Soldiers and Fools
Part 14 -- Ending 2, Part 2 -- Sub Rosa
mid-June AC199 - late April AC200
(kodoku na okami)
(Sometimes soldiers and fools find themselves.)
The first three months went well. They revisited the spot in the park where Duo had helped Heero with the sonnet, ate familiar food at familiar places, even went by the old school and played a pickup basketball game with the kids there -- two on five. They won, of course.
Then they argued for a week. It was something stupid, that was all Duo could remember now. They got over it and were friends again.
One night, two months later, after a little too much of Duo's favorite sake, Heero grabbed him and kissed him. They kissed again and then kissed again deeply. His hands were unbuttoning Heero's shirt, then rushing ahead of themselves to feel his chest when Duo's foggy brain remembered something was wrong. He pushed Heero away.
"Aishi--" Heero choked. "Damn, Duo. Don't be such an asshole about it."
He meant to say, "I'll wait." He said, "No! And don't try to seduce me again, you bastard!"
A cold light he hadn't seen in years filled Heero's eyes, then Heero turned and stalked out of the apartment, slamming the door so hard Duo thought he'd broken the frame. A few seconds later he heard Heero's door slam. Then he heard a soft sound through the wall his apartment shared with Heero's bedroom. He listened to it for ten minutes before he realized Heero was crying.
The next day they both apologized and spent the evening on the roof watching the city lights below them, Duo leaning against Heero's chest and wondering if it really mattered whether he said it or not. Duo knew it mattered to Heero, even if Heero forgot that sometimes. His words had been the wrong words, but he had done the right thing.
Everything was fine again. Their arguments were minor and quickly resolved for the next four months. Then their schedules went to Hell.
Between Heero's flight load as his company opened three new hubs along the China coast and Duo's assignments as a small group of Oz leftovers threatened the peace, they had spent maybe an hour together in the last month. Fifty-six minutes arguing about stupid, stupid things, like where to go for dinner or which movie to watch, the other four minutes glaring as one or the other stalked out the door. They hadn't spoken for over a week now. Heero had been right when he insisted they have separate apartments. Duo was wondering if he'd been wrong to suggest they be neighbors.
/No, Duo,/ he told himself. /Sometimes these things take time. I'm just surprised it's taken him this long./
Heero had taken a four-day series of flights through Korea, China, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan and before returning to Tokyo. Duo suspected he'd traded assignments with someone else to get away from the daily reminders of their month-long war. Even though they weren't speaking, they could still hear each other through the walls, and each soft sound ripped open the scars again and again and again.
A time to heal?
Maybe. The last week had been Hell for Duo. He imagined it was worse for Heero whose hearing was so much sharper than his.
When he saw Heero's itinerary -- he still kept tabs on him, even when they were arguing -- he took Thursday an Friday off himself. He spent most of it cleaning the apartment and thinking and deciding they were both idiots to let stupid things come between them like this. It was time to fix things up before they both did something that might permanently damage their relationship.
He scribbled a small sketch of a dinner table and a time and a heart with wings on it and stuck it on Heero's doorknob. When he got back from buying groceries, the note was gone, but Heero's apartment was empty. He called his intern at the office. There had been a strong tailwind out of Taipei. Heero's flight had returned early.
"So, we'll see if he shows," he muttered to himself as he finished arranging the table. Dinner was in the oven. The timer on the oven was set. Everything was ready, except him. /Just over two hours to go -- cutting it close,/ he thought. A forty-five minute shower, an hour brushing out his hair, eight minutes braiding. /Now, where's that hair clasp?/
It was gone. It should have been right there on the dresser, but it was gone. He searched the apartment and racked his memory, but now he couldn't remember when he'd seen it last... and the clock said-- /Damn!/ Two minutes and he still wasn't dressed. /Well, better dressed and without it than the other way around./ He grabbed the clothes of the bed and quickly pulled them on. Brick red T-shirt, dark blue button-up shirt, half-buttoned, loose light-blue jeans, bare feet. He'd been careful to avoid black tonight.
He was standing in front of the mirror, fiddling with the buttons on the shirt, trying to decide whether he should button one more or two more when he heard their old "secret knock" at the door -- one-two-one. "Coming!"
He buttoned one more button, decided it would do, and ran to the door.
"I'm glad you came," he said as he opened the door. "I--"
Heero stood in the hall -- barefoot, snug dark-blue jeans, oversized yellow button-up shirt over skin, untucked, two buttons at both top and bottom unbuttoned. Duo's favorite Heero-over-for-dinner outfit. In his hand was a single red rose.
/He never brought me flowers -- uh, flower -- before./
"I missed you too," Heero said, knowing the words that the sight of him had interrupted. He held out the rose.
"Arigatou," Duo said, taking it and sniffing the sweet scent. /Not as sweet as the scent of cordite, though,/ he thought. "Why are we such bastards to each other? For God's sake, we love each other."
Heero nodded. "Remember, I'm the Perfect Bastard."
Duo laughed. "C'mon in." He grabbed Heero's hand and pulled him in, half to be sure he came in, half because he simply wanted to touch him and feel that cool skin. "Dinner's ready." He closed the door and led Heero to the table. "Made it myself -- Italian." He added the rose to the cherry blossoms in the vase on the table. He would have thrown the cherry blossoms out, giving sole honor to Heero's rose, but he'd chosen the cherry blossoms for the pleasant memory and they complemented each other well.
The good times were back. They, well, mostly Duo, talked during dinner. Heero ate a small second serving of Duo's vegetable lasagna -- the ultimate compliment to the cook. They lingered in silence over tiramisu and espresso stealing half-secret glances at each other, enjoying their little game. After clearing the table, they adjourned to the living room. Duo poured two fingers of brandy into a snifter for himself. Heero's second cup of espresso was still three-quarters full. Duo added brandy to fill it.
"I'm glad we're not arguing anymore," Duo said as he sat down on the sofa next to Heero. He took a sip of the brandy, watching Heero for the emotions that he loved to catch -- little fish stirring the surface of that glass-smooth face. "Let's promise never to argue again."
"Hn. It would be a lie. Lovers argue. Let's just promise to get over it quicker next time."
"Ryoukai. ... Hey! Who says we're lovers, Perfect Bastard-san?"
Heero smiled his invisible smile. "Your intern for one."
"Naaniiii?? Why that little-- ack!" Heero grabbed him and yanked him close. "I see now. That was just a ruse so you could take advantage of me while I was distracted."
"Shut up, Duo." Another one of their little games. The words had become an endearment months ago.
Duo laid his head on Heero's shoulder, reaching across him to set the brandy on the end table. He sighed. "I'm glad you're back." His eyes strayed back to the table and the flowers.
/Oh God./ "Heero, why did you bring the rose?"
Duo looked up to find deep-blue-water eyes waiting for him. "Heero, why did you bring me the rose?" /Oh God, please./
"Because ..." He paused and took a deep breath. "Because I love you, Duo." Heero smiled. Not the little hidden smile this time. /So this is what joy feels like./ "Aishiteru." He saw the joy in Duo's face, matching his own. "Ai--"
Duo's tongue took advantage of the half-finished word. They kissed, exploring the depths of each other's mouths. Duo had Heero's shirt unbuttoned before they broke, fingers nipping at hard nipples, drawing soft gasps and whimpers from Heero.
Heero gently pushed them apart, panting slightly, then kept them apart as a frustrated Duo tried to close the gap. "Heeerrooooo, I've been waiting--"
"One more thing. Then..." his lips quirked upward, the little smile this time. "Then you can have your way with me." He held out a familiar box.
Duo's eyes grew wide. "Is that?" It was! "My wings!" /So that's where they went./
"I had to fix them."
"Naaniiii?? What was wrong with them?"
Heero turned the hair clasp over. One word in the old inscription had been filled in and changed. "Wings for My Angel," Duo read, grinning. "Yours, huh?"
"Aishiteru. Kimi ga ore no da." Heero's voice sounded as if it were giving an order, but Duo saw the question on Heero's face.
"Ninmu ryoukai!" /Let there be no doubt, koi./ "I'm yours." /And have been all along./ Duo stood, reaching back to clip the wings into his hair, then pivoted, modeling them for Heero. "So what did you decide 'aishiteru' means?" He turned around and found himself drowning in those warm blue eyes. /I'd stay with him forever just to see them like that one more time./
"It means I want to be with you even after the way you've treated me this past month, and you want to be with me even after the way I've treated you."
"To think you struggled with the Romantic poets." Duo grinned and jumped, knocking Heero flat on the couch as he landed on top of him.
"Is this how angels behave?" Heero murmured as Duo nipped a line up his neck to his ear lobe. Duo's hands were busy unbuttoning Heero's jeans.
"/Fallen/ angel, remember?" He took Heero's lips, savoring the taste, and slid his hand under Heero's waistband. Heero moaned into his mouth as Duo squeezed gently. Then louder as Duo's other hand began playing with Heero's nipple.
"Nnnnn. Duo. I never imagined it would -- Aaaaaa -- feel this good."
"Heero no baka. This is just foreplay." Duo laughed, kissing him again, teasing his lips open, their tongues meeting again. "Before I get done with you, koi-mine, you're gonna swear you're in Heaven."
He was right.
"Sub rosa" means, literally, "under the rose", or idiomatically "in confidence" (as in "confidentially"). And I'm punning on both meanings from the perspective of what happens (Heero finally able to say "Aishiteru" with confidence) and the fact that this is a lime (which keeps the details "in confidence") and the use of the rose (which was there long before the title).
D: WHOO-HOO! I finally got to french you!
H: And put your hand in my pants. Don't forget that part.
D: Never. Not after five years of chasing you.
H: <raises eyebrow> Is this how angels behave?
D: <grins, grabs Heero's hand and leads him away>