Part Thirty-One: No Obligations Now
And I may be obliged to defend
every love, every ending,
or maybe there's no obligations now.
--- Paul Simon
It was rather shocking just how quickly Duo and Hilde could get ready, Heero thought as he watched L4 roll past the taxi window. Girls were supposed to take forever getting ready, but Hilde had been showered and dressed in twenty minutes. Duo hadn't washed his hair, which cut down on some of his time. Trowa took the longest, unable to get his sash properly tied until Hilde jerked it out of his hands and did it for him.
Heero stared down at the black mask and tri-corner hat resting on his lap. Next to him, the taller pilot tucked a stray hair behind his ear, adjusted the cat ears, and fiddled with the cat-mask Hilde had purchased.
"What time is it," Heero asked, a queasy feeling in his stomach.
"Ten to nine," Trowa replied. "Day and Hel should be there by now." He flashed the invitations before slipping them into the sash around his waist, and started to absently stroke the long cat's tail attached to the back of his black pants. "You should put the mask on now, before we get there. Turn around, I'll tie it."
Heero nodded and, his eyes half-closed as he placed the mask against his face and waited for Trowa to tie it. The lace at his neck reminded him of that stupid quasi-revolutionary clothing he'd had to wear for formal occasions in Sanq. Despite that, he was still glad he'd not given into Duo's private request to trade costumes. Some hidden romantic part of his mind rather liked the graceful, thigh-length coat, with its burgundy brocade tailored tight to his chest and waist, which flared out to swirl around him as he moved.
The cab pulled up to the Sector One hotel, and the doorman was there immediately, opening the door with a formal bow. Heero nodded in reply as he climbed out of the taxi. He adjusted the lace showing under the coat's cuffs and waited while Trowa showed the invitations. A minute later they were following other costumed revelers, heading into the grand ballroom.
"I see them," Trowa said in an undertone, snagging a champagne glass off a passing waiter. "Over in the middle."
Heero followed Trowa's gaze, and caught sight of Hilde laughing as Duo swung her around, putting the girl through the paces of a waltz. Her kimono wasn't suited to the twirling moves, and her wooden shoes clattered fearfully on the dance floor, but she was clearly enjoying herself nonetheless. Heero noticed a number of other men also enjoying the way Hilde's tightly wrapped obi and slim blue dress outlined her slender figure.
There was movement nearby, and Heero glanced over to see Trowa slipping off through the crowd, the cat's tail swaying behind him as he moved. Already planting the notes, Heero's inner voice observed, and the dark-haired man adjusted his tricorn hat as he studied the people around him. A woman walked past, her arm linked with a man's, and when she tossed her eyes towards Heero his heart nearly stopped, uncertain. When he heard her laugh, however, he knew instantly, and a quick smile darted across his lips.
She was dressed in a brilliant sky-blue sari with a choli bodice of the same fabric, trimmed in gold embroidery, the hem barely obscuring the slippers on her feet. One end of the sari was caught up across her bare arms and over her head. A matching veil was draped across her face, revealing her face from the eyes up. There was a smatter of gold coins across her forehead.
Heero found himself drifting in that direction, and was startled when her companion bowed, saying something Heero couldn't catch before walking off. Waiting a heartbeat's pause, Heero stepped forward and asked her to dance.
"Thought you'd never realize it was us," she said in a quiet undertone. Then she nodded, smiling, uttering her next words at a normal speaking tone. "I'd love to dance."
Sweeping her into his arms, Heero swung her into the waltzing crowd. It was several minutes before he relaxed, registering Duo's and Hilde's locations with separate partners. Admit it, the small voice teased him. You're nervous because you haven't danced with her since you were fifteen.
"Your dancing has improved," Relena said softly. Her blue eyes were crinkled; she was smiling under the veil. "But then, it might be helping that this time you're not thinking about killing me."
"Perhaps." Heero's blue eyes swept the crowd again as he guided Relena across the dance floor. "Make me dance too long, and I might change my mind."
The young woman laughed, a low sound, and Heero let his lips quirk up at the edges. She'd always entranced him, and the way her close-fitting top revealed her flat belly and slim hips wasn't helping. Heero felt off-center, and took a deep breath.
"Are you here on official business?" The dark-haired man glanced around the crowd. "Or is this pleasure?"
"Neither," she replied, her voice serious. "Can you see Quatre? He should have found Hilde by now."
"Yes, you idiot," she chided. "That was him when you walked up."
"What was he dressed as? Are you supposed to be a couple?" Heero racked his brains for a fairy tale that fit. Quatre's upper body had been bare under a short embroidered green vest, with baggy green pants slung low on the blond's hips.
Relena snorted. Heero raised an eyebrow, then realized she couldn't see it under the mask.
"You must have missed that semester," she told him. "Quatre's Aladdin. I'm Sita." Her tone flirtatious, she regaled Heero with the story of Sita and Rama. One song changed into the next, and she fell silent, watching Heero carefully.
"What is it?" His blue eyes met hers, and he canted his head at her. "You stopped talking."
"Waiting for you to relax," she replied smoothly. "When we're too close to eavesdroppers, your muscles go stiff."
A minute later, she started speaking again, her head dipping as though she were saying something amusing. Heero could only watch. He was fascinated with the glittering gold jewelry against her forehead, and drinking in the sound of her voice.
"We've been getting Duo's reports. You broke those programs Quatre set up, didn't you?" When he nodded, her eyes crinkled in another smile as she spoke. "I win the bet, then. Don't bother asking me about the big picture. I don't know it. My part has focused entirely on keeping my eyes and ears open with Council politics."
Heero nodded absently, his thumb rubbing against the palm of her hand as he turned her around and they set off across the dance floor. "Have you ever thought... about how things could be different?" His tone was pensive.
"Sometimes," she admitted. "But are you that unhappy?"
"Unhappy?" Heero shook his head, and managed a crooked smile for her benefit. "I think sometimes I am too happy, these days."
Any response she might've made was interrupted by a tall man dressed as a Mayan warrior, breaking in for a chance to dance with the young woman in the sari costume. Heero bowed formally, and kissed the back of her hand. When he looked up, she winked at him before taking the arm of her new dance partner.
Recognizing a dismissal when he saw one, Heero headed into the watching crowd, determined to finish the night's mission before dancing any other rounds.
Eleven standard time, an hour before midnight, an hour until the start of After Colony 203. In one hour, it would twenty-six days until they could actually start the mission that was their entire purpose for even being on L4. Heero sighed and tugged at the lace collar surreptitiously. He wasn't sure if he needed to stay until midnight. He'd managed to deposit his ten envelopes in various places around the hotel's first floor.
Security was remarkably lax for an event hosted and run by a syndicate-owned property, especially with so many political and financial leaders present. Even given the assumption that some of the other guests were undercover security, Heero found it curious that so few seemed to be as attuned to the audience as he would have been, in their place.
For the most part, though, he'd simply observed the crowd, and danced with Relena only once more before someone cut in. They hadn't spoken; she seemed oddly reluctant to part with more than the little information she'd already given him. Instead, she amused him with stories of the kitten she'd gotten shortly after he'd seen her on Earth.
Once or twice he'd sighted Hilde. An hour ago he'd seen her escorted into a side corner, and held back from following her once he'd seen the broad tanned shoulders and gaily embroidered green vest: Quatre. Heero scanned the crowd for Duo and Trowa, until he found Trowa bowing over an older woman's hand and leading her onto the dance floor. The long-tipped hood of Duo's green costume made it hard to spot him the crowd, lost among so many glittering hats and masks. Heero wondered where the thief had headed.
Scowling, Heero turned his attention back to the alcove where he'd seen Quatre and Hilde, only to spy the Sandrock pilot escorting the petite brunette towards the bar. A number of heads turned in Quatre's wake, and Heero doubted it was because of the costume. The man simply had an aristocratic way of moving that demanded attention. Hilde was hanging on Quatre's arm, her head tilted back as she smiled up at him, and for a moment Heero squashed a feeling of jealousy.
"All done," a voice whispered behind Heero. It took a second to filter in, spoken so low beneath the babble of the crowd and the music from the orchestra. Duo was reporting in.
"Ready when you are," Heero replied, his lips barely moving as he stared off in the opposite direction. "Trowa?"
"He knows," Duo said.
Heero left a few minutes later, giving only a curt nod to the doorman who hailed a taxi for him. Dropped off two blocks from the apartment, Heero walked the rest of the way, his heart heavy and restless.
Duo arrived twenty minutes later, tossing his hood across the small living room even as he shut and locked the door behind him. His grin glinted in the low light from the laptop sitting on the floor in front of Heero.
"Did you see the jewelry on some of those women? Would've been easy pickings." Duo didn't pause for a response as he scratched his head roughly. "That hood was driving me insane. And these leggings! Itchy, all night long."
His voice was muffled as he pulled the green tunic over his head and toed his boots off at the same time. The white shirt quickly followed the tunic. Duo stripped the leggings off as well, and Heero was a little surprised that Duo could be standing naked in the living room and not be shivering.
"Aren't you cold?" Heero winced as his voice cracked.
He was too busy staring to formulate anything more profound to say. Duo's body was lean, the shoulders broad for his chest, his stomach flat, a slender triangle frame leading down to small hips and long, slender legs. Heero could see the concave dip where the muscles led from waist to thigh, an area of shadow created by the thief's hipbones. Straggles of longer hair, escaping from the braid, hung around Duo's shoulders, glowing chestnut from the streetlight through the window.
"Cold? It's hot on this colony," Duo retorted, throwing his arms over his head and stretching backwards. The motion made his ribs stand out, as his hips tilted forward. "When you've spent a winter on L2, you'll know the meaning of cold."
The dark-haired man leaned back on his hands, watching warily as Duo grabbed a beer from the fridge, guzzled half, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. Setting the drink down on the countertop, Duo strolled into the bathroom and shut the door behind him. Heero canted his head at the suddenly empty kitchen, and listened to the sound of running water. Getting up, he took Duo's beer and returned to his seat on the floor. He'd finished it off by the time he heard the bathroom door open and the light click off.
Heero set down the empty beer and shut the laptop, then uncurled his legs, straightening them in front of him. He'd also changed the first thing through the door, into sweatpants and a t-shirt. His feet were bare. Those shoes hadn't given him blisters, but he'd feared the worst from the way his feet hurt.
Duo reappeared with a grin, still completely naked, his hands behind his back. He paced towards Heero, but didn't stop at the other floor-pillow. Instead, he landed on Heero, straddling the young man's lap. Duo rocked back and forth with his hips twice, and smiled as Heero grunted softly.
"Miss me?" The whisper was met with a soft moan, and Duo chuckled quietly. "I saw you dancing. Relena didn't have anything useful to tell me. You get anything from her?"
Heero could only shake his head, unable to speak for drawing in breath between clenched teeth. There were cold fingers digging under the hem of his t-shirt, and Duo chuckled again as he pulled the shirt up and leaned over. A second later there were soft lips around one of Heero's nipples, and Heero could only groan, arching his back slightly to allow better access.
"Someday I'll teach you how to hold a conversation," Duo murmured, and then his lips were trailing a hot, slow passage from one tight nub to the other. Heero's fingers tensed against the carpeted floor as he leaned his head back, his eyes shut tight.
"D-Duo," Heero finally stuttered, his eyes opening long enough to stare at the top of Duo's head. He vaguely registered slim fingers picking at the edge of his sweatpants, but the weight on his hips, and the fire rising in his groin, was drowning everything out. Swallowing hard, he tried again. "Sh-shouldn't we... bedroom... "
He was answered with a quick shake of Duo's head, the man's long bangs brushing against Heero's chest as Duo pushed Heero's shirt up to his neck, licking and biting up Heero's chest. Duo lifted his head and kissed Heero, pausing only after Heero was breathless from the sudden intrusion of tongue and lips and teeth against his mouth.
"Why move?" Duo laughed softly and ran his tongue along Heero's jaw. "Everything I want is right here." He emphasized the last word by tilting his hips again, pressing his erection against Heero's hips. The dark-haired man could only groan, sinking back against the floor.
Too focused on enjoying the moment and not letting it slip away, Heero belatedly realized his sweatpants had been undone. A second later they were pushed down by nimble fingers, and Heero's own erection was exposed. He hissed, his toes curled, and he choked back a shout as Duo shifted off him and in one smooth movement lowered his mouth around Heero's cock.
Heero stared at the ceiling in complete bewilderment, stunned. After that first failed experiment, they'd only kissed since then, but Duo had never sought to go farther. Heero certainly hadn't pushed the question, and at times he had wondered if the other man was evading the issue.
This hardly counts as avoiding, that small insistent voice observed, and Heero gritted his teeth. He was lost in the sensation of warmth, wetness, pressure and pulling. Duo's hands were pushing his hips down, refusing to allow the instinctive thrusting response. One hand disappeared, and Duo pulled away as a snapping sound echoed once in the nearly empty room. Heero grunted at the loss of touch, trying to get more. There was a faint whimper, and Heero frowned slightly, wondering, and then raised his head to see.
Duo was kneeling, bent over, straddling Heero's spread legs. Heero's pants were down past his hips. Duo's right hand was nestled at the base of Heero's cock, holding it tightly, while Duo's left arm was between his own legs. Heero could just see the shape of Duo's erection bumping the side of the longhaired man's wrist. Duo's eyes were closed and he was biting his lower lip. There was a thin line between his brows as Duo concentrated, and Heero propped himself up on his elbows.
"Duo?" Heero's voice was barely above a whisper, but his blue eyes were large in the apartment's midnight gloom. "Are you... what's... "
He was interrupted by a grunt from Duo, followed by a soft sigh, then the young man's eyes opened lazily. Duo smiled, a little lopsided, then sat up, beginning to stroke himself gently. Heero hissed at the sight, feeling his own body reacting immediately to the seductive sight.
"Nothing's wrong," Duo replied softly. He sat up, then, and his right hand snaked its way up Heero's chest, paused to tease a nipple for a moment, then cupped Heero by the chin. The braid slid across Duo's shoulder and thumped on the floor as Duo crawled forward, his knees on either side of Heero's hips, pushing the dark-haired man back down on the floor with his chest as his tongue pushed its way into Heero's mouth.
Heero could only moan inaudibly, the sound swallowed in Duo's mouth, but his eyes shot open as Duo's other hand encircled his cock. The hand was slick, and wet, caressing him with firm, confident strokes. Before Heero could muster the will to stop kissing and ask, he felt his cock being guided to press up between Duo's legs. Startled, the dark-haired man broke off the kiss, his eyes conveying his confusion.
"Shh," Duo murmured against his ear. "Just relax... "
"But," Heero replied, blinking furiously, trying to process what he was feeling. Duo was straddling him, and the head of his cock was pressing up against Duo's ass. There was a pause, and a grunt from Duo, and Heero's cock was being taken in, swallowed, but just the head. Heero swallowed hard, colors exploding in the corner of his sight from the intense, wet pressure on his cock. He wanted more, but something made him hesitate. "D-Duo... Are you... "
"I washed," Duo replied, a giggle in his voice as he put open-mouthed kisses along Heero's cheek and jaw. "What do you think I was doing in the bathroom?"
Heero blinked. He was pretty sure that wasn't what he'd meant to ask, but at that instant he felt Duo go rigid over him. There was a hissing sound as Duo drew in breath, and Heero gasped, his entire body suddenly condensing to a single point as he slid into Duo.
That was all Heero could manage to think, then other sensations began to seep in. Wet. Hot. Tight. Someone was panting quietly, but quickly, and Heero realized it was Duo. Opening his eyes again, he studied Duo's face, the forehead creased in concentration or pain, the white teeth biting down on the lower lip. Duo's nails were digging into Heero's chest. His left hand was sticky on Heero's skin.
"Duo... Are you okay... "
Duo's eyes opened a crack, and those deep blue pupils stared down at Heero as a lazy smile spread across Duo's lips.
"Much better now, Heero... " He leaned forward, catching Heero's lips in another slow kiss before breaking away, and the movement made both of them gasp. "Definitely much better... "
And then Duo started to move, and Heero forgot to breathe, his hands instinctively flying to clutch at Duo's hips. Arching his back, Heero closed his eyes, focusing on the sensations flooding him. The fire coursed down to his cock buried to the hilt in Duo, and then back through his body to light every nerve.
The pace increased by increments, and Heero moaned. Above him, Duo sat up, shifting in place, rolling his hips, lifting himself and then lowering himself again. Heero's eyes flew open, watching as Duo thrust himself back down with a satisfied expression. Duo's hands were on Heero's chest, pinching and torturing his nipples, nails wrenching down his sides, reaching around behind to tickle at his balls. And through it all, the continuous tight slick heat pounded into Heero's awareness.
Somewhere, in the back of his head, Heero struggled to enjoy the moment. None of his drunken conquests in college had remotely felt like this. They were nothing like this. The encompassing movement and stillness and movement arced through the darkness behind his eyelids, chased by the fire of feeling himself inside Duo.
Distantly Heero registered Duo's whispers, but couldn't comprehend them. He could only note it was one more sound under the pounding blood in his veins that echoed the way his cock was being driven in deeper with each move of Duo's hips. Biting his lip against the rising need, Heero moved his hand to Duo's cock, only to have it batted away by Duo's hand. He focused his eyes, a crooked smile forming on his lips at the sight of Duo's gleeful, wanton expression.
"You just enjoy," Duo said, or at least that's what it sounded like to Heero.
Unable to do much else, Heero held on tighter, scratching his nails against Duo's thighs as Duo stroked his own cock. There was a pause, where Duo hung, as if suspended, then slammed himself down onto Heero, impaling himself deeply. Heero's back arched up as Duo came, a thin stream jetting itself up and down onto Heero's chest.
Heero felt the wetness, but was overwhelmed by the way Duo's muscles rippled along the length of his cock, squeezing him into an infernal slick sheath of heat and wet. The dark-haired man's shout was strangled in his throat, captured as he panted, thrusting against Duo's weight as his own orgasm swept through him.
Several long minutes had passed, with only the sound of Duo's panting to fill the silence. Heero let his hands slide down off Duo's thighs, his fingertips prickling at the soft down on Duo's legs. Swallowing hard, he was about to speak when Duo patted him on the chest and got up, pulling himself away from their joining. The dark-haired man could only gasp at the cold air hitting his body as Duo left the room.
Heero's mind was spinning, and he realized his fingers were shaking. Blinking, he started to sit up. Water was running in the bathroom, then it stopped, the door opened, and a thin streak of light cut across the living room floor. A second later Duo had sunk down next to Heero and was gently wiping Heero's chest and groin with a damp washcloth. The cold made Heero's teeth clench, but he only watched Duo, saying nothing and feeling oddly dissatisfied.
Duo was already dressed in his pajama bottoms, and Heero sighed, watching the slender chest leaning over him. It took a second before he could martial his thoughts to realize what he'd wanted, and it was too late now. He'd wanted Duo to stay still, a little longer. He'd wanted to hold Duo. The simple thought surprised him, compared to all the times he'd fled after sex. In the confusion, he barely noticed that Duo had dropped the washcloth and was tugging Heero's sweatpants back up to his waist.
The carpet was pressed against Heero's back, scratching him, and the t-shirt was bunched under his shoulder blades. He put up a hand to feel Duo's bare back, and ran his fingers down to Duo's waist.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," Duo said softly, and leaned over to kiss Heero quickly on the nose. "Ready for bed. You?"
Heero grunted, a little disappointed at how quickly and easily Duo moved away from him. He sat up, taking the offered hand and coming to his feet. At the last minute he grabbed the top of his pants, which weren't tied. There was a chuckle from the other young man.
"Forgot that part," Duo teased quietly, and led Heero by the hand into the bedroom. Lying down, he pulled the blanket up over both of them and flipped on his back. There was a rustle as he got comfortable, and his hand immediately stretched towards Heero even as his breathing deepened into the soft purring sound of his snores.
Heero rolled onto his side and stared at the other man's profile as he slipped his hand into Duo's. There was a soft smile playing across Duo's lips. Even in sleep, Duo's hand caught his, tightening a little. Heero sighed and let his head fall onto the pillow as he thought about what had happened.
He'd had sex with Duo.
That's not entirely accurate, the small voice remarked, and Heero had to agree. He'd felt detached, separate, somehow, and now he felt relaxed, but empty. He hadn't had sex, really. Duo had had sex with him. He'd not fucked Duo; he'd been fucked. Good and hard, and pleasantly so, he mused, but it was still a one-sided event.
And somehow, that made it far less satisfying than any of his fantasies.