Author: Kohaku

Rating: R

Pairings: At the beginning: 1xR, 3x4, 6x5; past 2x5, and of course, in the end, 1+2

Warnings: AU, somewhat OOC, masturbation

Disclaimer: I don't own GW.

Notes: This is the first fic I've written in over a year. Beta'd by Chikara and Stone Angel.


To see the colored pic by ASIA, click here.

/blah blah blah/ = thoughts


Heero exhaled forcefully and scrubbed at his itchy eyes. He was tired. He'd been at work since 6am and it was now -he cracked open one bleary eye- 12:04 am. He shoved his hair out of his face and tried to focus on the screen in front of him.

His laptop was booting up. The server refreshed at midnight and he was power cycling it to update. He and his team had installed software updates earlier that day, well now, the previous day, and he had stayed late to make sure that everything was seamless. Most of the IS team had stayed, actually, welcoming the overtime pay to get the update completed, but Heero had appointed himself the tester. No one HAD to stay until midnight to test new installs, but he felt like it was his job as a manager in the department. He was just glad that they didn't do too many software updates in any given month.

This one had been vital to test, though. Most of the updates were strictly behind-the-scenes programs and patches, updating virus definitions, running a patch that would eliminate the network slowdown that the Forest Park branch was seeing at 3:00 every afternoon, that kind of thing. But it was the Inter-Exec Secure Chat that he was testing, new software that created a private chat messenger service for all members of the company to access from their workstations. It had really been intended for the sales and customer service floors as a way to get help on accounts without ever letting the customer off the line, but somewhere along the way, it had been decided that EVERYONE was going to have access. It would definitely be interesting.

Just as it was intended a start up script prompted him to open the chat window after he'd logged in. "Welcome to Secure Chat!" flashed in the window and then was replaced with familiar split screen for typing at the bottom and reading at the top.

"That's a good sign," Heero sighed, shoving his hair out of his face again. He looked at his phone. He'd text messaged Relena about 8:00 that he wasn't coming home anytime soon and she hadn't replied. He didn't live with his girlfriend, she didn't even have a key to his place, but he still felt he should let her know where he was. It was polite. And it staved off hurt feelings because he hadn't told her what he was doing. Even after three years of learning each other's personalities and habits she found ways he could bruise her feelings without warning. He didn't know whether to be relieved that she hadn't replied or not. It could have meant she was leaving him alone to work, or it could be the cold shoulder because he'd decided to work late again.

A soft ping returned his attention to the computer. The chat window was flashing and showed him that he had a new message from Duo Maxwell.

Heero squinted. "Who is Duo Maxwell?" He clicked the "accept" button and saw the line of text in the window.

Duo: This is wicked cool.

Heero blinked. Without thinking he replied:

Heero: What?

A few seconds later he had his answer.

Duo: The company chat. Love it. I'm Duo. Sales.

Heero stared stupidly at the screen for a moment before everything sank in. Someone in overnight sales was using the chat program and had messaged him.

Duo: Ur the only 1 logged in bside me

It clicked. Finally.

Heero: You're logged in to the chat server?

Heero started to gather his things to go home. This was definitive testing. The software worked. He noticed that the window was lit up in orange again.

Duo: LOL. Duh. Where do u sit?

Heero felt a slight flush of embarrassment. OF COURSE Duo was on the server or they wouldn't be chatting.

Heero: Sorry, been here for 18 hours. I'm in IS.

There, he'd defended himself. He started to hit control+alt+delete to shut down his computer when he saw the chat window light up again.

Duo: Dude, that sux. Go home. = ]

A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Some total stranger from somewhere in the company had felt for him and smiled. The 18 hour day, and Relena's impending emotional reaction, seemed a little better.


Duo watched the chat window turn grey. Heero Yuy, whoever he was, had logged out. /18 hour day? That seriously blows./ He checked the main window again to see if any other users were logged in. He figured that he was the only person working overnights that knew it was up and running. /I'm totally stoked, I can't wait until Hilde gets here. Night shift will never be boring again./ It wouldn't matter that Hilde sat too far away to talk anymore.

Idly, he decided to peruse the employee directory to see who "Heero Yuy" was. He pulled up the list and clicked on the IS link. Scroll, scroll, scroll...Y. Yuy, Heero. He clicked the link for Heero's information page.

The first thing that greeted him was a picture of a serious young man with messy dark hair and intense eyes. Duo raised his eyebrows. /Not bad./ He hadn't realized there were any pictures in the employee directory, and that sure as hell didn't look like a security badge snapshot. He moved his eyes to the information right of the image. Heero Yuy. Manager. Information Services. RSO.

"Ah, so he works here in the building," Duo murmured to himself. He looked at the picture again. Dark brown hair, deep blue eyes, golden skin, looked a little Asian...but with nice lips, Duo noted. "He's a little slice of heaven, right here in town." Duo grinned in a way that Wufei and Hilde agreed was predatory. "I wonder if you swing my way, techie boy." Duo made a mental note to find out. Soon.


8:00 saw Heero stepping off the elevator and navigating the cube maze on the way to his office. He stopped at his admin's desk to check in and see if he had any messages.

Lucrezia Noin was a very nice woman, but the face she was making now was surely one that inspired fear in her offspring. "Heero Yuy, you left this office far too late last night to be here at the crack of dawn." She continued to glare.

Not to be outdone, Heero glared back. His best friends said it was like a death ray. "8 am is not the crack of dawn."

Noin sighed and rolled her eyes. "You're going to work yourself into an early grave, Heero. You need to do something besides work and sleep."

"I have a girlfriend, I have friends, I do other things besides work and sleep," Heero defended, knowing it was a lost cause. And he tried to remember the last time he'd physically seen any of the previously mentioned people.

Noin looked unconvinced. "Uh-huh. Anyway, you don't have any mail this morning and your calendar is clear."

Heero nodded his thanks and headed to his office. The lights came on automatically as he walked through the door, and he looked out the windows. His office faced south across the lawn of the office park, so he saw trees and grass but no direct sun. Which was fine; it was three hundred degrees in Une's office in the morning because hers DID face east. He tossed his jacket across the chair and unzipped his laptop case. Snapping it onto the docking station, he quickly booted up and prepared for his day.

Ping! "Welcome to Secure Chat!" Heero looked at the little box for a moment then it popped into a blank conversation window. He could see that dozens of users were online. He wondered if any of the conversations were actually related to work.

He pulled up company email first, followed by the ticket tracking system they used to ID and assign problems. People with issues called the IS queue, they made a ticket with a problem, one of his guys or girls fixed the problem. Or sent someone to fix the problem.

He started sifting through the huge volume of email he had either ignored the day before or had been generated in the few hours between leaving and returning. He started by deleting anything that said "Attention - Lost and Found" and waded through it from there.

About 5 minutes later he stopped dead in his tracks. He had an email from Duo Maxwell. /Who is Duo Maxwell?/ He double clicked to open the file.

Hey Heero, thanks for chatting with me. I hope you got some rest. -Duo.

Heero couldn't help but smile. The person he'd shared a handful of words with had sent him an email to check on him. It felt odd for a total stranger to care about him. /Maybe he or she is just being nice./

He was still smiling when an emergency meeting was called at 10:30, but it had long since worn off when he got back to his desk around 3:00. The chat thing was working, but apparently the antivirus software had decided to go over to the dark side. Running his hands through his hair, Heero glanced at his pending tickets, email and saw the chat window flashing.

Duo: Hey, Heero, get some sleep? =D

It was Duo again. The red flag in his brain that went up at the first sign of a stalker started to wave.

Heero: I did.

Heero bit his lip. Was that too harsh? He didn't want to be rude, but he didn't want another stalker. The girl in accounting last year and been more than he could handle. And Relena had been furious the entire time.

Duo: Oh good.
Duo: Um, hey, I'm not stalking you. I promise.

That startled a laugh out of him.

Heero: Thank god. I don't need another one.
Duo: LOL stalking management is a bad career move.

Heero grinned. He started to reply when his phone rang. Without thinking he grabbed it and answered "This is Heero."

"Heero, it's me. It's been days since I saw you. Do you even love me anymore?"

Heero pulled the phone away from his ear and glared at it. "Of course I love you!" he quickly replied. "I'm just busy at work, we just had a big software upgrade and..."

Muffled sob. "Your job is always so much more important than I am. I just sit alone at night wondering where you are while you slave away in front of a computer." Hiccup. Sniffle.

Heero stifled a sigh. "You know you're important to me, Relena," he said calmly. He debated the merits of calming her down with endearments and the more satisfying option of telling her to grow up, which would not be pretty. Besides, he knew that there was a good chance she was out with Dorothy anyway, not wasting away by the phone. "But I have to do my job. It's important to me, too."

Sniffle. "Sometimes it just doesn't seem that way."

Heero rolled his eyes and hoped no one was outside hearing this stupid conversation. "Hey, tell you what, I'll come home early and we'll go out. We'll go down town and eat at the Walnut Room."

"Really?" It was a tiny, pitiful squeak. It had been adorable the first time he'd made her cry. Now it grated on his nerves.

"Really. I worked so hard yesterday, they can begrudge a little time off for my girlfriend." He rolled his eyes again. He wondered if all guys felt this way when dealing with women. He figured they probably did. "I'll leave here about 4:30, ok? I have to stop at home and change then I'll pick you up."

"Okay. I love you, Heero. Thank you."

Heero looked out the window has he hung up. At times like this, he wondered if there really was more to life than Relena, his pair of friends, and this job. The computer's cheerful ping pulled his eyes back to the screen.

Duo: Hey, it's after 3:00, u should go home!

Heero shook his head at Duo's post. He quickly replied:

Heero: But my girlfriend is waiting for me.
Duo: LOL!!!
Duo: Mad that u worked L8?
Heero: Yes.

Heero watched the screen eagerly for the next reply.

Duo: 2 bad 4 u.
Heero: Tell me about it. I promised to take her to dinner at a restaurant you can't get to without shopping.
Duo: U must b devoted!

Heero looked at the last post and turned it over in his mind. Was he devoted? He hadn't ever thought of it that way. Devotion seemed so much more active that what he felt. He and Relena just were. They were a couple. There. That was it. They loved each other and would probably get married. But devoted? Like a priest was to God? He didn't think so. He didn't think men really had those kinds of feelings toward their women.

Heero: I guess.
Duo: U guess?
Heero: I hadn't ever thought of it that way.
Duo: LOL
Duo: I have a meeting, chat L8er, k?

Heero looked at the screen, realizing that he actually wanted to talk to the other person.

Heero: Leaving early today. Tomorrow?
Duo: u betcha.

Heero scowled at his laptop as the chat window went grey. "Gee, thanks Duo, who ever you are. Now I have no excuse not to go home." He shut down, packed up, and headed out. It was only 3:30, but heck, he deserved an hour at the gym before he picked up Relena. And the network would still be there the next day.

/and so will Duo.../


Duo flopped back in his chair and dropped his head back. "He's got a girlfriend." That sucked. Majorly. "But he was confused by the 'devoted' thing. Maybe they just started dating?" That would still suck. "Maybe he's tired of her." That would suck less, but not make the man gay. "Maybe she's a cover up." Not a fucking chance.

"Who are you talking to?"

Duo looked up to see Hilde leaning into his cube. "Myself of course. I'm the only one that ever listens to what I have to say." He gave her his most charming smile. "I'm facing a new dilemma."

Hilde perked up and perched herself on the desk. "Do tell."

"I started chatting with this guy the other night, and his pic is in the directory. Tasty. But through conversation today it turns out he has a girlfriend." He waited for Hilde to digest that. "But the way he said it was like he wished he didn't have girlfriend."

Hilde looked skeptical. "How does one say that via chat?"

"I told him to go home early and he said 'but my girlfriend is at home.'"

"He was probably making a joke, Duo."

"Then he said that she was mad that he had worked late the night before and that he was taking her shopping. I said he must be devoted and he just said 'I guess.'"

Hilde gave him a look. "You are reading WAY too much into this, Maxwell. C'mon, Treize wants us all in the conference room to go over the numbers from last month."

"Ah yes, Treize Kushrenada, the man that could sell whores in a vagina storm." Duo hauled himself out of his chair. "Okay, let's go."

He couldn't help but feel disappointed that when he came back from his meeting, Heero wouldn't be online anymore.


Heero sighed and stretched. Although he was back in Relena's good graces after an absolutely painful evening of shopping and dinner (at least dinner was good), she had not elected to spend the night with him, and had not invited him over. Hence, he was not getting laid. /I'm too tired anyway. But still./ He fired up his laptop and logged on to see if any disasters had happened after he left.

Ping! "Welcome to Secure Chat!" The little window flashed and he immediately had chat request from Duo. He accepted eagerly.

Heero: Hey.
Duo: I know u didn't come back 2 work.

Heero smiled.

Heero: No. I'm at home.
Duo: Ah, c-ing if the world ended over here w/out u?
Heero: You never know.
Duo: LOL! How was ur shopping trip?
Heero: Hell.
Duo: Ouch.
Duo: And the fact that ur online w/me means u didn't get n e. ; p

Heero looked at the post for a minute before replying.

Heero: I guess I didn't buy her enough stuff. But it's kind of a relief.
Duo: Ouch again. How is it a relief?
Heero: I'm tired.
Duo: Dude, u must b pretty damned tired. @_@
Heero: I must be.

/I must be. I mean, I don't care that I'm not getting laid./

Duo: Then y r u chatting instead of sleeping? ;)

"Why AM I chatting instead of sleeping?" Heero mused.

Heero: I don't know. You're entertaining.
Duo: That's what my last gf and bf said.
Heero: What does that mean?
Duo: gf: girlfriend bf: boyfriend

"He dates girls and boys?" Heero felt his eyes widen a little. He'd only ever dated Relena.

Duo: Did I freak u out?
Heero: Surprised, but no.
Duo: Good. ;) How about u?

Heero paused. Did he date girls and boys? No, just Relena. He sighed.

Heero: Just Relena. First and current.
Duo: LOL how long u been d8ing?
Heero: 3 years.
Duo: WHAT? U need to d8 more people b4 us settle down w/1 girl!

Heero frowned. What was the point?

Heero: What's the point? All girls are probably the same.
Duo: R u nuts? I know 4 a fact that Hilde would not b mad @ me 4 working l8 and would not expect presents 2 make up 4 it!!!
Heero: Who is Hilde?
Duo: My last girl. We're still friends.

Heero felt like someone had hit him in the back of the head with a board.

Heero: You're still friends?
Duo: Sure, we decided mutually that we weren't compatible. We d8ed for a couple months but there was never a spark.
Heero: A spark?
Duo: Yah, it never turned into love. We were never more than friends w/benefits and broke it off 2 just b friends. And the "benefits" were only nice, not mind-blowing.
Heero: Mind-blowing?
Duo: Dude, u've never had mind-blowing sex?
Heero: I guess not.

Angry and embarrassed, Heero replied that he was going to bed and logged off before he saw anything else from Duo Maxwell, whoever the hell he or she was.


Duo sighed and pushed his bangs off his face. "I can't believe the guy has been dating the same chick, who he obviously doesn't like, for three years! And the sex isn't even good!!" He sat forward and pulled his long braid out from under his rump. "I need to cut you so I don't sit on you," he muttered to the offending hair.

"Talking to yourself again?" Hilde was smiling into his cube. "It's lunch time, wanna go with?"

"Sure, I can tell you all about Heero in the cafeteria." Duo stood and locked his work station.


"Yah, that guy I was chatting with last night. We've talked off and on all day. Just now he logged on from home to chat with me."

Hilde looked at him in disbelief. "I thought he had a girlfriend."

They fell into step heading to the break room on the first floor. "He does. But he's complained about her several times in the last 24 hours to a total stranger so how happy can he possibly be?" He filled her in on the shopping conversation as they got lunches from the communal refrigerators. "Hil, it didn't even bother him that he wasn't getting any. THAT IS NOT NORMAL. I mean, there should have been make-up sex or something and he really didn't care!"

Hilde picked a seat and looked up at him skeptically. "He said he was tired."

Duo flopped down and pulled a bag of carrots out of his box. "Hilde, I have a lot of experience in that area, and you have to be passing out tired to not want sex. Like, way too tired to chat, tired. I'm telling you, there's something lacking in the bedroom for him."

"He did say that he'd never had mind-blowing sex," Hilde commented, gesturing with her chicken salad sandwich. "Which could explain it. But if he's only dated one girl, he may not know what else is out there."

Duo stabbed the air with a carrot. "My point exactly. I am making it my personal mission to open this boy's eyes." He snapped the carrot in half to emphasize his point. "If he learns the joys of sex in my arms, then who am I to complain?

Hilde rolled her eyes. "Just because his girlfriend is on the disappointing side doesn't mean he's gay."

"It could! Remember, Wufei thought he was straight for years. He had a so-so sex life and then BAM! He fell into bed with me and discovered that his sex life could be way more than so-so."

Hilde cocked an eyebrow in his direction. "So ask him for advice on this. Who knows? He might be in the closet."

"That's what I like about you Hil, you're always seeing the possibilities."


"Okay, let me get this straight. You're ticked off at someone you've never met because he or she insulted a sex life that you agree is lacking."

Heero glared at Trowa across the coffee table. "Who is he to say that I need to date more!" He took a drink of his beer and continued to glower.

"It seems that this mystery person is siding with Quatre and I in thinking you need to broaden your horizons. You've only dated Relena. Branch out."

Quatre came out of the kitchen with a bowl of chips and a container of guacamole. "The very fact that you can admit to a total stranger that you don't care about getting laid says a lot, Heero," he commented. "It makes me think that even if you can't admit it to yourself, subconsciously you're finding outlets for your dissatisfaction with Relena." He sat down on the couch and took a swig of his beer.

"I don't get it. I mean how could he get that out of me so easily?!" Heero ate a chip meditatively. "I don't even know why I started chatting with him. Or her. But I think it's a him."

"Do you want it to be a him?" Quatre asked suggestively, slowly lowering his eyelids and leaning close. "Hmmm?"

Heero leveled a death glare at him. "I don't want it to be anything. I will probably never chat with him, or her, again."

Sitting back up with a twinkle in his eye, Quatre smiled. "I think you wi-ill!"

Heero sighed. "Let's change the subject." He looked from Trowa to Quatre and back. "I know you two would love me to be gay but I don't think it's gonna happen."

Trowa shot him a "we'll see" kind of look but to his relief just switched on the television. "We rented a bunch of movies, wanna watch?"

Heero shrugged. "Sure."

Quatre met Trowa's eyes across the room and they both grinned. They had long ago agreed that Heero needed to have a shake up in the relationship department. He raised his beer in a toast to the mysterious Duo Maxwell for doing it.


Heero ignored the chat window all day. He didn't have any emails. He tried to put Duo Maxwell out of his mind. He plowed through documenting in the performance database to get ahead of employee reviews. He reviewed all of the severity 1 tickets to see if they were really severity 1. He went to a cross functional meeting for all of the managers in the support organization. He designed the overtime schedule for next month. He prearranged one-on-one meetings with everyone on his team. He studiously did NOT look at the chat window. Well, he looked at it to make sure that Duo hadn't messaged him.

It was killing him. /I've known this guy for two days!! I don't even actually know him! Why is he taking over my brain!?/ He was determined to forget Duo Maxwell. He checked the main chat window and saw that he was logged on. /Why hasn't he messaged me?/ His hands, previously busy sorting papers, stilled. /I guess that's it. He doesn't want to talk to me. So why am I not relieved?/ And in fact, why was he upset? Disappointed. Hurt. Angry, he opened the chat window and composed a message to Duo.

Heero: Hey.

There was a delay before Duo replied. Heero stewed, trying to remind himself that although he had been up most of the night drinking with Trowa and Quatre and being pissed at Duo, Duo had been innocently working, his impact on Heero unknown.

Duo: Hey! Thought I'd never hear from u again!
Heero: I thought about it.
Duo: Sorry I ticked you off. I am a man of strong opinions.

Well, that proved that Duo was a guy.

Heero: I can tell.
Duo: LOL
Heero: I told my friends about you.
Duo: REALLY? What's 2 tell?
Heero: It takes a lot to piss me off.
Duo: LOL what did they say?
Heero: They agreed with you.
Heero: What does that mean?
Duo: Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off
Heero: Thanks a lot.
Duo: Did they say anything else?

Heero stopped to consider his answer. Quatre had strongly implied that he had a crush on his chat buddy. But he didn't, did he? And in any case, he didn't want to give Duo the wrong idea. He wasn't interested in guys.

Heero: Quatre suggested I had a crush on you. I never talk to people so he was picking on me for talking to you. Well not talking to you, but for caring about what you said. Because I usually don't. But I do. For some reason.


Duo sat and looked at Heero's post. /That looks a lot like babbling with a keyboard,/ he thought with a smile. /He's really trying to explain why his friend would think it's a crush./ He decided to gently work back around to the "crush" with out frightening off his prey.

Duo: Is Quatre a girl name, or a guy name?
Heero: Guy. We've been friends since college.
Duo: That's cool. Sounds like Quatre is into psych stuff.
Heero: He's getting his masters in psych right now.

/Ah hah! This Quatre has the authority to analyze Heero./ Duo grinned. Storing this tidbit away with the "crush" he launched down another road.

Duo: U said friends, plural.
Heero: Right. Quatre and Trowa. We've all been friends for years.
Duo: Trowa?
Heero: Quatre's boyfriend. They've been together since high school.

Duo blinked. Heero was definitely okay with same-sex relationships if he had gay best buds. He added that to his mental pile of sticky notes about Heero.

Heero: They also have strong opinions about Relena.
Duo: I bet. How well do they know her?
Heero: Since college. We were all in a group for a while.
Duo: What happened?

Duo could guess. It sounded like Relena was easy to get tired of.

Heero: They got tired of her. She can be pushy.
Duo: But you didn't?

Duo watched the cursor flash, wondering if he'd stepped over the line again. There was a long pause. He was ready to post his apology when Heero's reply appeared on the screen.

Heero: We'd already been dating for a year by that time.

"So what, you were sick of her too but decided to deal with? What, is she like a cell phone with bad reception, you couldn't dump her because you're in contract?" That did NOT answer the question, it just tried to justify his current situation.

Duo: I C
Duo: Ever think about dating other people?

"I must love walking the fine line of pissing this guy off."

Heero: I guess not.
Duo: Ok, have u ever thought of not dating HER?

Long pause.

Heero: Sometimes.

"Ah-HAH! I knew it! You have just confirmed that you are #1, not happy and #2, want out!"

"Excuse me, Maxwell? Are you actually going to work today or just sit there and IM?"

Duo looked up at Treize, his supervisor. He had the grace to look sheepish. "Yah, uh, I'll get to work now." He watched Treize walk away before went back to his thoughts. "Heero, right."

Duo: Hey buddy, I have to do some account work. Talk l8er?
Heero: Ok.
Duo: Hey, if u need 2 talk, tho, just email me and I'll log in.
Heero: Ok.

Duo started opening programs to get to work and when he tried to close the chat window, he saw that Heero had sent another message.

Heero: Duo-thanks.

Duo felt a smile on his lips and a tingly feeling inside.


"Okay, so walk me through this again?" Wufei was standing beside the pool table watching Duo get in position. He was wearing an expression that only came out for Duo. It was a cross between amused skepticism and annoyed disbelief.

Duo looked up from his pose low over the felt. He shot and missed before replying. "I started chatting with this guy at work that I really could go for and need some insight from you."

Wufei raised an eyebrow. "Remember me? The guy that has no clue how to find and keep guys? Because until you I was straight?"

Duo grinned. "That's not true! You scored on your own!"

A tall blond moved from the shadows to place a small kiss on the Chinese man's neck. "Yes he did." The voice and the chuckle were low and sensual.

Duo continued to grin as he watched Wufei and Zechs together. They were painfully in love. He was glad to know that he'd played a part in bringing them together. Without him, Wufei would probably have been unhappily married by now.

Duo had met Wufei Chang two years ago in this very same bar. He'd taken one look at the olive skin, dark eyes and long, black hair and been smitten. Unfortunately, Wufei had been straight as a ruler. At the time.

Duo had decided to get to know the man. They'd become fast friends when Duo started teasing him unmercifully, constantly hinting to Wufei that he was gay, flirting outrageously, and really, the entire time he had thought nothing would come of it.

Out of the blue one night Wufei had called Duo, upset, needing to talk and had shown up on Duo's door step, soaked from the rain and crying.

"Wufei," Duo had said, "What happened, what's wrong?"

"It's your fault!" he'd sobbed, falling against Duo's chest. "It's all your fault!"

Holding him close, Duo had asked what he meant.

"I think I really AM gay and I never, ever would have considered it if it wasn't for you! It's because of you!"

Knowing there was no reasoning with him in that state, Duo had held Wufei until he'd cried himself out, feeling like an ass. After a solid hour of crying and soul searching, Wufei had fallen asleep on the other man's couch.

Late that night they'd talked, and Wufei confessed "I need to know. I need to be sure that this is true and I trust you Duo."

Duo had smiled and brushed the hair off Wufei's forehead. "I'm honored."

Wufei became more intense. "No. I need to know, Duo. I trust you. And I want you so bad it hurts."

They'd stayed together for six months, lovers and best friends. He'd stood beside Wufei when he'd faced his family about being gay. When Wufei had fallen in love, Duo had been able to let him go. They loved each other, but never as more than friends.

"So, like, I'm trying to turn this one gay too and wanted some pointers. Like, how did it feel from your side? What can I do to push my advantage?"

Wufei leveled a glare at him over his pool cue while Zechs laughed softly. "It felt like I was constantly at war with myself. I wanted to throw myself at every girl I saw to prove it wasn't true."

"Interesting." Duo watched Wufei sink the 3 and then miss his next shot.

"It was the same for me," Zechs said from the other end of the table. He was lining up for a shot. Duo stepped back so that he could get a better view. "I dated dozens of girls by day and then ran to the gay bar at night. I'd get done with a date, walk in to the club and say 'who wants to fuck me?' It wasn't pretty."

"Huh," Duo commented. "I guess I went gay more gracefully. I just dated anything with legs and bragged about it."

Wufei sighed. "Yes. I know. You've told me."

"So, can you help me with Heero?"

Zechs looked thoughtful. "When he starts doing irrational, impulse-driven things to attach himself to his girlfriend, you know you're getting somewhere."

Duo rolled his eyes. "Great. That's comforting."

Wufei and his boyfriend both grinned. "That's what we're here for."


Heero sat in front of his laptop, glow of the screen casting harsh shadows on his tired face. He was watching the chat window. The cursor was flashing. Duo was not logged on. It was nearly 11pm. He was exhausted. But he wanted to say goodnight to Duo.

/Why do I want to say goodnight to Duo? I don't even know Duo! I do NOT have a crush on him. I don't date guys! I date Relena!/ Heero sorted through his recent memories, replaying the day. Relena had called and they'd talked. No, she had talked, about her life, expecting him to say supportive things in the right places, which he did. He'd felt nothing. Nothing. And here he was, excited, nervous, and hopeful, waiting to see if a guy he'd never met would want to talk to him. /God, what is my problem?/

Ping-pong. Heero refocused on the chat window. Duo had logged on.

Heero: What is my problem?
Duo: ur living life going thru the motions?

"God, he doesn't even know what I'm talking about and he has a great answer."

Heero: So what do I do?
Duo: Something different.
Heero: Like what?
Duo: Chat w/a hot guy in overnight sales?

That made Heero laugh out loud.

Heero: I don't even know what you look like.
Duo: Hang on.

Heero hung on.

Duo: Ok, ck ur email.

Heero pulled up the email window and opened Duo's email. There were two pictures attached. "Here it goes," Heero muttered, and double clicked on the first one. In seconds, it was up.

It was a full-length shot of a slender guy with a long, brown braid, messy bangs and an infectious smile. He was wearing a red T shirt and holey jeans. Heero could see muscle definition in his chest and arms. His jeans were slung low, revealing a band of skin and a strangely provocative navel.

Heero knew he was staring. He was staring at a picture of a young man, about his age, looking casual and happy. A man. Shaking his head, Heero opened the other file.

It was a headshot. It was a small, sweet smile, warming a pair eyes the color of intense cobalt, almost purple. It was hair being swept off a broad forehead by a breeze. It was a little dimple. It was the single most arresting face Heero had seen in his life. He had butterflies in his stomach. He was sweating a little. And before he stopped to think he replied to Duo's last post.

Heero: You are hot.

Heero sat and stared. He couldn't believe he'd just said that.

Heero: I mean, if I was into guys. Which I'm not. But I bet you get a lot of dates. Your eyes are a weird color. I've never seen anything like it.
Heero: Not that I've looked at anyone else's eyes.
Heero: I mean, no other guys. I mean, except like Quatre and Trowa.
Duo: Heero, ur babbling. But I'm flattered.

Heero took a deep breath.

Heero: There's no recovering gracefully from that, is there?
Duo: Not a chance.
Duo: u sure ur not into guys?
Duo: but then, if ur not, u'd still think I'm hot
Duo: I mean, it's ME

Heero broke out in a shaky laugh. "I really don't want to deal with this now. I need to sleep."

Heero: I have to sleep.
Duo: then sleep. I'll b here 2moro ;)
Heero: Goodnight.
Duo: Sweet dreams.

Heero groaned. "I hope I have normal dreams. What the hell is wrong with me?"


Duo sat back in his chair, grinning madly. /So he thinks I'm hot, does he?/ Duo had no illusions about his appearance. He knew that he was fairly attractive but his slender build and long hair usually spoke against him. If Heero thought he was hot, it was because his unique traits were interesting to the other man. /If he can say I'm hot, it's not because I'm an Abercrombie & Fitch model or anything./ Which meant that Heero wasn't just saying it because he fit the "hot" label. "Which means he's attracted to me."

Duo kept grinning.


It was only 6:30 and Heero was looking out the windows of his office. He'd given up staring at his desk. He didn't keep anything on it but office supplies and the computer.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

He turned in his chair long enough to see Walker, one of his team leads. "I couldn't sleep."

"Yuy, you haven't slept in days. What's your problem?"

"I wish I knew." He continued to stare out the window. "I think I'll take some of the local tickets today."

There was a long pause. "'K, I'll have Alex assign them to you. Are you sure you're okay?"

Heero gave a short, humorless laugh. "I'm pretty sure that I'm not okay, but since I don't know what the hell is wrong, I can't do a damn thing about it."

"Fair enough. Well, have fun with that."

"Right." Heero sat there, staring until he was sure that Walker was gone and he was alone with his thoughts. He'd asked for the task of wandering the building replacing mice, moving monitors, checking LAN connections and cleaning out keyboards. Something to distract him. He didn't want to think about him. Duo.

He'd been haunted all night by those glittering blue-violet eyes. He'd woken up, panting, having dreamed something disturbing; erotic and disturbing and involving those smiling lips and long brown hair. He'd lain in bed for a few minutes trying to decide what to do with the results of the dream. He fought the urge to touch himself. But God did he want to. He'd clutched the sheets, holding still, until tears had run down his cheeks. He had finally given in and then huddled in the blankets, confused, sticky and humiliated, trying desperately to hate the person whose fault the entire experience was. He'd crawled off to the shower and cried where the water could wash away the evidence of everything that had happened.

Much to Heero's dismay his thoughts of Duo had not diminished in frequency after the early-morning incident. After sitting on the side of his bed, staring at the rumpled sheets and thinking about who his traitorous body wanted there, he'd gone out to the kitchen and made coffee. Sitting in the bay window looking out on his dark backyard, Heero had tried to stop his mind from running in circles. Despair. Embarrassment. Desire. Back to despair.

Now he was sitting in the office, still trapped in the downward spiral of his thoughts and feelings. He desperately needed something to break him out of his funk. Hence, working tickets like a regular tech.

He ran a hand through his hair and closed his eyes. /I have to do something about this. It has to stop./ He drew his legs up in his chair and leaned his head against his knees. He'd actually worn jeans to the office today instead of professional clothes. That never happened. He wanted to fade into the background today and was dressed to do that. He wanted disappear. He wanted Duo to disappear. He wished he had never seen those damned pictures.

Sighing he pulled up the tracking system, he saw that his first ticket was a laptop, dock and peripherals install in customer service. Must be a new team coach. He pushed himself out of his chair and gathered the needed items and got to work.


Duo watched the chat window. Heero wasn't logged in. "I wonder if he took the day off?" He continued pulling up the programs he needed, trying to concentrate on the work he had to do. He had to do all of his follow ups today, a long boring process of calling customers back to make sure they had no questions, that they're accounts were perfect, and he usually had to explain some technical information that was really customer service's job. He hated follow up day. Sigh.

Heero was still not logged on.

Duo worked steadily for the first two hours of his day, putting on the charm and taking the annoyance out of his call backs. But every few minutes he checked Secure-Chat. No Heero.

Stretching and cracking his knuckles, Duo stood up. He'd actually stayed on task pretty well and was going to break. It was after five and he hadn't heard from Heero at all. And he really wanted to hear from him.

He'd dreamed about Heero the night before, imagining what his body would look like from the shoulders-up picture in the directory. He enjoyed Heero's deadpan serious responses to his conversation. He wanted a chance to get to know the guy now. He liked talking to him. He was thrilled that he had shaken up the guy's world and wanted to watch the fallout. He wanted to be friends, or more, with the handsome and mysterious Heero Yuy.

"I'd been looking forward to talking to you today, Heero. Where are you?" Duo shook his head and locked his workstation, heading out back to see the sunset and drink some bottled water. Hilde was out back, eating an ice cream sandwich.

"Hey Hil, wassup?"

"What, you're not spending your break glued to your desk chatting?" She was smirking.

Duo wrinkled his brow. "He isn't online today."

Hilde tipped her head to the side. "Maybe he's off."

Duo shook his head. "He's chatted with me from home. I wonder if I pissed him off again."

"What did you say this time?"

Duo took a swallow of water. "I sent him my pic and he told me I was hot."

Hilde choked. "I thought he had a girlfriend!"

Duo grinned this time. "He does, but I've told you how many things he's said about her. And it's not like I'm model-pretty or anything. He's gotta have a thing for me."

Hilde rolled her eyes. "Right. He's known you how long?"

"Well, actually, we've never met, but it's been days. That's all it takes to make a connection." He drank more water and tossed his hair out of his face. "I'd really like to get to know him, y'know?"

Hilde smiled. "You've got a crush."

Duo shook his head in disbelief. "I've got a crush."

"Then send him an email."

"Hilde, you're brilliant."


Heero sank down into his chair. He'd spent a long day running all over the entire building replacing keyboards and re-imaging computers. He was worn out. He logged back into his computer to check his email. Noin, Noin, Noin, Alex, Walker, Noin...and there it was.

Maxwell, Duo. Subject: Miss U

Heero dropped his head into his hands. He needed to tell him to stop. No more emails, no more chatting, no more pictures. And he didn't want to. He wanted to read the email, log in and chat, and he wanted, WANTED, Duo to ask for a picture of him. His entire life was in conflict. Wearily, he double-clicked on the email before his internal dialogue could argue with itself again.

Hey Heero, is everything okay? Did I get under your skin again? I'd like to talk to you again, buddy, just let me know one way or the other, k? -Duo

Heero smiled even as he felt despair rise up from his gut. "Of course you got under my skin," he whispered. "I can't get your face out of my mind." He landed a weak punch on his desk. "I ran away from you all day and you were always one step behind me." He clicked the reply button.

I had to do tech work all day. I'm heading home. Talk tomorrow?

Seconds later he had a reply back.

Of course. Try actually sleeping tonight. -Duo

"I'd love to actually sleep. I think I can almost remember what it was like."


"Quatre I can't sleep!" Heero wailed into the phone. "It's been days since I slept more than 3 hours, I'm exhausted, and I just can't stop thinking!"

"Whoa, Heero, hang on a second! Lemme sit down, okay?" Heero listened to Quatre settling into his wicker chair. "Okay, why can't you sleep, sweetheart? What are you thinking about?" It was clear that Quatre was in therapy mode.

Heero gritted his teeth. "Every time I close my eyes--!" He took a deep breath. "Every time I close my eyes," he whispered, "I see Duo."

He heard more rustling on Quatre's end. "Not to deflect from the emotional support I'm supposed to be providing, but how do you know what he looks like?"

Heero sighed. "Last night when we were chatting, he made a joke about being hot. I told him I didn't know what he looked like and he sent me a picture."

"What does he look like?"

Heero closed his eyes again. "He's slender, probably about your height, and has hair down to his hips. His eyes are purple."

"What about him sticks in your mind?"

"That little smile he was giving the camera. The way it made his eyes shine. His hair. It's almost the same color as Trowa's actually." Heero took a shuddering breath, trying to ignore the tightening in his gut that visualizing Duo's charms was causing.

"What else?" He could hear a smile in Quatre's voice, but no hint of teasing.

"He's so considerate. He's offered comfort to me twice in the last couple days. He's funny. He seems to like life." Heero stared at the ceiling. "He has the most interesting face I've ever seen."

"What did you say to him after you saw the pictures?"

Heero could feel heat rising in his cheeks. "I told him he was hot." He thought he heard Quatre choke on the other end.

"You think he's hot?"

"If I liked guys, then yah. Well, he's almost pretty."

"Does he look like a model?"

Heero made a face. Why did it matter if he looked like a model? "No. Not like any models I've seen on TV or in magazines."

"How does it make you feel when you think about him?"

"I don't know."

"Okay, help me understand your frustration. What is it that you think might be the problem?"

"I don't know, Quatre, I don't know!" He was almost crying. He fought the tears back. "That's why I needed to talk to you! I've never been this confused in my life."

"Heero," Quatre began softly, voice steady and calm, "Heero, you're getting agitated, calm down."

Heero took a deep breath. "Sorry."

"No need to be sorry. I have a couple things I can tell you, okay? But you have to tell me what it is you want to hear. If I comfort you now, and get serious later, will you sleep?"

Heero shook his head. "No, reality is better."

"I thought you'd say that. Heero, it sounds like you were initially interested in him on an emotional level because he was very solicitous, very out-going, and really very funny. But when you saw a picture of him, sweetheart, you put his appearance and the signals it sent with your emotional reaction and developed a very real attraction to him."

"I can't be attracted to him! I'm not gay!" Heero slammed his hand down on the mattress. "I'm not gay!" he repeated.

"Heero, you're going to have to deal with this at some point in the near future," Quatre responded with a little steel in his voice. "You can continue to avoid the label, and even stay with Relena, but you cannot continue to deny that you have these feelings or you will never be able to let go of them."

Heero tipped his head back to rest against the head board. He could feel his lip quivering and fought the tears with all of his strength. "I know," he choked out. "I know. But not right now. Thanks Quatre. I have to try to sleep."

"Any time, Heero. I suggest a couple of Tylenol PM for the headache I know you must have and to help you sleep."

Heero smiled a little. "Thanks, Mom. Goodnight."


Duo: Can I have a pic of u?

Heero had looked over to the computer when the familiar ping that alerted him that he had a message. It was Duo. Of course it was Duo; the one person in the world that he both loved and hated to hear from. "And he wants a picture of me." Heero squashed the tingling excitement he felt from reading the words.

Heero: Hi. How are you?
Duo: I'm good. Did u sleep?
Heero: No. I feel like a zombie.
Duo: That sux. What's keeping u up?
Heero: I can't talk about it. Sorry.
Duo: That's okay, dude. I'm here if u need me.
Heero: I know, I appreciate it.
Duo: Can u send me a pic? U don't have 2 if u don't want
Heero: Sure, just a minute.

Heero's hands were shaking. He had admitted that he wanted Duo to be interested enough to ask for a picture. But at the same time, he didn't want to encourage him. Did he? He pulled up his personal file and picked out a photo to send to Duo. He had a couple that Trowa and Quatre had taken a couple months ago on a trip to the pier. He tried to look at himself through the eyes of a stranger. Was he hot? Would Duo think he was hot? Did he really WANT Duo to think he was hot? /Should I send him a picture? I said I would, so I guess I will./ He attached the file to an email and shot it at Duo.

Heero: Check your email.
Duo: k, hang on

Heero bit his lip. "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter what he thinks. We'll never be more than friends."

Duo: Man, u r sooooooo hot!

Heero stared.

Heero: You think so?
Duo: God yes.
Heero: How? Why?
Duo: r u joking?
Heero: No.
Duo: k. u have a gr8 body, pretty eyes, NICE lips, and I love ur hair

Heero blinked. "He really thinks I'm attractive." Despite his mind telling him it meant nothing, that he didn't care, he felt an incredible thrill; almost giddy. He tried to stop smiling and couldn't.

Heero: Thanks. I'm blushing.
Duo: I bet ur even cuter when u blush

That made Heero blush harder.

Heero: I don't blush that often so no one has ever told me if that's the case.
Duo: Then I'm stoked! I made u blush!

Heero felt himself grinning like a madman and reigned in his enthusiasm. No matter what it felt like now, this wasn't real. He wasn't gay, he would never meet Duo, none of this would ever matter. He felt like he was letting a little of the color out of his life, and that soon it would return to a dull grey.

Duo: We should meet in real life

Heero panicked. Quietly and in one place, to be sure, but in his mind, he was riding a roller coaster.

Heero: I don't think I could handle it.
Duo: Y?

Why? WHY? /Because I'm not gay and I can't meet you! I can't do it! I don't want to want you! Don't you understand? I don't want this! I don't want to be gay! I need my life to go back to normal!/

Heero: I'm sorry.
Duo: Nothing 2 b sorry 4, buddy. No worries.

Heero almost cried right then. Not just because Duo was being nice about it, but because he had just officially given up his chance. /This is the way it has to be./

Heero: I have to go home. I'm so tired I'm shaking.
Duo: Do u need a ride?
Heero: Quatre is coming to get me.
Duo: If I'm worried about u, I'm sure he is
Heero: He's a real mother hen, too.
Duo: U probably need that, u wrk 2 hard
Heero: I know. I'm not any fun.
Duo: Yes u r, u just 4got how to b
Duo: Go home, I'll b here l8er
Heero: Thanks
Duo: don't take ur laptop home or u'll wrk
Heero: Good point. Thanks.
Duo: Get some sleep sweetheart

Heero teared up. He couldn't handle it. He was so tired, and so confused, and Duo called him 'sweetheart,' and only Quatre had ever called him that...

Heero: Thank you, Duo, for everything
Duo: Don't mention it.

As Heero walked out of the office he thought he heard the ping of a new message as his computer prepared for shut down. He didn't stop to look.

Duo: I'm not giving up on u


"Heero, if he called you 'sweetheart' then he's probably as into you as you are him."

Heero wiped the tears from his face almost violently. "I'm not into him!"

Quatre focused on making it through the rain-slick streets. "Heero, you're working yourself up about this. Calm down."

"I can't calm down!" he yelled, then immediately started sobbing. "Why is he doing this to me?"

Quatre sighed. He knew that 'he,' Duo, wasn't doing anything but bringing to the surface repressed and unrecognized emotions. Duo wasn't at fault at all. And despite Heero's current state of unhappiness, he knew that in the long run, this was the best thing that could happen. "Sweetheart, you need to sleep, or you'll never get anything like coherent thought going. You have no perspective right now."

Heero tried to hold back a sob and failed. "He called me sweetheart," he whispered.

"I know, honey, it'll be okay." Quatre took his hand off the wheel to pat Heero's clenched ones. "It's going to be okay."

Later, as he watched Heero sleep, Quatre couldn't help but wonder what would happen. If Heero forced all of this to go away, and tried to put things back to normal, he'd be lying to himself. Eventually it would all come back to the surface, and the more of his life he built up around it, the more destruction it would cause later. He'd seen it before. He hoped that Heero would come to terms with his feelings, if not his sexuality, before he trapped himself in a life of total misery.

"Don't be an idiot, Heero," he whispered, brushing the hair back from the other man's sleeping face. "Meet Duo. Live a little. Don't be afraid of change." He leaned down and pressed a kiss to Heero's forehead. "Trowa and I want you to be happy, and we'll always love you."


Duo looked at the clock. It was 5:30 am. He was sitting in his big, comfy chair in the living room watching the rain. He loved rain as long as he was safely indoors.

The light coming in from the streetlight outside illuminated the picture in his hand. He'd printed the picture of Heero. He'd emailed it home so he could print it in color. He wondered how Heero would feel about it. The pic was amazing.

It featured Heero leaning against a building. He was wearing dark jeans and a dark green shirt. The shirt was tight enough to satisfy nearly all of Duo's fantasies of the man's body. Heero obviously worked out. A lot. He wasn't beefy, like a body builder, but was clearly well-built. He was at an angle that highlighted his physique. The man had abs.

Heero was so sincere and serious. Even in the picture of him having a good time, he looked serious. Almost dangerous. Duo wondered what he was looking at when the picture was taken. It was a really nice shot. He wondered who had taken it. Relena? Trowa? Quatre? A family member, maybe. It was a great shot, and the person who had snapped it had a good eye for composition and balance.

Duo smiled and smoothed down a crease at the corner of the page. He really liked Heero and it was depressing to think of this handsome, intelligent man shackled to a girl he didn't like for life. He had felt a thrill when Heero had found him attractive, but was afraid that he would never take the steps to be involved with another man. He had only dated one person and apparently had decided to stick with her even though he was clearly unhappy. He had an idea that he had gotten to Heero, that the other man was disturbed by him, but had little hope that it would go any farther.

As far has crushes went, this was a bad one. He was totally hung up on Heero Yuy. And if, as Zechs and Wufei said, he did something impulsive about his girlfriend here in the near future, he had no way of knowing if it was really because of him, and no guarantee that he would see the light and leave her. Sometimes guys stayed in the closet their whole lives, having mediocre marriages and avoiding the forbidden lifestyle that might make them happy.

Duo desperately wanted to talk to Heero. He wanted to just have an honest conversation, ask him if he had a chance, and get a real answer. He was afraid that at this point Heero would say no to all of it. He wanted the time to get to Heero. He didn't want him to run away to his girlfriend. He wanted Heero all to himself. He wanted a chance for Heero to fall in love with him. He wanted to take the plunge and fall in love himself.

Duo continued watching the rain streak down his window casting light and shadows on the image of Heero in his hands.


His mind was finally almost clear after a good 12 hours of sleep. Heero felt things looking up. And with mixed feelings, he looked at the physical evidence of getting his life back on track.

A ring.

Nestled in soft, black velvet, it glittered. A central heart-shaped pink diamond, framed by white, princess-cut diamonds set on end. Tiny petals of pink gold framed the stones and overlaid the platinum band. Viewed from the side, the setting supporting the gems was cut-out hearts. It was the perfect ring for his princess.

Early that morning Heero had sternly reminded himself that, after three years, he and Relena were still together. The magic had dwindled, but the steady comfort of a long-term relationship was more important. It was more than time he took this step in his life.

It wasn't surprising that he felt slightly panicked. Any man approaching his future would feel this way. Of course there would be trepidation, this was a big decision. But it was for the best. This was what he needed. A nice, normal future. Predictable. Comfortable.


Duo: Hey Heero, whassup?

Heero froze. How would he tell Duo? Would Duo be upset? Supportive? Would he be hurt? Heero didn't think he'd done anything to encourage the idea that he would form a relationship with the other man. Surely it would be okay, right? Suddenly, he felt a lot less confident. About everything. He forced all of the doubt aside and decided on a breezy, casual approach to conversation today.

Heero: I slept!
Duo: WOOHOO!!! *dance of joy*
Heero: :) I almost feel human again.
Duo: Don't over do it. U probably still need more sleep.
Heero: I agree. But today is looking much better after SOME sleep.
Duo: How much?
Heero: 12 hours.
Duo: 12 whole hours!? WOW! I was up til 6am and 2day was an early shift
Heero: Why were you up so late?
Duo: Thinking about u ; )

Heero felt the familiar combination of desire and despair welling up. "No, Duo, don't do this to me, please." He whispered. "Please."

Heero: Oh.
Duo: Don't b scared or n e thing, I'm still not stalking u = ]
Heero: That's a relief.

Heero still couldn't get over it. /He was up all night thinking about me. I wonder if He couldn't. Duo couldn't have...what I did.../ He felt himself flushing. And a part of his anatomy gave him a hint that Duo...doing THAT, was not necessarily unpleasant to think of...

Duo: I'd like 2 get 2 know u better

"Me too. But I can't."

Heero: I'd like that.

Heero's eyes widened as he looked at his post. He had just typed exactly what he was thinking instead of what he needed to say!

Duo: Good. I have to catch up on some work, chat l8er?
Heero: Ok.

Heero pulled his eyes away from the screen and concentrated on the sparkling piece of jewelry on his desk. This was supposed to be what got his life back on track, but it hadn't been effective against a simple chat. "I have to work harder at this. I must get my normal life back." A tiny voice deep inside told Heero that he didn't want that life back, but he chose to ignore it.


It was late. Heero was sitting in his kitchen window again, this time nursing a beer instead of coffee. He'd liked this window immediately when he'd gotten the house, and it appeared that he was going to put it to good use.

He'd called Relena on the way home with an offer of dinner and a movie. He'd shown up at her door with pink roses. They'd had a lovely, romantic dinner, gone to see a romantic comedy, and they'd even ended up in bed at her house. He'd made the excuse that he had to work early to come home to sleep in his own bed.

He'd spent hours with her. Hours. And had not found a single moment that he wanted to offer her the ring that was burning a hole in his pocket. Didn't guys always propose at the candle-lit restaurant? It just hadn't struck him as the right time. After the movie wasn't right either. And after sex? That was just tacky. But the overall emotion of the evening hadn't lent itself to a marriage proposal. He tried to sum up the entire evening in one word.


He knew it wasn't Relena's fault. She was just being herself. And it was unfair of him to be disappointed. And truth to be told, it wasn't a night any different than many they'd had. The emotional interaction was about the same, too. But something had changed: him. And it was depressing.

He couldn't help but think about Duo. Talking to him was like a ray of sunshine. He was funny, unpretentious, and seemed spontaneous. While Relena's emotions tended toward the melodramatic, Duo's tended toward the humorous. He pictured Duo as always grinning and full of life. Relena was like a perfectly pressed pink rose, delicate and easily harmed, dry and fragile. Duo was like a handful of wild flowers, dozens of colors, different shapes and smells, random and exciting. He felt himself smile.

"Duo, this is so wrong. Relena doesn't deserve this. It's not her fault that I can't stop thinking about you. Why should she suffer? How can I do this to her?" Heero ran his hands through his hair. "It's not her fault that I would rather chat with you online than go out with her. God, why didn't I just propose to her and get it over with?" He drank the rest of his beer and threw the bottle toward the garbage can. It missed but he didn't get up to retrieve it. "I need a goal, right? My goal is to be normal again, right? So why can't I just marry Relena and get back on track?" He leaned back against the wide frame of the window, watching the faint patterns of light and shadow chase each other across the back lawn. "I really don't want to get married." Heero sighed. That was what being an adult was all about, right? Making tough choices to do what was for the best instead of doing what you wanted. Right? Depressed, Heero stood up from the window seat and headed off to bed, just on the off chance that he could actually sleep.

When he woke up, his hand was already on his dick. His still-sleeping mind had conjured a vision of Duo, wearing just a smile, leaning over him, whispering something he couldn't quite hear. In the dream he'd been panting, delirious with what ever it was the other man was doing outside his line of sight. And has he surfaced toward consciousness, the last thing he wanted to do was lose the dream. He kept his eyes closed tightly, holding that image of Duo's sultry lips and glowing eyes, smooth chest, that amazing hair, loose and trailing over him--he pumped faster and harder, feeling precum slick on his fingers. He was kissing those lips now, feeling Duo's tongue and teeth, tasting him and he could feel Duo's hands on him, stroking his arms, his chest, his nipples. He groaned, pinching one nipple himself just for the sensation, and with a burst of frantic movement, came hard, gasping as his world narrowed to a point of white light on the inside of his eyelids. Panting, he slowly recovered from the rush and as his muscles relaxed he opened his eyes. As he sat up, the reality of what he had done rushed in. "I had a wet dream about Duo." He looked at his sticky hands and boxers, still feeling the flush on his cheeks. The desire he was trying so hard to deny was still burning in his veins. "Oh my god." Even as he replayed the dream in his mind, he felt himself getting hard again. "He was going down on me," he whispered to himself. Without thinking he started to rub against his slowly returning erection. "God I want it." He continued to fondle himself, wrapping his hand around his cock and stroking very slowly. He groaned from deep in his chest. "I want him." The confession was the barest whisper. He kept stroking, faster now since he was already wet from his last release. He tried not to think. He just let the emotions and images flow. Scooting down on the bed, he gently rolled his balls in his other hand. The picture of Duo, naked, leaning over him was still in his mind. He could almost feel the other man's breath on his cheek. His left hand tickled across the silky skin beneath his sac. He let it sink lower, just grazing his opening. He'd never done anything like this--masturbating to a forbidden image, touching himself in such a homoerotic way--and it was decadent. Pleasure boiled up from some dark place inside and he gave in and let himself climax.

Drained, Heero flopped against his pillow and wondered, before drifting off, if he'd regret it in the morning.


The ring was glaring at him from the top of his desk. It was making him feel guilty. He put it in his desk drawer and tried to work. Tried being the operative word. He'd been at work for two hours and hadn't really done a damned thing. Other than look at the ring and reprimand himself for his weakness the night before.

He'd already text messaged Relena to ask if she wanted to go out tonight and she'd said sure. He had to do it tonight before things went any further. Marrying Relena was the shining beacon of normality in the storm of his life these days. He knew that no matter what, being married would kill any and all chances of another relationship. Regardless of what his subconscious wanted, REALITY would force him to revert to being a normal guy with a normal life, right? He held out that hope and tried not to think about what he'd done last night.

The gods had smiled on Heero. He'd been busy all day. No long meetings, no spans of time doing paperwork in his office, he'd had appraisals and a meeting with the product evaluation group--they previewed all of the new toys that would be offered and had some real goodies to play with. He'd hung out and talked with his team on the floor. He hadn't had to face his demons. But now it was a little after 4, and he was in his office. As usual, Duo was online, and had sent him a message.

Duo: Hey Heero, how'd ya sleep?

Heero smiled as he typed his response. He was glad the ring was in the desk where it couldn't make him feel guilty.

Heero: Okay. You?
Duo: I had gr8 dreams

Heero bit his lip. He wondered if Duo had had the same kind of great dreams he had.

Heero: What about?
Duo: It's not HR approved to chat about = P~
Heero: what does that emoticon mean?
Duo: Tongue sticking out drooling

Heero felt his cheeks heating. He wondered if Duo had thought about him, but was too scared to ask.

Heero: That's funny.
Duo: I thought so. Got n e plans 4 the evening?
Heero: I told Relena I'd take her out.
Duo: 2 bad, I was hoping u'd b here all nite w/me
Duo: I'm here til 2am 2nite.
Heero: Sorry, no software to install tonight.
Duo: >_<

Heero closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

Heero: I have to do this.
Duo: What, take ur girl out? Been a while?
Heero: I saw her last night.
Duo: then y do u HAVE 2? Don't u WANT 2 c her?
Heero: I don't know.

Heero watched the window. There was a long pause. He wondered what Duo was thinking. Had he said something too weird?

Duo: That's a hard situation, sweetheart.
Duo: What is ur heart telling u?

"My heart?" Heero felt a confusion, fear, depression and despair rise up in a great, white wave, slowly forcing him into two halves even as it rose high over head, ready to crash down and drown him. He saw his world in over-exposed black and white. He felt his lips tingling and his fingers shaking.

Heero: I have to go


Duo watched the chat window go grey. Something was very wrong with Heero. It was small, something no one else might have noticed, but Heero had not punctuated his sentence on the last post. In all the conversations they'd had, Heero had capitalized the first word of his message and had used the proper punctuation at the end. For him to sign off unexpectedly after missing that period, Duo knew there was something going on in Heero's mind.

/I wonder if I'm getting to him? He did say he wanted to get to know me better. And that I'm hot./ He stretched and scratched an itch on his shoulder. "I wonder if he knows how much I want him?" he mused softly. "I just don't think he's happy with that girl. I wish we could be friends. I want to talk to him. I want him to talk to me." Of course, he wanted Heero as more than a friend, but he'd take friendship. /I really like him. I'll take what I can get./

"So, how's Heero?" Hilde was looking snappy in a new pair of hot pink Mary Janes.

"He's freaking out," Duo replied. "He's had a hard time sleeping lately. I think I'm really getting to him."

"How so?"

"He didn't punctuate his last sentence."

Hilde raised an eyebrow. "Uh-huh. That's a sure sign of attraction."

Duo laughed. "No, he went from pretty together and dry to really nervous after he got my pictures."

"How can you tell? Duo, you're reading way too much into this. It's possible that he's just high strung. He may be acting totally normal for him." Hilde shook her head. "I don't think you can take a few days of chatting as an accurate picture of someone's personality. Maybe he bitches about his girlfriend to everyone. Maybe he's an insomniac. Maybe he flips out and misses commas all the time!"

Duo felt his energy level drop off. "You're probably right. I mean, there's no way of knowing if he's acting any different now than before he met me. Maybe I'm seeing freaked-out in perfectly normal conversations. I don't know." He ruffled his bangs. "I just thought there was a connection, y'know? And that the way he's talked about me, the things he said about my pictures...I thought maybe he might be interested? At least in friendship?" He sighed.

Hilde patted his shoulder. "It's okay to have a crush Duo, but I don't want to you to get your hopes up and end up hurt."

Duo smiled at her. "Thanks. But I can't let this go. It's like a bruise, I have to keep poking it to see if it still hurts."

Hilde rolled her eyes. "Gee, let's compare relationships to self mutilation some more, shall we? I'm off to the break room, want anything?"

Duo shook his head. "No, I've got a bucket of iced tea and a box of Cheez-Its. I'm good."

For the next hour Duo thought about writing Heero an email. He was distracted by thoughts of the dark-haired man on every call he took while he was on in-bound. He practiced phrases in his head. He followed a mental tangent and thought about the things Heero might like to do. Did he like sports? He looked very athletic, maybe he'd go for some basketball? Did he read, was he a movie person, did he watch reality TV? What was his favorite food? Did he drink? Heck, boxers or briefs? Duo let his mind wander as he worked his back-order check ups. Was Heero an adrenaline junkie like him? Did he go for roller coasters? Motorcycles? What kind of car did he drive? All he had were a few conversations and a delicious picture. He really wanted to find out everything else about Heero Yuy.

He went off-site for lunch for a change, needing a Starbuck's fix and a container of sushi rolls. It was going to be another night of a bright moon and fast-moving clouds. Dramatic. A good backdrop for his anxious state of mind.

It was about 10:30 when Duo got back to his desk. He logged in, slurping at his frappuccino while his computer woke back up. Email from Hilde, one from Treize, a rude joke from Wufei that he immediately forwarded to Hilde and Treize... He was caught off guard when the chat window popped up with a new message.

Heero: I returned an engagement ring today.


Heero was sitting at his desk with his head in his hands. He'd driven around for an hour before he'd found himself down at the pier, walking around the shopping district and the amusement park, letting himself get lost in watching the people. He felt, at the best of times, that he was a spectator on the sidelines of life. He had a mission to complete: school, work, family, income, success. Everyone else was living life in a swirl of color and sound while he stood at the sidelines, waiting for it all to pass so he could get back to work. Everyone he saw was there because he or she wanted to be there. They'd made choices based on what they wanted, not what should be. He was a soldier in the army of what-should-be, at attention, on guard, while civilians of real life rushed past.

He'd been sitting in his car when he'd finally picked up the phone and called Relena to say he wasn't coming. He hadn't really given her an explanation, he'd just said he had to be at work. Not wanting to lie, he'd started the engine and started for the office. But he'd changed his mind and headed to State Street. He'd stood outside the doors of the jewelry store for a good 20 minutes as other shoppers pushed past before he'd gone in. He'd placed the small, black velvet box on the counter and faced the sympathetic glances and gentle treatment of the employees while it was returned. He'd walked out knowing he'd never be back to buy another one.

Once back at work, he'd sat still in his office so long that the sensor lights had turned off. The enormity of his decision was weighing down on him. He knew, no matter what, that it was over between him and Relena. Returning that ring had been his final acknowledgment that he couldn't do it anymore. There wasn't even a sense of loss or sadness. Just the slightest hint of relief.

Waiting to crash down on him like an avalanche of confusion was Duo. The entire situation. The crush, the attraction, the need for his emotional support, that emotional connection, so real and so tenuous. He didn't even know if Duo felt the same way he did! He had to admit to himself that he was enamored of Duo Maxwell--but he wasn't sure what to do next.

He'd turned around in the chair and booted up the computer. Now he was sitting there, head in his hands, trying to decide if he should message Duo. And if he did, what would he say? "Hi, we've never really met but I'm obsessed with you?" or "Do you mind that I jacked off to a picture of you, wanna meet for coffee?" The weight of his pain was pressing on his shoulders. If Duo didn't return his feelings, he didn't have anything to go back to - he couldn't go back to the endless grind of his relationship with Relena again. Hopefully Duo would at least want to pursue a friendship. He hoped so, because in the last couple of days he'd found that Duo's high energy conversation and offers of comfort were great antidotes to the clinging gloom of his day.

"I have to ask. I have to know if he feels this way too." He opened Secure-Chat and sent a message to the one person logged in that he cared about.

Heero: I returned an engagement ring today.

He waited for Duo's response.

Duo: Oh wow. R U OK?
Heero: I don't know.
Duo: Do u want to talk about it?
Heero: I couldn't do it. I tried.
Duo: Tried to ask her?
Heero: I tried to make it work. I should have been able to marry her.
Duo: y?
Heero: That's what people do. Grow up, go to college, get high-paying jobs, get married and have kids.
Duo: is that what u want?
Heero: I thought I did.
Duo: What changed ur mind?
Heero: You.
Duo: how?
Heero: No one has ever asked me why my life is like this before.
Duo: Not even ur friends?

Heero thought about it. Had Trowa and Quatre tried to warn him about where his life was going? Yes, they had. They'd tried to prod him into new things, they'd really tried to get him away from Relena. They'd always been there, but had let him make his own decisions.

Heero: I guess I'd stopped listening to them because I'd heard it so often.
Duo: Hearing it from a stranger changes things
Heero: Tell me about it.
Duo: I'm sorry ur relationship died tho.
Duo: even if it's 4 the best, it still hurts
Heero: The worst part is that I don't feel anything.
Duo: Oh sweetheart, I'm so sorry.

Heero smiled to himself. Duo seemed to be so sweet and caring. Relena, she was first and foremost in everything for herself. But Duo offered to share his pain without a thought, almost daily.

Heero: It's okay.
Heero: I can't stop thinking about you.
Heero: You've turned my life upside down.

Heero watched the cursor flash as he waiting for Duo's reply. He'd really put himself out there. This was a huge admission. A lot of his emotional stability was resting on Duo's next post.

Duo: It's the same w/me.
Duo: I have a terrible crush on u. Ur so gorgeous.

Heero's breathing sped up. "Oh my god."

Duo: Ur so serious & I want to tease u
Duo: I want 2 c u smile
Duo: I want 2 get 2 know u

"He feels the same way."

Heero: I want you to smile for me.

He bit his lip. That was by far the closest thing to admitting -to himself as well as to Duo- that he wanted a relationship with the other man.

Duo: R u at home?
Heero: No.
Duo: I'm coming up

"Oh my God, no Duo, wait!" Frantically he replied to the post.

Heero: Duo, wait. I don't know about this.

There was no reply.

Heero panicked. He didn't know what to do. Shut the door to his office? Run for the elevator? He could probably make it before Duo got up there, but there was always the fear that Duo would be IN the car he tried. Did he just wait in his office for Duo to find him? Did he go meet him? Before he knew it, he was winding through the cubicles of the IS department, heading to the elevators.

What would Duo think when he saw him? What would happen? There was still time to head for the stairs--

Ping! The elevator doors slid open.


Duo stepped out of the elevator. He glanced around and immediately spotted Heero. He stared. Heero stared back. For a few moments, neither could move. Then it happened, so fast that they would never know who moved first. Duo cupped Heero's face in and hands and pressed his lips to his just has Heero gripped Duo's shirt and pulled him close. Eyes fluttered shut and mouths opened. Before he knew it Heero let out a soft moan. They broke apart after a few moments and tried to breathe, not sure what to do next.

"God, you're beautiful," Heero whispered, tucking a lock of Duo's hair behind his ear, brushing his cheek with his thumb.

Duo caught Heero's hand where it rested against his chin and pressed a soft kiss on the back. "Thanks. You're not so bad yourself."

Heero flushed. He was excited and nervous. "I'm glad."

Duo grinned at him. Heero was so cute! "Relax."

Heero laughed nervously. "I've never done this before."

Duo squeezed Heero's hand. "It's okay. Don't stress about it."

They stood there awkwardly for a minute before Heero said "Do you want to go talk in my office?"

"Good idea." /I'm not letting you out of my sight. You might run./ "Lead the way."

Heero made no move to remove his hand from Duo's grasp. He turned and started through the rows of cubicles to "the green mile," the green-painted walls that housed all of the managers' offices. His office was the only one lit up as they approached the front wall of the building.

It the office Heero stood there, apparently debating internally. "Okay, I'd totally feel weird if you sat on the other side of the desk from me."

"No problem." Duo hopped up on Heero's desk, facing the chair. "There. Have a seat."

Heero sank into his own chair, and unsure what to do with his hands, he gripped the armrests of the chair. /They might act without my consent./ "I don't know what to talk about."

Duo laughed. "Start with stuff you like to do."

Heero smiled nervously. "Um, ok. I used to do a lot of online gaming but I haven't had time for it lately. I've been spending a lot of time at work."

"Avoiding your girlfriend."

Heero laughed. "To a certain extent, yes." He pondered. "Actually, more than I realized."

Duo grinned. "I had to stop playing online games because I was afraid I'd give into the temptation to play at work. We both have a gaming habit we're neglecting. What else?"

Heero ran a hand through his hair. Duo had a feeling it was a habit. "I play basketball against people of similar stature at my gym."

"You have a basketball league for short people at your gym?" Duo laughed hard enough to rock back a little on the desk.

Heero gave him a little glare. "You're not any taller than I am. And it's not a league."

"Actually, you may have an inch or two on me," Duo replied. "I play basketball too. My friends and I do two-on-one."


"Yah, Wufei and I against his boyfriend, Zechs. Zechs is over six feet and Wufei is about your height."

Heero smiled wryly. "Trowa is a lot taller than I am too. But Quatre sucks at basketball so we make him watch."

Duo cocked his head to the side. "So we have basketball and an unrequited love for gaming in common."

Heero knitted his brows. "Tell me something about you."

Duo looked up to the ceiling, tapping his chin with a finger. "I'm about 3 semesters away from my teaching degree, I like fast motorcycles and cars -although I don't have one of either, my car is boring. I have a Starbuck's addiction. I like puppies."

Heero grinned. "I can see you teaching high school."

Duo made a face. "I'm actually aiming for junior high. I was lucky enough to have someone catch me and build up my self esteem, but a lot of good kids go bad at that age because they don't get support at home or at school."

"That's wonderful." Heero shyly placed one hand on Duo's thigh. "I'm glad we have things in common."

Duo winked at him. "I knew we'd find some common ground." Without warning he jumped off the desk and pulled Heero out of his chair, embracing him tightly. Heero was stiff for a moment before relaxing and sliding his arms around Duo's waist. He rested his head against Duo's shoulder and sighed.

"What's the sigh for?" Duo stroked his hair.

Heero pulled his head up to meet Duo's eyes. "It's such a relief."

Duo smiled that same, sweet little smile he'd been wearing in his picture. "What is?"

"To finally let myself want you."

Duo's smile widened and he pulled Heero closer. "Oh really?" He leaned in, eyes drifting shut.

Heero met him in a kiss, sliding his arms around Duo's neck. He moved his lips against Duo's, hoping he was okay since he had limited kissing experience. He opened his mouth and gently touched the tip of his tongue to Duo's lower lip.

Duo groaned and took the invitation, opening up and letting his tongue twine with Heero's. He slid his arms down his back to cup Heero's ass and bring them into contact with each other. Heero was aroused. This made him enormously pleased.

Heero's eyes shot open when he realized what he was feeling: another man's erection pressed against his. For a moment he panicked. /Oh my god, what do I do?/ Then Duo ground against him and he forgot his misgivings. He pushed back against Duo, wanting to feel him again. He speared his fingers into Duo's hair.

Duo pulled back, panting and looked at Heero's flushed face. He waited for Heero's glazed eyes to meet his. "Wanna get out of here?"

"But you have to finish your shift--"

Duo shrugged. "I have sick time."

Heero smiled tremulously and searched his face. "Are you sure?"

Duo laughed. "Hell yes."

Heero pulled Duo forward and kissed him hard. "Let's go."


In his entire tenure, Heero Yuy had never had a picture on his desk. He'd started as a tech his freshman year in college, he'd worked his way up and not long after getting his degree he'd earned a management position. In that entire time, his desk had been bare.

Now, propped up to the left of his laptop, between the stapler and the pen cup, was a picture of Heero, arms wrapped around the chest of a madly grinning Duo. Heero's head and shoulders were clearly visible, and it was obvious he was pulling Duo back against him. It was equally obvious that Duo had taken the picture with the camera at arm's length.

To the right of the laptop, propped between the desk trays and the tape dispenser was a snapshot of the two of them in profile, laughing, lips inches from each others. Quatre had taken it when they'd been at the pier.

Every time he glanced down he was reminded of that swirling world of color and sound he'd seen before, the one he'd watched stream past him. He saw the starry sky and fireworks. He heard Mozart, Copeland, and Kanno. He felt sunlight on his cheeks. He didn't have to stand aside for it anymore.

He was part of it.



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