One Kiss, Two Boys, Three Words
"Are we dating?" Heero asked.
Duo blinked. That had come from out of the clear blue sky.
Well, the gray, rainy sky, but still…
"What brought this on?" Duo asked, stalling for time. He was unsure how to answer Heero's question – mostly because he was unsure why Heero felt the need to ask it.
Heero shrugged, the way he was avoiding Duo's eyes indicating that he was obviously uncomfortable, and trying to hide it. "Wufei asked me tonight if that's the reason we spend so much time together," he said.
Duo thought back, but couldn't recall any instance in which Wufei had said such a thing. They'd gone out to dinner with Wufei, Quatre, and Trowa, as they did every time the latter two were in town. Quatre ran WEI, Trowa was still with the circus, and Wufei worked for the Preventers along with Heero and Duo. They'd eaten that evening at a cozy little Italian place on Sanq's Main Street, all crammed together around a round table that was technically only supposed to be big enough to seat four. Wufei had been sitting on the other side of Heero from him, so it wasn't as if Duo wouldn't have been able to hear him if he had indeed brought up the topic of him and Heero possibly dating.
They were now enjoying a leisurely stroll towards home, and Heero's unexpected, difficult question was not helping Duo's digestion any. In fact, his stomach was tying itself into knots.
"It was when you went to the bathroom to try and wash that marinara sauce out of your hair," Heero explained.
Grimacing at the memory, Duo automatically went to finger the still damp coils of his braid. He was positive the tomatoes in the sauce had died that small expanse of his hair red. "Why would he think we're dating?" Duo asked tersely.
Heero shrugged once more, still unsettled. "We spend a lot of time together."
"We're partners," Duo said, giving Heero a weird look. It would have been odd if they didn't spend any time together – hell, it would have been impossible for them to work together like that. They couldn't plan missions solely by email or by playing phone tag with one another.
"Outside of work," Heero clarified.
That set Duo back a bit. But it wasn't as if that was unusual in and of itself. They were friends, they spent time together.
End of story.
"So do you and 'Fei," Duo refuted. "Hell, so do 'Fei and I." Although he spent quite a bit less time with Wufei than Heero did.
"You and I spend more time together than we do with all our other friends combined," Heero pointed out.
Or maybe just the beginning of another story…
Duo blinked. That was news to him. "We do?" he asked rather stupidly. Not that either of them had all that many friends outside of the other Gundam pilots. Ones that lived on Earth, at any rate.
Heero snorted, rolling his eyes. "How could we not? We live next door to each other."
It was Duo's turn to snort. "Kind of hard not to, considering we share a duplex."
"And that's another point. When we first got to Sanq and started working for Preventers, we went apartment hunting together," Heero reminded Duo.
As if Duo needed reminding. They'd only started working for the Preventers a year previously.
"We ended up each renting half of the same duplex," Heero continued. "And now we trade off fixing breakfast each morning and share it, and then we carpool to work together. We eat lunch together every day, and then we drive home together and alternate who cooks dinner each night."
"Well, it's…" Duo started, not even knowing what he was going to say. "…efficient," he finally came up with. "Saves time and gas," he ended lamely.
"It's domestic," Heero said. "For all intents and purposes, we don't have two small apartments, we have one big one. The only thing that separates us from essentially living together is the wall between our living rooms."
Shrugging helplessly, Duo said, "Well, what's wrong with that?" He liked the way their lives were, and he didn't see any reason why they should change just because one of their friends thought it was rather…suggestive.
"Nothing," Heero said.
"Then why are you bringing it up?" Duo asked, eyes narrowing in suspicion.
Pausing before the darkened plate glass window of a bookstore, Heero turned to Duo and sighed. "Because it has been brought to my attention that if we aren't dating, then perhaps we are too…"
"Too what?" Duo demanded testily. "Too friendly? Too close? Too 'gay'?" He added figurative air quotes for unneeded emphasis; his sarcastic tone of voice was enough to get his point across.
"…too dependent on each other," Heero finished. "Too involved in each other's lives."
"It never bothered you before," Duo huffed.
"And it doesn't really bother me now," Heero replied. "But Wufei has a point. Almost all of our leisure activities involve the other."
"Oh, really?" Duo raised a brow in inquiry.
"We go to see movies together," Heero said.
"Because we both like action flicks," Duo replied.
"We go to see plays together," Heero went on.
"Pfft," Duo dismissed. "That's only 'cause Relena got us season tickets to the Sanq Theatre and you insist on us not wasting them." The plays weren't actually that bad; it was the Theatre's dress code – which insisted on evening gowns for the women and tuxedos for the men – that got Duo all riled up. He hated bowties and was certain some vengeful women had created them as a way to get back at the man who invented high heels.
"We go out to dinner together – and we always alternate who pays," Heero continued ruthlessly. "We even take vacations together, and we always book a room with two beds, instead of getting two separate rooms."
"We're normally together when we need to eat – and have similar taste in food – and it's just simpler not to try and split the check," Duo shot back, not even knowing why he was becoming so defensive. They'd done all those things as friends, and to have Heero try and make it into something more…
Duo wasn't even sure how he felt about that, but he knew it would changes things, drastically. And he wasn't sure he was ready for things to change – for Heero to change. He wasn't sure he was prepared for what might happen.
"And it's less expensive to split one room instead of renting two?" Heero finished for him.
"Exactly," Duo agreed.
"Then by your own logic, it would save even more money if we rented a room with just one bed," Heero continued blithely.
Duo halted in his tracks, arrested by the sudden flash of images passing before his mind's eye. Him and Heero…in bed.
They weren't even naked in those thoughts – in fact, they were simply sleeping in each other's arms, a perfect picture of innocence – and somehow they seemed more intimate than anything else Duo could think of.
"And for that matter, why own two cars when we rarely ever go anywhere without the other?" Heero went on. "And if we moved in together we would almost halve the money spent on the rent, the utilities…"
"Okay, okay!" Duo burst out. "I get your point." He started walking rapidly back towards their duplex, unable to take both listening to Heero's implacable words and looking into his impassive blue eyes. The still Perfect ex-Solider didn't seem at all affected by what he was suggesting, and that seemed completely unfair to Duo.
It also served to completely unnerve him, as Heero hadn't acted this emotionless since the first war. And Duo had no clue what that meant.
"It wasn't my point," Heero stressed. "It was Wufei's."
Duo froze in his tracks with a whimper, appalled. He snapped his head towards Heero, frightened eyes wide in the warm glow of a nearby streetlight. "Wufei said all that?" he demanded. "About sharing…" He gulped, "…hotel accommodations?" He was unable to say the word 'bed' for some reason. The thought of Wufei seeing them as a couple didn't disturb him nearly as much as the Chinese pilot speculating about their nonexistent sex lives.
Heero blinked in consternation and placed a calming arm on his friend's shoulder. "No," he said reassuringly and was pleased to feel Duo relax underneath his hand. "Just the rest of it." Those words caused Duo to tense up again, even more than he had been before.
"But…none of that means we're dating!" Duo half-yelled, trying desperately to hang onto the fragments of his sanity. He could see his friendship with Heero disappearing – and he wasn't sure what would take its place. Or even if anything would.
"But we're not dating anyone else," Heero said quietly. "To…others…it could look as if we are dating each other."
It was the lost tone in his voice that broke Duo out of his panic. "I… I haven't met anyone I'd like to date." Anyone else, a traitorous voice whispered in his mind.
"But plenty of people have asked you out," Heero pointed out, a slight melancholy tone to his voice. It was well known around Preventers Headquarters that while most people considered Duo to be a kind, fun-loving, interesting person, his partner was seen as the exact opposite. No one outside of their small circle of friends tried to get close to Heero. The 'Human Pincushion' they'd dubbed him, because he was pricklier than one.
Discomfited, Duo said, "I didn't want to date them." Mostly because none of the people who asked him out had wanted anything to do with Heero. In a choice between his best friend and someone he didn't even know, Heero won, hands down.
"Why not?" Heero persisted. "It's human nature to want someone to share things with, to spend your life with…to love…"
"But I don't need anyone else – I have you!" Duo shouted.
Silence fell over the two; Heero as startled at hearing that pronouncement as Duo was that he'd said it.
Heero was the one to finally break the silence. "So…we are dating," he said quietly.
Duo shivered as a cool draft suddenly swept by him. "Not…knowingly," he denied, all the while knowing it was a weak excuse.
"Well, then, we obviously should be now that we know," Heero said pragmatically.
"We should?" Duo squeaked, on the verge of panicking once more. "Why? Because Wufei said so?" That wasn't a good enough reason to do anything un-mission related, to his mind. Especially anything that would completely change their relationship as they knew it – for better or for worse, Duo was unsure which.
And he didn't want to take the chance on 'worse.'
"No. Because it's clear that neither of us will ever find a better match than each other," Heero replied quietly.
His jaw was hanging open, and Duo remedied that by closing it with an audible click. "You're probably right," he admitted in a mumble. "But… I mean… Is it really that simple?"
Heero arched one bushy brown brow. "Simple?"
Duo snorted softly; true, nothing about their lives was simple. "I mean… We just say we're dating…and that's it? Nothing else has to change?" That actually appealed to him. If it was just a matter of nomenclature, then things could continue as they were, and he wouldn't have to worry about things blowing up in his face. Changing the name they assigned to their relationship wouldn't change them.
"Well…I suppose…to begin with… Wouldn't do to change too much too quick." Heero fidgeted uncomfortably. "But…"
"But?" Duo prompted, leery once more. But what?
"I feel like…there needs to be something to mark the change, otherwise we're still just friends going under another name," Heero said, staring down at the ground.
Duo strangled a laugh in his throat, throttling down his urge to blush. That was exactly what he'd wanted…at least, what he thought he wanted.
Heero ran his fingers through his hair nervously, cheeks cutely pink. Steady gaze one more focused on Duo, he said, "You haven't even kissed me yet."
"Do…" Duo cleared his throat. "Do you want me to?" he asked. That idea also held some appeal – okay, a lot of appeal, if he was going to be honest with himself – but if Heero just wanted the kiss because he thought he should want it…
Heero nodded slowly. "Yes."
Seeing the resolve on Heero's face, Duo unconsciously returned the nod with one of his own as he moved closer to him. Blue eyes locked on indigo as Heero moved to pull Duo closer to him by way of a hand laid lightly on the small of his back. Reaching out with one hand, Duo cupped Heero's cheek and drew his lips down as he rose up to meet them with his own.
Duo had intended for the kiss to be nothing more than a straightforward, uncomplicated brush of lips. He didn't want to go too fast and risk changing things too much. But Heero tasted so good, spice and sweetness dancing across his errant tongue; a tantalizingly unexpected mixture of cherries and gunpowder. It was several minutes later before Duo finally pulled back, only the need for air driving them apart.
They stood there, staring at each other in silence for a few moments.
"So…" Heero breathed out, the word no more than a puff of air against Duo's face. His right hand settled on the base of Duo's braid, stroking down the plait as if petting a cat. "Are we dating?" he asked once more, passion-dazed eyes locking with Duo's own lust-lighted ones.
"You wanna?" Duo returned. He definitely did; he could still taste Heero on his lips, and longed to renew the flavor.
"Yes," Heero said simply.
A smile creeping across his face, Duo said, "Me too. I…" He licked his lips, chewing for a moment on the lower one before bursting out, "I love you, Heero…you know that, right?"
Heero smiled back. "Yes. I…I love you, too, Duo."
And it was as simple as that.