Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, wish I did, just enjoy writing about ‘em for free etc
Category: Duo POV, romance, some angst
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon
The weather is against the NewYear’s holiday – and Duo’s bittersweet memory of last year seems like just more awkwardness…
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“Slush sucks!” I groaned.
I knelt up at the window of the holiday cabin, and I stared gloomily out of the window. Like a kid, pressing his nose against the glass. Not that I could see a bloody thing. Just thick grey sky, and black, stripped stick-like trees. And rain doing what it does best – falling steadily and relentlessly. A wind whipping the tops of the bushes; dark puddles along the road down to the clubhouse. A coupla people struggling their way down to the restaurants and bars, wrapped like barrels in quilted coats.
“Look at it! Yesterday, all through the journey here, it was Winter Wonderland – today it’s Muddy Havens, Slushville!”
There was movement from the man sitting on the couch on the other side of the room. He looked up at me from his magazine.
“It will stop raining. Snow is forecast again for tonight.”
“But if it doesn’t happen? How often are those forecasts right? If this keeps up, I can’t see how we’ll have our New Year’s Party. It should be like it was last year - I want white slopes, and clean, clear dry skies! Glittering branches, and snowball fights, and mulled wine –“
Like last year, my mind echoed… OK, I grudgingly admitted to myself; not completely like last year…
There was silence from elsewhere in the room. Guess I was being a little too gushing. Guess I never learn to keep my mouth matched to the company I’m in, eh?
Then he coughed. I sighed. But I didn’t turn round to face him.
“The snow will come, Duo…”
“Snow sucks…” I muttered.
“There’s mulled wine at the clubhouse…”
“That sucks, too!” I snapped
“God, Duo!” My companion snorted with some frustration. “Is that your reply to everything? You never used to be so foul-tempered -!”
An awkward silence fell.
Damn right, though, wasn’t he? My companion. My friend, however you want to define that word.
My friend Heero.
We were at Quatre’s holiday cabin in the mountains. He’d promised us all a week of snow and ski-ing and New Year’s fun. Wheedled at us, nagged at us, until we all agreed to join him there. We knew the place – we’d had a great time there, last New Year. The resort was luxurious and full of entertainment; there’d be a party most nights on site. There were trips out on sledges; music and minibar and spa bath in all cabins. What more could the guys want? Last year, we’d all agreed we’d like to go again soon. Perhaps a regular New Year event…?
So here was our first anniversary visit. Only Heero and I had made it here so far; we were waiting for the others to arrive. Quatre had flown out on some PR trip to one of his many business conglomerates, but he’d make his way here direct. Wufei was visiting family at his commune in the hills, but was also on his way. And Trowa would be locking up his midtown apartment and taking the train.
But despite the fact they were all great guys, I wasn’t sure this reunion thing had been a good idea after all. Partly because I seemed to be in such a bad mood – partly because I wasn’t sure we still had the same close friendship we had a year ago.
Well… some of us.
Anyway, the decision had been made for me, regardless – everyone else seemed really keen. And I was here, wasn’t I? But I’d be damn pleased when the others turned up, to bring a little more Seasons’ Greetings to the cabin.
I was pretty grumpy, I know – wasn’t entirely sure why. Couldn’t just be the weather, could it? I mean, I had two pairs of socks and my slippers on, and I still felt cold and miserable. I’d been so looking forward to seeing everyone, and celebrating New Year with my few, true friends – and I just wanted everything to go well.
I wished Heero hadn’t arrived early; wished I hadn’t done the same.
Yes indeed – very childish, eh?
That sucked, too. My behaviour.
I cleared my throat. Turned to look at him. Attempted to brighten my manner. It’s what I’m good at, after all.
“So how have things been, Heero, in your neck of the woods? Busy at work? Out and about on the club scene? Hacked your way into the FBI yet?”
He grimaced a little. Stared at me like I was mad. “We saw each other last month, round at Trowa’s birthday celebration…”
“Yeah, but I didn’t get a chance to catch up on your gossip!”
“Whose fault was that?” he asked, pointedly.
I had no answer. We saw each other regularly, sure. But always in a group. Always at someone else’s place. We rarely got left alone together.
I made sure of that.
But it looked like I hadn’t been as subtle as I thought. The expression on his face was struggling with something – irritation, perhaps. It was a good face – a handsome face.
Tanned from a hot summer; blue eyes bright against the dark, unruly hair. Thick, lush lips pursed to speak…
“Duo, don’t you think we should talk?”
“That’s what we’re doing, isn’t it?”
He tsked. “It’s – it’s always awkward, Duo. I don’t know what I can do – why you won’t let me…”
“Don’t flatter yourself, Heero,” I sighed. “Praps I’ve just got that SAD disease, y’know? The one that means I suffer from lack of sunlight. The one that means I get mopey in the slush…”
“Baka…” he growled.
“…sucks,” was all he heard from me in reply.
We glared at each other.
I guess he took the hint that the conversation was closed. He lifted himself from the couch with a small, angry sigh. “Gotta unpack.”
“Sure.” I turned back to the window.
I knew it had been a bad idea to come here. I could manage things back in the city; back among the familiarity and security of my life. But here, I could hear myself, reverting to sarcasm and bad temper and downright rudeness… I didn’t like myself like this.
Nor could I say it was anyone’s fault but my own. I stared out at the grey sky, willing it to clear.
Grey sucks, I thought. But I didn’t say it aloud this time.
The phone rang a coupla minutes later. It sounded like Quatre, though the sound was dreadful, all hiccuping and hissing.
“Duo? Is that you? Thank God I got through! The signal is so bad –“
“Where are you, Quat?”
“God, I’m still –“ crackle, “ – and can’t take off yet. The snow is so heavy, they won’t let me risk the plane –“
“Try it here,” I murmured, savagely. “Damn plane would probably float here –“
“Duo? What did you say? Sorry, the reception is so bad here, and everyone’s running about like mad things.” Crackle again. I heard Heero come back into the room, and when I glanced at him, he raised an eyebrow, questioningly. I turned my back. Quatre was still yelling parts of sentences into his mouthpiece – it always amazes me; modern technology can bounce a signal through space, but people still have to shout down a phone. “- might not make it there - Look, I know it’s awkward, but please make use of everything you want - Duo, OK? - all your names at reception – all of the facilities - there for you all.”
“Not make it?” I repeated, dumbly.
“Duo? Duo? Can you hear me? –“ hiss, hiss – “slopes are even better this year – try the ski-ing again! - clothing and equipment in the cabin. I know you - not much of a chance last year…”
A laugh in the background, and Quatre turning to hush whoever it was. “Damn airfield –“ he called down the phone, but the reception was already breaking up again.
“- call you when – Happy New Year!”
I put the phone down and examined my disappointment. “The snow’s too heavy where he is. He can’t take off – may not get here,” I said. “To join us.”
“That’s a pity…” said Heero, quietly.
“Snow sucks!” I snapped. “But he says we can use all the facilities – and the slopes are even better than last year –“
My eyes met Heero’s.
“Last year,” he murmured. It was neither a question nor accusation. That was just the way I took it.
“Yeah,” I snapped, rather too harshly. His eyes widened, but his mouth clamped shut.
“Anyway,” I gabbled on, “Quatre says we must take advantage of it; get in some ski-ing –“
There was only the slightest of noises from Heero, but it spoke volumes. We both felt the same way about that.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Ski-ing sucks, too!”
Guess you’ve picked up on my slightly testy attitude towards last year, eh?
So let me tell you a little more ‘bout it.
Quatre had invited us all to the cabin for New Year – we all needed a holiday. And what a great place it was!
Only Wufei had been before – all the rest of us were seriously impressed by the facilities at the resort. And the weather had been on our side, as well! Fresh, sharp air that left clouds of steam when you laughed; bright, pale sunshine; deep, blindingly white snow; it was like off a Christmas card. Combined with the luxurious cabin, and unlimited food and drink and laughs, we had the greatest time. We relaxed happily together, largely due to Quat’s perfectly-honed skills as social host. It was everything I always dreamed of for a winter holiday; we stuffed ourselves with the seasonal food; messed about in the snow; toasted marshmallows and all that sappy, sentimental, corn-packed stuff.
I loved it! At last - the chance to ski – something I’d never done before! I was so keen they couldn’t open the door fast enough in the morning – they couldn’t keep me from the slopes! They couldn’t hold me back from taking everything at breakneck speed and with unbounded enthusiasm. Just like me, eh?
Like – I lasted all of two days before the accident.
I broke my ankle, didn’t I? Took one of those slopes just a tad too fast, and ended up on my butt, with my left leg twisted awkwardly under me. Wondered why there was snow in my eyes, until I realised it was tears of pain.
I was carried unceremoniously off the mountain and back down to the doctor’s, and once I’d been plastered up, from there to enforced rest at the cabin. Where Heero was left with me.
How come Heero? you ask. Was he my nurse?
Nah – is that likely? About as likely as Santa himself on the Atkins diet… No, it’s just that as I fell, I’d grabbed out at the only solid thing I could find – which happened to be Heero, just sliding gracefully to a halt beside me, Mr Perfect Snow-Plough, coming to give a hand.
He gave a hand, all right – reached out for me as I lurched away from the earth’s gravity, yelling all the time, and then caught me as I hurtled back down to his feet.
I broke three bones in his hand. Small bones, but painful ones – and temporarily debilitating.
The two of us sat in matching plasters for the rest of the holiday.
I was bitterly disappointed about the ski-ing, but I didn’t think it was gonna be so bad. At least I had company.
It was the first time I’d ever spent concentrated time alone with Heero; outside of the familiar territory of the town where we both lived. I was sorta looking forward to finding out more about him; seeing what made him tick. Developing some shared interests…
OK, I knew I couldn’t be questioned too closely on that. I already fantasised about ‘shared interests’ with Heero that had nothing to do with stamp collecting or fishing or… whatever. And more to do with his slim, strong body and fascinating-but-grim good looks. But that was known only to Me and my friend the Palm… and I’d never have let the man himself know it! He was so stern, so dismissive, so – so – *not interested*!
I knew that, even back then.
And I was right, wasn’t I? He had no tolerance for me at all. He scowled at me for 24 hours solid, for spoiling his holiday. Heero invented the Eloquent Scowl, y’know. I could admire just how damn fine he looked while he was doing it – but it never held him back.
So the two of us got left back at the resort for most of the days, and we had to make the best of it. It was a fabulous place – only the best for Quatre! – and his cabin was right near the centre of all the facilities. So Heero was able to amble out for periodic food and drink and supplies for us all. But it galled the two of us, every morning, to see everyone else suited up, skis over their shoulders, aiming up the peaks for a day’s exercise.
While we sat and grouched.
I thought we might at least have our disappointment in common. But we didn’t seem to connect on many levels at all. He scorned my jokes, and wouldn’t let me near preparing any food, even though he struggled sometimes with only one working hand and a cumbersome plaster on his arm. I found his habitual quietness unnerving, and his devotion to his laptop monumentally geekish! Like – who comes on holiday with their laptop?? So we clattered around the place rather uncomfortably. I drank hot chocolate until I looked faintly brown-skinned; he concentrated on developing one-handed keyboard skills. We both read every magazine going, about a hundred times. Even the gossip ones. And then I coloured in the black and white adverts, but that was just me, trying to pass the time.
Sometimes I caught him watching me, fingers temporarily poised over his typing. Or whatever he was doing. He’d stare me out, and then get back to work. I don’t know why I blushed when he did that. It’s not as if he was showing any particular friendship that I could see.
Annoyed me like hell, to tell you the truth. And I wasn’t gonna put up with it! My only entertainment was scratching the itch inside my leg cast, and the choice of reading either the latest on the Danish royal family’s exploits, or a selection of lurid historical romances that appeared to have been penned when quills were still in fashion.
And so I made him talk to me! I nagged, and I chattered, and I probed, until at last he weakened, and he began to open up. I demanded answers to my questions; insisted he gave me his opinion on everything from the weather to the size of Wufei’s ski boots, but it had to be in more than four words. He snapped at me; he sighed at me; and then he seemed to surrender. He started to tell me what he liked; how he felt. It was tentative to start with. I mean, he was never gonna be the sort of guy who says ‘life sucks’, nor the sort of guy who stands out in the rain just ‘cos it feels good on the skin of his scalp.
I’ve done both, y’see. It’s just that I tend more to the former, nowadays.
But we watched some TV together, and discussed what we saw. He read aloud one evening, when there was nothing interesting on, and the other guys had stayed out late with their après ski celebrations. He was embarrassed at first, then belligerent, then he just relaxed into enjoying the sound of the words in the tranquil evening air of the cabin. He let me into the kitchen, and I cooked a coupla meals; he seemed to enjoy them. We laughed at some comedy film – we played some cards.
And I watched his still, confident features as he talked to me, and admired his strong, secure arms as they helped me get about the cabin. It was an increasingly fine feeling.
I helped him pull on his socks a coupla times; and in return, he helped me prop myself up in the shower, the leg cast needing to hang out of the way of the water. I did wear a modesty-saving towel, y’know! He huffed a bit with the effort, and worked very pragmatically, but I couldn’t ignore his hands, tight on my half-naked body. The reality of the pair of us struggling away in the little tiled cubicle was enough to swamp me with pretty unsettling feelings. I was afraid he’d guess what reaction he was causing in me, so I decided after that I could manage on my own.
Once I let him braid my hair in the morning. I liked the feel of his fingers as they brushed against my neck; the sudden tug to my hair when he got too brisk, or the cast got in the way of his busy fingers. I found I was listening for him when he was in another room. When the other guys were back, and bouncing around the cabin, and calling and laughing and swapping ski stories – well, I found I was zoning out, and concentrating only on what Heero might say.
I found I was getting to like him. That I was discovering the person behind the persona.
I hoped he liked me, too.
How did we get left on our own on New Year’s Eve? It was meant to have been the big Party night! We were gonna drag our finery on over our plasters, and all go down together to the clubhouse, to boogie and party-popper the night away.
The snow was particularly heavy that day. Quatre had been the first to shriek with joy, early in the morning, and then the others were up and about with equal enthusiasm, and inching desperately towards the door and the lure of the slopes. Of course they were sorry we couldn’t join them! Of course they’d be back in good time to get ready for the party tonight!
They looked guiltily exhilarated. Is that combination possible?
By the time the late afternoon came, I think we both knew they wouldn’t be back in time. One of the instructors had been round the cabins, explaining that the lift was out of action – that some of the skiers may have to spend the night up at the ski centre on the mountain. He struggled through the deep snow to reach us, the heavy flakes battering at his scarf-snuggled head.
I was pretty annoyed. I was pretty sorry for myself, actually. Heero hadn’t been much company, as he’d been wrapped up in some book on HTML that he’d found at the back of the shelves in the clubhouse. I sat in my chair, wriggling my good foot across the floor for the TV remote, which had been left just out of my reach, and sipping at a particularly revolting purple liqueur. It was all that was remotely party-spirited in the whole cabin. We’d emptied the minibar some nights ago, and we were relying on going down to the club tonight for our entertainment.
But I was determined to get into the New Year mood!
And the liqueur was surprisingly potent. I felt quite flushed. When I accidentally kicked the remote further away under the couch, I think I giggled. Oh God, I thought.
The snow was falling, more and more steadily.
“Duo…” It was a strange, strangled little noise, coming from Heero’s room.
“What?” Had he crashed his precious system? Found out that I borrowed his hairbrush last night? Seen a yeti -?
“I can’t… I…”
Silence. I sighed, and burped a little. I put down my glass with exaggerated care, and dragged myself up on to my crutch. Limped to the doorway of his room.
Heero stood there, dressed in his own tee shirt and a pair of casual pants – but his good hand grabbed them awkwardly at his hip.
“What’s up?” I said.
“I –“ His face was flushed a dark red colour. I couldn’t remember seeing Heero and Embarrassment in the same room at any time, so I didn’t recognise it at first. “I – I’m stuck.”
“Stuck?” I repeated, stupidly. I looked back down at the pants – saw that the zip was still half open. And yet the lower part of his plastered arm was pressed close to his crotch, and the muscles of the upper arm were tensed. Like he was holding the opening together. Like he was in some kind of pain or discomfort.
Like he’d got the soft edge of the cast caught in the teeth of the zip.
I mean, what would you have done?
“Stop laughing!” he shouted at me. “I can’t – get the damn plaster free! And if I move the other arm off my hip to try and loosen it, the damn pants fall down, and I can’t get the two things going together –” He stopped. I’d never seen Heero and Flustered in the same room, either, but I was seeing it now, and it was the best entertainment I’d had this miserable holiday!
“Let me help,” I said, and started hobbling over to him.
“I don’t think –“ He started and stopped, and made some frustrated huffing noise.
“You want me to help, or you don’t,” I shrugged. “You stand there like a dork until someone else gets back, or you let me unsnag the cast, and you can get dressed properly. What were you up to, anyway? Getting changed again, ending up with your hands clutching your pants to your ass like that?”
“I - I thought we’d go down to the club – on our own…“ he started to protest, even as he realised I was teasing him.
“Yeah,” I smiled. It had been in my mind, too. The ski-boys had deserted us for the mighty mountain, so ‘praps we’d desert them in return, and party on, regardless. “But I think the weather’s gonna put paid to that, I’m afraid. There’s gonna be no party tonight unless Santa comes and picks us all up on his sleigh. Here, let me do that –“
My hands were at his waistband already, teasing at the threads of lint that had got stuck. I saw his fingers clench as I tugged away at his groin area, but he didn’t push me off.
“Nearly free…” I mumbled. I bent my head lower, to look more closely. The tip of my tongue snuck out of my mouth, like it does when I’m concentrating hard. I sucked on it. I thought Heero might be looking at it, and I flushed with my own embarrassment.
And something else.
My fingers were cold – that’s what I told myself. That’s why they fumbled a bit. Nothing to do with the fact that they were brushing up against the bare skin that peeked between his tee-shirt and the cloth of his pants. That I kept catching a knuckle in the small, soft dip of his navel. That I could feel the softness of a silky pair of boxers, the only barrier now between his nakedness and me. That I was so close to him that I could feel his hot breath on the top of my head, and see the movement of his chest under his shirt.
His skin was warm, and it shivered slightly under my touch. He had gorgeous skin. I’d seen patches of it, when he showered; when he was dressing of a morning. Dusky; smooth. Stretched over muscles, no surplus fat to be seen. I mean, I wasn’t especially watching…
His smell was in my nostrils – clean hair, and a tang of cologne. I always smelt it, even when the place was full of all five of us, with rooms full of the aroma of sweat, testosterone and cherry soda, with a liberal helping of talc and hair gel thrown in for luck.
“Here we go…” I gasped, giving the last awkward thread a good yank, and the cast sprang back away from his groin, free of its prison. I staggered a bit, almost losing my balance, and Heero grabbed out with his good hand to catch me. Just like he had on the slopes. But this time I wasn’t falling backwards. I was tilting, leaning, falling gently forwards… whatever you wanna call it, I tipped against his chest, and my own hand grabbed back at his shoulder.
We were centimetres apart. My face was burning. I could feel the heat reflecting off his.
His eyes were wide and dark.
His lips were moist; they were opening slightly, as if to say something.
So I kissed them.
I stood in the same room, a year later, and I thought I could still smell his fragrance, just as it was then. And the almost unbearable excitement that had coursed through me.
I even turned slightly, to see if he’d come back in – to see if he was standing close enough to me to explain the vividness of my memory.
And then the phone rang again, thankfully distracting me. It was Wufei.
“Hey, Wufei man, where are you? Time’s movin’ on –“
It sounded like his damn phone was suffering the same problems as Quatre’s, though Wufei always sounds kinda curt, doesn’t he?
“There’s been an accident, here, Duo – the wind is so high that a tree has fallen on the jeep. The road – blocked –” crackle, hiss. I was getting used to translating mangled conversations by now.
“Wufei? Can you hear me? Are you OK?”
“- fine, fine – no injuries – but –“
I could hear the swelling, rushing noise on the line, like a small hurricane. Like a gale was speeding things past him. I heard a curse.
“But, Wu -?”
“- Duo – may not make this evening – fixing jeep – wind has taken out the power lines – airport – not –“
“Not? Not?” I almost yelled in frustration.
“Can’t get through – Duo – tell – “ hiss, roar, “ – Happy New Year!” And the line went dead.
And then Heero stirred behind me. I hadn’t heard him come back into the room. He held a towel in his hands, obviously still unpacking. “Was that Wufei? Is he having problems, too?”
“Yeah,” I groaned. “Sounds like Hurricane Chang up there. Guess he can’t get to the airport – he may not make it here either.”
“Another pity –“ began Heero. “I guess –“
But I finished his comment for him.
“Wind sucks, too, eh?”
“Yes,” he said. “So you say.” I couldn’t make out his expression. He turned and left the room again.
The instructor from the club staggered round to the cabins again, through an even deeper flurry of snow. His hat was pulled fiercely down over his face; coat clutched tight to his body. His boots made deep pits in the snow, which were quickly filled up behind him.
He knocked on our door, and when I opened it, the wind shrieked its way past, bringing us a hallway full of white flakes and biting cold. I was right about the party - the resort offered its apologies, but all tonight’s entertainment would be cancelled. He wanted to know if we had sufficient food and drink for the night, and if there was anything else we needed at the moment.
I nodded my head politely enough, and said yes, thank you for letting us know, and no, there wasn’t anything we needed in particular. We’d sit tight for the night and see what weather the morning brought. I sounded very calm.
I closed the door after the guy, very carefully, and when I turned back, I was up against Heero again. He’d silently walked the length of the hallway, and was stood at my heels; it was a bit of a shock to find him there. The smell of him was all around me; it was intoxicating. He was breathing heavily, his warm skin shaking slightly against mine. He looked kinda unsteady; though I didn’t think he’d been at the liqueur as well. Then he took hold of my shoulders, and pressed me back against the wall, his plastered hand a little clumsier than the free one. His body came after his hands, tight up to me, crushing against me from chest to thigh.
We kissed again. And again. We only stopped to draw breath, then our lips were wide and hungry again, lunging out at each other. Nipping the soft, swollen skin; licking and tonguing each other; hissing hot breath into each other. I could feel his heart hammering in his chest; I daresay he could feel mine, too.
God, he tasted good!
The snowfall filled the sky outside so that there was no distinction between it and the earth, even as we held tight to each other. We heard no wind, no creaking branches or squelching roofs; only our own harsh panting.
When we finally broke apart, I felt too light-headed to pull away from the wall – we were both shocked and thrilled. Or that’s what I assumed the bright light in Heero’s eyes meant.
“You – heard the guy -?”
“Hn,” he nodded. For once, I didn’t take him to task for the monosyllable.
“Guess we better – make our own entertainment, then, eh?”
“Guess we better…” he growled.
We stood there, inches apart, lips wet and throbbing, and – as far as I was concerned – not just the lips.
I guess I didn’t know Heero at all, really. I wondered when the hell we’d ever discussed anything remotely personal, or relating to sex, or love. I couldn’t remember anything that would have given me a clue that he’d respond like this. And I was too scared to question it; I didn’t like to ask him what he was thinking – of our kissing. Of me. Why he hadn’t broken my other limbs for coming on to him like that – why he’d kissed back quite so enthusiastically.
I didn’t want to know any of those answers, if it meant that I lost his physical attention for the slightest second.
We didn’t say much more, to tell you the truth. We stumbled back to the lounge, but we touched each other all the way; we didn’t seem to be able to tear apart, not even for a second. We fell down on to the couch together. We tried to speak; I laughed nervously. Heero just mumbled something. We kissed again... We were beyond anything else.
And so we went to bed
God – sounds so mundane, doesn’t it? I mean, for the last few days, that’s what we’d been doing with boring regularity – we’d taken our respective painkillers and anti-inflammatories and settled as comfortably as we could.
But that night…
That night we went to the same bed. Heero’s bed.
That night, he peeled my clothes off like I was a precious gift. He stroked his hands all over me, like he wanted to saturate my bones with heat; like he wanted to brand me with his possessive fingertips. I’m not a prude, y’know, and he’s seen me nude before, I guess, in the gym, in the bathroom… but this was so very different that I felt my whole body blush. He smoothed my flesh like it was silk; he flicked teasingly at the nub of my nipple, until it was so sensitive that I winced. He nibbled softly at my neck and tangled his fingers in my hair. When he slid down beside me, his tongue trailing softly down my skin after him, I genuinely thought I might pass out.
We laughed softly when his plastered hand snagged against the pillowcase. We were both flushed when he ran his hand to my hip, rolling the leg cast lightly to the side, giving him space to kneel between my legs. He touched my cock, then, and I gasped with the shock and the delight. We were a little clumsy, and a little disabled from our injuries, but it didn’t matter a jot. Any nagging ache I had from my ankle was gone; and I hadn’t even taken my painkillers that night. My mind was totally – ecstatically, gloriously – elsewhere.
I tugged at him, and his own clothes came off; slowly but surely. It wasn’t ridiculous seeing him wriggle out of a sock. It wasn’t awkward when he gestured for me to unzip his pants for him. It was perfect. It took me nearer to his naked body. Our skin touching all over; our flesh shower-soft and shimmering with heat. Lying together on his bed, suckling at each other, hands grabbing and squeezing gently, and reaching out to touch things that had always been hidden before.
I know that I was entirely biased – but I thought that his body was gorgeous; it was lean, and muscled, and it was different from mine, and yet it was familiar as well. It was astonishing; it was another, living person, spooning against me, clambering carefully over me, touching parts of me that only I had ever touched before.
I felt as if I were drowning in the desire. I thought I might cease to breathe; I might be lost to legend, like a ghostly shipwreck. Like a body sinking into the deep snow outside; deeper and deeper, until the fresh, new fall settled above me, and covered the final traces of my very existence.
I had never felt so fantastic in all my life.
I reached out to steady myself against the back of a chair. It hurt to wrench my mind back. But never so much as to stay there, in my rose-coloured memories.
The phone was ringing again.
I coughed loudly, to reclaim my voice from that long-distant time. “What’s the betting it’s Trowa?” I asked the room in general – just as a joke, of course.
It was Trowa.
“Hey, man, don’t say you can’t make it either!” I groaned.
“Duo? Is that you? I – “ there was a strange slushing noise in the background.
“You calling from the bath, Trow?” I asked, bemused.
“- flooding here –“ came his disjointed words. “Apartment in six inches of water – mains burst – icy weather cracked a pipe –” There was commotion behind him, more of the sloshing, some shouted words. “May not –“
“I know,” I sighed. “You may not make it tonight.”
“Tell – others – OK? Come as soon – “ swoosh etc –“gotta go – buckets – Happy New Year!”
I put the phone down, and glared at it like it had a contract out on me.
A floorboard creaked behind me. Heero was pottering about, bringing some books into the room, unpacking some bottles or something on to the shelves.
“You know what, Heero?” My voice sounded rather cracked. And I guess he knew it was a rhetorical question, ‘cos he didn’t answer me.
“Water sucks, too.”
Heero and I had been left alone that night – alone, and seeing more of each other than we’d ever imagined we would. More of our naked flesh; more of the touches that made us moan; more of the words that we whispered to each other, making our hands reach wherever we begged for them. He spread me wide, and he caressed me, and he kissed all parts of me.
When he whispered to me that he wanted me, I reached for him to pull him closer. I wanted nothing more than that myself.
It had been incredible! It had been a wild, physically shocking time, which had made me shiver and cry out. I think he was as gentle as he could be; but I was shaken by it - I felt very young, and very adult, all at the same time. He took me – he came into me - and I felt I became a part of him; a melding together. An astonishing closeness that I’d never imagined. When he stroked my cock, to give me pleasure along with him, I lost all control. I bucked in his arms; I whimpered. I shouted out in amazement when I came. I was so consumed by it, that all I was fit for was to clutch him to me, and to rock with him as he climaxed inside me.
He’d cried my name as he did. A gasping, keening sound. A sound of satisfaction; of pure pleasure; of need. I’d never heard such a tone in his voice before.
But then – that was that.
I mean – in the morning, I woke up under a tangled blanket, with a glow across my whole body that had nothing to do with the liqueur. My leg felt a bit stiff, and my ass was kinda sore… but the thought of that made my sleepy morning erection twitch eagerly. I rolled over with a huge yawn and stretch, and the momentum of my cast nearly took me right off the bed. I laughed at the joke, and turned to share it with Heero.
But he wasn’t there beside me.
When I stumbled up to the bathroom and to look for him, I found him in the dining room, typing on his laptop, hands moving swiftly, eyes glued to the screen. He had several pages marked in the HTML book – he’d been working there for some time. There was a cup of tea by his elbow. A coupla pages of notes under his arm.
I said ‘good morning’, because what the hell else was I expected to say? But he didn’t meet my eyes. I looked at my supposed lover and friend, and watched his long, nimble fingers pause over the keys. I saw his lithe, athletic, fully-clothed body shift with awkwardness on his chair. I saw a faint flush of embarrassment creep up his neck. The neck I’d lapped at the night before; the fingers that had crept inside me; the body that had covered me with warm, sweaty craving.
He barely spoke to me. When he did, it was just to say that the weather was clearing now, and the others would be on their way back soon. He said he had some work he wanted to do. He needed some peace and quiet.
‘Peace and quiet’, he said. The man who’d pleaded for me; who’d gasped and then groaned as he took me. The man who’d shouted my name out loud as he came
I had no idea what to say.
I mean – I just turned around and went for my wash. Just like a normal morning. Then I got dressed, and I ate breakfast, and I waited for the resort to send round news about the stranded ski-ers. I could hear Heero tapping away in the other room, and I turned the pages of a magazine, and I broke into small pieces inside.
I mean, that’s fine, isn’t it? It often happens that way. I could understand a quick, exciting one-night stand, the same as anyone else. Just a fuck. Just satisfaction – just physical enjoyment. No strings – no commitment. Happens all the time.
Well – no… that was a lie, wasn’t it? I couldn’t understand it at all. I’d never had a one-night stand, y’see. I’d never had any sort of stand at all. I’d never had anyone like that – done anything like that – in all my life.
It had been my first time.
Still, Heero wasn’t to know that, was he? I had to be very mature about it all. That, or collapse completely.
I got through the rest of the holiday, God knows how. The snow had stopped overnight, and the skies were clear and sharp again. The guys came back with tales of sharing tea and rations, and the excitement of the Spirit of Exploration. They acted like they’d been Scott of the Antarctic, all over again! The cabin filled up with discarded ski clothing and continual hot showers; the rush for a decent meal or two, and loud, noisy, happy voices. The resort party was rescheduled for the next night, even as the snow was being cleared away from the paths.
I didn’t go; my leg was playing up. That’s what I said. Heero went with the others. He looked good in his casual pants and a dark green silk shirt. He wears his clothes with a style and self-confidence that I envy. Quatre tried to persuade me to go as well, but I resisted him easily. He looked at me a little oddly, but he backed off.
Like I’ve said to myself many times since – I wasn’t gonna be able to look at New Year in quite the same way ever again.
I drank the rest of that damn liqueur that night, and made sure I was tucked up in my own bed when they all staggered back, sniggering, and dropping keys, and making exaggerated ‘hush’ noises. I’m glad they all enjoyed themselves.
So life went on, after my Big, Intimate Adventure. I mean, let’s not be naïve about this – I’m a big boy now, right? And that’s how things had to be.
We went back to our normal, daily routines after New Year, and we thanked Quatre for the fabulous holiday, and that’s when we all said we must do it again, soon, and the suggestion was made for the next year.
As a group of friends, we all met up as regularly as before, though perhaps I was a little less available than I used to be. I liked to know who was gonna be in the group before I committed myself to any events. I never seemed to be free when there was anything going on round at Heero’s apartment.
The funny thing was that he seemed very keen to invite us round; to arrange visits and trips around town. He was far more sociable than he’d ever been before New Year. What sorta irony was that, eh? But I was determined that I wasn’t gonna be the immature one. I knew the score. After the first awkwardness on my part, I settled back to a sustainable civility and coolness. Praps I was a little more subdued than before, but that’s just growing up, isn’t it?
He never made any mention of New Year’s Eve at all. I was damn sure that I wasn’t going to. There were several times, just after we got back, that he tried to talk to me alone. But I didn’t think I could take any more hassle. I made sure there were always other guys around; I deliberately turned conversation openers away. And finally he seemed to give up on it, and we drifted back into polite acquaintanceship.
That sucks too, I guess, eh?
I stood by the phone, hand still on the receiver as I’d thumped it back down. The rain was a distant patter on the window – guess it was easing off a bit now.
“Well, Heero, here we are,” I said, with a brittle brightness that jarred in the confines of the cabin. “Just us. For New Year. Sucks, eh?”
Heero was standing at my elbow, and it startled me. I hadn’t realised he was so close. Damn man creeps like a shadow…
“That phrase is overtired, Duo. One might think that, in your book, everything sucks.”
I sighed. I had been pretty rotten company, hadn’t I? “Nah, not everything. Just the weather. Just friends who can’t make it to be with us.”
“It’s not anyone’s fault…”
“I know. But – d’you think they didn’t wanna come?”
He shook his head, impatiently. I watched the thick, dark hair fall over his forehead. “Of course not.”
“But then – how come they didn’t make better plans? I mean – you made it here, didn’t you? So did I… How come they didn’t anticipate the weather? I don’t remember these problems in getting us all together last year.”
He was silent.
OK. I guess the time had come to face up to it.
“Look, Heero…” I began, slowly. I was annoyed at how my mouth had dried up instinctively, and my emotions flickered like Christmas lights. I didn’t really feel up to Treading Eggshells with the guy who smashed things up in the first place. I’d thought I was well over the whole damn thing… “Let’s just get this whole thing clear, though I’m sure it’s far from the top of your Things to Discuss List. You don’t have to worry, I’m not gonna throw myself at you again. What happened last year, happened and it was great, and that’s it, OK? I’m sure you’ve dated plenty since, and that’s fine by me –“
“No, I haven’t,” he interrupted. His expression was pained. Guess I was embarrassing him, after all.
“What?” I said, quite rudely, but he’d interrupted my prepared speech. I’d had it in waiting for a year, now.
“I haven’t dated anyone since. I didn’t date much before, you know. I – yes, it was great. I mean – you’ll never let me say anything –“
“Too damn right, I won’t!” I hissed, and I saw his eyes widen with surprise at my anger. So the great coolness was deserting me at last. But I didn’t care, now.
“You don’t need any pity or smooth words to get your point across, Heero. I admit I was confused at the time, but I’m fine now, I understand it perfectly. I mean, I’ve had a year’s more experience, haven’t I, and ‘praps I’ve dated a bit more myself –“
“Have you?” he interrupted, again.
“No!” I snapped, forgetting the image I was trying to project of the man-about-town. “But I might have, and so I understand that you can have sex without sap; I know –“
“You know nothing!” came the cry. The passion in it astonished me - I was temporarily speechless. I stared at him, seeing the tension in his body, and the fury in his face. He was still the best looking man I’d ever seen. And the only one I’d ever slept with…
“It was – it was more than great, Duo! I – I can’t tell you – I keep trying –“
“You froze me out,” I said, slowly. Why did he think he had to flatter me with lies, all this time after the event? “I understand that the sex was all you wanted. Don’t make me look even more of a fool!“
Don’t spoil the tiny, pathetic pleasure I still get from the memory, Heero, I prayed. Don’t you dare…
He flushed, then. Totally. His whole face and neck was suffused with a deep red blush. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing – he was always so cool. So removed from things. He’d always been that way – except, of course, for that one night.
I was a bit scared of him.
“Anyway, there’s no point in hanging around without the others –“ I began.
There was something about his strangled words that caught my attention. He was acting totally out of character; either there was something seriously wrong, or there was something hidden here, that was only now coming to light. Something he knew, and I didn’t.
“Heero – isn’t it odd that the others all cried off at such short notice? Like – they hadn’t allowed for the weather, like you and I did?”
“Hn -?” He was wary. But whispering things were creeping into my mind, and they were called suspicions.
“You know anything more about that, Heero?”
“Maybe - I do…”
“What?” I spat out. He grimaced.
“Maybe I –“
He was very red, still. “Maybe I asked them – not to hurry – just to give me some time…”
“Time? Why? When you were just gonna get stuck with me alone?”
“Maybe – oh for God’s sake, Duo!” he groaned. “Maybe I wanted to be stuck with you alone again!”
“And why the hell would that be?” I snapped. Just so’s you could catch me cold, miserable, and unawares, Heero? So’s you could humiliate me? So’s you could take whatever kisses you wanted? Take whatever else you wanted?
“To see you…”
“You see me plenty at home –“
“But not often enough…” he sighed.
“All evening at Trowa’s! Just last month -!”
“Not for long enough.”
“Christ, Heero!” I exploded. What was he going on about? “What are you trying to say?” I thought I might punch him. I thought that might make me feel better.
Why did I still let myself feel so strongly towards him?
And then he took a step towards me. Suddenly it looked like the punching might be coming from his direction.
“*You*…” he growled. I opened my mouth, but the glare from his eyes was enough to halt my interruption. “You talk all the damn time, Duo Maxwell, and your mouth is smart and bold, and everything bloody sucks to you, as you love to tell me –“
I gulped. His anger was awesome.
“- but when does anyone else have the chance to tell you something?”
“You told me something already, remember?” I gasped out.
“You told me last year… that you needed ‘peace and quiet’…” I ground out. I could feel salty drops stinging at the corner of my eyes, and I despised myself for the weakness. “So I’m sorry, but I obviously didn’t take the hint –“
“So…” he breathed. “So it is to do with last year.”
There was a stillness about the room that had nothing to do with the fresh mountain air. I thought I could still hear the hiss of the rain falling outside. I could hear the beating of my aching heart much more clearly.
I though I’d better speak – after all, I’m the one with the smart, bold mouth, aren’t I?
“So you’ve got me here now. Say what you need to. Then we can see how soon we can get home from here.”
He bit at his lip. He was only a coupla feet away from me. I’d have moved further away, but I didn’t want it to look like I was retreating.
“You want it straight?” he asked, in a low voice.
I swallowed. “Yeah. That’s always best, isn’t it?”
He took a large breath, like he had a lot to say. I didn’t expect that of Heero. I felt that hint of ‘scared’ again. And wasn’t sure what of.
“Last year, I was angry at you for spoiling my holiday. For acting the fool, and injuring both of us. I resented being stuck with you in this very cabin.”
“Well, look, I –“
“Shut up,” he said to me. I did. “Then I found that I got to know you better – a different you. One that wasn’t always loud, and boisterous, and extrovert. That’s how I always perceived you before…”
But that’s what I found out about you, I thought - a different you…
“I liked you, then.
More than I had before.” He
blushed at the words coming from his mouth.
“I – didn’t realise how much. It
was – enjoyable. Your company… eating together.
It was a mirror of my memories. My heart stopped its hammering. Everything stopped, while I hung on his words.
“And then you kissed me – and I kissed you back. I didn’t know I could do that. I didn’t know how much I wanted to do that. Shit!” He shook his head with impatience. “I don’t have the words, Duo!”
“Just say it,” I whispered.
“It just happened.” He looked up into my face, and his eyes were great pools of misery and shame. “I’m so sorry! I wanted you so badly, and I let it engulf me – I let go of everything. Control – inhibition – respect for you – I let it all go, in the face of my desire. I just wanted to possess you. And you let me! You welcomed me! I couldn’t believe it…I knew it was a moment’s madness - but I still let it happen.”
I felt the shiver down my body. I felt the ghost of his fingers on my hips; his lips running up the inside of my thigh.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” he hissed. “It kills me… and when I try to talk to you about it, you don’t want to know. It’s me who’s not taking the hint, Duo. You despise me – and yet I keep aching for you. I – I’m not used to being so pathetic, I guess.”
I stared. I musta looked like a spook, my eyes wide and fixed on his barely moving mouth.
“I know,” he stammered. “I know – I acted like it hadn’t happened. The ‘morning after’ – what a cliché, eh? I woke up first, and you were stretched out beside me, and your hand was between my legs, and you were snoring gently on my neck… I was so shocked at what I’d done! I didn’t know what to say to you. I didn’t know what you’d say to me. I thought – well, I wondered what the others would say if they knew.”
“Ohhh, Heero…” I sighed. I stepped towards him. I don’t think he noticed.
“Yes,” he nodded. “I was embarrassed, I think. That I’d been – God – so wanton! So hot for you…I’d never felt like that in my life. I thought you’d be angry in the light of day. You’d be upset – you’d be embarrassed, too. So I went and found myself something to do. Something normal – so that when you woke, you had the chance to ignore it; to forget it ever happened.”
“Why would I do that?” I breathed.
“No, no –“ he was shaking his head. His brow was furrowed; he was angry with himself, it seemed. “No – you don’t understand! I knew it was the right thing to do! You were so – generous, Duo… you didn’t have to take me like that – you should have stopped me – but you were so close to me, and I touched you, and you felt so good … and then we were in bed, and your mouth was just like everything sweet I ever tasted, and you smelt of morning coffee and shampoo and fresh sheets, and you let me hold you, and open your legs – and I couldn’t bear to leave you then…”
“Why did you think you had to?” I breathed again. His torrent of words was so unexpected – so distressed.
“Because I knew you wouldn’t feel the same about me –“
“How could you have known that?”
He screwed up his eyes, fiercely. “Stop it, Duo! I thought I wouldn’t mind, forgetting it all. If that’s what you wanted. And then I knew I was fooling myself – Christ, I knew that within minutes! As soon as I saw you there, a sheet dragging behind you, still sleepy; looking for me. I wanted you just as much as the night before! But I knew I’d messed it all up, and I just had to live with the hurt… and it was all my fault. Because I knew I never really had you…”
I was shaking my head, as well, slowly.
“Duo…” he sighed. “Your face that morning – you were horrified! And you’ve nagged at me ever since – you’ve never shown me the same friendship again. I know I made a terrible mistake, and I’m very, very sorry, and that’s all I can say. I want you to forgive me now, and perhaps we can be friends again. Before the other guys arrive – before they kick my ass for not making things up with you, like I’ve been bleating about all year…”
“I was horrified…” I said slowly. “Because the man I made love to had left me; because I wanted to wake up with him, and ‘praps do some more sweet-tasting things…but he was back to Mr Geek, acting as if the night before had never happened –“
“No!” he almost shouted. “That wasn’t me! I did that for you -!” He stopped. His jaw fell open a little. He stared at me.
“You – never let me speak to you about it…” he started.
“I didn’t want salt rubbed in the wound…” I finished.
We both stared. We both took a step forward.
“Duo…You wanted me, too?”
“Uh-huh. But you looked like it had all meant nothing to you…”
He gasped, softly. “I was scared.”
“So was I,” I smiled, a little sadly.
Another coupla steps nearer.
“Baka!” he snorted.
Me or you? I thought. Or both of us?
He took my arm.
I slid my other one round his waist.
I wondered how long we had before the guys dropped their pretence, and made their way here properly.
I hoped to God it was a long time.
We lay beside each other on the couch. We’d kissed rather a lot. The taste of him was just as I remembered – yet different. My lips were numb, but they still reached for him.
“Am I really a baka?” I whispered.
“Sometimes,” he replied. His hand stroked at my cheek, and I let it. I wanted it glued there – held there forever like another part of my own body.
He whispered back. “Am I really a geek?”
“Sometimes,” I laughed softly.
“That sucks!” he said, suddenly. I jerked back a bit. Did he just say that?
“Yeah,” I smiled. Welcome to the real world, Heero, where some things do suck. But only some, I guess. We were both learning.
“Weather sucks…” he mused. He nibbled at my ear.
“Absent friends - that sucks… “ His tongue lapped at my neck.
“Hey!” I protested, gently. Let’s not get carried away with this, fella!
“I messed it all up,” he murmured, as his hands smoothed softly down my sides, teasing at the warm skin under my tee shirt. Then he slid gently on to the floor at my feet – his fingers stroked down my thighs. He pushed firmly at my knees, parting my legs as I sat there.
“Nearly,” I sighed. “But I wasn’t much damn help, either. It’s not a problem now, is it…?” His hands were very, very good…that was the same as I remembered, as well.
“But you must want to say it –“ He leant into me, running a slow finger along inside the waistband of my pants.
“Huh?” I murmured. His breath was hot on my waist; his other fingers were ghosting over my crotch. The fabric strained over my responding arousal – my heart was beating too fast for comfort. “To say what?”
“To say – that Heero sucks…”
I opened my mouth to laugh. Then his hand tightened on to the bulge, and teased at the zipper. I swallowed the laugh at once.
The hiss of the zip was incredibly sexy, as he eased it down, and slid his questing hand into the thin cloth of my boxers. I gurgled my approval.
“I certainly hope you do, Heero – I certainly hope you do!”
“Happy New Year, Duo,” he whispered, with a low laugh.
But I pressed his head down, impatiently. I wanted his lips somewhere else – now!
The slush is still with us – the snow is still only a forecast, and the rain hasn’t stopped entirely.
There’s very little light in the cabin – but we can find our way in and out of bed in the dark easily enough by now.
Where will Heero and I be next year? you may ask.
That’s for me to know and you to guess! I suspect we’ll be together, wherever it is. There’s a lot of things to make up for in the meantime.
But first I must go out and stand in the rain, just to feel the drops on the skin of my scalp…
It’s a brilliant feeling. But then, everything is brilliant now, isn’t it?
If slush sucks…
I’m not gonna be the one to say it!