Title: Einstein in Blue
Warnings: shonen-ai, tacky cliched setting, mild sap, attempt at humor
Response to Jo's request on LJ community fic-on-demand.
Heero wrestled with the lock for a bit before it finally turned and he was able to open the door.
Just as Quatre had promised, the place had a warm, homey feel.
He'd been going for romantic, but a weekend retreat in the woods, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, was just as well. Duo would certainly not appreciate a heart shaped bed and champagne, and he himself had never understood the allure of an irregularly shaped bed. Accidentally shoving your partner off the edge of the mattress didn't seem a promising start to a physical relationship.
Although there was that part of him that had always wanted to sleep on a waterbed. Perhaps the next time he went away for a weekend, he could find accommodations that offered one.
Heero wasn't sure how successful he'd be at making his intentions clear over the next couple of days, but he didn't want to make Duo uncomfortable. This weekend already lacked originality, but there had to be a reason that people always seemed to choose the middle of nowhere to "get away from it all."
He wasn't so much interested in escaping as he was in pursuing.
His intended quarry entered the cabin with his own duffel bag and nodded approvingly.
"For some reason," Duo said, dropping his bag next to Heero's, "I didn't expect this. It's nice."
"What were you expecting?"
"I don't really know. Big deer head on the wall, maybe? Wall shelf full of empty beer cans? Something very stereotypically macho."
"Trowa's friends?" Heero couldn't imagine anyone that Trowa would willingly associate with indulging in an ostentatious display of testosterone.
"Yeah. Nothing against them personally. Guess I was just thinking somewhere along the lines of cabin decor straight out of Deer Hunter magazine or something." He rubbed his hands over his arms briskly.
Heero brightened at once.
"There's a fireplace in the next room," he said, pleased to see Duo's eyes light up.
"Great!" Duo said. "It shouldn't take long to gather some wood-"
Heero shook his head. "Quatre assured me the place was well stocked. We can take care of that in the morning."
Duo looked at him curiously. "In the morning? You're suggesting that we postpone chores for a later time?"
He laughed at Heero's scowl. "I know, I know. I'll stop insinuating that you don't know how to have fun once in a while."
Heero quickly schooled his expression into one of cautious neutrality, afraid of upsetting the delicate balance he'd worked so hard to achieve with Duo throughout their friendship.
Cultivating the relationship had been easier than he'd thought. He'd merely had to accept the overtures Duo extended and reciprocate in kind. The memory of Duo's expression the first time Heero had invited him over for dinner was a cherished one, and it had made him eager to repeat the experience as often as he'd deemed appropriate, following Duo's lead in that department.
It had taken him a while to figure out that what he felt for Duo wasn't the same as what he felt for the others. He'd realized much sooner that Quatre seemed just the slightest bit closer to Trowa than anyone else, but it had taken Duo's canceling what he'd belatedly realized he'd considered a 'date' to recognize that he carried his own proverbial torch.
He did not like being in unfamiliar waters. He might have asked Quatre for advice, but it was clear that Quatre was floundering just as much as he was.
Heero didn't want empathy; he wanted a course of action. Planning was something Quatre had no problem with. Given the criteria Heero specified, Quatre made one simple phone call and that was all it took to gain access to the cabin for the weekend.
He wondered if Trowa realized his predicament with Duo. It was likely that he did, despite his apparent blindness where Quatre's feelings were concerned. It seemed that Trowa and Quatre were too close to the issue to see the big picture - much like viewing a mosaic. Heero, seeing it from afar, thought it was rather obvious.
However, he could not distance himself from his feelings for Duo enough to tell if there was a possibility for them, and even if he could, he had no desire to.
Duo came to stand next to him and crossed his arms. It wasn't until Heero realized Duo was studying a tapestry hanging on the opposite wall that he shook himself free of his musings.
"What is it?" he asked, curious as to what had captured Duo's attention.
"That's what I'm trying to figure out. What do you see in this thing, anyway? Is this like one of those three-dimensional pics where if you look at it long enough and cross your eyes, a boat jumps out at you?"
Heero felt his body warm, although whether it was Duo's proximity or his embarrassment at being caught woolgathering, he wasn't sure.
He hated this feeling of being lost.
Duo looked at him oddly for a moment. "You OK, Heero?"
"Yes," Heero nodded, the lie catching in his throat. "I'm fine. Thank you for asking."
"I'm going to go check that claim of Quatre's and see if I can get a fire going," Duo said. "You want to check the pantry for food?"
"There's a pantry?"
Duo grinned at him. "Guess it's up to you to find out." He gestured to the cabinets around the room and headed through the doorway to where, presumably, the fireplace was.
Heero had barely opened one of the cupboards to inventory the canned goods when Duo started laughing.
Curious, Heero closed the door and followed Duo to the next room.
Duo, whose gaze was fixed on the floor in front of the fireplace, looked up in amusement. "Looks like I was right," he said, pointing at the source of his mirth.
Heero had noticed it out of the corner of his eye when he'd entered the room, but it hadn't registered fully until now.
It was a bearskin rug. In front of the fireplace.
He closed his eyes in pain, ready to kill Quatre. No wonder Winner had been so amused when he'd told Heero, yes, the cabin was certainly going to fit the bill as both masculine and romantic.
Duo was still laughing, bent over double at the horrified expression on Heero's face.
"It's like a cheesy movie prop," Duo said breathlessly. "The bearskin rug in front of the fireplace - man, that's straight out of-"
Heero had closed his eyes, feeling a bit sick to his stomach, and missed Duo's look of alarm.
A warm hand on his bare shoulder made his stomach plummet all the way to his toes, and he opened his eyes and forced a shaky smile to appear.
Duo's brows were furrowed together. "Heero? You feeling OK? This is the second time you've looked like you were going to lose your lunch."
Heero nodded, but his attention was riveted on where Duo's fingertips lay on his skin. The nausea he felt was from that contact.
Duo noticed, and snatched his hand away at once. He walked past Heero, careful to not brush against him.
"I'll get you a glass of water. Maybe you're just dehydrated from the long drive."
Heero swore to himself. It was obvious he'd made Duo feel uncomfortable. The weekend had barely started and was already looking rather dismal. He followed, determined to fix things before they got out of hand.
Duo was turning back toward him, not realizing how close Heero had gotten in that short time, and bumped right into him.
Some of the water sloshed out of the glass, and Duo looked chagrined as it soaked the fabric of Heero's tank top.
While Duo stammered an apology, Heero took the glass and drained the rest of the water. In his haste, he dribbled a good portion of it down his chin. It trickled down his neck and collarbone before disappearing beneath his shirt.
He wiped his mouth with the back of the hand holding the glass, and paused before setting the glass down on the counter.
Duo realized he'd been caught staring, and sidestepped quickly, opening cabinet doors at random.
"So, find anything good? What do you want, beans, beans, or beans?"
He pulled out a couple of cans and set them on the counter, then placed both hands on the smooth surface and bowed his head. A couple of deep breaths later, he turned to face Heero.
"I'm sorry, Heero. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Um, that's assuming that I did. I mean...it's a nice cabin, it just seemed..."
Heero nodded. His heart had moved up to his throat. At the rate he was going, by the end of the day, his liver would probably migrate to his knees.
Duo was obviously nervous. "And I didn't mean to ogle you, really, it was just that's where my eyes happened to be at the time. Because I don't want you to be uncomfortable around me, Heero, the way Quatre is uncomfortable around Trowa."
"You don't see it?"
"Of course I see it, if by 'it' you mean that Quatre harbors unrequited feelings for Trowa."
"No," Duo said, shaking his head. "It's the other way around. Quatre is a master at things like heartfelt emotion and romance. He'd know what to do in a situation like this."
Heero was getting lost. "Duo," he interrupted. "Which situation are you talking about?"
"My thoughts exactly. How the hell did we get talking about Trowa and Quatre?"
"Doesn't it bother you, to see them dancing around each other all the time?"
Heero agreed, but at the moment, he didn't really care about Trowa and Quatre's love lives.
"Duo," he said, forcing his voice to be calm. "Remember what you just said about Quatre?"
Duo looked hesitant, but nodded. "Yeah."
"I," Heero began, his knees too shaky to support his liver, if it decided to relocate any time soon. "I asked Quatre to suggest a place for this weekend."
"Oh," Duo said. "I thought you'd asked Trowa."
Heero shook his head. "No."
"So then..." Duo trailed off. "Hell, I'm confused. Why did you ask Qua-" he snapped his mouth shut immediately, only to drop it open a moment later, an 'O' of surprise forming.
"Bearskin rug in front of a fireplace," he whispered softly.
Heero was busy studying the grain in the wood floor, but he nodded.
It was ridiculous, Heero decided, to hide from the very thing he'd been hoping for. He prayed he wasn't being falsely optimistic.
He lifted his head and stared at Duo. Those damned eyes of Duo's, the same ones he'd seen crinkled with laughter and darkened with anger, were searching.
Duo was poised for fight or flight, and Heero raised his right hand cautiously, his fingers curling around Duo's upper arm with painstaking slowness.
He could feel his own heartbeat where his thumb rested on Duo's biceps. He flicked his gaze from Duo's eyes to where he was touching Duo and back again.
Duo gulped, and then his hand lifted as well, his fingertips grazing Heero's earlobe gently. Heero shuddered at the touch, his eyes sliding shut as Duo continued to the back of Heero's head, where his hair was cut short at the nape of his neck.
The floor creaked as Duo took a step forward, but to Heero, that single step represented the crossing of borders.
He'd done many impulsive things in his life. He'd regretted a good number of them.
Duo's fingers threaded through his hair and Heero was sure he'd only imagined the gentle tug, but he responded nonetheless with a step forward.
They were nose to nose, and Heero opened his eyes to stare deeply into Duo's.
He'd seen other people kiss. It should have been a simple thing. He couldn't ever remember, in all the movies he'd seen, in all the couples who'd indulged in public displays of affection, seeing them hesitate this long.
He could feel Duo's breath on his lips, and the butterflies in his stomach, which was back where it belonged, were clamoring to be set free.
He tilted his head slightly and leaned forward, parting his lips and waiting.
Duo had apparently licked his lips first, because he could feel the swipe of Duo's tongue across his own upper lip.
And then Duo kissed him.
His insides rioted. He felt weak, his stomach butterflies were replaced with bullfrogs, and his breath was caught in his throat.
His hand traveled up Duo's arm and rested behind his neck, his left arm encircling Duo. His fingers gripped the fabric of Duo's shirt desperately.
Duo's other hand slipped under his tank top, his palm warming the skin on Heero's back.
They were both panting when their mouths separated, but they remained in each other's arms.
Heero felt a stinging behind his eyelids, unsure why his body was betraying him in such new and interesting ways. It had never disobeyed him so traitorously before.
The second kiss caused a stirring in his groin, something he'd have been alarmed at if not for Duo's taking it in stride.
In fact, Duo had looked damned pleased about it.
"Our first time is not going to be on that damned rug," Duo mumbled after their fourth kiss. He was nibbling Heero's earlobe at the time.
Heero wasn't sure which act Duo meant by "first time," but he hoped there would be many firsts this weekend.
As their lips met again, he amended that thought to include fifth and sixth times as well.
Before they left the cabin, though, he needed to take a picture of the damn rug.
It would make a nice Christmas card for Quatre, after all.
My apologies to Yulia Hanansen for naming this fic after one of her stained glass mosaic pieces.