Warnings: shonen ai, if you consider that a warning. And Duo is a little bit mean at first.
Notes: It seems that I can't ever just respond to a fic request without turning it inside out. It started way back in June when Raven Layne posted this request on LJ community ficondemand. Long story short, it's not really a true response to the request because I insisted on swapping the Heero and Duo roles. I suppose then it is dedicated to Steph for the inspiration, even if it's not what she'd wanted. Based on the song Wonderful by Adam Ant.
Duo picked up another T-shirt from the laundry basket on his bed and repeated the process he'd used on the first three. Fold it in thirds, then bring the bottom hem almost to the neckline. Roll tightly. Set it down and begin again.
He hadn't needed to conserve space in his drawers for several months now, but old habits died hard.
He shook out the next one and it wasn't until he began folding the sleeve toward the center when he realized he'd not seen that shirt in nearly a year, and had just worn it the night before because nothing else was clean.
Duo dropped it as if burned.
He picked up his fork again, forcing himself to bring it to his mouth, chewing and swallowing with difficulty. He'd convinced himself that it had been a fluke, his reaction to seeing Heero's shirt. Then he'd picked it up and brought it to his face, breathing deeply.
Of course it smelled exactly like the rest of the laundry. He'd known it would. There was no reason whatsoever to think otherwise.
Yet he'd been disappointed to smell nothing but the spring time freshness of the fabric softener sheet.
He finally gave up on trying to eat dinner and set his fork down. He picked up his plate and scraped the remains into the garbage. He was fairly certain it would be no more appealing to him as leftovers.
A quick washing of the dishes was followed by a trip to the bathroom, and then Duo paused as he caught himself walking toward the living room television.
What the hell was he doing? Ever since he and Heero had gone their separate ways, he'd found himself becoming exactly what he'd complained about when Heero had still lived there, on all but paper.
He was in a rut.
Only this time he couldn't blame it on Heero.
He grabbed his keys from the countertop and shoved them in his pocket, then pulled open the door. He didn't know where he was going, but it had to be better than sitting at home.
When his feet led him to the closest thing the city had to a park - a couple of benches, a picnic table, and a tree or two, near a body of water too small to even be considered a pond, he stopped.
Duo strode toward the water and dropped to the artificial grass that covered the gentle slope, crossing his legs and sinking his fingers into the plush green blades. Until you touched it, it seemed real.
Pretty to look at from a distance, but up close it was disappointingly fake.
He bowed his head. Funny how everything seemed so obvious when it came to inanimate objects and things that were impervious to harsh words.
The first time Heero had held his hand, they'd been sitting on one of the benches. Heero had gotten a small bag of popcorn, most of which he was feeding to the birds. Duo had turned to Heero, his comparison of pigeons to rodents on the tip of his tongue, when he'd noticed the curve of Heero's lips as he threw a piece of corn into the air, to be snatched before it fell to the ground by one of the "rats with wings."
He'd torn off a corner of his hot dog bun and did the same. Heero had laughed as the pigeon that caught it was given chase by two smaller birds.
When the popcorn bag was empty, Heero had neatly creased it and then stood up to deposit it into the wire covered waste can. When he returned to the bench, he held out his hand to help Duo up.
And instead of letting go, he'd laced his fingers through Duo's.
Their first kiss had been at Heero's apartment. They'd stood in the doorway, as they often did, to say their good-byes, and to make tentative plans to get together again. Heero's eyes had flicked up to Duo's, and they'd seemed exceptionally expressive that night.
Duo could remember it clearly. The way he'd said, "well, see ya later," and the way Heero had smiled and said "yeah."
It was the smile that had done it for Duo. He'd leaned in, given Heero the briefest peck on the lips, and left without acknowledging what he'd done. It had, however, opened the door for Heero to do the same the next time they got together. Duo had pulled up to Heero's apartment and he'd left the engine running. Heero had leaned over and dropped a kiss on Duo's lips before opening the passenger door and getting out.
He'd not turned around and looked at Duo, just shut the car door and pulled his keys out of his pocket as he walked up the concrete steps to his apartment.
That weekend, when Heero was at Duo's apartment, and they'd walked toward the door, Duo had slammed the flat of his hand against the wall between Heero and the door, leaned forward, and kissed him.
And that time, he did it like he meant it.
Heero's lip had bled afterwards; Duo could still remember wiping the blood off Heero's lip with his thumb and murmuring his apology. The smile Heero had given Duo had taken his breath away.
It was funny, Duo thought, stroking the tips of the stiff green blades with the palm of his hand. He'd thought that after he and Heero had parted ways, that he'd be happier. That things would be more exciting, that he'd feel more free to do what he wanted when he wanted.
The problem was that what he wanted - was Heero.
He leaned backwards until he was lying prone on the grass and folded his arms under his head. It was getting close to dusk. It should have been dark out hours ago; usually the colony's daylight cycle was fairly regular.
Duo supposed it was fitting that the timer was malfunctioning on today of all days.
He tried to tug at a blade of grass, wanting to pop it into his mouth and chew on it, but it resisted his efforts. It was how it stayed looking so healthy. No roots, no need for water, or food, or sunshine.
It didn't need any care or nourishment. It would continue to look the same tomorrow and a year from now. Neither dying nor thriving - just existing.
When he returned to his apartment, he ran his finger over the small tear in the wallpaper and the minor dent in the wall. He'd meant to repair it with some tape and spackle, but he hadn't. Maybe he'd wanted the reminder of the day when he'd slammed his fist into the wall near Heero's ear. The bastard hadn't even flinched. Duo sighed. He'd have a lot better luck figuring out what he wanted from Heero if only he knew what he expected from himself.
He walked to the living room, flipped up the screen on the vid phone, and took a deep breath, then hit the first number on his speed dial.
There was no mistaking the look of surprise on Heero's face when he answered. He'd obviously been in the middle of something - a large black streak ran down the side of his face, and a smudge across his nose indicated that Heero had likely scratched at an itch.
"Sorry," Heero said, rubbing at his nose subconsciously and making it worse. "I was replacing the toilet. The water's shut off at the moment."
"Isn't that the landlord's job?"
Heero looked a bit guilty. "I wanted to see how it worked."
Duo blinked at him. "A toilet."
Another rubbing of a grimy finger across his nose and Heero looked away for a moment. "Yeah."
A small smile began in the corners of Duo's mouth. "If, you know, the water isn't going to be on any time soon, and you wanted to take a shower and use indoor plumbing again..."
Heero's eyes snapped back to Duo, and his features softened. "Yeah?"
Heero rubbed his temple with the back of his hand. "Twenty minutes?"
And with that, Heero disconnected the call.
Duo slowly folded the screen back down and drummed his fingers on it, then got up to lay out a clean towel and some clothes for Heero. He went into the bedroom and pulled open a dresser drawer, reaching for Heero's shirt. His fingers hovered over it, and then selected the shirt next to it.
Nine minutes later, he got up from the couch, opened the door, and leaned against the wall, right where Heero had stood the day Duo had kissed him.
If Heero said twenty minutes, that meant he'd probably be there in ten.
Duo grinned as he heard the footsteps in the hallway.
It was about damn time.
27 November 2004