Accidental Serendipity


Serendipity

Usage: Noun – A state of being. Adjective – Serendipitous.
Definition: 1) The faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for.
2) An unplanned, but not unwelcome, surprise.


If there was one thing Duo Maxwell, Agent Shinigami, hadn't expected to find upon arriving home from his weeklong undercover assignment for the Preventers – without his partner, one Agent Wing, better known as Heero Yuy, which had ticked him off to no end – it was to find said partner waiting for him, naked and in his bed.

Naked, nude, in the all-together, sans clothing…and wearing nothing but a tentative smile, which he hid behind a rather sexy smirk.

Standing there in the doorway of his bedroom, Duo could only gawp. Not gape (which would have been completely understandable considering the situation) in surprise, which wouldn't have impinged nearly so much on his manhood – but gawp, which implied that he lacked the intellect to control his autonomic functions.

Of course, when confronted by the sight of a naked wet dream – specifically, his naked wet dreams, which almost always involved Heero himself (and occasionally some pink furry handcuffs, but he'd never admit that) with the occasional topping of chocolate sauce or whipped cream – even Chang Wufei would have been hard pressed to keep his composure.

Not that Duo had the mental faculties at that moment to think of such things. Mostly his thoughts went along the lines of, Gah… Huh? Wow. Damn he's hot… and other idioms of that ilk.

Five minutes after he'd first seen Heero naked – and what a nice sight that was to come home to! – Duo finally managed to voice his thoughts. "What the fuck?"

Well, all right, so he wasn't very articulate. But at least he managed to get the gist of his confusion across.

Heero snorted and raised himself up so he was leaning back, supported by his arms. "Not exactly," he replied cryptically, that tentativeness still in his eyes. It was actually kind of endearing. Heero was normally so confident. The former 'Perfect Soldier' had never quite learned the art of letting his emotions show on his face, but Duo had learned to look to his eyes when he wanted answers.

Like now.

Staring in stunned disbelief at his partner – and secret masturbation fantasy – Duo spluttered, "What do you mean, 'Not exactly'?"

"Well, the plan definitely involves fucking…" Heero let himself trail off suggestively, though the very small part of Duo's mind which was detached from the situation noticed that he looked…anxious?…about his suggestion.

Duo blinked, shocked once more. His libido was currently jumping up and down in uncontrolled excitement, saying, 'Hot damn!' The rest of him was more cautious and restrained his hormones. His hormones pouted, but gave in and helped subdue his libido. He isn't suggesting what I think he is…is he? "Huh?"

Letting out a deep breath of air, Heero visibly nerved himself for what he was about to say. "We've been…friends…partners…for a long time," he said, which Duo didn't think warranted that much nerve to say.

Duo nodded dumbly, since Heero seemed to be waiting for a response from him to continue.

Heero took another deep breath and then continued, "And I wanted to give you something…a bit more meaningful…for your twenty-first birthday than a bottle of champagne." On Heero's twenty-first birthday – which he'd chosen to be January 1st, the day that he'd received his codename; pretty much the day that Heero Yuy had been born – Duo had bought him a bottle of champagne. It was a rather nice vintage, actually, pretty much the best he could afford on his admittedly generous Preventers salary; they'd both gotten drunk while watching the pre-colony movie series 'Star Wars.' They'd fallen asleep halfway through the fifth one and had finished the triple trilogy the next afternoon, as they spent the next morning severely hungover.

Duo blinked as he did the calculations in his head. While he didn't know what his actual birthdate was, he, just like Heero, had chosen one for record-keeping purposes. Out of sheer perversity of wanting to keep some part of his jester's persona – even though he didn't need it anymore – he'd chosen April Fool's Day as his birthday. In all the rush of excitement and frustration to get ready for his stint undercover as a bartender – it was a large enough operation to need someone on the inside, but small enough that he hadn't needed Heero along, which explained why he'd been in a really pissy mood for the three days that had been allotted him to get ready for his newest assignment – he'd forgotten that March was coming to an end.

And it was now 1:21 AM, April 1st, AC 201.

Duo's back brain piped up to cheerfully inform him of the double entendre that fit this situation to a T – Heero was wearing nothing but his 'birthday' suit.

"Definitely meaningful," Duo choked out his agreement in a small voice as he once again took in the sight of a naked Heero. Whether Heero was giving him his heart in addition to his body, or just his body by itself – not that it was 'just' anything, considering that in the six years Duo had known him, Heero had never dated; not surprising, considering that he had a hard time getting close to people – it was most definitely a meaningful gift on his part. But meaning what, exactly? his back brain asked him. Which is it; heart and soul, or just sex added to our friendship? "But what do you mean by it?" he voiced his thoughts aloud.

"I'm giving you me for your birthday," Heero clarified, and that anxious glint was back in his deep blue eyes.

"In what way?" Duo asked in a strangled voice. It was pretty apparent that Heero had waited here, naked and in his bed for a specific reason – he wasn't oblivious to that – but he also wasn't oblivious to the undercurrents in the room which said that Heero was nervous about his offer and he wanted to give his partner a chance to rethink it. And possibly retract it, if he felt like he couldn't go through with it. Duo never wanted to make Heero do something he was unsure of.

No matter how much he just wanted to pounce his partner and have his way with him – repeatedly.

Heero took a deep breath and let it out slowly, his anxious gaze coming up to lock with Duo's stunned indigo eyes. "In…whatever way you desire," he said, voice husky with some unnamable, unfulfilled longing.

Which begged the question… "Why?" Duo asked, voice only a small breath of sound in the still room.

Heero gasped in surprise – at the question, at the hopeful look in Duo's eyes, neither were sure – and ducked his head. He muttered something under his breath, causing Duo to ask, "What, Heero?" in a gentle voice.

Heero slowly raised his head and now that longing in his eyes was named as he said, "Because I love you."

Those four words took Duo's breath away. He'd never heard anything sweeter; not even the declaration made by one Relena Peacecraft after the destruction of Libra that, "Peace is at hand."

But then, he wasn't in love with the Vice Foreign Minister.

Then Duo's ears caught up with his brain and informed him of the rest of Heero's sentence. The two words added as a qualifier brought Duo down from where he'd been orbiting Cloud Nine. "What do you mean 'you think'?" Duo asked incredulously, repeating the final two words of Heero's statement.

Heero flushed slightly and covered it up with a scowl. "It's not like there's a checklist somewhere of things you can tick off to find out if you're in love." He crossed his arms over his chest and stamped his foot, causing his half-hard cock to twitch slightly against his left thigh – and consequently pulling Duo's attention away from his scowling face once again.

It was very distracting trying to have a conversation with a naked man.

"I'm pretty sure I love you, but I don't know a way to be certain that I'm in love with you," Heero continued, seemingly oblivious of Duo's fascination with his genitalia.

Duo shook his head, unable to comprehend the mountainous decision Heero had made. "And…despite the fact that you're not sure whether or not you're in love with me, you still…" He made an encompassing gesture with his hand, taking in the room and Heero's currently naked form. He didn't understand why Heero had done this. If he weren't certain where his feelings lay, then why would he show up here like this? Heero never did anything unless he was sure about it.

Heero took another deep breath and ducked his head. "I…thought you might feel the same way."

Same way? It took Duo a minute to figure out what Heero meant. Heero thought he was in love with him? Well, yeah, I am, but… "I…do," Duo admitted, a small smile crossing his lips as he saw Heero's head whip up, an expression of profound relief – and was that pleased happiness? He'd bet his braid on it – on his normally stoic face. "But…how did you know? I never said anything." I made damn sure I didn't. Not only is Heero the best friend I've ever had – save Solo, natch – but I'm pretty sure I'm the only best friend he's ever had. Definite conflict of interest there.

Heero flushed slightly and nibbled on his lower lip in consternation.

Oh, this must be good, Duo thought, noting the twin signs of Heero's discomfort. He'd never seen Heero exhibit so many emotional reactions all at once in the six years he'd known him.

"I…had a talk with Relena," Heero mumbled finally.

Duo blinked. He knew that Heero and Relena were friends, so he wasn't surprised that they'd talked. He was mildly surprised that anything Relena had said had brought Heero here today, but what really surprised him was the fact that Heero was mumbling. He'd never seen the other man so unsure of himself that he'd mumble.

Or blush, or fidget, or nibble his lip… Duo listed the other signs in his head. Heero was definitely surprising him tonight, no question there. "And what did she say?" Duo said, finally realizing that Heero was waiting for him to ask.

"She said that she thought you were in love with me," Heero replied bluntly.

"Nani!" Duo burst out. How could Relena know that? He and the former Princess – Princess Pink, he liked to call her, despite the fact that she'd grown up (and so had her wardrobe) – were never all that close.

Heero nodded, a small smirk on his face as if he knew what Duo was thinking.

Not out of the realm of possibility, considering how well he knows me, Duo thought with irritated affection.

"She said she knew because of the way you looked at me," Heero replied softly to Duo's unasked question. His cheeks pinkened as he spoke.

"The w-way I…" Duo stuttered, his own face heating up with a blush. He looked down at his feet and bit his lip in dismay as he berated himself. Damnit! I tried so hard to keep Heero from noticing those looks that I never thought anyone else would see. He felt a bit better when he remembered Heero's confession from minutes earlier; he didn't have to hide his feelings anymore.

Of course, if Heero wasn't sure, maybe he should stay in hiding. At least be circumspect and not shove his feelings in his partner's face. Just until the smoke cleared and Heero figured out what in the hell he was feeling.

Damnit. That one word seemed to be becoming his new motto.

Clearing his throat, Duo said, "And this…revelation of Relena's prompted you to show up here and offer me your body?" his voice rising into a high squeak on the last word. That seemed a little outside the realm of possibly. While Heero was a big believer in the 'actions speak louder than words' axiom, when it came to emotional problems, he tended to try and talk things out. If anything, Relena's revelation should have prompted Heero to come by for a chat, not for a fuck.

Heero flushed crimson. "Actually, it was Relena's idea," he admitted under his breath. He was mumbling again. This day – well, rather, night – was just full of surprises. "She said that if I really wanted to get you something spectacular for your birthday, I should show up here in my 'birthday suit.'" His lips pursed in irritation.

What, is he mad he didn't come up with the idea first? Duo wondered.

Heero flushed when he noted Duo's confusion. "She had to explain what that meant," he said testily. "And I still didn't get why it was called a birthday suit until she explained that, as well."

Duo chuckled. Yeah, kinda an abstract concept, the skin you were born in being considered a 'birthday suit.' "Don't feel bad. I had to have someone explain it to me, too."

Heero's left eyebrow quirked up into his messy brown bangs. "Who?" he inquired, eyes aglitter with barely restrained curiosity.

"Quatre," Duo replied, smirking slightly as he remembered.

Heero blinked rapidly at Duo's mirth. "Nani?"

More chuckles rumbling up from his chest, Duo said, "Yeah. Take my advice and never ask Quatre about his relationship with Trowa when he's doped up on pain meds. They work better than alcohol for getting him inebriated."

"Inebriated?" Heero asked, a small smirk lurking around the corners of his lips.

Duo snickered. "Well…more like completely smashed."

Heero let out a low laugh of his own, one of those deep, rich ones that Duo was pretty sure only he – and maybe the other pilots – was privy to.

They stood there for a moment, trading chuckles across the air before their levity finally died down. Then they just stared at each other, gazes locked.

Finally, Heero decided to break the stalemate. "So…" He trailed off, seemingly not knowing what to say.

Typical Heero…wants to do something about the silence, but doesn't know what, Duo thought affectionately and agreeably picked up the line. "So…you decided to take Relena's advice?" he stated the obvious in a questioning tone. "Even though you weren't sure about your feelings?" Duo couldn't quite comprehend Heero being willing to take such a chance. He was always very careful and meticulous in everything he did; his personal relationships were no different.

Heero simply nodded.

The last time Relena visited was about a week before Heero's birthday. If I know Heero – and there's no one I know better, not even myself – he would have had to have loved me for quite a while for Relena to have picked up on it.

His face fell. So why didn't I? "Why didn't you ever say anything before?" Duo asked, forgetting for the moment that he himself never mentioned his own feelings.

"Duo, as far as I knew, you were straight," Heero said, an expression that could only be named as 'glum' etched on his features. "The revelation about my feelings for you would be at best unwanted and at worst…it would kill our friendship."

Duo blinked. "I'd like to think that our friendship could stand up to unrequited love," he said slowly. Yeah, I'd like to think so. But things are never cut and dried where Heero's emotions are concerned, ­he thought with fatalistic wryness. For all I know he would have entered into a relationship with me just to make me happy. He nearly did with Relena. It was only my quick talking that stopped him. I knew it wouldn't work out between them.

Though I never would have thought she'd end up with Dorothy Catalonia, of all people…

Heero snorted and folded his arms across his bare chest. "Do you remember after we stopped Libra when we first went to work at the Preventers together?"

Duo blinked, not understanding where Heero was going with this. Despite that fact – for he knew Heero would eventually get to the point; it wasn't like the Japanese boy to be evasive – he nodded. It had only been a little under four years since they had been officially partnered together. Informal wartime partnerships notwithstanding.

"You had been working with Hilde at her salvage yard before that, right?" Heero reminded him.

Duo nodded once more, still not getting it. Yeah, and by the time Barton tried his best to pick up where Operation Meteor left off, I was just about to go crazy from trying to fit into a straight civilian life. I'm not glad we almost had another war, but I damn sure well was relieved when Une asked me to join up with the Preventers.

Heero sighed and started tapping his foot on the floor impatiently – which caused a certain appendage below his waist to jiggle interestingly. Duo had to forcibly wrench his gaze away from following the bounce and sway of Heero's half-hard cock as his foot moved up and down. Up and down… Up and down…

Mind, meet gutter, Duo thought with resigned amusement. He stopped that train of perverted thought firmly in its tracks.

Nonetheless, it shouldn't have been surprising that he still found it difficult to follow the conversation.

"You said that the reason you left was because Hilde told you she had romantic feelings for you," Heero reminded his friend and partner. "But you didn't feel the same way and despite the fact that the both of you tried not to let it affect your friendship, you said you didn't think your relationship would ever be the same again."

Comprehension started dawning in his mind and Duo didn't feel so left out in the dark anymore. "Yeah, I remember," he said quietly. Actually, I was pretty okay with it. But no matter how well she tried to hide it, I could tell Hilde was…well, for lack of a less straight-out-of-a-Harlequin-romance-novel word, pining over me. He winced at the memory. The distance between L2 and Sanq helped us get back our friendship.

Well, that and the fact that she married Wufei last year. Duo still found it hard to believe that those two had tied the knot. A more unlikely pair he never would have thought to come across. The justice-ranting Chinese guy who always railed about women being weak hooking up with the only woman he knew short of Colonel Une who could rival Heero's Death Glare.

And Hilde's a feminist, too…

"How was I supposed to think our situation would be any different?" Heero asked, bringing Duo out of his silent musings. "We're best friends, we work together, and though we don't live together like you did with Hilde, we do live next door to each other and we see each other every day." He ticked the points off on his fingers as he listed them.

Just like Hilde and me, four years ago, Duo finished, heart clenching. Damnit, I didn't even realize… "I never realized that you…were that attached to me," he said aloud. Yeah, I'm his best friend…but I thought that to him that was only one level above a regular friend, and he doesn't act much different around the other pilots.

That little voice in Duo's head cheerfully piped up to inform him that Heero didn't act different around the other pilots – during missions. Otherwise…

He had serious discussions with Wufei, and compared battle techniques. Neither of them were into small talk, so no chit-chat passed between them, and the infrequent chess game was played.

He talked to Quatre about things that were bothering him that he didn't want to bother Duo with; which wasn't much, though it might have included his unrequited love. They also played chess, but while Wufei and Heero normally traded wins and losses, Quatre was a strategic shark on the board, and not just in the boardroom. Heero normally didn't play as much with Quatre; Duo remembered him mentioning that it wasn't as much fun to take games that seriously.

Which was a residual sentiment from the advice he'd given Heero after a one-on-one basketball game they had played at that first school they'd roomed together at, during the war. Or so Duo liked to think.

Trowa and he had conversations about esoteric stuff that Duo was never quite sure of. On second thought, if Heero had wanted to talk about how he felt for Duo, Trowa might have been the one he'd gone to.

Duo was the one he went to movies with – even romantic comedies, which he wasn't all that fond of – ate dinner with, attended hockey games with, made fun of their coworkers with, went on the (extremely) infrequent vacation with, endured boring political parties as bodyguards with…

It wasn't that he didn't have the opportunity to do most of those things with the others on a sporadic basis; he just seemed to prefer Duo's company above all others, in all situations. Ouch, Duo mentally winced. Yeah, guess I missed that, too.

"Of course I'm attached to you, baka," Heero chided him gently.

And that insult/pet name has never been truer than tonight, Duo thought ruefully. "Well, you'll forgive me for not knowing that, seeing as how we're not joined at the hip," he retorted with a grin. "However, you are attached at the touch pad to your laptop."

Heero grimaced. "I'm not that bad."

Duo just raised a brow that managed to convey the thoughts he wasn't expressing. Oh? I think you are, Yuy.

Heero flushed and folded his arms back over his chest. "In any event, whether or not I'm attached to my laptop doesn't matter. I am attached to you," he stated firmly, cheeks becoming even pinker as he said the sappy words.

Duo smiled a slow smile. "Never thought I'd actually hear you say that," he admitted softly. Never thought I'd hear him say lots of things… He may only think he's in love with me, but he's sure he loves me… He felt himself almost swoon at the very thought and realized that he really needed to get some sleep after their conversation was concluded.

Heero's eyes twinkled with hints of mirth and he shrugged with one bare shoulder. "What can I say? You grew on me." His lips widened into a small smirk. "Like a particularly tenacious fungus."

Duo rolled his eyes. "I should never have unleashed your sense of humor, Yuy," he growled playfully.

Heero smirked wider before pasting on a straight-faced expression. "Hn," he deadpanned.

Duo chuckled for a few minutes, and then sobered. It was all very well and good that Heero was 'attached' to him, but… "And you still…I mean, you're not even sure, but you still want…this?" He gestured with one hand at the bedroom around them, including by inference the world outside the house, the situation itself…and him.

Heero nodded firmly, no trace of indecision in his actions…even if there was still that strange anxious glint shining in his eyes.

Duo gave him a reassuring smile, but inside his heart was breaking. He loves me…but he's not sure he's in love with me. It was the most bittersweet moment of his life – Heero was offering him everything his body hungered for…and denying him what his heart yearned for.

Duo knew it wasn't really like that – Heero was offering him as much as he could at that moment. But with Heero so obviously uncertain, he could never take him up on the offer, now matter how much he – especially his hormones – might want to.

And damn, but did he want to. Heero was beautiful… The word that kept coming to mind was 'kiryoumake' – appropriately enough, it was Japanese. Too beautiful for his own good, indeed… And that made it all the more difficult for him not to just wrap Heero up in his arms and kiss him breathless. And senseless.

He's not sure, but he does love me. He wants me, needs me. When it comes to a relationship such as ours, is there really a difference between loving like that and being in love? Duo asked himself. As if of their own accord, his feet took him closer to the vision in front of him, until he and Heero were barely more than a foot apart.

The little voice chose that moment to clamor for his attention, reminding him that that was how he'd figured out he was in love with Heero. By knowing he loved him, and feeling all those other things, as well.

No, no difference, Duo thought contentedly. But he needed to give Heero one last out… One more last chance. "So you mean you're willing to put up with me, shady past, emotional neuroses, paranoid insecurities, continually-growing braid, pack-rat tendencies and all?" he asked, hoping against hope that Heero would say, 'Yes.' Not like he could really say anything else – he's put up with all that as my friend for six years; if it really bothered him, even he would have said something by now. It's got to be more than equally true if he's considering taking me on as lover… He hid a smirk. Considering that he'd get the added benefit of kissing, cuddling, and coitus with it.

Heero snorted at that. "If you can deal with me – shady past, emotional repression, paranoid suspicions, continually-upgraded laptop, perfectionist tendencies and all," he replied dryly, matching his friend and prospective lover point for point.

Like I haven't for the past six years? Duo thought reflexively, before mentally smacking himself. Oh, wait… Yeah, I see what he means. Duo was all set to nod, but thought he might as well add in a few more things that Heero might not have realized didn't change since the wars. Just because it's peacetime doesn't mean I'm peaceful… he thought wryly. "I sleep with a gun on the nightstand and my spring-loaded knife sheath strapped to my wrist," he said.

Heero's smile turned wry. "I sleep with my gun underneath my pillow and my knife in the nightstand," he countered.

A slow spread across Duo's face. "I keep enough C-4 in my linen closet to level a city block," he warned. Not to mention all the Semtex, the blast caps and the detonators…

Smirking, Heero responded, "I may only sleep with one of them, but I own nine guns. And I keep grenades in my linen closet."

Duo's smile grew wider. Nice to hear he's just as screwed up as I am. Though, this line of revelation is rather morbid. "I have a problem waking up in the morning and I tend to hit the snooze button more times than is good for me," he volleyed back. "You have no idea how many times I've almost been late to work." That was a definite change from the war; when he'd been so tanked up on fear and adrenaline twenty-four hours away that he'd wake up at the sound of one of his hairs shifting place in its braid.

Heero snorted, and Duo thought he heard a muttered, "Figures." Aloud he only said, "I can't sleep past sunup no matter how tired I am, and no matter if I can't actually see the sun," which surprised Duo a little bit, since during the war Heero had slept pretty much like he had. Missions could fail if you were too tired to pull them off. "And no matter how exhausted I might be, I can't go back to sleep for at least half an hour." His lips quirked up even more. "And you're already familiar with the fact that I'm cranky if I haven't gotten my full eight hours."

"I hate cleaning," Duo said, as if it wasn't evident by the extensive layer of cluttered confusion and muddled mess that was his house. Aside from a few ingrained habits – ingrained by Heero, as a matter of fact – such as taking his jacket and shoes off at the door, and putting his keys on a hook next to said outerwear, he didn't really have a place for anything else. "I'll probably make you do most of it."

"I hate cooking," Heero countered, which Duo knew well. They both ate more takeout than most people – simply because they worked a lot of late nights at the office – but whenever they'd go over to one another's residence to work on something or just hang out, Duo practically always ended up cooking, even if they were in Heero's apartment. Though Heero had cooked for him a few times, and it was made all the more special because of its infrequent occurrence. "I'll probably make you do most of it."

"The bathtub drain needs to be cleaned out once a week to make sure my hair doesn't clog it up," Duo told him, getting into the game now. "In case you're wondering, that will be included on your list of stuff to clean."

Heero heaved a patently false sigh; Duo could tell by his expression he'd been expecting something of this sort. "I also hate shopping, of any kind," he retorted. "Food shopping, clothes shopping, computer hardware shopping… I mostly have my food delivered and the rest I take care of online. If you want anything from any store you're going to have to do it yourself."

Explains why he's on his computer so much, even without a war on. And here I thought he was doing paperwork in triplicate. Silly me. "Duly noted." Duo smirked back. "I have a hard time throwing anything away which might be useful at some future point, which is why I bought a three bedroom house with both an attic and a basement, instead of renting an apartment like you." At Heero's inquiring lift of brow, Duo explained, "More places to store stuff."

"The only reason I get rid of some of my books is because I don't have enough room for them," Heero informed him. "If I had access to all your space, I would probably never get rid of any book I read and didn't hate."

Duo grinned at the thought of having Heero's books in his personal space. Although, when – and he was pretty sure now that it was going to be 'when' and not 'if' – they became lovers, it would probably not be just his personal space anymore. More like some sort of shared personal space that they could lay claim to, like a joint checking account.

Then Heero replied with a smirk, "I have to do security checks on all the locks before I go to bed, even if I know I've locked them."

Just another part of his obsessive-compulsiveness, Duo thought affectionately. "Well, I do that, too," he admitted. "Plus my cable connection is hacked – and I'm not giving it up," he said warningly.

Smirking, Heero said, "My cable is an illegal hookup as well – and so is my Internet access." He chuckled lightly, and when no more opposition was forthcoming, added, "It sounds like we're perfect for each other." His levity subsiding, he pierced Duo with a serious look. "Why are you fighting this?" he asked softly, imploringly.

"Because I want this so much and I'm scared," Duo found himself admitting, before he could think. He mentally winced; he hadn't meant to reveal that.

Heero looked dumbstruck. "You…do?" he stuttered. "Want m– this?" he corrected himself hastily.

But not quickly enough for Duo to keep from figuring out what he was about to say.

"Yeah, Heero, I do," Duo replied quietly. "I've always wanted you. Since even the Eve Wars, I think."

"All that time…" Heero murmured, eyes unseeing as they gazed past him. The blue orbs sharpened and turned their gaze on him as he demanded with more than a trace of pleading, "How could I not have seen?"

Damnit. He's going to try and make this his fault, Duo realized. It was a typical Heero thing – to take the weight of the world on his shoulders. And lay the blame for everyone's problems squarely at his own feet. "I was afraid then, too," Duo stated baldly. He couldn't hold back if he didn't want Heero to fault himself for it taking so long for them to get together. "I run, I hide, and I only lie to myself," he said self-deprecatingly. "I was kinda commitment-phobic back then, and it was hard enough caring for you guys as friends. When I started to care about you more, with the war heating up and all, I just…" He shrugged, unable to articulate his own thought processes, even after all this time spent examining them.

Heero grunted. "Denial isn't just a river in Egypt?" he offered the joke tentatively. Play-on-words were the types of puns he got the easiest, but he still had a problem with delivery.

Need to work on that, Duo made an automatic mental note. Jokes are funnier if you believe that they're gonna make people laugh.

Though that probably isn't what he was going for right now, Duo admitted. More of a tension-reliever. He shrugged again as he answered Heero's only half-voiced question. "I may try never to tell a lie, but I have a hard time not twisting the hell out of the truth when I want to hide something," he said, knowing that his deceptive tendencies could be very hard on a relationship. "For that matter, I have a hard time not hiding things. Even from myself."

Heero snorted, blue eyes narrowing as they focused on him. "You think I don't know that? I'm your best friend. When have you ever been able to fool me?"

Duo opened his mouth to answer – and couldn't. True, when they'd first met – well, maybe third met. After he'd shot him, and after Heero had stolen parts from 'Scythe – Heero hadn't really known him all that well. But once they'd become friends, there was almost nothing he could hide from Heero. Except my feelings for him… "Yeah, well…" he mumbled, face aflame with embarrassment and indignation.

"And besides, I'm emotionally repressed and antisocial to the extreme," Heero said with wry humor. "I'm not exactly a prize, either."

Duo bristled at that; didn't Heero know that his wartime nickname of the 'Perfect Soldier' was not a joke? At least not to Duo; he thought his partner was perfect. Insofar as one disregarded the definition of perfect that was 'flawless' and went with the one that was 'without equal.'

He'd never met anyone that could equal what Heero meant to him.

And that little voice in the back of his mind – which had so far been involved in giving him a running (and distracting) commentary on how good Heero looked naked – piped up to say, I think he's trying to say he feels the same way about you. Baka.

Duo did his best not to gawp again, but only partially succeeded. He gaped instead. Which is soooo much better, his internal running commentary said sarcastically. "You're my prize," he murmured, and it was Heero's turn to gawp.

Duo smiled slightly at the sight – gawping was another thing he never thought he'd see Heero do. The other man looked so cute when he was confused.

Then you'll just have to confuse him lots more in the future. The little voice was back. Before Duo could glare it away, it offered some more unsolicited – but not entirely unwelcome – advice. What are doing just standing there? it reprimanded him. Get over there and kiss him, baka!

Since his inner voice seemed to have a better handle on what to do than he himself did, Duo decided to follow its advice. Well, actually, there was no 'decision' involved; his brain had gone on vacation and left his body there on to be autopiloted by his hormones.

Two slow, tentative steps brought him across the room to stand in front of Heero. The Japanese man was staring up at him – all of the one inch that Duo had in excess over him – from underneath his shaggy bangs, and expectant, confused look on his face. "I love you, Heero," he said on a whisper, voice cracking on that all-important four-letter word. A smile sheened Heero's eyes with a suspicious brightness, and Duo leaned in to press his lips against Heero's.

Soft. That was the first thing that stuck out in Duo's mind. Soft and gentle, tentative like a first kiss should be. Warm, and sweet and comforting, like ice cream on a hot day, and a good friend to share it with.

And so good… Duo couldn't get enough of the taste of Heero's mouth. Having captured those luscious lips, he found himself unable to keep from plundering them as if searching for the treasure of Heero's taste. He'd intended it to just be a chaste peck – well, maybe not entirely chaste – but definitely no tongue.

Now he couldn't imagine kissing Heero without that mobile muscle moving in there somewhere. Both of them.

But even as he was drowning in the sweet taste of those plush pink lips…

Duo became aware of the tense set to Heero's shoulders…and the fine tremors running through his skyclad form.

Reluctantly pulling away from those addictive, entrancing lips, Duo took a good look at his partner. Heero's face was flushed, his eyes were bright, his lips were slightly swollen and he was panting. All in all, he looked extremely well-kissed.

But Heero's eyes were bright with more than lust – anxiety and nervousness shone in the depths of those blue orbs – and his fists were clenching with the urge to wrap around himself and cover his naked form from Duo's sight. Even though the kiss had expanded beyond Duo's original intent, it had still been fairly tame – aside from his hand on Heero's cheek, they hadn't even been touching anywhere besides their mouths – yet Heero was trembling and acting like he'd been the not-quite-unwilling victim of a Harlequin romance 'ravishment.'

That handful of little clues all added up to one thing…

Houston, we have a virgin, that little voice snickered. And a blushing virgin, at that, it added, noting the rising flush to Heero's cheek.

His inner mother hen glared the lewd voice away. Not that I'm all that much more experienced, he thought wryly. But at least one kiss doesn't make me want to run away.

Heero looks like he's ready to pass out, not bolt, the mother hen pointed out gently, spurring Duo into action. "Heero?" he asked softly, his other hand coming up to rest on his partner's shoulder. He shoved down the instinctive hurt when Heero flinched away from his touch. "Heero, what's wrong?"

Heero shook his head, flushing. "N-nothing," he stuttered, then seemed to try – and fail miserably – to pull himself together. He smiled weakly. "I'm okay," he reassured Duo. Unfortunately, neither his words nor his actions were very reassuring.

Duo snorted derisively, a soft puff of air in the still room. "Suuurrre you are. You're shaking like a leaf in a windstorm!" he said, then paused, reconsidering his words in face of the fact that despite Heero having opened up a bit more now that the wars were over, he'd still never been very overt with his emotions. Duo had seen more of them this past half hour than he had in an entire week previously, but they were still controlled emotions. "Er…well, your version of shaking like a leaf in a windstorm, anyway, which is more of a slight tremble than anything else, but…" He shook his head, at the same time ridding himself of his innate urge to babble. "You can't tell me you're not scared." Great, now that he's got me calmed down, he's all worked up. This is just perfect…

Heero frowned mutinously. "I'm not scared," he insisted, then gulped back apprehension. "I'm just…nervous." The admission came grudgingly, and was accompanied by yet another slight flush on his cheeks.

More like two steps from outright terrified, Duo thought with dark irony. And trusting me to lead him. While inwardly his heart warmed at the though that Heero trusted him that much, he had no clue what to do. Damnit, it wasn't like he had all that much more sexual experience than Heero; how in the hell was he supposed to handle this?

Are you out of your fucking mind? the long-sufferingly yearning part of his mind – that was rapidly losing its long-held patience – screeched at him, figuratively jumping up and down. He's everything you never thought you always wanted – you can't let him go.

'Course not, Duo hastened to reassure his never-ending patience. I'll just have to handle this like I do everything else in my life since I shot him – on the fly, he thought with affectionate resignation.

"I…I love you," Heero said softly, uncertainly. "And I'm willing…" He gulped, and started again. "So…what do you want?" he asked nervously, licking his lips.

Once again, it took a moment for Duo's tired mind to piece together what Heero was saying. Most of him was on a roller coaster ride of happiness because of those three little words Heero had uttered, but he finally managed to wrench his attention – and his brain – back to the situation at hand. Ah, yes… His 'present' of his body. To do with as I please.

Forever, he thought, giddy happiness bubbling up inside him as he breathed a silent sigh of relief. It dissipated as quickly as it had come, however, the resulting adrenaline crash from finally being able to relax having reminded him just exactly how long it had been since he'd slept.

Forty-two hours and counting, Duo summed up dismally.

"Right at the moment, I am so tired I actually surprised myself by being able to have a coherent conversation with you," Duo said bluntly. And I'm astounded by the fact that I'm actually feeling something stirring down south because of that kiss – not that it'll build up into anything more. "How about you borrow something of mine to sleep in and we both go to bed? We can talk about this further tomorrow," he offered.

Heero blushed as he looked down at himself, obviously realizing they'd had that whole conversation – and the subsequent kiss – while he was naked. "Aa," was the only word he managed to get out of his strangled throat.

Manfully holding back his grin at the other man's nervousness, Duo rummaged through his dresser and came up with a pair of flannel pajama pants and one of Heero's old tanktops – not green, for once, though black wasn't much better in the color department – that had somehow migrated over to his apartment over the years, just like a handful of his hair ties made their home in Heero's bathroom. Handing them over without a word, Duo chivalrously turned his back while Heero dressed and set about removing his own clothing.

He'd already hung his jacket up on the coat rack next to the door. His shoes were on the floor underneath; taking them off when he got home was something Heero had started him on. Duo wasn't entirely sure if it was part of his Japanese heritage or just a Heero thing.

Skinning out of his work shirt and pants, he grabbed a T-shirt from his dresser to wear over his boxers. It was one Heero had given him for his nineteenth birthday; the front said, 'When in doubt, blow stuff up.'

There was an exploding bomb on the back.

Heero definitely knows me better than anybody, Duo thought, not for the first time. Once the soft susurration of cloth had stopped, letting him know that Heero was dressed, Duo turned around, hiding a sad smile at the sight of Heero looking so…lost.

Padding over to stand between Heero and his bed, Duo reached out and grasped the other man's hand. The touch startled Heero, blue eyes widening and flying up to meet his gaze. "You ready to go to sleep?" Duo asked quietly, ignoring the nervous action.

"Aa," Heero croaked out, gulping.

Unable to contain his grin at how skittish his partner was acting, Duo, said, "Just sleep for now, Heero."

The expression of relief that spread across Heero's face was almost comical in its velocity.

Chuckling under his breath, Duo tugged on Heero's arm, coaxing him towards the bed. Once there, it took only a matter of a minute for him to bundle them both underneath the covers, snuggling together in a warm cocoon of flannel blankets and cotton sheets. Heero was tense at first, in his arms, but slowly, as if he realized that there was nothing to fear, he relaxed and cuddled closer, before finally falling into an exhausted sleep. Duo may have been up for almost two straight days, but Heero had been worrying, fretting, and generally angsting over his 'present' to Duo for the past four months.

Duo, for his part, lay there in his bed, drifting on the edge of sleep – content with the wonderfully satisfying knowledge that because of his long undercover stint, he had the whole next week off and could sleep in the next day as long as he wanted – with Heero Yuy cradled securely in his embrace, said man's own arms wrapped around him as well.

Life just did not get much better than this.

It might, if you take him up on his 'offer' one day, his until-now quiescent libido whispered at him.

Duo smiled wryly against Hero's unruly dark locks. Actually, no, it wouldn't. The sex itself would probably be mind-blowing – hopefully, at least, once they got comfortable enough with each other; and Heero quit being so skittish – but what would really be the best part is the trust that would involve.

His libido blushed and melted back into his subconscious, suitably chastised. His romantic soul gave the departed hormonal entity a raspberry and then sighed longingly. Duo rolled his mental eyes and forcibly quashed them both so he could get some sleep.

He had more pleasant things to do than think, for Shinigami's sake.

Snuggling down deeper into the warm cocoon of flannel blankets and Heero's arms, Duo grinned as his love moved imperceptibly closer to him in his sleep.

No, he definitely hadn't expected any of this. But it was a very welcome surprise.


THE END