FOUR LETTER WORDS

 

Author:             FancyFigures (fancyfigures@hotmail.com)

Disclaimer:        I don’t own ‘em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about ‘em for free etc

Pairings:           1x2

Category:          POV, romance

Warnings:         Yaoi, lemon/lime

Spoilers:           None

Notes:              Duo finds a novel way of stopping Heero’s bickering.  Heero finds a novel way of expressing himself!

                        This is dedicated to Dacia – who knows the value of words!

 

 

‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Duo whirled round, the braid snapping behind him almost venomously, as if it had a life of its own.

 

‘Sorry, but don’t I already know that?’ he answered himself quickly, before I could reply.  ‘Yeah, of course – shock horror! – Heero appears to be criticising my language!  Again!’

 

‘I wasn’t…’ I said, unusually patient.  That was only because I was considering reaching out and groping the boy in front of me, and that was distracting me from my discussion.  But I could never have plucked up the courage, anyway.  He looked astonishingly good this morning, with a vest barely thrown on, chest muscles flexing underneath it as he slammed the cereal packet down on the breakfast table.  Slight sheen to his skin, having just come out of the shower.  Loose pants, no socks.  Casually dressed, because we had no formal plans today. 

 

Just as I dreamed of him in my lonely, cripplingly embarrassing nights.  Nights that ended up wet and sticky, most of the time. 

 

And still lonely.

 

I winced as a hoop of chocolate corn missed my nose by an inch.  I had annoyed him rather successfully, if it interfered with his eating.

 

‘I just suggested that you say a tremendous amount for the smallest of messages.  That you don’t need so many expletives and four letter words for your conversation to be effective –‘

 

‘Effective? Quote Effective Unquote?’ His hands sketched it out dramatically over the breakfast crockery.  ‘What the hell kind of description is that?  I don’t talk to you to be effective, Heero Perfect Punctuation Yuy –‘

 

‘For heaven’s sake,’ I sighed, ‘You’re being deliberately obtuse now, Duo.’

 

‘Well, get you!’ he sneered, brows knitted together as he glared at me.  ‘It’s Mr Word Police!’  He rolled his eyes up, struck a familiar pose.  ‘Look at me, does it show, this obtuse thing?  On my head?  Over my chest?  Up my fucking butt -?’  He answered himself as before; these rantings were never a proper conversation.  Just a way to embarrass me.  ‘No idea, Duo my friend!  Perhaps, Heero,’ – he stared up at me fiercely – ‘that’s because I don’t know what the fuck that means!‘

 

I winced again.  I tried not to, but the harshness of his language was, indeed, getting me down.  While hanging on his every word – no, I don’t understand the contradiction myself.

 

‘There’s nothing wrong in using a more frugal, yet sophisticated vocabulary, Duo.  You don’t have to put on any sort of an act with me.  I know you are as articulate as any of us –‘

 

‘That something to do with my joints?’ snapped Duo.  He slumped down in his seat, and turned his back on me, reaching for the milk.  He obviously considered the breakfast more important than me.  I should explain that that’s fairly usual. 

 

‘I bend as much and as well as I damn well like, y’know?’  His voice was a little muffled as he went on, and I don’t think it was only the chocolate hoops. ‘You should know about that, Remote Boy.’

 

I know I blushed.  And I could have bitten my tongue off.  Perhaps I still will.  Sewing it back on will give me something else to do during those lonely nights I’ve already referred to.

 

***

 

I knew what he was talking about, and so did he, obviously.  It had been a very strange evening, only a week ago, and still burned fiercely on my mind.  We’d both wanted to watch TV, everyone else was out, but – as usual – we couldn’t agree on the programme.

 

I don’t know what happened really – or rather, I don’t know how it ended up the way it did.  He had grabbed the remote control, and somehow draped himself over the back of the couch, dangling it in front of my nose, but just too far for me to grab it.  And started taunting me!  Apparently I cannot be parted from this small electronic box; apparently I hog its use to the exclusion of everyone else; apparently I should take it to bed with me and shove it – well, the rest was the crudest of Duo-talk, I won’t repeat it here.

 

At first I refused to be drawn into such a childish game, but then I got just a little angrier – OK, a lot angrier – but every time I tried to snatch it back, he would somehow twist that long-limbed, athletic body and stay just outside my reach.   I’m as fit as the next guy – well, fitter, of course – but I couldn’t imagine how he bent back in such an unnatural way, and how he anticipated my every move.

 

The anger got just a little too real, and eventually I knocked the remote out of his hand, and grabbed him instead.  I think I’d finally caught him by surprise, which was considerably more gratifying.  We fell on to the floor together, the mat rucking up underneath us – and the TV hissed on to no station at all in the background.

 

Then we didn’t seem to be bothering about the TV anymore.

 

I guess it was mostly my fault.  OK, it was totally my fault.  I can remember very clearly how warm and alive he felt underneath me.  Harsh breath, pouting mouth.  Temporarily silent for a change – he’d run out of insults and teasing and the endless stream of words as weapons.  Or perhaps I’d winded him more than I thought.  His arms were pinned to the floor under mine.  His thighs tense and pressing against my legs.  Ahh…now I’ll have to think about something hideous like parsnip soup or cottage cheese quiche, just to try and dampen the teasing ache in my groin.  Happens every time the memory comes back to humiliate me!

 

I’ve no idea whether Duo likes boys, or whether he’s ever thought of me in that way.  He seems to date a lot, but we never see any of them back at the apartment, and of course none of us can ever keep up any sort of long term relationship because of what we do.

 

Who am I kidding?  I personally never even date, let alone maintain a relationship.  The only person I ever think about romantically is him.  And that’s so patently ridiculous – and unattainable - that I swallow the thoughts down every day and concentrate on the real world and its missions.

 

But that night I suppose I let my instincts rule my head for a critical second.

 

I kissed him.

 

It was the best thing in the world!  I’m shaking my head, now, mentally beating myself up, because all the memory does is torment me.  But I can’t stop running the scene through my head, like some old home movie, where only six frames run smoothly.

 

That’s probably all it was – six frames of bliss.  Some grainy, silent old film, full of the softest touch of surprise and panting flesh, and maybe the exciting hint of his tongue touching mine.  My heart stopped for those glorious seconds.  There was music in my head.  Poetry overwhelmed me.  And – believe me – I am no natural poet.

 

Then he pushed gently at me, and I leapt off him like he had the plague.  Or like I did, which was a more accurate description, I suppose.

 

We stared at each other for all of ten seconds.  If I was as red and hot as he looked, I could have sat on the rooftop and guided aircraft across town.

 

Guess what – Duo broke the embarrassed silence first.

 

It had been a strange, sudden madness, he said.  Something about the weather – something about the chicken being undercooked at supper.  He made some joke about Wufei’s cooking, it having been his turn that night.

 

His voice had been a little shaky.

 

Yes, of course, I heard myself saying in reply.  Probably the tension of the mission to come.  Or the one just gone.  Or something like that.

 

I can see myself now, nodding in agreement at all the excuses that Duo gave me.

 

All the chances he gave me to pretend it never happened.

 

All the chances that I took gladly.

 

Have I been kicking myself for that ever since!

 

***

 

‘If it’s so damn unpleasant being around me, why don’t you take the fucking day off?’

 

Duo’s voice was hardly shaky now.  It was harsh and stubborn.  I know he was being deliberately provocative.  He wasn’t so relentlessly foul-mouthed except when he was baiting me.

 

‘We’re both on call, you know that.  We need to stick around here until the others are back to relieve us.’

 

‘You need to stick around,’ he snapped back, buttering some toast.  How does he eat so much and stay so slim and fit?  Nervous energy, I suppose.  I watched the tendons on his arm as he wielded the knife like a samurai blade.  I imagined the arm holding me tight.  Then I imagined the ‘blade’ slicing through me.  Interesting dichotomy.  I gulped.

 

‘You don’t trust me to cope, do you?’ he snapped.

 

‘Of course I do,’ I said a little weakly, because I had, indeed, been worrying about that.  He seems rather volatile nowadays.

 

‘You need to lighten up, Heero.’

 

‘Lighten up?  What does that mean?’

 

‘Hell, isn’t that in your precious dictionary?  Like, I’m staring at a man who thinks Relax is a big neon sign announcing Welcome, Nuclear Holocaust!’  He appeared to be talking to the spoon now.  ‘Look, Duo, see how Mr Yuy perceives your unique ways.  Are you a danger to the world of Oz?  Do your missions cause madness and mayhem in the world of your enemies?  No, my dear Duo – it’s your language that threatens the world’s very existence!  Your imaginative and totally appropriate use of descriptive phrases –‘

 

‘You use too many four letter words, that’s all.’  I sounded rather sulky.

 

‘Like you never do?’ he tossed back.

 

I gave it some serious thought – he deserved that from me.  ‘I may occasionally.  But I don’t see the need.  And, of course, I don’t know as many as you do.’

 

He laughed out loud then, and it seemed to relax the tension in the room.  I’m not sure why, or what I said that was so amusing.  But I wasn’t ungrateful for it.  And I love to see him laugh.  The effect is loud and expansive and generous and lively – well, that’s Duo all over, I suppose.

 

‘You could learn some, Heero!  They’re damn useful; sharp, tasty little words that express what you want to say when there’s hell to pay and you can’t express the damn feeling otherwise –‘

 

‘There you go again!’ I bleated.  I was surprised at how pathetic I sounded, but I couldn’t somehow let it go.  ‘A veritable flood of words, but little content!  I really don’t see that you can express yourself adequately on such a limited vocabulary.’

 

‘Easy.’

 

‘I don’t think – ‘

 

‘Fine!  As if I give a fuck what you think!’  But his words weren’t angry.  He was staring at me again, rather thoughtfully.  His face screwed up with that mischievous look that he has, when I know he’s just hidden my laptop, or put marmalade on the toilet seat, or has sliced a fuse in half to use it in two explosive packs, but that means we’ve only got seconds to get out of the way, and he’s only just thought to tell me –

 

He swung round in his chair, to face me.  Tilted it back against the table.  So ridiculously dangerous.  ‘Let’s put it to the test, shall we?’

 

‘Test?  Test what?’

 

‘Whether my style can be as effective as yours!  We need something to keep us amused until the others get back.  We’ll use just them!’

 

‘Them?’ I asked.  He was leading me into monosyllables even as we spoke!

 

‘Duo leaps back in amazement!’ he mocked, a hand clutching his chest.  ‘The man has the short term memory of a goldfish!  Four letter words, Heero!  We’ll use just them.’  His humour seemed to be completely restored now.  I had a sick feeling that it was entirely at my expense.

 

I stared at him.  I heard the words, but they didn’t seem to compute.

 

‘What – swear constantly?’

 

‘Oh, look at your face, Heero!’ he laughed.  ‘What a negative attitude!  You’re the literary geek – surely you can see the potential for short words that don’t have to be swear words?  We’ll use any words up to – and including – four letters.  A much sharper, crisper speech pattern, that’s all it takes.  Aren’t you up to it?’

 

‘I’m up to anything you can suggest!’ I snapped back.  Wished I hadn’t.

 

‘Ah-hah!  That’s a yes then, is it?’  he smiled.  ‘See my face, Heero.  *Grin* is what you’d call this!  Watch it and fucking weep!  You are gonna learn to talk the Duo way.’

 

‘It’s a stupid game,’ I gasped.

 

‘So humour me,’ he replied.  He was undeterred.  He was Duo on a mission.  Shinigami – and I was the target.  What chance did I have against that?

 

‘Come on, Heero,’ he wheedled.  ‘It’s gonna be fun!  Or you can call it interesting, ‘cos I guess that three lettered word offends you.  Look – you use the longer words, but I use the quantity – you’ve said it yourself until my bloody ears burn.  It’ll be just as much a challenge to me, won’t it?’

 

‘So for how long?’  I said, grudgingly.  I appeared to be swept along with his juvenile game.  ‘Days?  Or just for a few minutes?’

 

‘Oh ye of little faith!’ he grinned.  ‘I’ll let you get back to your dictionary soon.  ‘Til lunchtime tomorrow.  What d’you think of that?’

 

‘I…’ I was a bit confused.  Of course, I wasn’t sure what I’d been expecting in the first place.  And his grin was so very distracting, all those white teeth, the moist lips curved and laughing.  Laughing at me.  That was fairly usual as well. 

 

‘You mean - all night?’

 

He shrugged.  His eyes dropped from mine for a second.  I wasn’t sure why.

 

‘The guys are out until tomorrow evening at least.  Ideal time for us to have a lark, without you looking a moron in front of them.’

 

‘Or you!’ I snapped again.

 

‘Good, good,’ he nodded, pleased.  ‘You’re getting into the swing already!  Is it a deal, then?  Is the challenge on?’

 

‘I – suppose so…’  A chill ran over me, suddenly. ‘Do you have other conditions in mind that I should know about?’

 

He pursed those shining lips, looked up at the ceiling as if he were thinking hard.  ‘OK, I see your point.  No thesaurus to be used.  Only words in your personal vocabulary.  Names are OK.  Yes and no are OK.’

 

‘Slang?’ I said, rather spitefully.

 

He sighed.  ‘So I’ll keep it to a minimum.  God forbid you should use such a thing yourself!’

 

He shifted in his seat, apparently satisfied both with his empty breakfast plates and his plans.

 

‘One other thing.  How are we gonna police this?’ His scrutiny was making me feel rather uncomfortable.  Deliciously so.  Miserably so.

 

‘What do you mean?’

 

‘Well, how will I know you’re playing by the rules?  You might sneak out of the house and you could be rambling on with multi-syllabled sentences up and down the street all night and I’d never know –‘

 

I protested most strongly.  Firstly, at the ridiculous vision that conjured up.  And secondly that he could think I would cheat! 

 

‘You have some problems with my trustworthiness?’

 

‘Wordiness, more like,’ he growled, rolling those big, violet eyes up into his head.  ‘Look, everyone – here’s Heero Yuy!  The man whose motto is ‘Why use one syllable when four will do?’’

 

I grimaced.  Things were spiralling out of my control.  ‘Then we will stay inside – together – and watch out for each other.  Adjudicate each other.’

 

‘That the same as spy?’ murmured Duo.  But there was the slightest hint of a sparkle in his eye that made me think he wasn’t as angry with me as he made out.  ‘OK.  That’s a deal.  I have to go out to get supplies, but we’ll start this when I get back.  Over supper.’

 

He stood suddenly, pushing his plate to one side.  The mug was knocked, it spun and rolled off on to the floor with a crash.

‘Shit!’

 

‘I see no need for you to get in the swing, as you put it,’ I said, sourly.  ‘You’ve rarely been out of it, as far as I can recall.’  I was thinking hard, whether there had been any other night we’d been in together.  Alone.  Since That Night.  The answer eluded me.

 

‘Watch the tension, Yuy,’ he teased.  ‘Don’t want your arteries hardening.  We need our Perfect Soldier to be just that, in all mental exercises.’  His voice lowered slightly.  ‘Not just physical.’

 

Surprisingly, he put out his hand and took mine.  Shook it, in a gentle mockery of sealing the contract.  His palm was warm and firm. 

 

I couldn’t help myself – I snatched in a tiny breath with the delicious shock.  I held on to it rather too long, as well.  Though he didn’t seem to be keen to draw away either.

 

There was a slight hiss of breath from him as we stood there.

 

’What’s the prize, Mr Polysyllable?’

 

‘What prize?’  I was still wafting on a dream of touching even more of him.  I ignored his implied insult, whilst admiring the vocabulary.  God, what was I talking about?  I pulled my hand back to my side.

 

‘Don’t you think there should be an incentive for each of us?  So’s we don’t give up too easily. Just something to make it all a little more worthwhile.’  He was watching my face with a strange expression that I couldn’t identify.  Then he sighed, as if he’d been looking for something specific there, but hadn’t seen it.  ‘I guess you don’t need incentives, eh?  You’re completely self-motivated.’

 

‘I don’t – know what you’re getting at,’ I struggled the words out through suddenly dry lips.  ‘Isn’t it enough to have the knowledge that –‘

 

‘- you have superior control? Or that I have?’  He was grinning again, and he grasped at my shoulder quite unselfconsciously.  ‘But I still think we should play for more amusing odds.’  He leant back, slapped his forehead.  ‘Hey, world, Duo Maxwell has another brainwave!  The one who trips up first loses, and treats the other to an evening out – or in - with whatever entertainment they choose.  And that’s my last polysyllable for the day!  OK?’

 

But he didn’t wait for my answer.  He flipped his spoon into the sink, scooped up his towel, and left the kitchen, whistling.

 

I stared after him for at least twelve minutes.

 

What had I let myself in for?

 

***

 

It did seem extremely quiet that evening.  The others were out, of course.  But the house was never quiet when Duo was in.  There’d be music blaring out, or his PS2 singing away.  Probably the TV on as well, even if he wasn’t in the room.  He said he liked the company.  And he talked all through everything, anyway.  It annoyed me to distraction, of course, when I was trying to plan a mission, or complete a report.

 

I sat, and waited for him to arrive back.  Wondered how long I’d been sitting like this, painfully inactive.  I looked at the laptop, couldn’t find the motivation to open it.  I looked at the TV, considered turning it on, and then mentally slapped myself for acting out of my usual character.  He had me rattled.

 

I sat some more.  Just out of curiosity, how many four letter words could I think of?  Not just swear words, I told myself sternly.  Speak to yourself entirely in small words, Heero.  Practise it.  I don’t need a big word to say what I mean. 

 

I groaned to myself.  I sounded like a junior kid, with the first reading book!

 

But I had my pride.  I would abide by the rules, and I would show him what self control could achieve!  And it would be a challenge, to show him that conversation could still be rich, could still be mature.

 

Even with just a tiny word or two.

 

God – I couldn’t even convince myself!

 

But it was still very quiet.  How would the rest of the evening be?  Neither of us liked losing in any manner known to man!  Stupid game or not, the challenge was on.  I supposed that we would both consider every word before we spoke.  It was a very interesting concept.  Especially for Duo, who let speech flow over him like air; letting it pick him up as it wished, revelling in its freedom.  Flying with it, wherever it went.

 

I wondered where on earth this poetic appreciation was coming from, nowadays.  Seemed like I was rather volatile, as well.

 

I thought again on That Night.  Wondered how This Night was going to measure up.  Decidedly less attractively, I thought.  I couldn’t control the connections in my mind – how could I even consider attracting the man I wanted, without the power and protection of my words? Even if he despised them so much?

 

Why was I even thinking this?

 

Get back to the case in hand!  No more than four… no more than four… my mantra began.

 

I was still chanting it in my head when the slam of the front door and a piercing, whistling tune announced Duo’s return.

 

***

 

Dinner had been – interesting!

 

It had been less of a minefield than I’d thought.  While Duo was cooking some pasta, I was able to lose myself in a report I’d conveniently resurrected on the laptop.  Screens don’t ask for conversation – monosyllabic or otherwise.

 

‘It’s done!’ announced Duo, gleefully.  He had a mischievous smirk as he dished up.  ‘Want some more?’

 

‘Yes, pl- yes, I will,’ I replied.  I had a strong suspicion that he was trying to catch me out.  After all, wasn’t that what I was going to do myself?  The sooner he slipped up, the sooner we could stop this nonsense.

 

‘Good,’ I murmured through a large mouthful.  I was surprised – he didn’t often cook for me, as we had very different tastes.  I was rather fussy, I suppose.  This had been a long time in the preparation, but it looked very promising.  ‘Hot.  Rich.’  I wanted to ask what the flavour was, but for the moment I couldn’t phrase it in four letter words.

 

‘Ta!’ he grinned.  ‘Duo – cook of the year!’

 

‘Not just yet,’ I gargled, as a large lump of solid herb surfaced, and stuck in my throat.

 

He just laughed.  As usual.  ‘Say what you want, Heero!  Don’t be shy!’  He obviously hoped that I’d burst out and complain at him.  Again, as usual.

 

But tonight was different, wasn’t it?

 

***

 

We’d moved out of the kitchen and into the lounge.  The evening was wearing on slowly.  Cautiously.  Like our behaviour.

 

‘TV?’ he muttered, ignoring my preferences as he reached to turn on.  I stood up, intending to go back to the report, in another room.

 

‘No,’ he called, in a low but firm voice.  ‘Stay here.  With me, yeah?  Stay near.  Let’s talk.’  He grinned.

 

Oh God, I thought.  But if he could string sufficient words together, I must be able to do better.

 

‘Want some beer?’ he asked, almost carelessly.  We’d already had a couple, trying to find something to occupy us while we scrambled conversation together.

 

‘Yes,’ I replied. I was weaning myself off the ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ that I always considered so civilised.  But too long-lettered for this evening!  He flipped the ring pull of a can, accidentally spraying us both with the froth.  I jumped.

 

‘Hey!  It’s wet!’

 

For that second, I nearly had him!

 

‘Sorr–‘ he began, automatically.  And then I could almost see the cogs moving in his mind, as he totted up the letters involved in an apology.  And he clamped his lips shut on the word.

 

He stared me out.  A flash of challenge in his eyes.  Daring me to call him out.  He hadn’t finished the word.  I wasn’t too sure of the ridiculous rules.  I hesitated – and lost the advantage.

 

‘Me too!’ he laughed.  ‘Need a wash!’

 

He saw my face fall, the frustration in my expression.

 

‘Too bad, Heero!  Not so easy, eh?  To trip me up.  To fool me!’

 

‘I don’t want to fool you – ‘ I began.

 

‘Yeah, yeah,’ he waved the pretence away.  ‘Look at that!’

 

We both swung round to gaze at the wrestling match he’d zipped the TV on at.  A guy in latex red briefs had hoisted a guy with dreadlocks and a blue dragon painted on his face up into the air, and as we watched, he flung him with a roar out of the ring.  He flew over the heads of the front row, and fell in a crashing pile in the aisle.

 

‘Ouch!’ we both cried, together.

 

We turned to each other, and grinned.  His eyes were shining.  I felt surprisingly relaxed.  It was one of those really good moments that you want to hold on to, just for a few seconds.  Just so that you can savour it.

 

‘Your kind of show?’ he asked.  ‘Keep it on?’

 

‘No…’ I said, slowly.  And I smiled again.  ‘It’s crap!’

 

Duo raised an eyebrow.  ‘Heero, are you OK?  What a very Duo word!’

 

‘Yes, I know.  But it is crap!’

 

‘True,’ he laughed.  It was a full laugh, a proper Duo-laugh.  It was glorious, and I knew it was bringing the answering smile to my own face.

 

I was more than a little surprised to find that I was enjoying this game!

 

***

 

But the pressure mounted again.  We sparred with our strange, truncated sentences for at least another hour.  Sometimes we sank to mere grunts, barely syllables.  How many times could you say, ‘Want some beer?’  More than once, I was worried that I was drinking a little more than I usually did, just from the tension.  I tried to tempt Duo to talk at his usual pace, teasing the words out of him.  He tried to provoke me into annoyance or frustration, so that I’d lapse back into my normal speech.

 

We were still at stalemate.  Still both holding our position.

 

The wrestling was over – and a sitcom, and a game show - and we were watching some old film in black and white that neither of us had any interest in.  The room was in semi darkness because neither of us had found the right words yet to ask which light we should turn on!

 

Duo lay across the couch by now, leaving me the armchair.  He’d thrown off the shirt he’d put on to go out earlier; he was back in his vest.  And he was gorgeous.  He’d dragged one arm up behind his head, to support him as he stared at the flickering screen, and the vest had ridden up above his hip.  He’d changed into sweats for the evening, and they were tugged down in the same place.  I could see the dark shadow of his bone, under skin that shone very slightly in the half light.  His legs were carelessly wrapped over and under the cushions.  I looked over as often as I dared, and I saw myself wrapped just where those cushions were.  With Duo’s strong, long limbs tangled around mine.  With my head resting on his chest.  My mouth just a fraction away from where his shoulder joined his neck in a dimpled hollow.  I could just lick those warm creases…

 

He sighed, rather loudly.

 

‘You want to stop the game?’ I hissed.  ‘You find it a bore?’

 

‘No!’ he snapped back.  ‘I’m fine!’

 

I caught him looking at his watch.  Then over at me.  A strange look on his face again, a bit like the one at breakfast.  I wasn’t sure that I welcomed it.  Perhaps he was a little drunk, too.

 

‘Lost date, Duo?’ I murmured.  The thought of him missing out on a date with someone else – just to suffer a stupid game with me! - was distinctly painful.  I wrenched it firmly across my mind.  I must have some kind of a masochistic streak.

 

‘No,’ he replied, surprising me.  He didn’t usually discuss his social life with me.  ‘You the same?’

 

The laugh escaped me before I could stop it.  It sounded rather harsh in the quiet room, and Duo flinched.  ‘No, not me.  No date.  Fine by me.’  I shrugged rather obviously.  Had to get the message through, didn’t I?  I didn’t need his sympathy.

 

He sighed again.  This whole childish game seemed to have made him uncharacteristically introspective. 

 

‘Not for me, Heero.  Not fine by me, I mean.  I miss it.’

 

‘Miss what -?’

 

‘I miss it all.  Like it all.  To hold.  Hug.  Talk.  Kiss…’

 

I felt the creeping warmth around my memory and – inevitably – around my groin.

 

‘Like it all,’ he repeated, rather dreamily.  His eyes were hooded by his drooping lids.  The tip of his tongue licked quickly and sweetly at his lower lip.  The sight of him was killing me.

 

I didn’t trust my voice at first.  But the disorientation seemed to have made me rather bold.  Rash.  Whatever.  My mouth opened, and I spouted out some rather more revealing words.

 

‘I – also like it, Duo.’

 

His head snapped up, to stare at me.  He was appraising me, I think.  He glanced at the blonde heroine on the screen, simpering up at the hero, and my eyes followed his.  God knows what we were watching, but it was far from the Coen brothers.  His bright eyes flashed back at me, his head dipped to the side, questioning.  The look was almost sly, but I guess I mistook it.

 

‘Your type, Heero?’

 

‘Her?’

 

‘Yeah.’

 

I swallowed, hard.  ‘No.’

 

The hero was swinging in through a broken window, inevitably seeking to save the world.  A smirk appeared at the edge of Duo’s mouth.

 

‘And him, Heero – is he your type?’

 

I flushed.  It was clear to me, very suddenly, that Duo knew that I liked guys.  Probably had done, all along.  What did this all mean?

 

‘Not him.  Just a hunk.  Too – too – ‘ I struggled to think of a word that wouldn’t incriminate me.  But a word that would explain.

 

‘I know,’ he said, softly.  ‘Same for me.’

 

The stunned silence that settled around us was palpable.

 

***

 

‘Heero…’

 

‘Yes?’

 

‘That time – last week…’

 

‘What time?’  OK, so it should be which time, but this whole exercise was stretching the grammatical boundaries, wasn’t it?  And anyway - who was being deliberately obtuse now?

 

Duo flushed at my harshness.  A high, pink slash to his cheeks.  It was impossibly tasty.  I wanted to smooth it away.  I think my hand even started to rise, but I dragged it down quickly.

 

‘You know what time.  With the TV.  The TV box.  You and me – on the mat.’

 

‘And -?’  I scowled.  I was surprised to find that it hurt me to discuss it so coolly with him.

 

‘It felt good.’

 

This time, my scowl was from pure amazement.  Speechlessness, even.  He snuck a look up and saw my eyes open, very wide.  A grin started to crawl over his face.

 

‘It felt very good.  The kiss.’  He must have seen me shiver!  ‘And you?’

 

‘Me?’ I whispered.

 

His grin was relentless.  ‘I want to find out, Heero.  Now I have you here.  To find out how it felt to you.  Good? Yuck?’

 

Is that a word? I thought dreamily.  Was I going to challenge it?

 

‘Is this a joke, Duo?’

 

‘No!’ he said, suddenly angry now.  The grin had gone.  ‘It’s true!  I don’t lie!  It was damn good – you were damn good –‘

 

‘I was?’

 

‘- for a guy,’ he smiled again.  His eyes were mischievous now.  He seemed to have moved to the end of the couch when I was watching the TV.  He was leaning over the arm.  He was a mere touch away from me, and I felt rather vulnerable.

 

‘You like guys?’  I said abruptly, but very pleased with my bravery.  Somehow it seemed easier with this strange language that we were using.

 

‘I like you…’ he whispered.

 

‘It’s – news to me –‘ I stuttered.

 

‘Yeah…’ he drawled.  ‘I – not sure, y’see.  Not then.  But now –

 

‘Now?’ I said, weakly.  His hand was swinging gently over the arm of the couch.  The fingers had just brushed my thigh.

 

‘This is a good idea, yeah?  This game?  I want to talk to you, Heero.  But you just –‘ he was struggling with words.  I thought I might catch him out now.  Just when I wasn’t sure that I wanted to.

 

‘You don’t talk to me,’ he grumbled at last.  ‘You yell.  You snap.  Mock me.’

 

‘I don’t mean it…’ I whispered.

 

He shrugged, good-naturedly enough.  ‘I’m a pain in the ass, I know!  But now I have you here.  You have to sit with me.  Had some beer – got you in a good mood.  Yeah?’  He blushed a bit – like he was embarrassed at being so manipulative.   ‘I want to hear what you say, Heero.  I want to see what you do.  When I tell you.’

 

I stared at him, still astonished.  Genuinely nervous of what might come next.  I don’t think he’d ever had this effect on me before.

 

‘Tell me…?’

 

‘Yeah.  That I like you.  That I want you.  And you want me, eh?’

 

‘I – I –‘ I spluttered, rather pathetically.  His expression wavered with insecurity for a second, but when he tried to pull back his hand, I grabbed out at it, like a drowning man.

 

‘Yes!  Yes, I do want you!’

 

We grinned inanely at each other for a few seconds.

 

***

 

‘Heero…’

 

‘Yes?’

 

‘Come here.’

 

I couldn’t think of any words for a reply, so I just obeyed.  I moved over to the couch, and sat beside him.  He put his arm up and slid his hand behind my neck.  His fingers burned on my skin.  I saw him take in a deep breath.

 

‘Come here…’ he hissed.  ‘I want a kiss.’

 

I sucked in my own breath – it felt hot in my throat.  My heart was pounding at double speed.

 

Your kiss,’ he grinned.  ‘OK?’

 

‘Very OK…’ I said, hoarsely.

 

His mouth came at mine rather abruptly.  Rather hungrily.  But I wasn’t complaining – I was grabbing at his shoulders myself, pulling him as close to me as I dared.

 

His lips were soft and then hard – they tasted of the odd-flavoured pasta, and the beer we’d drunk.  And they tasted of Duo – a laughing, musical, confectionary-flavoured taste.  They melded into mine, and I drank from him, I ate from him.  I couldn’t get enough of him.

 

His mouth resisted my tongue for only a second, then he gave a gulp in the back of his throat, and opened it to take me in. 

 

‘Ahh.. Duo…’ I moaned.  I met his tongue and we licked at each other, plunged happily in and out of the crevices of our mouths, crushing lips and teeth, and only coming up for air when I felt his chest start to heave for want of breath.

 

‘God, Heero –‘ he gasped, sinking back a little into the couch.  ‘That kiss was fucki –‘ He stopped.  He looked warily at me.  I sat there beside him, panting.  I wasn’t in any sort of a mood to call him on a potential seven-letter word.  But the challenge was still on, wasn’t it?

 

‘OK…’ he breathed, starting again.  ‘Fuck, that was so good!  You kiss like a pro!  You have lots of guys?’

 

I was fascinated by the sweat on his upper lip; the moisture trail at the tip of his tongue – at the swollen plumpness of his lips.  I reached out to touch his mouth with my fingertips, and he gave the slightest of moans.  I tugged gently at the lower lip, exposing his even white teeth.

 

‘No,’ I shook my head impatiently.  I didn’t want to talk about my love life, or lack of it.  Just wanted to do some more kissing!  ‘Just you.  No one else.’

 

‘Wow…’ he gasped. Looking at me with a new kind of reverence.  I had no time for any of that.

 

‘More…’ I hissed.  I dipped my head to the side, flickered my tongue out on to his neck.  He flinched, and he bared it instinctively.  I pressed my lips to the soft, tasty skin there.  Suckled gently, feeling his pulse speed up under my touch.

 

‘Yes, more – OK – sure – ‘  He was gabbling, and shuddering underneath me, so I guessed I was having the right effect on him.  I tugged his head round to face me again, and covered his mouth with mine.

 

Like another memorable night a week ago, the TV was all but forgotten.

 

***

 

It was quite dark now.  The TV sound had been muted, more by accident than design, as we rolled over the remote control.  The picture stayed on, as we were too distracted to attend to it, but it had drifted from any particular channel, and was just a flickering whiteness in the background. We were draped together on the couch, temporarily resting from our passion.  Or perhaps it was just recharging its batteries.  I know that every time his arm brushed against my side, it set off alarms in every nerve.  I know that my fingers were pressed gently against the bare skin of his hip, and he wasn’t pushing them away.  I was terrified of moving too much in case he broke away from me.

 

I felt his breath at my ear, and I knew that he was feeling the stirrings again.  Just like me.  I turned my head to him, sliding up to taste him again.  Eagerly.

 

He looked down at me with a look that was hot with desire; and twisted with some amusement.  Even as I felt the lust surge through me, I felt the pain of insecurity accompany it.  This was all too new – too strange!  Too fantastic

 

‘It’s OK, Heero,’ his voice cut in, soft but firm.  ‘It’s good… it’s fine.  Can’t find a word…’

 

‘Don’t need to say –‘ my voice was rather strangled.  My tongue was lapping gently at his neck again, and I could feel the goose bumps rising to meet me.

 

‘I do,’ he replied.  ‘You do.  We will need to talk.  But not now…’

 

‘Did you do all this –‘ I gasped, ‘- the game - just to talk to me?’

 

He grinned – I could taste the creases around his wide mouth as I licked his cheeks.

 

‘Not just that!  But I got it to work, eh? And this as well…’

 

He grasped my hair, tugged my face round to his.  The only sounds were panting and gasping as we kissed some more, and it was getting a little more heated. 

 

‘Why me?’ I whispered.  I wanted to meld my body against his – become one.  I wanted everything I could get, before I woke up and found this was another of my sad, unsatisfying, but painfully technicolor dreams.

 

‘You are – a hell of a guy –‘ he moaned, as I pinched at his flesh.

 

‘Not me…’ I dismissed it.

 

‘Uh-huh –‘ he was shaking his head.  His hand slid up under my shirt, and I shivered.  ‘You are tall – dark – sexy –‘  He seemed to run out of four letter words.  For the first time, I think, he was regretting playing the game.   ‘I want you, Heero –‘

 

‘You got me –‘

 

‘But also - I want to win!’ he laughed, in a low tone that reverberated through my body as I lay so closely against him.  ‘To beat you – to show you what I can do!’

 

I grumbled a little, but it was difficult when his tongue came back into my mouth, searching; tasting; possessing.

 

I fell back on the arm of the couch, groaning, trying to catch my traitorous breath.  There were trails of Duo’s long, soft hair all over my arm – the braid hadn’t fared well during our gymnastics.  His chest was heaving, the muscles chasing the excited breath through his body.  I didn’t dare look, but I thought I could feel his cock against my leg – it felt as if it might be a little swollen.  I didn’t need to look at mine to know it was in the same state.  But then, I’d been like that plenty of times before and had to ignore it.

 

He was very flushed, but he was still grinning.  Laid there beside me.  Touching me.

 

‘Don’t look at me like that!’ I moaned.

 

‘Like what?’ he asked, full of false innocence.  But I resisted the many – polysyllabled! - words that filled my mind; describing him; admiring him.  After all, I like to win as well!

 

‘Like – so good.  Like – cute.  Like – glad to be here…’

 

‘But I am,’ he smiled.  He shut his eyes, stretched a languorous arm up over his head.  ‘You make me feel so good.  And see how good you are now at the tiny talk –‘

 

‘Duo-talk,’ I mumbled.   I wondered how the thin, taut skin under his upper arm would taste.

 

‘I roll my eyes up at Heero!’  he mocked, but gently.  ‘Yeah… Duo-talk.’

 

‘Can’t talk any more,’ I hissed, rolling back against him, pressing his arm back against the worn couch fabric.  Reaching my mouth down to sample him again.  ‘Lips are numb…’ 

 

***

 

It was very late now, and we’d both lost clothing from our upper bodies.  Well, as we’d both been wearing only one item, that means we were half naked.  I was suckling gently on his left nipple, and my hand was just naturally stabilised on his thigh.  Quite high on his thigh.  I was desperate to touch him.  I knew that when he’d stretched up to peel his vest off impatiently, the top button of his jeans had slipped open.

 

I knew how much I wanted to follow that thought.

 

He whimpered underneath me.  He really seemed to like this.  And although I have been told that I can be unnecessarily arrogant, I happen to think I was getting quite good at the manoeuvre.  It tasted delicious – it tasted sexy.  By now, I was a tangled, frustrated mess of lust and unspecified aching.

 

‘More?’

 

‘God… yeah…,’ he groaned.  ‘Suck…yeah…’

 

I surreptitiously slid a finger in along his loosened waistband.  I could feel the top of his boxers.  I could feel the first, tight curls of his pubic hair.

 

‘Can we stop the game?’ I gasped.

 

He stopped writhing for a minute.  He knew I wouldn’t be offering surrender.  His voice was hoarse and wary.  ‘Why?’

 

‘Then I can tell you – in real talk – what I feel.  What I want –‘ I groaned.  The continual need to be counting letters and creating impossibly twisted phrases was distracting me from what I really wanted to be doing to him.

 

I was a little shocked at the force of his reply.

 

‘Like hell, Heero!  We must be the same – we must have the same rule, OK?’

 

‘OK,’ I sighed.

 

His voice softened.  He wriggled slightly under my hand, which I hadn’t moved from his waist.  ‘Give me Duo-talk, Heero.  I like to hear it – from you.  All of it!  Tell me all that you want!

 

I struggled with words, temporarily lost.  But then he took my wrist, and he peeled open the zip of his jeans, and he pressed my palm down on to the crisp cloth of his boxers – on to the warm, rock-hard flesh of his cock.  It was so close to my fantasy that my breathing stopped in shock.

 

‘See?  I can show you this way what I want,’ he whispered. 

 

I might have lost consciousness for a second.  But I never lost hold.  Instead, I squeezed – so very, very gently.  So that I moulded my hand to the hot, rigid shape.  So that I heard him moan and press back against me.

 

‘Say it, Heero… God… soon -!’

 

‘I – I want to – you – I don’t know – what to say –‘

 

‘Hold it?’ he gasped.

 

‘Yes.’

 

‘Lick it?’

 

‘Oh – yes –‘

 

‘Suck it?’  The words sounded very deep in his throat.

 

‘Yes!’ I almost cried out.  It was like being released from a long period of silence – like bonds being broken – bonds of inhibition. ‘I want to suck you, Duo.  I want to suck your cock!’

 

‘So don’t wait,’ he smiled, though his eyes were closing and his breath was harsh.  ‘Do it.  Do me, Heero!’

 

***

 

‘Good – so good!’ Duo groaned.  He was completely naked now, the jeans and boxers discarded in a messy heap on the floor.  My complete enthrallment was never more evident – I usually spend most of my off-duty time following him around, demanding he clear up after him!

 

And, tonight, did I care?

 

Did I hell!

 

I crouched between his outstretched legs, perched precariously on the end cushion of the couch.  I had lost my pants as well, though they were folded (rather carelessly) on the armchair.  I still had my boxers on, but for all the control they had over my erection, they were all but useless.

 

His skin was pale and shining with sweat – we still hadn’t turned any proper lights on.  He looked ethereal in the flickering light and shadow of the TV screen.  He looked like the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.  And – as I once said before – I’m no poet.

 

I had licked and kissed all down the inside of his thighs, feeling his muscles tense on each side at my progress.  His hand had wavered over my head, occasionally touching at my hair, murmuring words of encouragement if it looked like my courage was failing me.  His flesh was warm, and soft with down, and yet harsh with his strength.  I nibbled, and he winced.  Sucked a mark on his thigh, and he yelped.  I wanted to prolong this for ever – I wanted to discover every patch, every birthmark, every damn cell of his body.

 

And then I had reached my mouth down to his cock.  Tentatively.

 

It had been the most brilliant thing I could have imagined!  And rather effective, for both of us.

 

‘So good…’  His moaning brought me back to the matter in hand.  His cock; his balls.  He’d been moaning a lot – he may have been restricted in words, but I’d never thought to include a condition in the game for the sounds.

 

Thank God!  They were way beyond erotic!

 

‘What is so good?’ I murmured, my mouth full of the soft, wrinkled sacs.  Licking around the creases at the top of his leg, between cock and ass.

 

This…’

 

‘What?’ I pursued.  Surely he’d not be able to resist using his usual stream of words now?

 

He growled.  I nipped at the crinkled skin at the base of his cock, nuzzled the hairs.  I sucked his protests in between my greedy lips.  ‘Say it.’

 

‘Your - lips,’ he gasped.  ‘So good.  Warm.  Firm – uhhh –  oh fuck -!‘

 

I had taken the whole of him into my mouth again.

 

‘What?’ My query was the slightest ghost of a murmur, but I pressed on.

 

‘Shit! Shit! Oh, Heero – no word for it – ‘

 

‘Try…’ I sucked again.

 

‘No,’ he wailed.  ‘Not fair!  Only – only – *pant* - *pant* -‘

 

Duo appeared to have surrendered vocabulary for sensation.

 

‘What word is that?’ I sighed, my tongue sliding over his tip.  Sucking up from it.

 

‘*Pant* - *gasp* - *moan* -‘

 

‘I see…’ I smiled.

 

‘More, Heero!  Suck – lick – now – hard!’

 

I relented.  That, or my senses had deserted, which is decidedly more likely.  I abandoned words, and just savoured him.  I licked up with strong, firm strokes – I seem to be developing a talent for this as well, I thought, though not very clearly – and smothered the top as I passed, running the tip of my tongue up the sensitive little tendon, caressing little drops of saliva into the slit.

 

Duo was almost yelling now.  I had little time to be glad that we had no near neighbours.

 

‘Is this – OK, then?’ I asked, my voice just a vibration around his straining shaft.

 

‘Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck –‘ I decided to allow him the benefit of this seamless stream of four letters, because it was so damn sexy.

 

‘Is that Duo-talk?’ I wheedled.

 

‘Shut the fuck up!’ he yelled, but I took no offence.  None at all, because I could see the joyous, uncontrollable smile spreading across his face; could feel the strain as both his thighs lifted from the couch and clutched at my shoulders, trying to find purchase; could feel the throbbing in my mouth as his cock swelled more than I would have thought possible, and suddenly spewed out into my mouth.

 

Deliciously shocked, I kept him there, still sucking – and it filled my mouth.  Warm, thick, sticky seed, that I’d never have thought was more tasty than food; more stimulating than drink.

 

‘Mmm..’ I said, as I peeled my almost numb lips away from him, allowing his body to sink back, exhausted on to the cushion beneath.  ‘Yes, it is good!  Hot – rich – eh, Duo?’

 

And, as I expected, there was no reply to my teasing.

 

***

 

I think the dawn light may have been threatening, because the TV had deteriorated to a low hum, and nothing but blue screen.  We had drowsed on that damn, uncomfortable couch for several hours or so.  Every time one of us stirred, perhaps to stagger off to bed, the other one would grab them back.  It didn’t seem that either of us wanted to lose the connection.

 

My back was twisted, one of my arms had pins and needles, and there were sticky, barely identifiable pools of bodily fluids all over my weary skin.  But I had never felt more content.

 

I yawned.

 

‘Your turn to come…’ murmured Duo, sleepily.

 

Was it?  I’d lost count.  I’d never had so many climaxes in my life, let alone in one night!  From Duo’s hand, from my hand, from Duo’s fantastic, flexible mouth –

 

‘We need more time, Duo..’

 

‘To do it all…’

 

‘Yes.’

 

‘Got lots of time,’ he replied.  ‘Guys not back ‘til six.’

 

‘Got hours…’ I sighed.

 

Long hours…’ he moaned back.  He stretched; yawned.  ‘Show me a good time, Heero.’

 

‘Show me a good fuck, Duo,’ I hissed back.

 

His eyebrow raised at my coarseness.  ‘See Duo’s *grin* now!’ he laughed.  ‘Was that Heero or Duo?  Now they talk the same way!’

 

He shifted, and I slid down on to my back, almost underneath him.  His voice was soft and almost caressing.  ‘Soon, Heero.  Not now.  When we end the game, we’ll see.’

 

‘’Til then?’ I asked, hungrily.  Impatient again.

 

He grinned. ‘Want me to play with your ass?’

 

‘Like last time?’ I croaked.  ‘Hard?  Deep?’

 

‘Uh-huh.’  His fingers were creeping between my legs, up along the crack of my ass.  Poking familiarly at my hole.  Teasing at the pucker – like he had done a couple of times already.  He was greedy, and uninhibited – but he’d been gentle with me.  Had led me each step of the way, until I felt comfortable with it.  ‘No rush,’ he’d said.  It had been the most warming thing anyone had ever said to me in my life.  And so, over the hours, we’d sampled virtually everything except full penetrative sex.

 

That was just tonight, of course.

 

 

***

 

Another half hour later and the sun was definitely rising.  So was my desire again.  So was the cramp in my calves.

 

Duo was playing up inside me with one hand, whilst steadily stroking my half-erect cock with the other.  He seemed a little distracted.  And as for me, I think my body was genuinely considering whether it could stand any more ecstasy.  I was just enjoying the intimacy – enjoying Duo at my side.

 

‘Sore, Heero?’ he asked, as I winced a little.

 

‘Yes,’ I groaned.

 

‘Will I stop, then?’

 

‘Noo…not yet…’ I whimpered.  He laughed softly, and slid his fingers out of me as if he thought I didn’t deserve any more tormenting for a while.  He nibbled at my ear lobe, and I felt the shudder all the way to my toes.

 

‘So, my fine Heero…’ he whispered.  ‘Will you let me win?’

 

‘No..’ I ground out, an automatic response.  He was magnificent.  Even my teeth felt tense.

 

‘Heero Yuy - true to form.  As ever,’ he sighed back.  ‘Then you can win.’

 

‘What -?’

 

But Duo didn’t say anything else for a while.  He just bent his head and kissed me – very strongly, very soundly.

 

‘You are a walking four-letter word, Heero.  This is all I ever wanted to win.  You.  I choose to surrender the match.  Game over,’ he murmured, in case I still hadn’t understood.  His tongue teased at the corners of my mouth.  I sucked on it, trying to coax it back in.

 

‘OK,’ I smiled, a little uncertainly.  ‘But you say I can win?’

 

‘Yeah – but don’t be too damn smug about it!’

 

It didn’t seem so important now, I realised.  I was realising some other things, too.  But I hadn’t quite found my way back to the right words yet. 

 

He sat up a little; sounded cautious. ‘It was fun, though, wasn’t it?’

 

‘The best fun I’ve ever had without a laptop,’ I said, maintaining a sober look.  ‘Duo…’

 

‘Yeah?’ he yawned.

 

‘You won’t forget the prize you owe me?  There’s always tomorrow night, you know.’

 

He looked sharply at me, but I was keeping my feelings hidden for the moment.

 

‘Yeah, sure.’ 

 

He stared at me a little longer, and I hope he found something satisfying in my expression.  Possibly the pure lust that still sparked every nerve ending I possessed!  But also perhaps the slow, unexpected creeping of distress that was clutching at me, at the thought of This Night coming to an end.

 

Then I couldn’t keep my facial muscles still – I smiled at him.  He watched me; looked puzzled.

 

‘Can you guess the entertainment I might ask for?’ I murmured, stroking at his flushed cheek.  And I was damn pleased to see a smirk hovering at the corners of his own mouth. 

 

‘Ouch!’ we both cried, together.  And we were both laughing again.

 

 

***

 

 

Duo finally dragged his body up off the couch, stretching his naked limbs like a cat.  I knew that this time he would really leave me.  The night was at an end.  We both needed sleep.  Both needed to clean up – to shower.

 

Now there was a thought!

 

‘Duo-talk says I should get the fuck up and get to work,’ he groaned.  ‘And you can sink back into your beloved dictionary, Heero.  Rescue yourself from the sharp, nasty horrors of my inimitable style.’  He spoke as a joke, but it was rueful.

 

I wasn’t really listening to him.  I had decided that it was time for me to face some truths.  Not just face them – speak them.  In Duo-talk.  Like Duo himself… he’d done nothing tonight but give pleasure, expecting nothing back.  That was his style – his honesty.  His vulnerability.

 

That’s what I treasured about him.  I knew that now.  That damn poetic streak was returning.  And if I didn’t have the words to express it, who the fuck did?

 

‘I like your talk, Duo,’ I said, quietly.  ‘I like your style.  Perhaps I’ve always been jealous of it a little.  Your unique ways.  I – wanted to share them with you.’

 

He heard me, and, more importantly – understood me.  He turned with the beginnings of that grin sliding slowly over his face.  He looked very happy.  I liked the way that I could bring that on for him.

 

‘Yeah?’

 

‘Yeah,’ I replied.

 

‘So – how many letters were we restricted to?’ he asked, as if it were a passing thought.

 

‘Four,’ I said.  ‘Four –‘

 

‘- sure?’

 

I shrugged agreement.  ‘Four –‘

 

‘- warn?’  That mischievous look was back on his face. 

‘Maybe.’

 

The thought of the shower – and Duo in it - had given me new energy.  Not for the first time, I was more than grateful for my harsh physical training in the past.  I lifted myself easily from the couch, was grinning back at his word games, reaching to grab at his braid –

 

He twisted away, laughing.

 

‘Say what you want, Heero!  Say it again!’

 

I stumbled over the word, desperate to get to him.  ‘Four –‘

 

‘- play!’ came his parting shot.  He leapt off the couch, away from my grasping hands, and darted out towards the bathroom.

 

‘The game is not over!’ I bellowed after him.

 

And followed.

 

 

 

 

 

End