Author: NagiLite

Rating: R

Disclaimer: Gundam Wing belongs to the Big, Rich People. In other words, not me.



~Two~



The next morning, Heero awoke hating himself for agreeing so readily. He should have been preparing to board the subway, should have been departing for the airport, and then to Earth...but no. His mouth tasted nasty, and he regretted having not packed anything. He trudged into the bathroom that was adjacent to the bedroom, and was pleasantly surprised to find a new toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, in fact, everything he needed. Clothes, too. He lifted the simple blue jeans and white button-down shirt. Good enough.

After he was decent, he made up the bed and opened the door--only to find the smirking face of Duo Maxwell confronting him.

"Hiya, Zero One," the braided man said cheerfully. Heero noticed how the merriment never reached his eyes and wondered what Duo was really thinking. 'None of my concern,' he scolded himself. He pushed past the American and set his mind on getting breakfast. Preferably something light, unlike the meal the night before.

He was jolted out of his lonely world when a thin hand gripped his shoulder. Duo almost laughed at the puzzlement written all over Heero's face. "Where're you going, eh?" Duo asked, not expecting an answer and therefore not waiting for one. "The ballroom is this way." He pointed in the direction opposite the one Heero had been headed in.

Heero raised an eyebrow. He was sure whatever Duo said next would be something he wouldn't like.

"Have you forgotten, Heero? Your little talk with Quatre? You said--" Duo spoke each word slowly and distinctly, "--you would teach me how to dance."

"I did not."

"Well, you didn't SAY," Duo amended, "but you didn't argue against it when Quatre presented the idea to you. That, my friend, is as good an agreement as any."

Heero thought he might be ill. He didn't need this torture so early in the morning. Teach DUO to dance? Oh, that was surely some cruel joke the rulers of life and the galaxy were playing on him. He'd decline; it was as simple as that.

"Oh ho ho," laughed Duo, "can it be possible...that the Great Heero Yuy is afraid to dance with another male?"

Heero glared for all he was worth at the boy before him. He refused to think of Duo as a man now. He was a LITTLE, ANNOYING BOY--

"I never thought you would be frightened by such a tiny thing, Heeeeeeeero."

"Shut up," growled Heero.

"Why should I? I'm not the one afr--"

Heero turned on his heel and set off for the ballroom, knowing full and well that the BOY who bothered him so much was trailing behind, still chuckling and jeering. It wasn't fair; how had he been tricked into this?

With hard eyes, Duo watched Heero storm off, trying to stifle his cruel enjoyment of the other man's torment. However, Heero I-Have-A-Stick-Shoved- Up-My-Ass Yuy deserved it. Duo sauntered after the ex-pilot, thinking of new and improved ways to make Heero's life a living hell.

The idea occurred to Duo as they entered the ballroom itself and as Heero uncertainly paused, facial features twisted in intense dislike and awkwardness. It was a rather malicious idea, but a good one, a classic one. He wasn't even sure exactly why he was so angry with Heero anymore ('He DID steal Deathscythe's parts way back when...and he's never been nice to me...I've tried so hard to break his shell, and he just won't fucking let me in...') but he felt the need to hurt Heero, deeply and irreversibly.

Duo grinned and said, "Shouldn't you turn on the music?" There was a small boombox in the corner, one Quatre had had put there for this specific reason, and Heero went over to plug it in. There was a CD in it already, contemporary music, and Heero set to the boombox to play nonstop.

Heero hesitantly approached Duo and held out an arm.

"You'll have to explain everything to me," Duo told him frankly.

Heero glowered but replied, "Take my hand."

In another wing of the Mansion, Quatre Winner was staring intently at a video screen, upon which the slightly fuzzy image of Duo and Heero was shown. He watched as they went from stumbling around to gliding across the marble floor. With even greater interest, he perceived the supposedly accidental actions: hands bumping, bodies meshing, faces so close they nearly touched.

Quatre tapped his foot in time with the music from the speakers, music he himself had chosen. It was interrupted every few minutes by a grunt from Heero or a curse from Duo, but other than that...

It reminded him of Relena Peacecraft. He was still furious with himself for not keeping in contact with her, and even more furious with her for not telling him she'd been...married. He hoped the upcoming ball would keep him busy enough so he wouldn't have time to think of her. Blue eyes like oceans at evening, hair that had seemed so soft in the afternoon sunlight, he'd wanted to touch it. Had wanted to, but had never done so. After all, Miss Noin had taught him the art of unrequited affection.

"Ugh, idiot, I'm an idiot! Hold on..." The mini Duo on the screen bent down and rubbed his leg, mumbling what Quatre's sister, Iria, called "dirty words".

Quatre sighed and switched off the cameras in the ballroom. He felt a little guilty for spying on Heero and Duo, but the looks they gave each other kept coming back to haunt him. There was something below the surface, something more than broken friendship and anger and hate. He was determined to figure out what that something was.

Meanwhile, Duo's idea was beginning to fall down around him. He had intended to seduce Heero, but it kept backfiring. If he tried to collapse into Heero's arms, it resulted in him stepping on his own feet; if he brought his face close to Heero's, he ended up bumping his nose. And damnit, he was supposed to be good at seduction.

Heero insisted they stop for the day; it was past noon, and both were tired. Duo angrily rubbed his bruised arms. Heero gripped him much to hard for comfort. 'Forget about THAT brilliant plan. The guy is a total prick. He probably doesn't even know what sex is...'

The music that had been playing incessantly for the past three hours was turned off, and Heero straightened. Something was tugging at the corner of his narrow lips, something Duo recognized as a smile. Well, well, well, miracles really did happen.

"What's so funny?" Duo asked.

"It's just...you look so stupid."

"Wh--what?!" Duo's eyes widened in disbelief. What a terribly un- Heerolike thing to say...

"Your hair..."

The American frowned and went to one of the large windows where his reflection glared back at him. He finally saw what Heero was talking about. His hair had somehow come unraveled and was now wildly tangled. How had he NOT noticed it? He ran his fingers through it until he looked halfway civilized. 'The tie must have broken,' he decided. 'And I was so busy trying to get at Heero, I didn't realize it until he pointed it out...Rudely, I might add.'

He smiled at himself, then posed. "I am one sexy dude," he said out loud.

Heero snorted.

"What, you don't believe me?"

"Is that a rhetorical question?"

"Hmph." He turned to mockingly glare at Heero. "First you insult my intelligence, then my sexual appeal, which is a thousand times more powerful than your own. I challenge you to a duel, Heero Yuy."

"I'll win."

"Nah." And without any warning, Duo launched himself at Heero, aiming a fist at his eye. The fist connected and Heero fell back, Duo on top of him. Strong arms pinned Duo's hands to his sides and rolled them over. Duo was, for a moment, afraid Heero would knock him out, but the Japanese man did no such thing.

He just sat on Duo's pelvis, head tilted in contemplation. Duo noted with grim approval the thin stream of blood running from a cut above Heero's right eyebrow.

"You've become quite violent," Heero remarked finally.

"And you've always been violent," Duo retorted. He struggled to free himself from Heero's hold, but it was useless for him to even try. 'Oh no, I won't seduce the bastard; I'll kill him.' "Get offa me."

"How is it," Heero continued as if Duo hadn't spoken at all, "that you have come to despise me so?"

"You hate me. Why should I not return those sentiments?"

"Hate you?" Heero stared down at Duo with genuine curiosity now. Hate. He had only hated a few people in his lifetime, and Duo Maxwell wasn't one of them. If he was perfectly honest with himself, Duo and Relena were the two people he hated the least. Yes, he disliked their persistence in interfering with his life, but he could never hate them. "I don't hate you."

"Oh, please, don't even start." Duo turned his head to the side, not willing to look at Heero. It was becoming more and more painful every minute. "As many times as you've threatened me and lied to me and abandoned me."

"What are you TALKING about?"

"You know, 'I will kill you' and all that. Disappearing so only Quatre Winner, Mr. Billionaire himself, could find you."

"What was I supposed to do?" Heero asked coolly. "Ask you to come live with me? I have an apartment in Sanc. It's nearly big enough to be called a closet. Why do you care, anyway?"

"I DON'T," Duo said vehemently, at this point thrashing about in earnest. "You can go to hell, for all I care."

"Isn't that where you live, Shinigami?"

"Shut up!"

"Or do you want me to be where you are, wherever you are, like some little dog you can order around--"

"I said, shut the fuck up, Yuy!"

Heero let go of Duo's hands, and immediately they flew up to wrap around Heero's neck. Duo threw Heero to the floor, straddling him and letting his head hit the marble with a sickening crack. Heero's eyes crossed slightly, and he reached up to pry Duo's fingers from his skin. At last, Duo resorted to scratching Heero's face, but once again, he found himself restrained, even when on top and at an advantage.

"Damn you, Heero, damn you to--" He was pulled down into an unbreakable embrace, face pressed into the soft cotton of Heero's shirt. He fought the impulse to give in and cry like a baby, instead opting to hold Heero just as tightly, hoping to somehow break his ribs, crush his heart into a bloody pulp.

"Duo," Heero's hot breath rushed by Duo's ear, "what do you want from me?"

"I want you to die."

"Is that...what you really want?"

"Yes," Duo hissed just as softly. Then, "No. I don't know."

"When you figure it out," Heero said, "come to me."

He gently unwrapped Duo's limp arms from his neck and laid the other man out on the floor. Though Duo expected him to, he didn't look back as he left, the doors shutting with a dull thud.

Minutes later, Duo was taking the subway to Norman's Cafe, dreaming of coffee and blushing women and the joy of just not caring.

He checked his watch; it was 2:15 P.M. Good. That meant Tifa and Mallory were in. He gave them his typical greeting as he entered, throwing a bad pick-up line Mallory's way, before ordering a cup of coffee (extra black-- he didn't feel in a sugary mood). He sat by the slightly-dirty-window and brooded until Tifa wandered his way. She began talking and forgot to stop, and he was happy to let her ramble on. It was a relief from trying to be so happy when he felt like a rainy day inside.

Damn that Heero Yuy. He was always doing something wrong, always bringing up bad memories or saying stupid things or hurting people...and always ruining Duo's fun. Like now. Couldn't his stupid memory stay in the back of Duo's head instead of barging in unannounced?

'I wonder what he's doing right now...No. I don't care.'

Tifa's eyes nearly popped out of her head when Mr. Maxwell just up and left, without even leaving a tip or saying goodbye. It was most peculiar, and besides that, she had been nearing the climax of her rather long-winded joke.

Mallory stared at Mr. Maxwell's departing back. As a future-writer and present-reader of romance novels, she noticed many things others did not. Tifa griped about how grumpy Mr. Maxwell was this morning, but Mallory knew it was something more. He acted like someone who was in love with someone else he'd rather not be in love with. Mallory speculated who the lucky girl was, and if maybe the girl didn't know. She was beginning to run down a list of girls she was acquainted with when her manager peered in, saw her dreamy state, and yelled at her to get back to work.

As Mallory was being nagged, Quatre Winner was convincing one of the tenants of his homeless shelter to turn down the music emitting from a small, ratty radio (most likely stolen). The man, while as courteous as Quatre himself, refused. Rashid, standing behind Quatre (under the pretense of a mere companion, yet actually serving as a bodyguard), leaned down and whispered that Quatre should ban the man from the premises. The little blond couldn't imagine doing such a thing, and went on with his reasoning.

The man was losing much of his courteousness when there was a knock at the door. They were inside the man's quarters, and Quatre shouted, "Are you expecting company?" The man shook his head, and the knock came again, this time louder, though Quatre was having a hard time hearing it at all. The music was pounding in his head as well as his ears.

"Please," he yelled, "adjust the volume so I can speak to whoever is there."

This time the man complied, going so far as to hide the radio beneath a pile of dirty clothes. 'He probably thinks it's the police out there. Yes, he definitely stole that thing.'

Quatre opened the door. One of his servants bowed low and stepped aside, revealing a boy ('Man. He's a man now.') Quatre remembered very well.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Winner," the servant apologized. "He insisted on seeing you immediately."

"Trowa?" Quatre felt a wide grin splitting his face. "You came after all!"

The faintest trace of a smile appeared on Trowa Barton's lips as Quatre hugged him fondly, taking his hand and leading him towards the Mansion, the music incident forgotten.

Rashid watched all of this, cast the man who had been playing the radio a warning look, and turned back to study the face of his Master. Master Quatre had been unusually melancholy ever since that second pilot had arrived here. Heero Yuy. But now...

"They really are a pair, are they not?" The servant, a boy of about sixteen or seventeen years of age, stared at Rashid with naive fascination. He was somewhat in awe of the Manguanacs; they served Mr. Winner in a way he was sure he never could.

Rashid shrugged and went on his way, already focused on the security of Winner Estate.

The servant boy returned to his post at the entrance of the Mansion. He was faintly disappointed that Mr. Winner and the strange young man were already gone, but he quickly lapsed into a monotonous daze, occasionally humming snatches of old songs to keep himself awake.

The chess board held all of Heero's attention. He was playing by himself; Heero Yuy versus Heero Yuy. Currently, Heero Yuy was winning. He was pulled out of this queer game by the sound of someone entering his room. He was expecting Duo, HOPING it was Duo, and was a little disappointed to find Quatre facing him.

"Good afternoon, Heero," Quatre said. He was very excited about something, Heero realized. And soon enough, Heero found out what that something was. Trowa Barton gave Heero a little wave, one Heero replied to with a nod. "You've met Trowa Barton, of course."

"Yes. Is Duo around?"

Quatre blinked. "I wouldn't know."

"Hmm..." Heero turned back to his game, sliding a bishop across two white and two black squares.

"Well," Quatre said as he and Trowa departed for Trowa's room, "that was odd."

Trowa's luggage had been brought up by servants, and he set about unpacking the things his sister had painstakingly folded and bagged. Quatre watched quietly from the doorway, unsure of himself. Trowa always unnerved him to some extent. It was so easy with Relena Peacecraft...Relena Darlian. She wasn't confusing. He knew where he stood with her. But Trowa...Trowa was a mystery. 'A mystery worth solving,' he determined, eyes lingering on the curve of Trowa's spine beneath his shirt.

Heero, tired of playing his one-man game, wandered into his bathroom. He stripped completely, sniffed his skin, and winced. Yes, he was sorely in need of a bath. He turned on the hot water faucet, and then the cold water faucet, making sure the water wouldn't scald his skin.

At last he entered the shower, pulling the semi-transparent shower curtain closed. Steam clouded his vision, and he let the water flow over him, washing dirt out of his hair and off of his skin. This was what he'd been missing all those years he'd been a soldier.

It was only about 3:30 in the afternoon, and Duo found himself facing Heero's bedroom door. He had already been subjected to welcomes from both Quatre and the newly arrived Trowa Barton. He should have been hanging out with them, recounting perverted jokes, maybe teasing them on the nature of their relationship...But he was here. As to why he was here...He didn't know. 'Heero said...to come to him when I'd figured out what I want.' And he didn't know that, either.

He turned to leave, but a second later was staring at the mahogany wood of the door. Finally he slid down to sit in front of it, resting his head in his arms.

"We just...we're screwed, Heero," he murmured out loud. "Sometimes I want to jerk a knot in you...and other times I want to...this sounds retarded...other times I want to reach out and grab your hand and tell you it's all right, even though it's NOT all right. NOTHING is right anymore, not since you came back." He stared at the tiled hallway floor, memorizing the patterns. "You don't realize, Heero, that you have a perfect life. You have a kingdom, a princess, freedom...the knowledge to use all of that to your advantage. And yet...You don't seem grateful at all."

"Maybe he doesn't see it that way."

Duo's head shot up. He hadn't thought anyone was around to hear him. But the calm green eyes of Trowa Barton met his own.

"I thought you were with Quatre," said Duo in a reproachful tone.

"He had business to take care of. The ball is tomorrow night. He, as host- -"

"Yeah, yeah, I know," Duo waved off the rest of the explanation. "I just didn't think you were the type of guy to eavesdrop."

"I only happened to hear you. It was not intentional," Trowa assured him.

"Oh." Duo frowned. "What did you mean...when you said 'he doesn't see it that way'?"

"Well." Trowa sat awkwardly down, crossing his impossibly long legs. "Let's analyze your assumptions, shall we? You stated that Heero has a kingdom, a princess, and freedom, yes?"

"You have a good memory. Funny how you got amnesia when you--"

"Moving on. By kingdom, I'm assuming you were referring to the Sanc Kingdom. That is a home to millions of people, not only Heero. At the moment, and you would know this if you actually paid attention to current politics, it has no specific ruler; Heero certainly does not rule Sanc. He probably regards it as a place to reside and nothing more."

Duo nodded uncomfortably. "I guess..."

"Second. The princess part. That is, without a doubt, Relena Darlian."

"I thought her surname was Peacecraft."

"Not anymore."

"Shit, can't she stick with one--"

"Please remain on topic. My point is, it is of her you were speaking. And Heero does not 'have' her. She is married."

"M-married?" Duo choked out.

"Yes. Married. Not to Heero, but to some other man."

"All right," Duo conceded, rubbing his head. Too much information for one day.

"Freedom. That was the third thing you attributed as his. Perhaps..." Trowa tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Perhaps he is held by chains of...confusion."

"What sort of crap is that?" Duo snorted. "Confusion my ass. He's never confused about anything important."

"What about you? He seems pretty confused by YOU, Duo."

"How would you know? You only just got here."

Almost smugly, Trowa said, "Quatre told me. He told me most of what I know about you and Heero and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera."

"Ooooooooh. I get it. Pillow talk."

Trowa grimaced. "Um...no."

"Go on, Clown-boy."

"My point is, Heero doesn't have freedom from his own confusion and fear. In conclusion, he doesn't have everything, as you put it."

"I see your point. Now go away. You've ruined my disillusions, damn you."

"My pleasure." Trowa stood, dusted himself off, and strode away.

Duo mulled over the conversation, until he at last come to the conclusion that he didn't understand Heero at all, but that they were the most mismatched pair in all of history. Pair? What a laugh.

He left before Heero even finished his shower.