Disclaimer: I don't own any part of Gundam Wing and write purely for fun.

Note: this is for Dyna, with many wishes for a happy birthday. Thanks to KS and Snow for commenting.

First Impressions:

'Same again?' The rough voice interrupted his thoughts; when Zechs looked up, he had to blink a couple of times before the three swaying barmen before him coalesced into one.

'Please.' A glass slammed on to the counter in front of him, some of the liquid slopping over the side. It was terrible stuff, fraudulently daring to masquerade as vodka, but it burned icily as he gulped it down and at this point he was beyond caring about anything else.

Zechs scraped his plastic chair over the sticky, grubby floor, pushing his way back from the bar. Enough. Really. The bars had got progressively sleazier as the evening went on, and the patrons even seedier, but this was definitely the worst.

Time to get back to the embassy, somehow. He couldn't exactly summon his driver to a place like this and he doubted very much whether the barman would take the time and trouble to call a taxi for him. He'd have to try flagging one down outside.

He stood up, feet crushing peanuts shells on the floor. God, it was a dump. Worlds removed from his favourite inn in the centre of Sanque, with its panelled walls, and roaring fires, and the smell of food cooking.

'Too bad,' he muttered, pulling on his jacket. 'You don't live there anymore.'

Damn. He'd been trying so very hard not to think about those things, or how blue Treize's eyes were, with flames reflected in them. He couldn't imagine his ex-lover's

expression if he saw this place, not that Treize Khushrenada would ever deign to put one of his exquisite, custom-made shoes on a surface covered with spilt drinks and worse.

'Hey, handsome.' The young man who'd materialised at his side was attractive enough, if you could overlook the calculating gleam in his dark eyes. 'Fancy some company on a cold night? Special price?'

It was legal here; everything, from what Zechs could see, was legal here. 'Not tonight, thank you.'

'You so sure 'bout that?'

For a second, for more than a second, with that warm body curved around his, Zechs wasn't sure and then he imagined one of Treize's eyebrows, ironically raised.

'Thank you, no.'

'Suit yourself.' The boy shrugged, and headed for the door and Zechs was too busy watching the swing of his admittedly perfect rear end to notice that the hug had been no more than a clever way to get close. Everything was gone from his pocket; wallet, phone, even his handkerchief.

Damn. Fool.

He'd read the guide book and the documentation he'd been issued by the Foreign office. He'd suffered lectures on personal safety and crime from virtually everyone he'd met on this damn rock, and they'd been talking about the respectable parts of the colony.

No one had considered, for even a second, that Prince Milliardo of Sanque, newly appointed ambassador to L2, would ever set a perfectly shod foot outside those areas, except perhaps on some sort of escorted tour into the slums, surrounded by a cordon of bodyguards.


He had a few coins in his jacket pocket; enough to call a taxi, if he could find a working phone. That turned out to be a mission in itself; the first three call boxes he tried had been vandalised and apparently turned into public toilets. After a few blocks he found a small twenty-four hour café, with a girl talking into a public phone screwed to the wall. Zechs ordered a coffee to pass the time while he waited; a vile concoction the approximate colour and grainy texture of mud.

He managed to choke down a mouthful, before a waitress was at his table, bill thrust in front of her. That was where the next problem started; he didn't have quite enough to pay. The woman was furious, waving her arms around, shouting threats to call the City Watch and have him arrested.

'Give it a break, Nan.' A new voice chimed in, threaded with amusement. 'What, you're seriously going to call the Watch for a few cents?'

Zechs turned to see who was talking and his breath literally caught in his throat. Damn. All that alcohol was catching up at him. It had to be, because people didn't look like that. Not in places like this. Maybe nowhere.

The woman grunted sourly. 'You planning to make up the shortfall, Duo?'

The young man – Duo - grinned at her, hands spread wide. 'I would, but you know me. Always broke. Go on, sweetheart. It's just a couple of coppers, right? Calling the cops would cost you more, and then they'd expect free coffee and probably doughnuts as well. Be better for your profits if you just let this one go, yeah?'

Nan glared at both of them. 'Fine. But, you, get out, and don't come back.'

'I have no intention of returning, madam,' Zechs flung after him, a parting shot as he stood up and followed the young man who'd helped him.

'Thank you.' Oh, he was glorious.

'No biggie.' He lifted one hand in a jaunty wave, and sauntered out ahead of Zechs, treating him to an enchanting rear view. There were cat-calls and whistles as he joined the little knot of teenagers at the corner, propping himself against the wall in the centre of the group.

Ah. Stupid not to have realised, given the clothes and the fact that he was out late, in an area like this.

He took a deep breath, oddly unsettled still. If that boy had been the one to proposition him…..oh, now that was stupid. No prostitute was going to hit on someone so obviously penniless.

Idiot. And there was something jangling in his mind, something that awful woman had said, or Duo. He shook his head firmly, trying not to think about Duo's bright laugh. Of course. The city watch. Someone or other had mentioned their existence at some point; all he had to do was find a constable and say he'd been robbed and someone would find him a car or a phone. That was what the police were for, after all.

It didn't work like that. In this place, nothing went the way it was supposed to. The constable he found gave him one long look and immediately started demanding to see his papers, some ID, anything.

'I'm not a vagrant!' Zechs snapped. No one had ever looked at him like that; like he'd crawled out from under a particularly muddy rock. The cheek. Admittedly, he wasn't in terribly pristine condition; he'd dropped his jacket in the first bar and not noticed until it had been well and truly trampled on, and somewhere else, he'd had drink spilled down his trousers. He certainly didn't look like a vagrant, though. 'I'm the Sanque ambassador.'

The constable shook his head. 'You need a night in the cells to sleep it off.' He reached out and took a firm hold of Zechs arm.

'Hey, there you are!' Someone shouted behind them. 'Where'd you get to, bud? I've been looking all over the place for you!'

It was him again; his saviour from the coffee shop. 'You know him, Maxwell?' the constable demanded.

'Sure I do,' the young man said heartily. 'We've been working on Howard's crew all week. He's not some deadbeat.'

'Oh, he's one of Howard's.' The constable shrugged. 'What's he doing like this then? Howard usually employs better.'

'Yeah, he had some bad news this morning. Death in the family, you know. But he's supposed to be crewing one of the Sweeper ships to L3 in a few hours. You know Howard; he'll rip this guy a new one when he sees the state of him.'

The constable laughed. 'I'll bet. But he's out here without any ID and you know the rules, Duo.'

'Yeah, yeah, but come on, Alex.' Duo's voice changed from bantering to warmly cajoling. 'He's new to L2 and his old granny passed on this morning and he's all upset. He doesn't know the system yet. If you take him off to the station, you'll have all that paperwork to deal with, and you'll have Howard storming down in an hour's time looking for his new pilot 'cause the shuttle's grounded without him.'

Alex threw up his hands. 'Whatever. Take him off the streets and get him cleaned up, OK? And you owe me one.'

Duo nodded. 'Sure. I'll see you 'round.'

Zechs let the young man drag him around a corner and down a series of alleyways before he finally spoke. 'Jeez, man. Are you insane? You don't want to get mixed up with those guys. What the hell were you thinking?'

'I don't understand. I didn't know what else to do. I had my wallet stolen earlier and I've no idea where I am, and it seemed like a good idea to go to the police.'

Duo rolled his eyes. 'Maybe where you come from that would be a good idea. Here, not so much. If you're not carrying ID, you'll get thrown in jail 'til you can find someone who'll come and vouch for you and spring you. Even then, it usually takes hours to get the paperwork cleared and you'd be stuck in a cell with God-knows-who.'

Zechs shuddered at the thought, at the scandal. 'Thank you,' he said sincerely. 'Again. You seem to have appointed yourself as my rescuer for this evening.'

'Yeah, well, we're not done yet. If another copper finds you out here, you'll get shoved in the slammer. You'd better come home with me. I'm Duo, by the way.'

'Zechs.' He offered his hand, which made Duo grin.

'Man, you're really not from around here, are you? I wouldn't do that too often, not if you want to keep your watch and that fancy ring.' He took Zechs' hand anyway; a quick, light grasp that was over far too soon. 'We'd better move, before Alex changes his mind and decides he needs someone to make up his quota for the night.. C'mon.'

Zechs was sick on the way, after he'd stood on something that squelched. Duo stood patiently and then handed him a few crumpled tissues. His head felt a bit clearer after that; he started to take notice of his surroundings instead of just stumbling in Duo's wake. He'd never been anywhere like this before; even the worst slums he'd seen on Earth didn't have tottering piles of rubbish being picked over by rats and the small, shadowy forms of children.

Duo lived in a crumbling apartment building with a dozen or so people sleeping in the entrance, and a stained, smelly staircase. His home was a pleasant surprise though, and reminded him of friends' student houses when he'd been at university. A mish-mash of cast-off furniture, with books everywhere, and walls covered in travel posters and film advertisements, and an empty pizza box on the floor.

It was cluttered and cheerful and freezing cold.

'Sorry about this.' Duo slipped past him, shoving a couple of coins into a metre. 'Won't take long to warm up. Can I get you something to drink? Coffee?'

'Please.' Zechs sat on the sofa, which sagged under his weight, and then folded around him, and thrust both hands into his pockets to warm them.

Duo, in his own space, was edgier than he'd been outside, more nervous; dropping spoons and clattering mugs and asking Zechs three times if he took sugar.

When he finally got his drink, it was just cheap instant coffee with powdered creamer but it was warm and non-alcoholic and altogether wonderful.

Duo sat at the other end of the sofa, cradling his mug in both hands, and tugging a blanket around his shoulders, to watch the fire fizzle into reluctant life.

'It doesn't usually take this long to work properly.' He shrugged. 'I haven't turned it on for a few weeks. Maybe I need to check the fuses or something.'

'What do you do?' Zechs asked, shocked. 'Just sit here and freeze?'

'Electricity's expensive.' Duo shrugged again. 'I'm used to it. Guess it's warmer on Earth, huh?'

'Not where I'm from, no.' He'd always loved the long, snowy winters in Sanque. Skiing and sleigh rides and ice-skating. He'd always enjoyed the cold, wrapped up in layers of cashmere and luxuriously padded down jackets and the anticipation of mulled wine or rum-laced hot chocolate by a log-fire.

It wasn't so much fun like this.

'Where's that then?' Duo asked chattily.

'Northern Europe. Sanque. Have you heard of it? Well, it's a very small country.'

'What's it like?' Duo's amazing eyes were fixed on him, eager. People had been asking him gushing questions about Sanque ever since he'd first arrived; an easy chance to engage him in conversation. They'd rarely bothered to listen, eyes flicking around to see who was watching them talking to the prince.

Duo wasn't like that. As Zechs talked, Duo curled up to face him, drink forgotten on the floor.

'You miss it, huh?' he said softly, when Zechs finally paused for breath.

'Very much.'

'You should go home.'

'It's not that simple. I've made a commitment. And, well, there are personal reasons. I had a relationship that ended badly. I needed to get away from everything.'

Duo snorted. 'Must've been a hell of a bad relationship if you ended up escaping here.'

'It was bad at the end,' Zechs said slowly. Odd, this was the first time he'd spoken about it, even with his closest friends. 'I thought we were in love. We'd been together for three years, and I suppose I'd moulded my whole life around his, what he wanted. When it ended, I just wanted to get away, and this was the first ambassadorial post that came up. I did a little research on L2 and thought that I could maybe do some good here.'

Zechs suddenly went cold. He hadn't quite meant to be so revealing with a total stranger. And, damn, he'd told that constable as well. Not that he'd been believed.

Duo just shrugged. 'That sounds posh. What d'you get to do for that job?'

'Be a perfectly groomed figurehead, apparently; wheeled out to meet every passing dignitary, and attend every function going. I'm also in charge of a charitable foundation to help children, that allocates funds to hospitals and orphanages and so on, but they don't seem to need anything. I was taken to visit an orphanage a couple of days ago,' he went on. 'It was perfectly pleasant. The children seemed happy and well cared for, and the staff devoted.'

Duo's mouth twisted. 'That was Green Meadows, right? Yeah. They take everyone there to show off. It's not an orphanage; it's a shop. They only take kids they'll be able to sell on to people who're willing to pay big bucks. They have to be cute, smart, have the right skin and eye colour and no obvious behaviour problems.'

'God,' Zechs breathed. 'That's appalling.'

Duo lifted one shoulder. 'Whatever. It gives some kids a chance to get a better life, maybe. To go to people who'll give them a chance.'

'What about the other children?'

'Oh, well. I guess they end up hanging around street corners and picking up random guys. What you need to do is go to the places they don't show you on some tour. You might be able to help the kids there a bit, if you're interested.'

Zechs nodded. 'I'll do that, thank you. And Duo, I'll make sure you don't lose anything by helping me tonight.'

Duo blinked. 'Come again?'

Zechs actually found himself blushing with those enormous eyes fixed on him. 'Look. I appreciate what you've done for me, and I know you didn't expect anything in return, but I appreciate that you're probably losing a night's income by having me here, and I'll repay you.'

Duo was suddenly on his feet, braid practically bristling with fury. 'Get out. I don't peddle my ass, if that's what you're trying to get at. And I'm not letting anyone in my home who thinks that about me.'

'Duo, please stop shouting at me. I'm very sorry if I've insulted you. But you were with a group of prostitutes, and wearing some very revealing clothing, and you did promise that constable a favour for letting me go. Can you truly blame me for what I thought?'

Duo's flat, thin-lipped stare stayed in place for a few heartbeats, then he grinned reluctantly. 'Jeez. I didn't mean that kind of favour. I meant I'd buy him a beer or a coffee or whatever sometime. I'm not a whore. I don't sleep with people unless I'm attracted to them.'

'I'm truly sorry.' Zechs patted the sofa, relieved when Duo sat back down. 'I'm very glad you don't peddle your very attractive ass, as you put it. No one should have to do that.'

'You noticed my ass?'

'Impossible not to, in those clothes.'

That drew a real smile. 'You know what they say; if you've got it, flaunt it.'

'Well. Now we've established what you weren't doing out there, may I ask what you were really doing?'

'Oh.' Duo looked faintly embarrassed, dropping his head so his bangs fell forward. 'It's kind of stupid. Those kids out there, on the game, they're so young and stupid; they kind of need someone to look out for them. I keep an eye on them, buy them a coffee or dinner when I can afford it, make sure they don't go off with real perverts. Shit like that. You know.'

Zechs didn't. 'That's your job? You're some sort of outreach councillor?'

'Do I look like a social worker?' Duo asked, obviously amused. 'Hell, no. Besides, there's no way those kids'd talk to someone like that. It's why I dress like this; makes me blend in a little bit. Get them to trust me. They know I've got the couch if someone needs a couple of nights off the street, if someone works them over a bit, or they just need a break.'

'I see.' Ever since he'd come to L2, he'd been meeting people who worked for various charities and compiled statistics and wrote reports and organised or attended fundraisers. Duo was the only person he'd met who seemed to be doing something practical.

'So that's what I was doing out there. What's your story?'

Zechs sighed. 'I was at a party earlier. Well, more of a formal reception, really, for some bank that's setting up a branch here. I think I shook hands with every second person on L2, and answered the most inane questions, and posed for photographs.'

'Sounds awful.'

'It was. In the end, I just left.' There was probably a chauffeur still waiting for him. 'I went into the first bar I saw and it rather went downhill from there.'

Duo grinned. 'I can imagine. Listen, was there food at this shindig?'

'Canapés. Finger food.'

'Made with real fingers?' Duo laughed.

'Quite possibly. It tasted dire anyway.'

'I should get you something. It probably wouldn't hurt after all you've been drinking.'

'It's that obvious?'

'Yeah. No offence, but you smell like a brewery on their busy day.'

Immediately after accepting, Zechs felt guilty; what if Duo didn't have food to spare? When he tried to change his mind, though, Duo just laughed and said he was starving and it was just as easy to make food for two.

He made tinned ravioli, served on a chipped plate with mismatched cutlery and it tasted divine, with Duo sitting beside him and talking.

After dinner, Zechs ended up lying on the couch, simply because he'd wriggled around trying to find a comfortable position, and this was best, with Duo resting against the other arm, and their legs intertwined.

He couldn't remember when he'd felt this comfortable with another person. Noin, perhaps, before things had got awkward. Quatre, certainly, although he hadn't see his best friend quite so much since he'd met Trowa, and then Quatre hadn't liked Treize at all.

He'd definitely never felt this relaxed with Treize. It had always been a challenge, keeping up with Treize's impossibly exacting standards. Endlessly exciting and simulating and God, so tiring.

It was different with Duo.

'So, you never did tell me what you do.'

'Hmm? This and that. Whatever. Construction mostly. Odd jobs. I'm pretty handy at most things. I really like helping down at the shuttle port, cause you see the shuttles taking off and landing and get to go on them sometimes, but most of 'em have their own crews, and it's really hard to get hired full-time if you don't know someone, or have qualifications and stuff.' He leaned forward, braid brushing Zechs' arm. 'What was it like, flying here? Was it amazing?'

'Not really. I fly quite a lot; I don't even think about it any more. I had a pile of paperwork to get through, and then I think I dozed a bit.'

Duo looked stunned. 'But you were in space. Flying. And you didn't notice?'

'After take-off, there's nothing to notice, really. You can't even tell that you're moving. It's honestly not very exciting, unless you're piloting your own ship and even then it's mostly computerised.'

'You can fly?' Duo breathed, staring at him.

'I have a licence; I haven't actually piloted in years. I do have a small twin-engine plane at home; I enjoy flying that. It's not just entering co-ordinates in a database.'

'That's so cool!'

Zechs pillowed his head on one arm, shifting a little to the side so Duo had room to stretch out beside him. 'It is, yes. Why so many questions? You just said that you work on shuttles. You must be used to flying.'

'Oh.' Duo looked down. 'That. No, I just help with loading and unloading. That kind of thing. A bit of maintenance sometimes. I've never actually flown.' He shifted position a little bit, propping himself up on an elbow. 'I want to, one day. I'd love to train as a pilot. Right now, I'm trying to get a mechanic's license, and if I had a steady job I'd save for flying lessons. So what d'you do at home? The same sort of thing as here?'

'More or less. I liked it better though. To be totally honest, it suited my lifestyle. I had plenty of time off so I could travel with Treize; that's my ex-partner, and he liked me being around for him.'

'What happened? Can I ask?'

'He found someone else. Someone who was more of a challenge than I'd become, apparently. Then he neglected to inform me of the fact. I think I was just supposed to have known instinctively that he'd tired of me.'

'That seriously sucks. You sound fairly calm about it all.'

'I'm not, really. But it was three months ago, and I suppose one has to move on. I wasn't at all calm at the start. My friend Wufei wanted to disembowel him, and I gave serious consideration to helping.'

Duo laughed aloud at that. 'I think I'd like Wufei. Your ex, not so much.'

'That would make you an excellent judge of character.' Zechs assured him. He was cramped and stiff and freezing and had a splitting headache and one of the springs from Duo's couch was malevolently poking into his kidney. He had Duo in his arms, and wasn't quite sure exactly when or how that had happened.

'Oh. Hey.' Duo uncurled a little. 'You OK?'

'I think my spine may have cracked. And my head's aching.'

Duo grinned. 'Yeah. It's kind of uncomfortable here. I do have a bed, if you want. And I can get you an aspirin.'

'That would be good. And lying down properly sounds wonderful.' He wasn't going to let himself think beyond that. Duo had made it clear that he wasn't …what Zechs had thought at the start. 'Do you think I could use your bathroom first?'

Duo nodded, handing him a small key. 'It's on the landing; the door opposite. The key's for the cupboard over the sink. It's got my soap and towels and stuff in it if you want to clean up.'

'That would be wonderful.' He forced himself not to think about the sunken bath at the Embassy, or Treize's hot tub, or rose-scented bath oils. Just warm water and soap would be fine. More than fine. The water was a notch up from freezing, spurting irregularly from a hose pipe attached to the wall with wire and a few nails. Zechs forced himself to stand under it for long enough to rinse the soap off, then cleaned his teeth with one finger, and headed back to the sanctuary of Duo's room, determinedly not thinking about how many people presumably shared the bathroom.

He took a couple of pills Duo handed him, washed down by several glasses of water, while Duo tidied up a bit, and then led him into the bedroom. It was really a glorified cupboard, with a single mattress, heaped with blankets. It looked sublime.

'Uh, it's easier to get warm actually, if you take your clothes off.' It was hard to tell, in the very dim light of the tiny bulb, but he thought Duo might have been blushing. He muttered something about checking the locks and left Zechs to some privacy for a few minutes.

A gentleman wouldn't look, Zechs reminded himself, when Duo came back. A gentleman would discreetly look away, instead of staring. It was impossible not to, and Duo didn't seem to mind all that much anyway, stripping off quickly to black briefs and diving under the covers.

'Mmm. This feels good.'

'It does.' Zechs ran one hand the length of Duo's braid. 'Don't you ever leave this loose?'

'Sometimes, but it gets tangled and then it's a bitch to brush out and braid again. How does yours stay so smooth?'

'I'm not sure.' That wasn't true, but he didn't want to admit to weekly visits from his personal barber, and hair care products that probably cost more than Duo's monthly rent.

'It's really fine,' Duo marvelled, sliding a hand over the pale blond mass.

'Thank you.' This, Zechs decided, was possibly the oddest situation he'd ever been in, that anyone had been in. He was in bed, in a very small, cramped bed, with the loveliest man he'd ever seen. There'd been men since Treize, of course, for that awful first month or so, until Quatre and Wufei had sat him down and made him talk to them. Men he'd taken home and screwed and immediately wanted to forget. He didn't want Duo to be one of those.

He'd forgotten that just the act of holding someone could be a pure pleasure, that sometimes it was enough to fall asleep with someone in your arms.

He woke before it was fully day; a murky half-light that slowly washed to brightness enough to watch Duo wake up.

'Hey.' Duo grinned up at him, and then curled closer. It felt like they'd been doing that all their lives; it felt like the start of a wondrous adventure.

'Good morning. Duo, I think, no actually, I know, that I'm going to have to kiss you now.'

'No objections here,' Duo said amiably, and tilted his face closer. The kiss was everything he'd been daring to imagine; everything that the essence of Duo. Warmth and candour and directness and a swift flare of passion before they pulled apart.

'What time do you have to get up?'

'Whenever. I really should be out looking for work.'

'Or you could stay here a little longer.'

'Mmm. That would be option B.' He wound a lock of Zechs' hair around one finger. 'Listen, you're not going to do something crass like offer to pay for my time again, are you?'

'I sincerely hope I'm not that crass,' Zechs answered. 'But I'd love to buy you breakfast. Or lunch.'

'I'm not some charity case,' Duo glared at him. 'You don't have to take me out and buy me stuff.'

'Well, of course you're not a charity case. But I am, I think. And I think buying you a meal after all you've done for me is the least I can do.'

Duo thought about it, and then nodded. 'OK. But I pick the place. And it won't somewhere fancy serving snails and shit.'

God, this was going to be difficult. He wanted to take Duo home, and install him in his ridiculously pretentious suite, and feed him every delicacy known to man, and buy him a whole new wardrobe and his own shuttle and everything else he'd ever wanted, and Duo was going to fight him every step of the way.

'No snails,' he agreed. 'But somewhere nice, all right?'

Duo burst out laughing. 'Zechs, before you start making plans, you don't have any money. Remember?'

'Oh.' He'd totally forgotten. 'If you let me use your phone, I can call my driver to pick us up.'

'You have a driver, huh?' Duo's eyes gleamed. 'Does he wear one of those dumb uniforms with shiny buttons? And a cap? That's pathetic.'

'I'm afraid so. Do you think you could lower your standards enough to be driven by someone like that?'

'Maybe.' He tugged on the lock of hair still in his fingers. 'This is going to be seriously difficult, what with you being rich and all.'

'Rich, but terribly alone and lonely.' Zechs tried to look pathetic and pleading and Duo just laughed.

'Oh, yeah and terribly self-pitying,' Duo said instantly, mocking his accent. 'And spoilt and sorry for yourself. You're way luckier than lots of people.'

'Very much so,' Zechs agreed. Duo was right; of course he was. It was rather refreshing to be told off so – directly. A contrast to Treize's little barbed comments that made their way under the skin to fester. And of course it helped that Duo was wreathed around him, with that soft braid lying on Zechs' arm. 'I'm feeling extremely lucky, especially at this moment.'

'Me too. So, you do this a lot? Wake up with strange guys?'

'No.' Zechs stared into those amazing eyes. 'I don't. After Treize, yes, I did some stupid things for a few weeks, and it mostly made me feel even worse.'

'No wallowing,' Duo reminded him, with the help of a finger jabbed in his ribs. 'He was stupid, leaving you for some other guy.'

Zechs grinned, sliding an arm around Duo's waist, pulling him even closer. 'Was that actually a compliment?'

Duo huffed. 'Whatever. Don't go getting all big-headed on me. And don't think you can get fresh either. I don't put out much 'til the third date.'

'Does last night count as a date?'


'Lunch today,' Zechs said instantly. 'Dinner. Dancing afterwards. That's three. Does that mean I may get to be a little, ah, fresh,with you this evening?'

'You'll have to wait and see.' Duo grinned impishly, dropping a quick kiss on his forehead.

'You're impossible.'

'So I'm told.' Duo's smile dimmed slightly. 'This whole situation is, kinda. Don't you think? We don't even know each other.'

'Impossible,' he echoed softly. 'I suppose it is. But I happen to be enjoying it very much so far. Aren't you?'

Duo beamed. 'Yep. I guess it is sort of like an adventure, yeah?'

That, Zechs decided, was exactly what it was; what life should be.