Thanks to all for the lovely reviews. And I swear, these chapters do eventually get longer...

The Professional and the Amateur Part 2

"Duo..." murmured the taller Japanese boy, smiling slightly still and tightening his grip ever-so-lightly across Duo's shoulders. "It's a pleasure."

Duo fought off the redness that began to creep slowly up his face and lost as he felt heat in his cheeks. He didn't move for a long while, instead trying to find something else to stare at other than what was offered as a vision in front of him. With a lowered head he laughed nervously.

"I must look like an idiot, stumbling out like that," he said in embarrassment, almost pushing himself away from the Japanese boy to sit on the bed. Or to find his clothes. Or anything! Anything other than standing wrapped in the handsome boy's--Heero--comforting arms like a fool. However, the braided American didn't even move. He couldn't force himself to push away and stand on his own.


"It's okay," the other murmured, smiling a devilish smile and slowly, as if reluctantly, sitting on the bed with him. "The drugs are just running out of your system. Do you remember what happened?"

Duo blinked once, confused by Heero's words. Drugs? What had he been doing that day! He began to think back, feeling a bit dazed from his sleep. That morning he had started off the day like usual; he skipped breakfast to leave for work on time, where he was mobbed by a dozen shopping girls in hopes of having the "cute clerk with the braid" help them out with assorted items. After leaving that job he had gone to Fortunado's in order to start his second job as a waiter-slash-cook.

Correction: His "used to be" second job.

It had been night after that, with him trudging home with his last paycheck and a kicked ego. He had decided to stop and sit on the bridge, in a hidden nook that he'd found when he was younger and his parents had died...

His eyes lit up with worry. "My God, the explosions! Is anyone hurt? What happened? Shit, I hope no one was hurt! I was just heading home and all of a sudden--BOOM!--there were all those bangs and--I think I heard gunshots--around the warehouse area. What the hell happened anyway?"

The Japanese boy's eyes had grown wide during his whole reply and quick fire questions of concern. Stopping in mid-sentence with something akin to chagrin sliding down his spine, Duo held his breath and waited for the other boy to answer.

"You... didn't know?" Heero finally asked, tilting his head to the side with something unidentifiable in his eyes. "Do you... recognize me in any way?"

Duo blinked again. Should I? "Um. If I said no, would you think of me as a moron? 'Cuz I don't have a clue." He paused, finally glancing toward the other boy again with nervousness printed across his face. "Did you go to Grant Middle School? Or are you a regular at Fortunado's? And what am I supposed to know, exactly? Where those warehouses condemned or something?"


Heero half-listened to question after question the American boy pitched, still musing on the inside. How could it that the other didn't know who he was? Usually he couldn't walk out onto a street without being mobbed! It entered his mind, finally, that if he didn't interrupt the braided beauty soon, it was quite possible that the other boy would pass out from lack of oxygen.


The door banged open, and Heero jumped off of the bed in a fluster of nerves, almost snapping at whoever intruded on him so suddenly. When he noticed the aging man with the wild, grey hair, sun glasses, and the loud Hawaiian shirt, he settled down his nerves and instead glowered quietly at the other man.

"There you are, Yuy!" the man growled out in a good-natured way, trying to keep the stern expression on his face and failing miserably. The older man knew where he'd been for the passed five hours and didn't particularly mind. That is, until the other must have realized this might affect Heero's performance.

"Howard," Heero said in his best warning tone, looking toward the confused braided boy sitting cross-legged in bed...


"There you are, Yuy!" Howard nearly grinned when he saw the little brat glaring at him in such a way he could have possibly given a fit man a heart attack. Yuy might not have been openly cocky, but Howard was set and determined to knock any ego the actors of his movies gained. It was what made others hard to work with him, except for the stubborn who decided they liked Howard in some strange way.

Yuy was his little project. He'd never had the pleasure of working with the three-time Oscar award winner, and found the young pup something of a change of pace. He enjoyed teasing the other, and the squirt loved to cause screw-ups on the set. Howard didn't mind, the cast didn't care, and everyone was happier that way.

But there was still that confident air about Heero Yuy that bugged Howard to no end. All those little trophies must have gotten to him, and he was bent on clearing the atmosphere of his quiet, cocky airs.

"Howard," the sprat warned seriously, leveling a stare off at Howard before his gaze flickered to the bed. Howard's gaze followed Yuy's, only to find the amethyst eyes of the patient switching back and forth between the two in something of a bit of confusion and amusement. When both of them were looking at her, however, the girl with the long hair looked less amused and more than a little abashed.

"So the chick's finally awake?" Howard huffed with his arms thrown up. "Maybe now Yuy can stop hovering over her bed so we can get some work done around here!" Howard grinning inwardly. He had a feeling Heero Yuy had found a very nice girl in the river, indeed he did. With a little teasing and a bit of pushing, he could finally get the other a date--

Instead of blushing prettily like Howard had expected, the beautiful girl's jaw dropped open comically before she snapped her jaw shut to frown. "Chick?" Uh-oh, Howard thought inwardly, wincing and slapping his forehead mentally. Moron, moron, moron! Not all chicks like to be called chick!

Rather than the yelling and cursing and screaming as he immediately expected, the girl began to laugh huskily, a small smile forming at her lips. Howard breathed a sigh of relief, physically swatting a hand across his forehead. With that pure amusement, he knew, thankfully, that he was out of the frying pan with no fire in sight.

Yuy was glaring at him, though. Confused, Howard looked toward the Japanese actor with the question written across his face.

"Howard," Yuy muttered low, jerking his head toward the laughing girl in bed, "this young man is Duo Maxwell. Duo, this is Howard Stiles... my producer and director."

Howard blinked and whipped around to stare at the young gir--boy in the bed. What the hell?


Duo was laughing so hard at the older man's expression that the last part of the introduction floated in one ear and flew right back out the other. The man's face held astonishment as he looked closer at him, and his jaw dropped when he noted the flat chest. Eyes twinkling wickedly, Duo held out his hand.

"Nice to meet you, Mr. Stiles." He grinned when the flustered older man took an automatic step to shake Duo's hand. Poor sucker... He's taking it so hard...

"Um, ah, nice to meet you too, Mr. Maxwell. I, uh... shit, I'm sorry about the 'chick' comment..."

"People make the same mistake all the time, Mr. Stiles," Duo assured him with a mournful mental sigh. "Don't worry about it. Some grope before asking, ne?" Duo laughed again, remember all the startled faces of the gropers when they reached from behind only to grab nothing. And that was usually AFTER they slapped Duo's butt in a flirting way...

"Ah..." The older man cocked a brow in Heero's direction, a allusive look crossing his weathered face before it disappeared again, leaving nothing but courteous humor and teasing. "Well, Mr. Maxwell, I do hope you forgive me for my mistake." With an exaggerated bow that made Duo laugh once again, he turned back to Heero.

"Not that your absence really matters for a while, anyway," Mr. Stiles sighed dramatically, throwing his head back as he slumped into a chair. "We need to wait until we find a replacement for Maggie Philips. She cancelled her contract as of today."

Heero's head snapped over toward Mr. Stiles, bewilderment spread across his handsome face. "What? Why?"


Mags quit? It didn't really matter to Heero. Off-screen, he and Mags were mere talking acquaintances, though on-screen they played several romantic roles together. The most recent movie they were working on involved another of those romantic roles. But Mags was never known as a quitter for any reasons.

"What? Why?"

Howard sighed again. "She found out about the original script from one of those talkative fellows during coffee break not long ago. She didn't feel comfortable in the role of a character who was originally supposed to be male and STILL falling for and winning the main character. I'm just glad that we hadn't started filming many of her roles, though looking for a replacement will set us back behind schedule."

Damn. Those were, in fact, qualified reasons for Mags to quit. The woman was no homophobic, but if she wasn't meant for a role she would just up and quit there on the spot before anything got uncomfortable for her or anyone else.

"How long do you suppose that will take?"

"Know anyone with decent acting skills?" Howard joked in reply, sending Heero into dry chuckles. He knew plenty of people with acting skills; the question was, would they want to come without further warning and play the role of a guy falling for the main character? Most actors were open-minded in that prospect, but men still weren't willing to kiss another man on-screen unless they, too, swung that way.

"Are we sticking to the original or are we still doing the re-written version?" Heero asked quietly. He personally hoped it was the original that they were doing. He thought it was exciting, doing the first movie with a "not completely ethical" man-on-man pairing in it. Perhaps, with Mags gone, they could consider that script once again.

Howard shrugged. "I've gotten the higher-ups to let us do whichever depending on the first decent actor or actress that comes along. Right now, they don't care if we have to snag someone off the streets; we're burning up money as it is."

There's still a chance... No Oscar flew in front of Heero's eyes for this; he had plenty of those. Instead the thought of doing something totally different from everyone else was just... enticing. Now if he could only get a guy to do the role...

With hidden longing he glanced in Duo's direction. The braided American had been sitting in bed, cuddled among his thin blankets and watching the exchange silently. He wished he could offer the lovely bisheinen the part, but he couldn't possibly take the chance that Duo couldn't act...

The braided boy's mouth opened slightly. Finally, he blurted, "Are you guys doing a play or something? 'Cuz I know a few dudes with acting experiences willing to do anything for another role."

Heero's heart quickened. "How do you know them?" he asked, hoping that the wishful tinge was in his imagination and not in his tone. Duo grinned and held up two fingers.

"Met 'em after I spent some time with them on a modernized version of 'Romeo and Juliet'. But wait a sec!" Duo frowned cutely, his brows bunching together in thought. "Oh, never mind. The whole cast was male, and the person you were trying to replace is a girl. I'm sorry..."

Heero looked at Howard meaningfully, but Howard didn't see it. He was staring at Duo instead. "How the hell did you have a cast full of guys and still play in a drama in need of a female role?"

"It was modernized," Duo explained with an amused smile, "but they wanted to keep a little bit of Shakespeare alive. You know, women weren't allowed to set foot on a stage back in Shakespeare's time. Lessee, there was John Guy, Patrick Jennings, Robert Miller--" Duo rattled off more names, and Heero had a sudden shocking discovery. He'd worked with these people in some form of another, with them either minor actors or secondary-main characters. And Jennings even mentioned the play Duo spoke of not even three days ago.

"I'm just surprised I ain't seen Maxwell out here yet," he'd joked after a good shoot, taking a deep drag of his cigarette. "Best damn Juliet I've ever worked with!" And he laughed, the deep gruff kind. Heero had first thought Jennings spoke of a girl when saying this, but now...

Howard grinned at Heero, That Look in his high cheeks and wide smile. Heero nimbly returned the smile, if not a weaker version, and felt even more excitement well in his chest. Anyone who could get a comment of decency out of Patrick Jennings was bound to be a worth-while actor.

They had found their replacement. Luck was on their side.

Now all they had to do was convince one Duo Maxwell that acting was a very possible career choice.


Nice people review. :innocent smile:


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