By Kracken


Warning:Male/Male sex implied, 1x2

"May I enter your zone of unpopularity?" Trowa asked, stopping two desks away from Duo's desk.

Duo glared up from his paperwork. "You might catch my cooties. Are you sure that you want to risk it?"

"I have my own cooties," Trowa snickered and stepped forward. He snagged a rolling office chair and sat down next to Duo.

"Well known cooties, too," Duo growled as he signed a paper and made a show of leveling off a stack of them in his 'out' box.

"I hear envy... or bitterness... or, maybe, 'fuck you', " Trowa said with his head cocked slightly. "I can't tell which, though. Care to enlighten me?"

"All three," Duo replied as he began reading the next paper in the 'in' box stack and making notes in the margins. A metal bracelet of silver, black, red, and blue intertwined rattled as his hand moved with jerky, angry motions.

"Is that it?" Trowa asked, leaning forward to get a better look at it.

Duo's hand paused and then began writing again. "You know that it is."

"Very masculine," Trowa said in approval. "The way that everyone was talking, I thought that it must be pink with jingle bells."

Duo glared without ceasing to write and then tossed that paper into the out box as well. He tapped the end of his pen against his desk irritably. "Purpose of visit Captain Barton?"

Trowa looked around them at the Preventer offices and caught the eyes of several agents. They were pretending to not watch them, when they were, in fact, very interested in seeing what was going on.

"I'm your friend," Trowa said as he turned back to Duo. "I'm supposed to offer support, beer, and some sort of manly sport to watch, when we get off duty."

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?" Duo wondered acidly.

Trowa shrugged. "Maybe after I give the speech about, 'More fish in the sea.', or 'Some people still haven't stopped walking on their knuckles.'. or my infamous, 'Screw him and everyone else!'. That last one covers just about every situation."

"If you're trying to get me to talk about it...?" Duo began angrily and then half turned away and took down another paper from his in box.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Trowa replied dismissively and leaned back in his chair. "Talking about problems is for women. Men need to bottle things up and stick a cork in it. Avoidance is our very nature. In fact, if you never-"

"He threw it in my face!" Duo exploded and pointed to the red mark on his cheek. "It was just a god damned anniversary present!"

Trowa blinked. "Anniversary of what?"

Duo simmered, jaw working, as his cheeks pinked with embarrassment. He dropped the pen and fiddled with the bracelet. "We've been partners for an entire year. I thought... well, I was freakin' wrong, wasn't I? And then that stupid Marla Crandall had to shriek, 'Oh, my God, Maxwell's gay!' I mean... jeez! How did she get that shit? I don't blame Heero for flipping out on me."

Trowa leaned forward with his elbows on Duo's desk. "Yes, you do."

"I do?" Duo retorted. "I just said that I don't. The man was totally embarrassed. The way he looked at the bracelet, I could tell that he was ready to deep six it to Mars by way of my ass. I just want to forget that the whole thing happened."

" So you put on the bracelet to help you forget," Trowa said, nodding with mock understanding.

"It's..." Duo struggled, fingers turning the bracelet around and around his wrist. "It's history. I wasn't going to leave it on the floor. Do you know how hard it was to get even this much scrap from Wing and Deathscythe? I think this part here is Deathscythe's left nostril hair. It cost me at least a hundred credits."

Trowa pointed a finger at him. "That was a joke. All hope isn't lost, then?"

"Meaning?" Duo snapped back.

"I still have something to work with," Trowa explained. "You're willing to see reason."

"Trowa, this is about me giving a bad gift. End of story," Duo complained as he punched keys on his computer, chin on one fist. "Heero might stop being afraid of my gay cooties, eventually. I just need to give him space."

"That's where you're not seeing reason," Trowa argued and thunked a forefinger on Duo's keyboard, blanking the screen.

"That took me twenty minutes to input!" Duo snarled.

"It's not my fault that you use the two finger method," Trowa retorted.

"Especially when I only need one, Barton!" Duo flipped him off and began to stand up. "Maybe I need to relocate to where my fellow agents are less gabby?"

"Sometimes, Duo, another observer, to a crime, can give an agent an entirely different perspective on known facts," Trowa told him firmly.

"Now it's a crime?" Duo wondered angrily, but he was sitting down again and squaring off with the man, pushing in and out boxes out of his way. "Okay, Barton, who's your witness with the different opinion? I'm all ears, because, as far as I know, I had a gift slammed into my face. I was 'outed' to all my fellow agents by a hysterical secretary, and I may have lost Heero as my partner."

"I need to know one thing first, Duo, before I answer that question," Trowa said as he leaned until they were almost nose to nose.

Duo looked uncomfortable and suspicious. "What's that? What size underwear I have on? I'm sure everyone would like to know that, too."

"I already know what size they are," Trowa smirked, "We use the same gym, remember?"

"I'm weirded out that you looked, though," Duo replied with a grimace.

Trowa shrugged. "Back to the question. Are you gay?"

They stared at each other, as if it were a battle of wills, and then Duo replied, "You're lucky. Your gay cooties have some immunization. You get to be Quatre Winner's lover. Everyone expected that. I don't get that, not even a little bit. Everyone thought that I was straight. They showered with me, changed clothes, went on missions, took a piss in the mens' bathroom with me... That's a lot to get shocked over. Now they're all thinking that I was checking out their goods the entire time. My cooties are mega cooties."

"Are you gay, Duo Maxwell?" Trowa persisted. "A simple yes or no."

"What you're going to give me in return is worth that kind of answer?" Duo wanted to know. When Trowa nodded, Duo sighed, and replied, almost in a whisper, "Yes." Trowa cupped a hand to his ear and Duo repeated, viciously, a little louder, "Yes, god damn it!"

Trowa smiled and stood up. Duo looked surprised.

"What?" Duo asked in confusion.

"Your witness is right behind you, with new information," Trowa told him and then turned and walked away.

Duo swiveled in his chair and saw Heero standing behind him, hands jammed into his Preventer uniform pants pockets. Duo was frozen, then, going hot and cold, while he tried to recall everything that he had said to Trowa.

"I'm sorry, Duo," Heero said gently as he took the seat that Trowa had vacated. "Did... " He cleared his throat and tried again. "Did I hurt your face... badly?"

Duo touched the spot and then shook his head. "Heero, what's going on?"

"I...." Heero's blue eyes went to the bracelet and he looked pained. "You surprised me. I... when I saw that metal, when you explained that it came from our Gundams, it was like being handed a deadly snake. For me, the war is something that I try to forget. The memories are very painful. I know that you think differently, that you were proud of the Gundams. It wasn't until after, that I remembered that. When I thought about what the bracelet probably meant to you, bringing Wing and Deathscythe together, and giving it to me, I realized how much I had misunderstood, how much I had hurt you. Please, forgive me, for acting so badly."

Duo took off the bracelet and dropped it into his desk. "I-I'll give it to a museum or something. I'm the one who's sorry, Heero. I guess that I wasn't thinking, either."

"I didn't throw it at you," Heero continued. "I knocked it away from me. A reflex that I regret." He swallowed hard and then inched his chair forward, eyes growing intense. "Please, understand that I wasn't rejecting you, because you're gay."

Duo scrubbed a hand over his face in anguish. "Why shouldn't you?" he asked bitterly and then confessed, "I didn't have that bracelet made because we're good friends. I... I really care about you... that way... you know? I went way out of bounds, and I know it. I deserve what I got. If you want to ask for another partner, I understand. You're going to be just like everyone else, wondering now if I'm still making a move on you, whether I'm checking you out in the gym, and all of that shit."

Heero slowly reached out and put a hand on Duo's. "Uh-Oh," he said softly.

Duo blinked, confused. "What?"

"Looks like you have my gay cooties, now. Sorry about that," Heero told him and then looked at Duo hopefully.

Duo was stunned and then he slowly smiled. "I can't think of anyone else's that I would rather have," Duo replied and then turned his hand over to grasp Heero's hand tightly.


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