Changes And Exchanges

"Is that a gun in your spandex shorts, or are you just happy to see me?" Duo quipped.

Heero blinked and frowned. "Nani?"

Duo sighed and gestured vaguely towards the other boy's groin. "I've thought about it and thought about it, and I can't figure out where you hide your gun – unless it's in your shorts and you're using it to," he coughed, "make yourself look bigger." He waggled his eyebrows and grinned cheekily.

Heero forewent the blink this time and just went straight to glaring at his partner. "Baka. I have a holster that fits at the small of my back."

It was Duo's turn to blink. "You're kidding, right?" he asked incredulously.

Heero shook his head. "Iie." He turned slightly so his back was facing Duo and untucked his green tanktop from his shorts, revealing the brown leather holster, pistol tucked neatly inside.

"I can't believe it fits there," Duo said, watching as Heero tucked his shirt back into place, causing the gun to disappear from view. There weren't even any wrinkles in the cloth to show there was anything underneath the green cotton other than Heero's skin. "I mean, I never even noticed the damn bulge, and believe me, I've looked."

One bushy brown eyebrow rose into messy chocolate-colored hair. "You've been checking me out, Maxwell?" he deadpanned.

Duo blushed. "Ano…I meant when I was trying to figure out where you hide your gun, Yuy."

"I hide my 'gun' the same place every man does," Heero said, smirking as Duo went even redder.

"When do you become such an ecchi, Hee-chan?" Duo blustered.

"I suppose you've been rubbing off on me," Heero replied nonchalantly, the sparkle in his blue eyes making Duo sure that the implied innuendo was not just in his imagination.

No, but I'd like to be, he thought, but did not say.

Or, at least, that was the plan…

Heero blinked rapidly and stared at his partner in shock. "You what?"

Duo froze. His face flamed as he realized what he'd done, then quickly discarded its red coloring in favor of going as pale as freshly-fallen snow. "Oh, shit," he whimpered, his expression somewhere between that of 'deer caught in headlights' and panic-stricken. "Please don't tell me I said that out loud?" he begged of Heero and any nearby deity that might have decided to take pity on Shinigami.

Unfortunately, outside of missions, Heero lied just as often as Duo did (read: never) and all of the nearby deities were enjoying watching the self-proclaimed God of Death squirm.

They lived long, endless lives and had to get their entertainment somehow.

"You did," Heero said bluntly, economical as always in his word usage.

Another whimper escaped Duo's throat. "Nooo…" he moaned.

"Yeessss," Heero insisted, hoping the small joke would quiet the fear he could see Duo fighting. Those normally mischievous indigo eyes were now impossibly wide with fright, and panic was etched across the braided boy's every feature. Heero hadn't seen Duo look so scared since the time he'd self-destructed.

Surprised, Duo barked out a laugh. "Heero, are you…seriously…not…mad?" he eked out, unable to believe that Heero was not only upset about him revealing his deeper feelings, but was so blasé as to be able to make jokes.

Heero blinked and his bushy brown eyebrows knitted together in a frown. "Why would I be mad?"

Duo scratched his nose and tried – and failed – to act nonchalant. "Er, well…because I just pretty much admitted that I like you in more than a comrade, teammate, brothers-in-arms type way," he said finally, eyes pointedly not focused on the other boy.

Heero snorted. "And this would be cause for me to go ballistic?" he asked, amused.

Duo flushed and nodded. "Pretty much…so I thought." His eyes narrowed suspiciously. "You're taking this awfully well," he accused.

"What did you expect me to do?" Heero asked, forgoing correcting Duo's assumption in favor of assuaging his curiosity.

Disconsolate, Duo ducked his head and mumbled, "Hit me? Blow up? Yell at me? Call me a baka and say you could never feel the same way?" He offered each alternative with an increasing amount of self-loathing and resignation in his voice.

Heero sighed and, striding over to Duo, grabbed his chin and forced the braided boy to look him in the eye. "Baka," he said gently, lightly tugging on Duo's braid. "Of course I feel the same way – why else would I put up with your annoying self?"

Duo's eyes opened comically wide and his jaw gaped open like a landed fish gasping for air. "You…what?" he asked in a small voice.

Flushing slightly, Heero mumbled, "I like you." The slight – very slight – pinkening of his cheeks was only noticeable because Duo had focused so much of his attention on the other boy's face. As it was, it almost went unnoticed in the face of the words Wing's pilot was saying. "A lot," he added, when it became apparent that Duo still wasn't capable of speaking.

"A lot?" Duo croaked out. Awe, happiness, relief, and surprise were having a pillow fight in his head to determine which emotion would take precedence over that moment. Duo thwapped them all silent with a giant mental mallet and decided just to go with unmitigated joy. "Really?" he asked, a wide smile on his face.

Smirking at this sign of insecurity from the normally blustery pilot, Heero confirmed, "Really."

Duo let out a whoop of delight and tackled Heero, winding his arms around his neck and his legs around the other pilot's waist.

Heero staggered a bit from the added weight and placed his hands on Duo's hips to stabilize himself. Looking up into the dancing indigo eyes and wide grin on his friend's face, Heero rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Baka," he chided, trying unsuccessfully to extricate himself from Duo's octopus-like grip.

"Yeah, but you love me anyway," Duo joked, though there was an undercurrent of tension in his tone. He finally disengaged himself from his new boyfriend and pulled back to look Heero in the eye.

"Hn," Heero mused happily. "I suppose I do."

Duo lit up. "Cool." Then he started nibbling on his lower lip. "Er…now what?"

Heero cocked his head to the side. "Now what what?" he asked innocently.

Snorting at this patently false show of confusion on his friend's part, Duo nonetheless clarified, "Now what do we do?"

"Well…" Heero appeared to ponder Duo's question for a few moments before coming up with an answer. His eyes crinkled up in that way Duo knew meant he was smiling on the inside. "Now that I've found out how you feel about me…I think I'll keep you," Heero pronounced.

Duo's eyes went wide. "N-nani?"

Grinning – almost insanely wide, considering this was Heero 'Show no Emotion' Yuy they were talking about – Heero said, "What's that you say every time you steal one of my tanktops from the laundry? Finders keepers?"

Duo gulped enthralled by the intense, predatory stare Heero was sending his way. "Saa, Heero, if you want them back I can go get them right now," he said, speaking at the speed of babble. Nervous babble; for once, the ever-confident Duo Maxwell wasn't so sure of himself.

Heero's grin softened. "No, I think it's a fair exchange."

"Nani?" Duo burst out. "'Fair exchange' my ass!" he huffed. "A few of your ratty old tanktops aren't worth one hair on my head, let alone my whole self." He folded his arms over his chest stubbornly and glared at his partner, daring Heero to contradict him.

Smirking, Heero tugged Duo closer by virtue of his braid, disregarding the yelp the other boy let out as he was drawn into his embrace. "Actually, I meant exchanging your heart for mine," he murmured, flushing slightly at the overly sappy words coming out of his mouth. "Isn't that what love is?" he asked hesitantly, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. "Sharing?" He was thinking suddenly that maybe romance novels weren't the best source of information on what 'love' was – disregarding the fact that the dictionary had been less than helpful, and when he'd asked Quatre, the blond had gone off into a rambling half-hour monologue on Trowa's finer qualities; Wufei had just sneered at him and said love was for weak women, not strong warriors, but that made no sense when one took into account all those romance novels, whose plots always revolved around those 'weak women' being in love with strong warriors, and vice versa – since none of it seemed applicable to the real world.

Barely able to believe the words Heero had mumbled into his shoulder, Duo gasped aloud, remembering countless instances in the past when Heero had shared things with him – his rarely-expressed thoughts, his even more rarely-expressed feelings, the last ration bar when they were low on food…even what few memories of his past he could piece together. Then he grinned wider than Heero's smile of a minute before as he realized what Heero had meant by his earlier words. "Yes, I suppose it is a fair exchange," he whispered. "Consider my heart – and my ass – yours, Hee-chan."

Heero pulled back just enough to glare playfully at his friend-turned-lover. "Don't call me Hee-chan," he growled.

Duo chuckled and shook his head. "It's good to see some things never change," he murmured, before pulling Heero into a kiss. And some things do, he added silently, enjoying the way Heero relaxed his usually tense posture slightly before following his lips' lead. Yes, definitely…change is good.