wet eyes. "Take it? What the hell are you talking about?"

"What were you going to do, Trowa... have your way with me right there on the kitchen floor!? Or maybe in the sink!?"

Trowa cried openly now. "Oh God no, Quatre! Please, no! It was nothing like that." Trowa was sobbing too heavily to continue.

Guilt suddenly passed over Quatre in one huge wave and he approached Trowa's bed. "Nothing... like... that?"

Trowa shook his head. "Quatre, how could you think..." he drew in a shuddering breath and started sobbing again.

"How could I think?! Trowa, how could I not think?! You've followed me around for God only knows how long telling me how bad you want to get into my pants. What the hell am I supposed to think?!"

Trowa gasped at the accusation. "I never once said I wanted to get into your pants!"

"No, just... 'Oh Quatre, your so cute'... 'Oh Quatre, you've got such a nice ass'... 'Oh Quatre, why don't you sleep over here tonight'..."

"I was drunk when I said those last two things," Trowa countered in a defensive rage.

"I can't deal with this!" Quatre turned on his heel to leave.

"Quatre, please! For God's sake, please don't go!" Trowa begged, no longer caring what Quatre thought of his current mental state.

When Quatre turned around Trowa was sitting with his face buried in his pillow, crying uncontrollably, rocking himself back and forth. "No, no, no, please God, no!"

Quatre could hear the muffled pleas and Trowa's voice had acquired a different timbre. He could hear the desperation... the emptiness... the agony. He had always worried over Trowa. The dark haired boy had almost been killed too many times to count, and every time Quatre worried over him... but he had never seen Trowa in such a state before... and it broke his heart. Quatre rushed to Trowa's side and pulled the sobbing boy into his arms. "Trowa, please... please stop crying," Quatre begged as he stroked his hair.

"Quatre?" Trowa had been so stricken with grief, he only now realized that he was being held in Quatre's gentle embrace. "Oh, God, Quatre... I'm so sorry. I never meant any harm; I swear it. All this time, Quatre... all this time... all the stupid things I've said... I'm sorry. All I wanted to do this morning was take you in my arms and tell you how I really felt all this time... how much I love you." Trowa broke down again.

That was it. That was all it took. Three simple words.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Three simple words... and I was his," Quatre finished, clearly on the verge of tears.

Duo was well past that as the dew from his eyes rolled silently down his cheeks.

Trowa was smiling for some reason.

Heero looked utterly confused. "I don't understand something. How can three simple words change your entire relationship with each other."

Duo sniffled and threw his hands up in the air. "Heero, it's not just the three words, it's the meaning behind them..."

Heero shrugged. "I guess I don't understand the meaning behind them then."

Duo rolled his eyes. "It's when you care about someone, Heero... when you can't live without them. It's when every fiber of your being comes to life in the presence of that person. It's when...." Duo couldn't think of words to continue.

Trowa gave it a shot. "It's when that person occupies your every waking thought, you become aware of every breath... every movement... every heartbeat. You would gladly give your life for them. Your very souls become entangled. It's quite... spiritual."

"So what does sex have to do with it?" Heero, of course, had to ask.

Quatre chuckled. "That's the point, Heero... sex has nothing to do with it. Listen to what they are saying. Everything they said could apply equally to him and me, or a husband and wife, a close friendship, a mother and child..."

"Sex is something that takes place between consenting people because... well, because it feels good." Trowa almost whispered now. "But when you take a case like Quatre and me, two consenting people who love one another... that's where the real treasure lies... that's when the earth starts to move under your feet... that's when the sex becomes 'making love'." Trowa sat back and smiled, very satisfied with his own answer.

Heero sat back against the bed and thought for a while. "That's why Kaylin is so dissatisfied with his relationship then. That's what he meant when he said he had sex without love."

"Exactly!" Duo was elated, Heero understood.

"So sex is pointless," Heero added.

Duo scrambled to recover a fumbled point. "No, no, Heero. Even if two people aren't sure if they love each other or if they think they might love each other, sex can act as a... a..."

Quatre provided the word, "... a catalyst..."

Duo brightened. "Yeah! that's it, a catalyst that brings them closer, helps them realize how they really feel about each other." Duo looked ashamed for a moment. "I know I can be pretty raw sometimes - I say some pretty vile things - but I think I understand what it's really all about." Duo looked into Heero's eyes. "It's all about trust, Heero. You trust your body to someone you think you might love... they make you feel good physically and emotionally. That builds more trust and more love..."

Trowa even seemed enlightened. "... self perpetuating..."

"Sometimes it doesn't work out that way." Quatre just had to play devil's advocate. "Sometimes people discover that they just aren't compatible sexually or emotionally and they move on... but even if Trowa and I had discovered we were incompatible, I don't think I would have regretted at least trying."

Heero snickered. "You guys are so smooth... all three of you. This is nothing more than a little pep talk to get me and Duo in bed together."

The three boys looked at each other. Trowa spoke. "We're not going to deny that that's part of it, Heero... but we're not lying to you, or distorting the truth in any way. Everything we've said is very real and very true."

Heero looked sullen. He had to be honest now. "I don't know if I could ever feel that way... about anyone."

Duo knew that that comment was meant for him... but he understood. He placed his hand on Heero's knee. "That's because you're carrying around a lot of baggage, Heero. So many years of being a cold, emotionless killer... we've all coped differently with the same thing. You've dealt with it by turning your emotions off... all of them. You can't expect to turn them back on overnight... and everyone who cares about you..." Duo indicated the circle of friends, "... understands and accepts that."

Everyone sat in silence for a while, considering everything that had just been said.

The next sound they heard was Quatre snoring. He had fallen asleep sitting up, still holding his half-full glass.

"I think that's my cue, guys." Trowa said, smiling and gathering his feet under him. He staggered a bit as he stood. He reached down and tousled Quatre's blonde hair. "Wake up, sleepy head. It's time we get going."

Quatre's bleary eyes blinked open as he rubbed them. "Huh, oh... sorry," he said sleepily.

Duo looked at the clock, "No way! It's only 7:30!"

"Duo, I think he's had enough... I know I have."

Duo looked very disappointed. "I was hoping we could all go dancing tonight."

"Duo, you know I don't dance." Heero reminded him.

"I was... hoping, Heero...."

"Not a chance. You guys move too much on the dance floor."

Trowa helped Quatre to his feet. The blonde leaned against Trowa for support. "The room is spinning, please make it stop."

"Look at me," Trowa told him. "Look at my eyes."

Quatre did so and seemed to steady considerably.

"Better?" Trowa asked.

"Better," Quatre admitted sheepishly.

"Duo, come to the room for a minute, I need to show you something." Trowa was not doing a very good job of hiding a smile.

Duo didn't ask. It was obviously something he didn't want Heero to know about. He managed to get to his feet with no problem. Staying there was another story entirely as he more or less fell sideways onto his bed, hitting his head against the wall. "Owwww! Son-of-a-fuckin'-bitch!"

Heero was beside him instantly. "Let me see!" he ordered, swatting Duo's hands away from where Duo was rubbing his head. He examined the area for a moment. "You'll have a little lump there in a while, otherwise you're fine."

The other three boys just smiled at each other while Heero mothered over him.

Duo stood up... slowly this time.

The three boys left quietly, however drunkenly, leaving the door open.

Heero looked at the mess in the room. Half-filled glasses, empty liquor bottles, empty food trays, dirty silverware... Heero smiled, he had had fun tonight. He started cleaning, pitching the bottles into the trash, collecting the glasses and eating utensils, picking up the empty containers... and lying underneath the container that Kaylin had been eating from, he found a ring.

"...!..."

Heero picked up the ring and examined it. It was a sports ring of some kind, obviously belonging to Kaylin.

As if being summoned, Kaylin stuck his head into the room. "Heero?"

Heero looked with surprise at the smiling blues eyes that looked back at him. "Kaylin? You left this behind." Heero held the ring out.

"I know. Alcohol makes my fingers swell up. I always take it off when I drink." Kaylin smiled down at him, taking the ring.

Heero busied himself with organizing the room. "How was your walk?"

Kaylin was amazed. "How did you know I went for a walk?!"

Heero shrugged. "You looked like you were in the mood for it. I walk sometimes, when I have stuff to sort out. You said you needed to think about things... did you reach any decisions?"

Kaylin looked downcast. "Actually, I met him on the street while I was walking... it's over, Heero."

Heero stopped what he was doing and looked at the boy in front of him. Kaylin was clearly saddened by the whole situation... suddenly he didn't look so big. "I thought that was what you wanted."

"It was, Heero... but I still wanted to be friends with him... he said he couldn't care less if he never saw me again."

Heero nodded. "Then he wasn't worth keeping as a friend," he said simply, continuing to clean.

"I don't think that's true. I hurt him. He was just trying to hurt me back."

Heero thought about that for a moment. "You may be right. Duo and I have had some really big fights." Heero thought about all the times he could have almost killed Duo. "... but we still end up... together... somehow." Heero shook his head, amused at his own lack of understanding.

"You're very lucky to have him, you know."

Heero stopped cleaning again. "Oh... how so?"

Kaylin looked at his ring one last time before putting it in his pocket. "My mate... well, former mate now... is a lot like Duo - vibrant is a good word to describe them both. They are the type of people that draw attention to themselves. Duo, however, strikes me as being very selfless. He likes to give attention as much as he gets it."

Heero nodded, seeing his point. "Well, I don't 'have him' yet... not exactly."

Kaylin smiled as he turned to leave. "A word of advice then, Heero. You better claim him... soon. Because if you don't... someone else will."

Heero glared at him.

Kaylin caught the misinterpretation in Heero's eyes and laughed. "Oh, no! Not me, Heero. I'm not ready for another one like that. I think my next love... " Kaylin was halfway out the door, smiling broadly, "... will be more like you."

Heero's jaw dropped.

"Goodnight, Heero." And Kaylin was gone.

More like me!? Is he nuts!?

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Trowa poured Quatre into bed. The little angel was completely out of it.

Duo watched as Trowa kissed Quatre tenderly on the forehead. Duo sighed. "You two are too good for each other."

Trowa smiled back at him.

"So, what do you have for me?!" Duo said excitedly.

Trowa crossed the room to his closet, retrieving an empty box.

"Oooo! Just what I've always wanted! A box!"

Trowa laughed, placing several small candles and another bottle of liquor inside the box. Then he fished around in his bottom desk drawer for a moment and produced the item he was looking for.

Duo's chin was on his chest.

Trowa grinned evilly. "I wasn't kidding when I said you would need this. I'm assuming you don't keep a supply of it around..." Trowa paused, shaking the tube of lubricant at Duo, an accusative grin on his face. "... or maybe you do, hmmmm Duo?"

"Trowa stop that!" Duo whispered.

Trowa grabbed Duo's hand and put the tube in his palm. "Use it wisely." Trowa winked.

Duo looked down at his hand. He was as embarrassed as hell. "How am I going to get this into the room without Heero seeing it?! I can't just put it in the box, he'll want to know what's in there!"

"Stuff it in your pants." Trowa giggled as Duo glared at him.

"Very funny." Duo grumbled as he started removing his shoes and socks.

"Planning on staying a while, are you?"

"No, silly!" Duo put the tube in one shoe and stuffed his socks in over it. "There!" Duo grinned, satisfied with his idea.

"Not bad... not bad at all."

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When Duo entered the room, he found Heero standing there staring at the open door with a look of surprise on his face. Duo looked behind himself. Nothing. "What?!" he asked dropping his shoes by the door. One sock popped out and his heart skipped a couple of beats.

Heero shook his head. "Nothing." He focused on Duo. "What's in the box?"

Duo had taped it closed so Heero couldn't see its contents. "A little gift from Trowa."

Heero looked at him suspiciously.

Duo set the box by his bed and started rummaging through his closet, Heero watching his every move. "I feel grimy; I'm going to take a shower." Duo grinned evilly. "Wanna join me?"

Heero rolled his eyes and mirrored Duo's devilish grin. "If I thought we could get away with it without getting caught... I just might."

Duo gathered his things and headed for the showers. "I'll be back in a few."

Once Duo was gone, Heero eyed the box suspiciously. He walked to where it sat next to Duo's bed and gave it a push with his foot.

Duo's head suddenly popped back into the room. "Oh... and... uh... stay away from the box." Duo's smiling face disappeared again.

Heero looked at the clock - 7:45. It was still early and he was still quite intoxicated. The rain had finally subsided and it looked as though the evening sun might actually be making an effort to break through the clouds that had dominated the day. A cool breeze blew through the open window as Heero sat on the edge of his bed, considering his options.

Well, what the hell do I do now? Kaylin was right, if I don't do something quick, I might lose Duo... but I just don't understand this whole thing yet... it's all happened so fast. I feel like I'm losing control... the problem is... I'm liking it. Duo holds such a spell over me.

What could I possibly say to him to let him know that I want him all to myself. Do I even need to say anything at all? Maybe he knows already. I can't use those 'three little words' Quatre was talking about. They hold too much meaning... to much promise for Duo. What if this war continues and I die? It would be a broken promise. No, I cannot say those words... not until this war is over... really over.

So what do I do? Do I show him how I feel... but I'm not sure how I feel. Gah! I am so confused right now! Think, Heero, think!

OK... I know... I feel... something. I just don't understand what it is. Now... is it just a physical thing? No, definitely not. I would understand that. Is it that I care about him? Well, yes... but I have always cared about him... there is more to it than that now.

Do you love him?

...???

Do you love him?

...???

Damn it, I don't understand the question! I don't know! I just don't know!

Heero paced about the room for several minutes with his hands shoved in his pockets, looking repeatedly from the door, to the box, to the clock, to the slowly brightening skies outside his window.

As Heero made his umpteenth pass by the open window, Duo burst into the room, vigorously scrubbing his towel covered head, bitching and moaning about their accommodations. "Those damn dryers don't work worth a shit. I'm going to give maintenance a 'what-for'. It'll take all night for my hair to dry now." Duo flipped the towel over his shoulder and grinned.

Heero's breath caught in his chest. There stood Duo in the doorway, wet hair all over the place, a towel over one shoulder, wearing a smile and pair of red silk running shorts with, quite obviously, nothing underneath. He had seen Duo this way thousands of times... but it had never had this effect on him before. Beautiful.

Duo's lips fell into an uneasy grin as Heero looked at him like a stranger. "Something wrong, Heero?"

Heero shook his head. "I just never... I mean, I just never..."

Duo's smile warmed as he reached to the top shelf of his closet and took out his favorite brush.

Heero was next to him instantly, gently taking the brush from Duo's hand. "May I?"

Duo silently grabbed a dry towel and spread it on the bed. He nodded as he sat sideways on the edge so Heero could sit comfortably behind him as he brushed through the tangled mass of wet hair.

Heero went to his desk and turned the light and the radio on. He dittled with the station dial for a moment and found a slow song. He heard the word 'love' in the lyrics and decided it was a good choice. It was a choice that was not lost on Duo.

Duo watched bashfully as Heero took his place behind him and began unraveling the mess that was Duo's hair.

"Where should I start?" On closer inspection, Heero realized that this was going to be quite a task.

Duo chuckled. "Your first goal is to get all the tangles out... start anywhere you want."

Heero's strokes were tentative at first. With each stilted stroke of the brush, water fell from Duo's hair. Tiny rivulets ran down his back and shoulder soaking the towel where they sat. Slowly, meticulously, Heero separated the strands into something a bit more coherent. Once that was done he asked for further instructions. "Now what?"

"Now?" Duo looked over his shoulder and smiled. "Now, you just pamper me. Just keep brushing."

This was the part Heero was looking forward to. To please Duo. He began making long luxurious strokes through Duo's wet hair. As he brushed, the cool evening air slowly dried the wet mass into chestnut colored silk. It took a long time, but they were both enjoying this. Heero marveled at the way it felt as he ran his fingers through it. He smiled when Duo would occasionally sigh with appreciation. Heero wondered what it would feel like to be completely covered in the silky strands... to have them tickling his face and neck... his chest... his stomach... his... Heero let out a small groan.

Duo glanced sideways, smiling. "What are you doing back there?"

"Just... thinking." Heero's voice was thicker than usual.

Duo thought he recognized the tone, though he had never heard it come from Heero before. "Fantasizing, Heero?"

"Maybe... a little." Heero admitted as he continued to luxuriate in the feel of Duo's hair. "Does that bother you?"

Duo shook his head slightly. "It would bother me if you didn't."

The hair beneath his fingers was quickly becoming fuller now, almost completely dry. Heero glanced up and noticed it was dark outside. He looked at the clock in total amazement. "It's after nine o'clock?!" He could see the surprise register with Duo as well as his back stiffened.

"Wow... I guess time really does fly when your having fun." Duo stood and looked down at him, grinning widely.

Heero offered the brush to Duo.

"Why don't you hang on to that. I have a feeling you'll be using it more than I will."

Heero stood and smiled back at him. He found a safe place in one of his desk drawers for the keepsake... somewhere he could easily get to it. He turned and once again noticed the box on the floor.

Having forgotten about it himself, Duo followed Heero's line of sight to where the box sat. "Oh! I forgot all about that."

"So, what's in it?"

Duo set the box on his bed and began opening it. "Nothing to be so curious about, Heero." He opened the box and began extracting its contents. He handed the bottle of brandy to Heero.

As Heero refilled their glasses from earlier that afternoon, Duo went about the room setting and lighting the candles. As he lit the last candle, the light from the desk lamp suddenly went out, leaving the room in a warm glow. He wasn't prepared for what was coming toward him when he turned around - Heero, wearing no shirt, a full sexy smile, and the bluest set of bedroom eyes he had ever seen. He became weak-kneed as Heero wrapped his arms around his waist to pull him close. Duo's back was stiff, but his legs felt like jelly. Duo looked into Heero's flashing eyes as Heero started to sway gently back and forth in time to the music. "Heero?!"

"You said you wanted to dance." Heero brushed his lips against Duo's before burying his cheek against his bare shoulder. "So... let's dance."

Duo was in another world as he wrapped his long arms around Heero. He buried his nose in Heero's hair and drew in the scent. Strawberry... he's been using my shampoo again. Duo closed his eyes and lost himself in Heero's embrace... lost himself in Heero... period. Their bodies pressed together tightly as they moved with each other. They gently stroked one another's bare back. After only a few seconds like this, there was no hiding the fact that they were both aroused. Oh, they both noticed all right... but neither cared right then... they could deal with that later. This moment was too important to them both to be interrupted by something as trivial as an erection... and so they just held each other and slowly danced.

As they moved, Duo's long hair fell around them like a protective curtain. Heero thought he would pass out from the sensation against his back and shoulders. "Oh, Duo." Heero shuddered and held Duo tighter.

"Heero?"

"Mmmmm... that hair... "

"You like?"

"MmmmHmmmm."

Duo could feel him smiling against his shoulder. "Heero... I.... I've wanted this for so long... I..."

"I know, Duo... shhhh." Heero told him gently. I guess I have too... I just never knew it.

Neither spoke for a long time as they continued to move around the room in slow circles.

The eleven o'clock news cast interrupted their bliss. They both looked at the clock and blinked at each other... smiling.

Heero pulled away, taking Duo's hand in his own and leading them to where their drinks were. Heero handed Duo his glass. Taking his own, he sat on the edge of his bed. Duo opted to sit on the floor at Heero's feet, looking up at him.

"I could stay in your arms all night, Heero." Duo looked at him hopefully.

Heero shook his head slightly. "Duo... I don't know if I'm ready for that yet."

Duo chuckled, realizing what Heero thought he meant. "I'm not talking about sex, Heero... I'm just talking about holding you."

Heero rolled his eyes. "I know what you meant, Duo. I just don't know if I... well, if I could..."

"... could control yourself?!" Duo finished the sentence for him.

Heero nodded, ashamed.

Duo thought for a moment. "Heero, don't hold back on my account. I don't think either one of us will really be prepared for it... it'll just happen. It's a cliff we'll just have to jump off of together. Whether we fly or fall...?" Duo trailed off, shrugging.

Heero ran his fingers through Duo's hair. "So... you want to be with me?"

Duo looked surprised. "Here now! What the hell kind of question is that? Of course I want to be with you."

Heero took a drink from his glass. "Kaylin came by again while you were in Trowa's room."

Duo's back stiffened noticeably. "What for?"

"He left his ring here... says his fingers swell when he drinks, so he took it off. Anyway, he said something that has been bothering me all night." Heero paused. "He said that if I don't claim you soon, someone else would." Heero took a long drink from his glass.

Duo snorted. "Please. Kaylin obviously doesn't know everything there is to know about relationships - his own relationship being a case in point."

Heero was shocked to hear Duo talk that way about his friend.

Duo shook his head. "I have to want to be claimed in order for it to happen." He looked meaningfully at Heero. "Listen to me very carefully, Heero. Whether you realize it or not, you have already claimed me... and yes I want to be. I have no desire to be anywhere else or with anyone else. You don't have to prove anything to me, Heero... so forget what Kaylin told you. I belong to you... period"

Heero was nothing short of stunned. "But I never said... I didn't make you..."

Duo smiled up at him. "That's the point, Heero... you didn't have to make me and you don't have to claim me... I am yours... willingly."

Heero hastily sat his drink down and pulled Duo from the floor to sit on the bed next to him, holding his hand. "Duo, I... I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything, I talk enough for both of us." Duo leaned in and kissed Heero fully on the mouth before standing up. He started going around the room blowing out candles as Heero watched. Once he was finished, the only candle still burning was the one on Heero's desk. They looked into each other's eyes in that single flickering flame. "It's been a busy day, no, Heero?"

Heero smiled up at him. "Yes, I suppose it has."

Duo leaned over and kissed Heero tenderly on the forehead. "Goodnight, Heero."

Heero watched Duo climb into bed and pull the covers over himself. In that moment, Heero finally realized something - the irresponsible, irrepressible, little loud-mouthed boy that he had known for so many years was finally growing up. Heero smiled to himself as he removed the remainder of his clothing and prepared himself for bed. Is that possible? Hah! After what I've been through the last day or so, I guess anything is possible. Heero got under the covers and propped his head on his hand as he watched Duo from across the room.

Duo opened one eye and looked at Heero. "What?"

"Do you still want to hold me all night, Duo?"

Duo was sitting upright, staring wide-eyed Heero.

Heero just smiled, pulling back the covers and inviting Duo into his bed.

Duo needed no further invitation. He crawled in next to Heero, throwing his arm and leg over him and resting his head on Heero's chest. "There, now that's not so bad, is it?"

"No... no it's not." Heero relaxed and wrapped his arm around Duo's shoulder, pulling him closer. He had to admit, having Duo close to him like this made him feel at ease. "Not bad at all." He added softly, kissing the top of Duo's head.

"Mmmmm... you feel so good." Duo crooned. He sat up for a moment and pulled his long beautiful hair around his shoulder so he could pour it across Heero's body.

Heero gasped, then sighed contentedly and closed his eyes. "Duo, that hair will be the end of me."

Within a short time, Duo could tell by the steady rise and fall of his chest, that Heero was sound asleep. He raised his head and looked into the peacefully slumbering face. "I love you, Heero Yuy." Duo reached up and quickly pushed the wick of the single remaining candle into the molten wax, extinguishing its flame as another song played softly on the radio.

There would be no nightmares tonight.