Genre: AU, Romance
Warnings: Serious fluff, sap, silliness, animals talking, adult situations, some language
A/N: This idea came to me out of nowhere, and I have no idea how long it will be. We'll just write and see. Please R&R!
Chapter 1 / Welcome home, Master
From deep beneath the clingy, cloying layers of heat-induced sleep, Duo's body slowly began demanding that he awaken. A sense of urgency began growing inside him, making him agitated even though he was not conscious. He tossed restlessly, rolling and twisting on the bed so much that after a bit of this he was shocked awake hitting the floor with a solid thump.
Growling under his breath, Duo rose to his feet and shook himself, practically panting from the heat. Gads but it was a hot day. He didn't like the heat very much. It was too . . . well, hot. Ignoring the messy tangle the sheets were now in, he padded down the stairs.
It was a little cooler down here. Duo accepted even this slight relief, glancing up at the clock. It was almost four-ten. Heero would be home soon. In approximately thirty-eight seconds. Duo hadn't really known a whole lot of people in his young life, but Heero was so punctual it was bizarre.
No sooner had Duo sat back on his haunches than he stood up, pacing in the narrow hallway by the garage door. Damn these thirty-eight seconds for passing so slowly! Huffing under his breath, he sat down again and stared at the door, willing it to open and reveal his Heero.
His ears perked when he heard the garage door start grinding open. Instantly he was on his feet, standing upright and alert, heart pounding happily. Hurry, hurry, he thought. Hurry in to me, Heero. He bounced a little, an involuntary whine escaping his throat.
He heard the garage door close, heard Heero's exact, clipped footsteps as he walked to the door. Duo waited, feeling about ready to fly out of his skin. Hurry, hurry! He was whining audibly now.
The door opened. Heero had a smile on his face as he set his briefcase down and laughingly caught Duo as he jumped up into his embrace. Heero squeezed him tightly, stroking his back.
"I could hear you, whining for me," he teased, kissing Duo between the eyes. "You'd think I've been gone for a decade! I came home over lunch, remember? Just like I do every day."
Duo ignored the words, happily licking Heero's face, especially his mouth. Even an hour was too much. He loved the feel of Heero's hands stroking him, ruffling his ears. The sweet, tingly sensations shot down his spine. He loved being pet, he loved being touched by his master.
"Come on, get down," Heero urged, gently pushing Duo down. "Let's go for a walk, hmm?"
Duo landed on all fours again, wagging his tail, panting happily. That sounded perfect. Anywhere with his master was good, as long as he was with Heero.
Heero changed out of his work clothes, sliding into a pair of black spandex shorts and a loose, dark green shirt of soft linen. He could feel Duo's eyes on him from where his pet lounged on his bed. Turning, he smiled at the lithe, lean German Shepherd and pulled on his shoes.
"Don't look at me like that. It's not my fault I have to put clothes on. I'm not fully dressed in a beautiful fur coat like you are."
Duo's head rose off his paws, tail thumping the bed at Heero's voice. He looked like he was grinning as he panted. Smiling, Heero stroked his head.
"Ready to go, Duo, my pet?" he asked, motioning toward the door.
Duo hit the floor with a long bound, running down the stairs and hall to the front door. Heero followed more sedately, strapping his sport's watch onto his wrist. Duo was by the door, scratching at the floor as his whole body wriggled with impatience. Heero couldn't help himself and smiled at the sight.
"You're cute, silly boy," he teased. "Let me grab my pack and water bottles, okay?"
He paced into the kitchen, hearing Duo follow, claws clicking on the linoleum. Grabbing Duo's water bowl and a few bottles of Evian, Heero slung it on his back.
"I think I'll ride my bike, hmm?" he said, looking down at the dog practically dancing at his feet. "You seem to have a lot of excess energy to burn." Grinning, he paused. "Then again, when don't you?"
He let Duo into the garage ahead of him, retrieving his bike from its pegs on the wall. Snatching the garage-door opener from his black Mitsubishi Eclipse, he depressed the button, went out and closed it behind them, and they were off.
Duo hadn't needed a collar and leash once in their time together. The dog didn't have any interest in people, he seemed only to love Heero. He followed Heero without any help, obedient and compliant. Also very, very smart. Heero had never seen a dog as smart as Duo. Smart enough that Heero was quite convinced he could understand everything he said.
Just below Heero's house was a trail for bikers. It was well-tended and kempt, beautiful this time of year. Heero rode onto its mostly-flat, only slightly rocky hard dirt surface. He pedaled strongly, and Duo easily kept pace beside him.
Heero watched him as much as the trail. Though he'd always loved German Shepherds, Duo was especially beautiful. He always carried himself with extreme grace and poise, as though he knew Heero loved showing him off so always looked his best. Smiling, he focused on the trail.
There were always a lot of teenage girls and young women on this trail. Jogging, walking, bike-riding. They always shot a few too many glances at the attractive young man and his dog. Heero ignored them, secretly enjoying the attention (who wouldn't?), but not a whit interested in a single one of them. He didn't like girls.
Now, there was a paradox. Heero didn't like boys, either. He didn't like people in general. He got along well enough with the folks he worked with. But he would never want to 'hang out' with them after work. He only had one being in the whole world he loved unconditionally and without reserve. That was Duo, his companion.
He did not consider Duo his pet. Nor himself Duo's owner. He was Duo's guardian. Plenty of people might scoff at that. But Duo truly was his best friend, and probably the world's most spoiled animal.
Every lunch break every day Heero drove home (it was only a ten minute drive) and ate with Duo, taking him out either to play or a walk. Every night when he got home they went out so Heero could get some exercise and Duo could burn some energy. When they got home Heero fed him a special, veterinarian-recommended meal and warm milk. Then he brushed Duo's silky-smooth coat to perfection. Duo waited for Heero to shower, then they fell asleep sprawling across the king-sized bed in Heero's bedroom. There was not a piece of furniture in the house Duo was not allowed to get onto, assuming he could jump onto it without risk of falling or injury.
The trail was four miles long round trip. When Heero reached the end of it, he swung his bike around and grinned down at Duo.
"Come on, boy! Let's go!" And he shot forward on his bike.
Going back, the trail was a slight decline. Heero found excellent speed this way, and at his side Duo raced happily, looking like he could keep going forever and a day. They raced all the way back, ending where the trail did—in a pretty little park not often frequented by large groups of noisy people, nestled right up against the bay.
Heero parked his bike on its kickstand and opened his pack for Duo's water bowl. He knew he fussed like a girl, but he didn't want Duo drinking out of puddles or something. Who knew what kind of sickness he could get from dirty city water? Duo drank the water without spilling a drop. Yet another thing Heero loved him for. He was such a tidy eater.
Satisfied that Duo had drunk enough, Heero drank some himself. Then he rummaged in his pack. "Frisbee or ball?" he asked his four-legged friend.
Duo snatched the Frisbee, tail waving gracefully. Smiling, Heero took it and flung it with an impressively strong arm. Duo streaked after it, a rusty-chestnut blur. Even when running full-tilt he was still an elegant, graceful dog. Heero was nuts about him. Duo brought it back, letting Heero take it without trouble, then went bolting after it when Heero threw it again.
They kept this up until Duo was panting for more water. Heero saw him drink down another bowl, then Duo tackled him and the pair wrestled around on the soft grass for awhile. Heero could feel people watching them, whether they were playing in the park or passing by with their dogs. He wondered if they felt their own animals were pitiful specimens in comparison to Duo. He certainly thought so.
Eventually he collapsed on the grass, feeling pleasantly worn out. Duo lay down beside him, resting his head on Heero's stomach. Smiling, Heero stroked his soft fur. After working himself back up to it, he pulled his laptop out of his pack and settled on the park bench to get a little work done.
Duo watched Heero work on his laptop for a few minutes before standing and stretching. He still felt the need to burn off a little energy, but he didn't want to bother Heero while he worked. So he padded down to the water, sniffing amongst the rocks and driftwood for entertaining things to do.
He surely did love this park. It was pretty, quiet, secluded. It didn't have a playground for children, so he seldom had to suffer listening to their noise. In his experience, human kids were brats. Loud, obnoxious, whining brats.
Off to his right, he saw a crowd of seagulls gathering. They were probably searching the rocks for food. Judging by their riveted attention, they may have even found something. Panting laughter, he bolted toward them, sending them scattering with shrill cries. This kept him entertained for the next little while. Seagulls didn't seem to be the smartest of birds.
Soon he felt the eyes of someone watching him. Turning, he saw two girls—probably about twelve or so—approaching him. He stiffened, feeling his lips peel away from his fangs. He didn't like young kids, especially girls. He glared down the long line of his body at them, then loped back to where Heero sat with his work.
Whining softly, he nudged Heero's hand with his nose. He was thirsty! His beloved master started almost imperceptibly at the sudden contact, smiling down at him. It was obvious to Duo (it always had been, really) what the most important thing in Heero's life was. He put his laptop aside without so much as a second glance and filled Duo's bowl again.
How does he always seem to know what it is I want? Duo wondered. Not for the first time.
When he finished Heero was working again. Feeling peaceful and impossibly content, Duo curled up at his feet. He always made sure at least some part of his body was touching Heero's.
He was drifting in a blissful doze when two giggly girl voices broke him out of it. It was the same two girls who'd been watching him down by the water.
"Um, Mister," one of them said, an idiotic grin on her face, "can we pet your dog?"
"No," Heero said without hesitation, not even looking up.
Duo panted laughter. One of the bonuses of being a canine. No one knew when he was mocking them.
"Aw, why not?" they whined.
This time Heero looked up from his work. He looked very annoyed. "Because he's not a friendly dog, that's why. You'll most likely get bitten, then I'll have to explain to your parents how their brats got hurt. Now please, I'm trying to work."
Well, Duo couldn't have summed it up more perfectly himself. He looked back to the girls, growling a little just for good measure. The girls squeaked and dashed off. Feeling pleased with this turn of events, Duo huffed and stood up. He was bored. Nudging Heero's hand again, he opened his eyes soulfully and whined.
Heero looked at him for a few seconds, then sighed. "All right. I can't win against that. We'll go." He packed up his laptop and swung onto his bike.
Tail waving happily, Duo followed him as his master rode home. Soon they were back at their house, the haven Heero had carved out for Duo with his hands and his love. When Heero had safely ensconced his bike he let the two of them inside.
Duo went straight to the kitchen, pausing halfway to make sure Heero was following. The human was grinning.
"Hungry, hn?" he teased. "You're very demanding, my spoiled little friend. All right, go watch TV while I make us dinner."
Duo did as he was bade. Only, when he got to the den he couldn't find the remote. Huffing in frustration, he trotted back into the kitchen. Wonderful smells were wafting around the room. Heero was a marvelous cook. And he was such a healthy eater he often shared his meals with Duo.
He sat down at Heero's feet and whined at him. Heero glanced down at him, frowning for a minute as he considered his dog. After a moment he smiled.
"Can't find the remote?"
Duo stood up, rewarding the human's wise guess with a short bark. Heero followed him into the den.
"Sorry, love," Heero said, opening the TV cabinet. "I forgot I actually put it away." He tossed it on the couch. "There you go."
Duo hopped onto the cushions as Heero left. Heero had taught him how to use the remote, but he was a little clumsy with it as he didn't have clever human hands. Still, he could use it adequately enough. He didn't like watching TV much, but it was as good a way as any to pass time until Heero could plug in a movie. He didn't like movies either, but it was an excuse to lay all over Heero, and that he couldn't complain about.
It wasn't long before Heero brought dinner. He plugged in some movie or another while they ate. As soon as he finished Duo jumped onto the couch and settled most of his upper body on Heero's lap. Heero's arms draped over his body, reaching for the brush he always kept on the end table.
Duo enjoyed the feel of the brush and Heero's gentle ministrations for the better part of an hour. Heero always stroked his hands down every strip of fur he brushed, adding to Duo's pleasure. It felt good, and he settled into a blissful daze. He loved Heero so much . . .
"You awake, precious?" Heero murmured in his ear. "It's bedtime."
Groaning faintly in annoyance, a sound similar to a low whine, Duo jumped down and followed him to the door. Heero let him out to take care of business. In exactly ten minutes Heero let him back in, and they climbed into bed. Once Heero had settled himself comfortably, Duo curled up beside him, dropping his head onto Heero's chest.
He loved Heero more than he'd ever thought possible. He felt empty and hollow when Heero wasn't around. Loved him so much he wanted Heero to know the truth.
Duo had a secret. A potent secret he wanted to share with Heero. Only, he was scared his beloved master would stop loving him if he knew. Sighing a little, he stopped thinking about it. Right now, it didn't make any difference. Right now, Heero loved him and it was enough.