He grunted his morning greeting as he came into the living room, I lifted my hand in return and tried to focus on the screen, but my attention was having nothing to do with a cold case murder-suicide at the moment. Not when Heero comes into the room with that towel draped over his shoulders. That only means one thing…

Knuckle pushups.

I swear that man can make my braid sweat…

My abdomen clenched. Honestly clenched. Like the way it does right before I finish myself off at night as I lie in bed, touching myself to the sounds he makes while in the shower. The thoughts of the water trailing down the perfectly defined muscles of his abdomen in little rivulets that I long to capture with my tongue? Yeah. That sends me right over the edge. My abdomen clenched again, proving to me that that man can make me come without a single touch and if I don't unglue my bum from the seat, I'm about to make a mess in my sweat shorts.

He's quiet as he moves the coffee table against the wall, and then he goes down in front of the couch. His back is to me and man… what was I talking about? Oh yeah, I have work to do, we're off this week and I was a good productive boy and brought a cold case file with me to try to breathe some warmth into it.

Never mind the warmth in my belly. Does he know what he does to me? He has to; we've been roommates for two years, partners for longer than that at Preventers. Heero knows me inside and out… well, not physically. Yet. He's about to get to know me more intimately if he doesn't stop turning his back on me after making such blatant displays of sexual... I need a cold shower. He's going up and down, grunting with each rep, and all I can do is sit here with a tent in my own shorts and wondering what it would be like to be beneath him, my legs wrapped around his waist loosely, my hands in his hair, kissing, thrusting.

Crap… I need a cold shower. At least his back is to me, so it was easy to get up and scurry out of the room. At least I hope I wasn't scurrying, but with my compass needle pointing forward, a rather large compass needle pointing forward, I might add, I would wager a bet that he would notice the state of my arousal. Could he be doing this on purpose to get me back for all the times that I've driven him up the wall? It honestly wouldn't surprise me. Heero's a smart guy, after all, and his sense of humor is razor sharp. Besides, I know he's caught me watching him out of the corner of my eye several times, but was too subtle to let me know he knows. Now I'm rambling and that's all his fault! Hard to think when there's little to no blood going to my brain!

I remember back when we were Gundam pilots, and on the off chance that he and I had to share a school, he'd do those pushups back then, too. Or sit ups, or crunches. I have to say, he was cute back then, but today? Man, oh man, but did he blossom; from cute to downright dangerously addictive on the gorgeous spectrum. I'm not surprised, though, that he broke the six foot barrier. Not with feet as big as his was back when we were fifteen. Let me tell you something, ten years did a body good.

Real good.

"I'm takin' a shower!" I inform him. I honestly didn't mean for it to come out as a snarl, but I was trying to get some work done. He's got a bedroom; why not work out in there? Of course, he could fire back that I have a computer in my room, why can't I work in there? And then an argument would ensue, we'd snap and bite at each other all day and before it was said and done, we'd end up loudly ignoring each other.

"Don't use up all the hot water," he answers me back between grunts. I whimper as those erotic images once again fill my head. I've seen him naked and aroused. I want that so hard. Besides, don't worry, Heero. You'll be lucky if I don't use all the cold water.

I was so lost in my case file that nine o'clock snuck up on me before I realized I had forgotten to make supper. Heero was sitting behind me, on the couch, hunkered over his own laptop and for hours, neither of us said a peep to one another.

"Crap, you hungry?"

Heero grunted after checking the time, and then rose at the same time I did.

"I'll get it," I said.

"What are you thinking about?" Heero didn't sit down, but instead, followed me into the kitchen. I like it when he does that. It feels so domestic.

One thing that always gets me about people is how much they underestimate Heero. We've been ex-soldiers for a decade now and at the beginning, there were folks who had worked with us that were honestly surprised that Heero could function in a world where he wasn't needed as a soldier. One night, we were watching a movie and during a commercial break, it just came out of me. I asked him why people thought he couldn't cope with the real world. He shrugged before getting up to get a soda and said people often liked to judge a book by its cover, that was just something safe and in their comfort zone to do. It was a simple assessment and I agreed with him. So many people like get me wrong at a first glance, too. It's annoying.

People treat me like a clown, just because I smile. People treat me like I'm an idiot, because I'm cute. People underestimate me, when they have no idea of my intellectual prowess. I'm a pretty open guy… well, as open as I'll allow myself to be, but mind you; there is a lot going on behind the scenes up here that a lot of people haven't seen.

Heero on the other hand… it amazed me how many times people checked up on him when he got his first apartment, right after the Mariemia conflict. After he destroyed Wing Zero when he was blasting away at those bunker doors. Man, I wish I had been close enough to see that, talk about a great memory.

I'm staring at him… oh crap, I'm staring right into his eyes and he's just looking at me. I bet he's waiting for an explanation as to why I'm just staring at him without saying a word. Wait... no he's not. I see that tiny little crease on the left side corner of his mouth. He's finding it funny. Slowly, I begin to cross my eyes until there are two of him and he scoffs and turns to the fridge.

They thought he'd kill himself. They thought he'd end up on the streets, helpless and hungry because there was no more war for him. They thought he would end up in the looney bin, or in jail. I knew better, though, because I knew him. Whether it be a ninety hour long stakeout, or a trip to the grocery store, Heero has one simple thing that he relies on; a well-honed coping mechanism.

There's an innocence about Heero. Something sweet that he's personally kept locked away, deep within the confines of that kind heart of his. And he's very kind-hearted too, though he has no qualms about showing someone tough love. That's all he knows, is the tough-love stuff, but he's good at it. Like that time I got captured and let O beat the snot out of me to buy them more time to finish the Gundams. The first thing he said to me was "Botched your mission? You couldn't destroy the base and you didn't kill Doctor J and the others." Butthead. To be fair, though, that was his way of showing concern. After all, he had told me to take it easy and recuperate, and get back into school. It was his way of keeping me out of his way and to keep me safe, but, you know me. I just can't sit still and let a war go on around me without having to get into the middle of it. He was kinder to me that night, though. He checked my wounds and sat next to me while I dozed in and out because I was in too much pain to actually get all the way to sleep. We spoke some, listened to Wufei assess the situation and made a few plans. The best memory I have of that night, though, is how he just sat by my side, eventually putting his hand on my back between my shoulders and holding it there. He offered me silent comfort and that went a very long way with me.

It was the moment I fell in love with him.

"Since we're off this week, let's hit the beach tomorrow."

I glance away from the roast I'm cutting up into cubes. I'm going to sauté them with butter in my cast iron Dutch oven along with onions and potatoes before adding some stock so I can make a simple beef stew. Since it would take an hour or so before it's done, I was just thinking that maybe egg noodles would be a good idea to toss in when he spoke up. "Let me guess, you're going to go show all those ripped guys out there in flip flops and speedos your volleyball prowess?" I smirked at him as I continued to cut.

"No, just the ones wearing thongs," he fires back and I shudder. That's one of our million or so in-jokes we share. One time, Quatre had gone out with us while Trowa was on assignment. We volunteered to babysit him to keep him from moping, so, we took him to the beach. Perfect day, perfect weather, perfect food, perfect time until that evening began to fall. (Not to mention a perfect sunset).

We were kicked back in our chairs, letting the wind ruffle our hair against our closed eyes, drinking an imported beer and Heero and I trying to decide where we wanted to go eat when this guy comes walking along. I cracked an eye open when his shadow crawled across my face, blocking out the fading light and watched him nearly stagger in place when he got a good look at my fair friend. I fought hard not to smile, or subtly turn my head to even look at Quatre.

Ah, Quatre. He was dozing, a book open on his lap, his head turned to the side, the wind tousling his hair to frame it perfectly along his face. He's a stunner. Cute when he was a pilot, now, he has the looks to make a supermodel jealous.

This guy… what could I say? He was a playboy in his mid-fifties. Large ego, hair everywhere and more gold than Ft. Knox adorned him in various places. At the time, he was wearing a big Hawaiian style shirt and a pair of designer shorts. When he scurried away, I elbowed Quatre and gave him the heads up, to which he just rolled his eyes at me, put his sunglasses on and settled back into his chair. I looked over at Heero, who was staring at the ocean rather thoughtfully, so with a shrug, I put my arms behind my head and dozed off. Twenty minutes later, I was awoken to an elbow trying to mate with my rib cage. I look over to my right and Quatre has moved over close to me, his lips pulled into a tight line and he's definitely not pleased.

"Dude, what is it?" I whispered.

"There is a man who keeps walking by."

I looked at my friend like he was crazy. "Yeah, they tend to do that on a public beach, buddy," I answered back.

"He's in a thong."

"Yeah, they'll do that too, sometimes."

"He's… what is the phrase that you use, Duo…" He paused in thought for a moment before his eyes lit up as it came to him. "He's peacocking for me."

I tossed my head back with a laugh, which in turn roused Heero from his nap. "Well, well, well, Quatre, so you've got an admirer?" I had a feeling who it was, because playboy was pretty obvious when he first put his eyes on Quatre that he was interested. And now he was in a thong? This… I had to see.

I wish I hadn't.

The man wasn't so bad for his age, a little rounded in the gut, but hey, to each his own, right? That didn't bother me; I often run by Howard and give his budding stomach a good smack. It's for good luck. I just wish he'd get out of the habit of punching me in the butt cheek in return. I think it was all that sweat and excess body hair on playboy that had me a little creeped out. If I ever start to get that hairy, I'm getting lasered.

Anyway, I can't wait to see the mating ritual so I put my sunglasses on so I can openly watch in private. Well, here came playboy and he had two hot mamas on his arms. I look over at Quatre, to gauge his reaction, and see that he's relieved.

"Oh, I wouldn't get comfortable so fast," I murmured to him.

"What do you mean? He's got those girls now."

"He's trying to get your attention and make you jealous."

"What?" came the response and I just smirked.

"Yeah, he's got his eyes on you. Besides, you're prettier than those trophy wenches on his arms; you know he's going to make rounds."

"I say we make this a drinking game," Heero pipes up. Quatre looks over at him in horror, blames me for being a bad influence on Heero, but quickly accepts because the end of the day is upon us, the sun is on its way down and we'll be walking home soon.

I lean over, dig in the cooler and produce three beers. We open them up and Heero starts with the rules. One drink for every time he passes by. One drink per each woman on his arm. One drink for every time he acknowledges Quatre and then I pipe up and say "If he turns his back to us and bends over in Quatre's direction, you chug."

Quatre blanched at the mere thought, but we all clinked our bottle necks together in agreement and settled in to play the game.

I don't remember much, because we ended up having to call Wufei to pick us up. Playboy had walked past us over forty times. Half the time he had a woman on his arm, and at least five times, he tried to wink at Quatre with his butt hole as he would surreptitiously bend over in front of him, trying to ply him with the goods. When playboy realized how inebriated our little blond friend was by the time we decided we were just way too drunk to continue to play this game, here he came, all touchy-feely and wanting to help the apparently only person standing there in our group of three.

He quickly learned two things in that brief encounter. One, Quatre was married and devoted to Trowa. Two. Quatre is a very mean drunk. Heero and I stood there, plastered and bleary eyed as we watched Quatre grab the man by the waistband of his thongs and give him a front wedgie that he'd never forget. I was never so grateful to see Wufei charging up to us as I was then.

It took a long time for Quatre to break me from calling him "Wedgie Boy", too. I still have that as his contact name on my phone.

"Hey, get me that carton of chicken broth out of the fridge, would ya?" I asked. Heero obliged and handed it to me and I poured it in. "We had a nice time that day, didn't we?"

"Yeah, we did," Heero agreed as he began to clean up after me while I continued to get the cooking done. It didn't bother me that we were eating dinner so late. Often that is our life as we work on cases that follow us home. Our elbows bumped as we stood shoulder to shoulder.

"We need a bigger place," I mused.

"You don't like it here?" He honestly sounded surprised. After all, he was the one who picked out this apartment, and then invited me to move in.

"It's not that I don't like this place," I said. "I'd just like a little more room to move around in." To prove my point, I leaned into him as I continued to slice a potato. He grunted and gently pushed me back to my side.

"I see your point."

"So, what do you think? Maybe rent a house or something?"

Heero shrugged as he rinsed out a dish cloth and rang it out before hanging it on the wedge between the two sinks. "Or, we could just buy one, cut out being the middle men."

"You'd want to share a real house with me?" I asked, amused. "What if you want to get married? I'd have to move out and find my own place."

"I don't want to get married," Heero said as he turned and leaned against the counter.

"You say that now," I said as I gestured to him with the wooden spoon that I had been stirring the pot with. "You'll find someone, fall in love and then poor old Duo is out on the streets again." I chuckled to show him that if that time ever came, as heartbreaking for me as it would be, that I was okay with it. If Heero was happy, then so was I.

Then something hit me and I turned back to the pot. He wasn't considering the fact that I could fall in love one day and get married and have a family. I risked a glance at him out of the corner of my eye and cleared my throat. "Or, what would happen if I did that?"

"Get married?"

"Yeah, I mean, us buying a house together is a pretty serious investment."

"We've been together this long," Heero said. "Even if it is a snap decision, if you want something bigger, we can get something bigger."

What was he trying to tell me? I felt my heart speed up, but I didn't dare entertain the possibility of hope. Heero was just a reasonable guy. If a house would be better suited for us, then we could easily afford to buy one, split the costs and all of that. If one of us, him most likely, decided to fall in love, get married and start a family, he could easily buy out my half of the house and I could go on elsewhere. It was simple, cut and dry. We could even draw up a contract for that if need be. Not that need would ever be. We'd never screw each other over something as silly as finances. No. That was in neither of our characters.

But to assume that I wouldn't find someone? What exactly is he getting at? Have I been that obvious? Have I been that oblivious? I put the lid back on the pot and turned the unit down before walking the few steps to the sink to wash my hands. Maybe I'm just assuming too much. After all, I might be a pretty smart guy, but that doesn't mean I have the answers to everything. Maybe Heero doesn't feel the need to settle down just yet, and he knows that I am in the same boat. What with how much time and effort we put into being Preventer Special Agents, time for a family and the domesticated life that comes with it just isn't in our cards yet.


I didn't realize that he had been speaking to me until he called my name. Again.

"Oh, yeah, sorry, went off in thought there, what was it?"

"Are you alright?"

"Yeah, sure, I'm fine." I gave him a firm pat on the shoulder before heading back to the living room. "Let's watch some T.V. while dinner cooks."

I figured I would spend most of the night tossing and turning, trying to get to sleep and I was right. We decided to go to bed shortly after we ate, Heero wants to hit the beach kind of early so we can make a day of it. I don't know how easy I'll be able to get up, because I absolutely cannot get to sleep, my eyes refuse to close. Everything about this evening keeps bouncing around in my head. What did it all mean? Am I making a mountain out of an anthill? Am I seeing things because I want to, instead of him being accommodating to my wants? He's always been like that with me, I've noticed.

Kind of how Trowa is with Quatre, or vice versa. Maybe that's because we're best friends? I'd move heaven and earth if Heero needed me to. I guess it makes me feel good that he feels the same way about me, in that regard, anyway. He's bustling around in his room right now. I check the time and find that it's just a little past one. For some reason it feels much later than that, but, we're night owls, so it's all good. I roll onto my left side and stare down at the little shaft of light that slips in beneath the door from the hall. It breaks as he walks past. I guess he's heading to the kitchen or bathroom, and I close my eyes, never aware of when I drifted off.