Title: Trading Faces
Rating: PG-13, just because I feel like it.
Warnings: Profanity, violence, eventual 1x2 pairing … well, not really eventual anymore I guess *grins*
Disclaimer: Nope, they aren't mine. But I like to pretend that they are. Guess I'll have to settle for owning this story (not a fair consolation if you ask me…)
A/N: Thanks go to: Olivia (hehehe, your review made me laugh, and I'm not quite sure why. Anyway, I'm glad you enjoyed!) Terrasa (Evil? Not very … I was thinking realistic … okay, so it was evil. Sounded like something they'd do though *shrugs* thanks so much!) SilverShinigami (Yeah, this is the end. And it's actually … fluffy? Anyway, I hope you like!) Yui-Mag (Oh, you don't have to bow to me ::though I am secretly pleased and flattered beyond belief!:: I'm so glad you like) LB (Thanks so much for all your compliments/comments. Hope you like this part!) Nitid (Thanks for the compliment … I'm glad you think my writing style is good! I've actually not seen a lot of body switch fics –in this category anyway- but maybe I just haven't seen 'em. *shrugs*) Yami Bakura no Tenshi (Um, yes, there is more … and here it is! Here ya go!) Dreamer (Yeah, I'm still thinking about a Heero-centric side fic of some kind … something's in the works but it isn't cooperating at the moment. But I'm glad you like this, and here's more!) Tori Sakana (Simple? Yes! Isn't that the way it always happens in real life though? Hehehe, anyway … of course I switched 'em back. I'm not cruel … all the time *grins*) ReySolo (Hehehe, I'd be bouncing around too, wouldn't you? Glad you liked it so much! Thanks!) Miharu (Thank you, thank you, thank you for the compliments! Hope you like the rest!) LenaLovely12 (Thanks! Glad you liked!) Bunetwo (Hey, thanks so much for the compliments. Yeah, it's about over. Enjoy the rest!) Elle-FaTe2x1 (It IS a good thing! Hehehe, here's more! Thanks!) Tash-chan (Heh, your review made me laugh. You aren't that blonde, Tash-chan! You wouldn't believe everything I told you … or would you? Hehehe, enjoy!) Solus Nox (Well, just this last part to wrap stuff up. Thanks, hope you like!) Violet Yuy-Maxwell (Heh, it's okay, I'm not gonna switch Fei and Duo … that would be a whole 'nother story entirely. *shakes head in wonder* That would be dangerous! Anyway, thanks!) baka ryu (Yes, I said continued. And here's the continuation! Thanks, enjoy!)
Well, this is the last part. Thanks to anyone and everyone who has given me any sort of feedback, and thanks most of all for reading! If you've made it this far, you obviously liked something *grins*. Enjoy the rest, and I hope to see you all again next time! *waves* Okay, chapter time …
_ _ _
Duo stole into the house as quietly as he could, snickering to himself as he clutched a bulging envelope to his chest. Looking around warily, he sighed relief when he realized that the house was still and silent. As late as it was, Duo had been anticipating such silence. He had been betting that by now the other pilots would all be occupied, giving him time to barrel up the stairs and into his room unseen.
Heero had been called away to a mission, and Duo had not wasted the time. The Japanese boy had not yet returned, which was why he had to hurry. It had been nearly a week since they had destroyed the last traces of OZ's protean modifier experiment, and this was the first chance that he had gotten to have some time just to himself.
Shutting his door with a soft click, he kicked off his shoes and dove headfirst onto the bed. Hastily tearing open the envelope, he stretched out and languidly began setting out each individual, glossy sheet after giving each one thoughtful examination. He had been through each one already numerous times as computer images, choosing his favorites. He knew he couldn't risk printing too many, so he had only chosen the ones he liked best to copy onto the crisp photo paper that he now had before him.
It had been hard to choose.
He had already decided not to tell Heero about the photos just yet. The boy would get all uptight and tell him that it was a danger to their identity to have their images professionally developed on film. At least, Duo imagined that would be his argument if he wasn't too angry to look past the fact that Duo actually salvaged some of the pictures of him. He wasn't sure if he would be able to save the photos if Heero got it in his head to destroy them, which was why Duo had waited for him to get called away before developing them.
He lifted one picture, careful not to smudge the surface with his fingertips, smiling softly as he examined it in detail. This one was, without a doubt, his favorite. Quatre had taken it just after he had finished laughing; Duo could make out the faint creases around Heero's sparkling eyes that alluded to the action. His face was in the process of turning, and the light of the room had caught his features just right. Heero's hair fell artistically around his face, and the smile on the usually expressionless visage was perfect. Not silly or exaggerated, just a simple smile of amusement.
Duo's finger traced the air over Heero's image, his own face mirroring the smile with a touch of wistfulness. He seriously doubted that Heero's face would ever look so carefree again. This photo needed a safe place to stay. Quickly gathering the others and stuffing them back into the envelope, he shoved the bundle under his pillow and rolled off of the bed. Luckily, he was ready for this too. He wanted to buy an album someday, but for now the frame he had picked up would have to do.
Digging through his half of the closet, which was coincidentally a lot larger than Heero's half, he finally grabbed onto a small sack hidden beneath a pile of hastily discarded clothing that had actually been strategically placed. Gently, he pulled out the gilded frame that was about the size of the picture in his other hand.
The frame was twined with white silver and shadowy platinum, dark and light at the same time. Duo smiled, approving of his choice. He pried the frame open on the back and slid the photo in, positioning it just right before closing it up again. Then he turned it in his hand and gazed at it a while, his face one of satisfaction. He decided that he would probably keep the photo in Deathscythe; that way Heero would never stumble across it, and it would also never risk being left behind. Tucking the frame into his duffle, he rocked back on his heels and grinned.
"Someday," he whispered to himself. "Someday, Heero's gonna smile like that again. Only this time I'm gonna be right there next to him. That'll make an even better picture." The silence of the room was his only answer, but he wasn't expecting anything else.
Heero sighed to himself as he trekked slowly along the cracked sidewalk of the dark, mostly deserted street. He was tired, and his muscles ached from the aftereffects of adrenaline and battle. The outskirts of town were quiet, as most people were already tucked away in their homes for the evening. All the same Heero hunched into himself, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible to his surroundings. He didn't want to be noticed, not now.
His laptop rode in the bag slung carelessly over his shoulder, and his gun was tucked safely in his waistline for easy access. He wasn't paying attention to either, though. Reaching into the pocket of the borrowed jacket he wore against the elements, his fingers closed carefully on the object concealed there.
Even without actually seeing it, he knew exactly what it looked like. Duo would probably kill him if he knew what he had done before they had been switched back; he hardly understood himself what possessed him to cut off a piece of Duo's thick golden-brown hair, much less braid and tie it like some sort of odd keepsake. He had burned one end slightly, fusing the strands together. The other end was secured with a maroon rubber band. His fingers toyed over the small braided tress, and for some reason it made him feel better.
Duo's hair was annoying and unruly, requiring far more maintenance than was worth the time. Heero liked it anyway. He was fascinated by Duo's hair, and in some detached manner he almost missed being able to braid it up again every day. The action was oddly comforting; Heero wondered if that was perhaps part of the reason that Duo kept the cumbersome hairstyle.
He knew one thing; he wasn't going to complain about the braid anymore. Pulling the small braided memento out of his pocket for a moment, Heero looked down at his palm with an unusual softness in his eyes. Duo could never find out about this, or he would never live it down.
He was too attached. He was becoming far too sentimental. He should have just tossed the bit of hair away.
Tucking the tress carefully back into his pocket, he kept his hand around it as he jogged up the path to the darkened safe house.
He suddenly didn't care. It reminded him of Duo, and that was enough.
Suddenly Duo's ears caught the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs, and his eyes widened as he dove for the mattress. Hanging off the edge and groping under the bed, he searched for the magazine he'd left there, thinking he could give off the pretense that he'd been reading. Cursing under his breath, his fingers met with nothing but empty space.
The footsteps had stopped, and Duo heard someone's hand on the doorknob. The second it started to turn Duo's thumb grazed something made of paper, and he snatched it out speedily as he turned onto his other side to look away from the door as it was pushed open.
Heero walked into the room, his eyes narrowed slightly in suspicion. The small lamp next to the bed was on, but Duo was turned away from it. It wasn't like the braided boy to be lying down at all; it wasn't so late, after all.
Duo looked over his shoulder, smiling at Heero as his hands blindly yanked the magazine open. He tried to keep a casual air, looking Heero over automatically for injuries. To his relief he saw none.
"Heya Heero," he said amiably. "What are you doing back so soon?"
"It's nice to see you too," Heero said dryly, striding into the room toward the desk. Duo pouted at him, but the action went unseen.
"Aw, c'mon Heero, I didn't mean it like that!" he protested, rolling over with the magazine still in his hands. He watched Heero's back, trying to judge the boy's mood. It was a basically impossible venture.
"What are you doing in bed anyway?" Heero asked, monotone. He turned slightly to look at the boy, his eyes drawn to Duo's hands. His eyes widened only slightly, but Duo caught the action.
"What?!" he asked loudly. "I was only reading my … uh …" He glanced down at his hands, frowned, and closed the booklet momentarily to look at the cover. He choked back a snort. "…Programming manual?!"
"I believe that's mine," Heero said evenly, turning away again with a smirk on his face. "And it's easier to read right side up." Duo gawked, and tossed the booklet to the floor with embarrassment.
"Well, yeah, ya see …" he trailed off, sitting up cross-legged on the bed as he rubbed the side of his face nervously. "Ah, whatever. So, the mission go okay?"
"Hn," Heero replied softly, his back still turned as he arranged his things on the desk. Duo rolled his eyes.
"Was that a 'Damn straight, I kicked ass!' sort of hn, or a 'Leave me the hell alone, I'm pissed and sulking!' sort of hn?" he asked.
"Hn," Heero said again, but this time it came out as a sort of amused snort as he turned to raise an eyebrow at the braided boy. Duo grinned, waving his hand at the silent pilot.
"Hi," he said simply.
"Hi," Heero replied automatically.
"So everything's okay?" Duo asked, genuinely concerned. Heero nodded, slipping his jacket off and hanging it on the back of the desk chair.
"Everything is fine," he said. Duo grinned.
"That's good. I'm glad you're back, really I am," Duo said, referring to Heero's earlier comment. "Just surprised. You said you wouldn't be back till tomorrow morning."
"I was ahead of schedule," Heero shrugged. Duo resisted the urge to laugh.
"Whatever," he teased. "You know you just couldn't wait any longer to get back here and see me." Heero simply glared at him, and Duo did laugh then. He leaned back, propping himself up with his arms as he stretched one leg to dangle over the edge of the bed.
"Hey," he said suddenly, his laughter gone as he remembered the pictures tucked under his pillow. "I gotta question for you, Heero." Heero didn't reply, but he turned his attention fully toward the braided boy as he leaned against the side of the desk.
"Whatever happened to my camera? Did you break it?" Duo asked. Heero gave him an odd look, but pushed away from the desk and quietly padded across the room. Duo watched with a bemused smile as Heero knelt by the closet to rummage through his things. After a moment he stood again, and calmly walked over to the bed to take a place on the quilt.
"It's okay!" Duo exclaimed, taking the small device from Heero with a smile of thanks. Heero surrendered it willingly.
"I deleted all the pictures," he said, toneless as ever. Duo knew he was sorry; not because of the loss of the pictures, but because he had hurt Duo's feelings. Duo had wanted them and he had destroyed them anyway. Duo managed a pardoning smile.
"It's okay, Heero, I don't blame you," Duo said, flicking the device on anyway to make sure it was still functioning properly. He frowned slightly in confusion as the screen popped to life. The small white numbers indicated that there was one picture on file.
"Huh? You missed one, Heero," he announced. At that Heero almost seemed to blush, and he bowed his head for a moment.
"Oh. I … forgot about that," he said quietly, reaching for the camera. "I will fix it." Duo gave him a curious glance, spinning the device out of Heero's range.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Duo! Just give it to me," Heero insisted, reaching again. Duo pulled away, a smile growing on his face.
"I'm curious now! What is it?"
"Nothing," Heero growled. Duo shook his head, scooting away from Heero's demanding hands.
"I don't believe you!" Duo retorted, then without waiting for a reply he flipped the device from record to display.
A small, slightly out of focus image popped up on the screen, and Duo choked in surprise. There before him was a perfect image of himself, the cold gaze in his eyes unmistakably Heero, giving the camera a rather offensive gesture. Heero looked away, embarrassed. Duo stared a minute more, then burst into laughter.
"Heero! You … you …!" he tried to say, then dissolved into helpless laughter again as he suddenly dropped the camera and flung his arms around a very surprised Japanese pilot. Slowly, Heero's uncomfortable face dissolved into a softer expression, and he smiled along with Duo's involuntary chuckles.
"Man, I thought I had you all figured out," Duo said, pressing his cheek into Heero's ear. "But that … I never expected! What else don't I know about you, I wonder?" He pulled away to grin at Heero, who's face had gone back to a neutral, if slightly regretful, expression.
"I was upset at you, then. I forgot I had done that," he said softly.
"Don't be sorry, Heero, that's the funniest thing that's happened all day!" Duo assured him, patting his hand as he peered closely at the other boy's face. "Gotta admit, though, I didn't think you'd ever do that! Musta been my bad influence. What else are you hiding in there, hmm?"
"Duo," Heero said, shaking his head slightly. "What is your preoccupation with knowing things about me?"
"I think you're fascinating, that's all," Duo grinned. "I mean, I know you think you know all you need to know about me, but you're kind of a mystery to me. A fun mystery." Heero looked down, apparently uncomfortable with the current topic of discussion, and Duo gave him an understanding smile as he pushed Heero's chin back up.
"Don't worry about it, man," he said quietly. "I'll find out when you're ready. I know all I need to know for now."
"What?" Heero frowned a little. Duo just shrugged, leaning back on his arms again.
"Sure. I know you're Heero Yuy. I know that I care about you, and that you care about me. I know that your favorite color is purple and that you don't like chocolate and …"
"Duo," Heero interrupted.
"Yeah, Heero?" Duo asked.
"I never told you I don't like chocolate," he said, glaring accusingly at the braided pilot. Duo's eyes widened a little, and he swallowed nervously.
"Ah … you didn't? You sure?"
"Very," Heero replied, leaning forward. "Duo, you disobeyed my orders."
"I told you I didn't want that stuff in my body. I meant that, you know," Heero said, moving even closer. Duo leaned back a little.
"Y-yeah, I know. I didn't eat anything, I swear," Duo said. Heero's hands were on either side of his knees now, and the boy was glaring intently.
"You're lying, Duo," he said flatly.
"Yes you are," Heero insisted.
"No I'm not! I didn't eat it! I spit it out 'cause it tasted so nasty!" Duo burst, and his face fell as Heero suddenly smirked. He tried to scoot away.
"Um, busted?" he said weakly, the look in Heero's eyes making him uncomfortable. "Hey Heero, stop looking at me like that, would ya? I mean, it's not like I hurt anything or … uh, Heero?" Heero was awfully close now, and it was making Duo more than uncomfortable. Suddenly Heero's hand shot out, closing down on Duo's side. Duo squealed in surprise, squirming away as best he could.
"Heero! What are you doing?!"
"Retaliation," Heero explained tersely, his fingers clamping down on Duo again and causing the boy to yelp. "I did learn a thing or two in your body, you know."
"Not fair!" Duo retorted, trying to wiggle out of Heero's range as the boy continued his barrage of tickling. "Heero! Stop it … stop! 'S not … f-fair! Would you … quit it?!" Duo couldn't stop laughing, but he managed to connect a weak kick to Heero's torso, and that was enough to earn him a chance to escape. He clawed his way off of the bed, crawling across the floor as he tried to throw himself to his feet before Heero caught up to him. He pulled himself up against the desk, whirling into a defensive crouch against the boy that had jumped off the bed after him.
"Duo," Heero said simply.
"No. No way," Duo retorted. "You are so going to pay, Yuy!"
"Really," Heero said, smirking with amusement.
"Damn straight," Duo nodded, and without any other warning he lunged out at the unprepared pilot. He slammed bodily into Heero, throwing his arms around his shoulders and mashing his lips into the other's mouth.
Heero's breath had been knocked from him as he stumbled back slightly, but he managed to stay on his feet as his arms came up automatically to brace himself against the braided boy. Duo took full advantage of the gasp that escaped his lungs, however, and deepened the kiss immediately.
Heero was hardly one to protest.
Both were slightly dazed and slightly breathless when Duo finally relinquished Heero's lips, his hands trailing along Heero's spine. Heero could feel Duo's warm breath on his lips, and he trembled slightly as he held tightly to the boy. Duo smiled softly, nuzzling his nose into Heero's cheek.
"Duo," Heero murmured.
"Yeah, Heero," Duo replied quietly, not really questioning the boy. He knew what Heero meant, after all. Suddenly Duo's grin gained a wicked quality, and his violet eyes sparkled as he met the other boy's gaze. "Heero?"
"Hm?" Heero breathed. Duo moved forward, his tongue grazing the corner of Heero's lips, then suddenly he whirled out of Heero's arms with a wild cackle as he took off toward the door of the room.
"That'll teach you!" he shouted, dashing out into the hall away from a very stunned, confused Heero. The unsure expression on his face melted into a small but determined smile as he ran off after the other boy.
"Duo! Get back here!"