No Man's Land

"I gotta admit, Yuy, this is the last place I ever thought I'd run into you at."

Heero lifted his eyes from the alien displays of lace and wires to blink at the unexpected face.  "Duo?"

"Much as it shames me to admit it.  What are you doing here?  Gift?  Please say 'gift' and not 'hobby'."

He grimaced faintly.  "Favor, more like.  You?"

Duo wiggled the bag in his grasp.  "Return."


"Gift.  You always do favors in other cities?"

He shook his bangs out of his eyes.  "Wedding.  Her family's here, so...  There's a lot of stuff to get done before the big day."

Duo was quiet for a moment before answering with a twist to his lips.  "That include buying bras?"

"She left the one she needed to go with her wedding dress back home.  Why women can't just have one all-purpose bra, I don't know.  Maybe a few, for laundry purposes."

"Well, I wouldn't mind two.  One general purpose, and one special occasion."  Duo took the liberty of leering suggestively.

Heero rolled his eyes.  "Apparently this qualifies as a special occasion."

Duo snorted.  "It's her wedding, man.  To chicks, that's about as special as special can get."

He received a slight sigh in response.  "I tried to suggest that no one would see it.  She plans on changing for the reception, anyway, so she'll have ample opportunity to switch to a 'special occasion' one for the honeymoon, but unfortunately, it seems that was the point -- that everyone would be able to see the one she brought by accident.  Apparently, it shows above her gown's neckline.   Ergo, I must sally forth and save her from utter mortification and embarrassing pictures to last a lifetime while she finalizes things with the caterers."

"She must have a scandalously low neckline."

"It's one of those straight-across necklines," Heero answered, drawing a line in the air from armpit to armpit in front of Duo's chest with his finger in illustration.  He added a shrug.  "I'm sure it has some fancy name, and is clinically proven to make some part or another look better than it actually is."

Duo suppressed a snicker.  Heero was always a practical one.  "Lemme guess.  You would have bought a dress that conformed to whatever bra you already had."

"I would not buy a dress," was the dry answer.  Then there was another shrug.  "She's the happy bride.  What she wants, she gets."

"You have no idea what you're doing, do you?"

"I have a complete list of specs to which I must conform, lest I risk her wrath and get redeployed to get it right.  I did not realize that lingerie was such a complicated matter."

"What, never heard a girl bitch about how hard it is to find a good fit?"

"If it's so difficult, then why does she list two different possible sizes?"

Duo got a hold of the paper Heero was waving and held it still long enough to get a look at it.  "Ah.  See, they're like equivalent sizes.  The number and the letter are relative to each other, so one down on the number means one up in letter to balance it out."

Heero got a gleam in his eye.  "You know about this stuff?"

His old friend backed up a wary step and waved the bag that was still in his hand.  "Hey, returning, remember?"

"Does that mean it didn't fit, or that she just didn't like it?"

The retort on Duo's lips died an awkward death.  "Well, uh, it means that we sorta broke up before she ever saw it, so it doesn't really matter anymore."


"But hey, that obviously means that I don't know anything about chicks, then, doesn't it?"

"Maybe just that 'chick' in particular."

"Meh.  She was a pretty standard chick."

"Well, with that attitude, no wonder you broke up."

Duo shrugged without too much artificiality, though there was an edge of irritability beneath it.  "We weren't together long.   Not like she was 'the one' or nothing.  Valentine's Day and all that crap, yanno?"

Heero shot him an amused look.  "So what have you been doing hanging on to that for the last month?"

He glared at the implication.  There was absolutely nothing wrong or unnatural about being lazy.  For god's sake, who wanted to come to the lingerie department unless he absolutely had to?   "Anyway, your list gave you size and make and model and everything, so why do you need help?  Just follow the instructions, man.  You were always good at that.  She gave you a lot more detail than you need to get the job done."

Heero glanced down at the rather complete list.  "Just in case the one she wanted wasn't in stock."

"Well, is it?"

"I was just checking."  He went back to flipping through the hangers, checking tags as he spoke.  The list had been helpfully specific, but this was still a lingerie department.  He was glad for the company, though indeed he wondered if that didn't make them even more conspicuous.

"So who's the best man?"

"I'm not really sure," he answered absently.  "I'm not very familiar with that side of the family.  Luckily, Lena doesn't have a lot of extended relations."

Duo's eyes wandered towards the checkout counter, noting that there was still only one woman working, and that there was still a flock of ladies gathered around.  He opted to stay away a bit longer, despite his current situation.  Both options were rather masochistic.  "How're we doing?"

"Cut me some slack.  There's a lot of them here."   Maybe if he'd known what each design was without having to read the labels, things would be proceeding more quickly.  And quite naturally, the labels weren't easily accessible to his searching eyes.  "We should catch up."

"Huh?"  A bit of a non-sequitur.

"About something other than lingerie.  It's been years.  Would you like to come to the wedding?  I'm sorry it didn't occur to me that you live around here, or I might have mentioned it sooner.  Everything's just been a muddle.  I was supposed to 'bring a guest', but I never got around to finding someone.  I'll be busy during the ceremony, so I suppose you could skip out on that part, but we could talk during the reception afterwards."

Well.  An... 'interesting' proposal.  "Um.  Won't you have other stuff to do during the reception, too?"

He shrugged.  "A speech.  I'm keeping it short.   The obligatory dance, of course.  But after that, there shouldn't be a problem."

"And, uh, she won't have a problem with that?"

"She's the one who told me to bring a guest.  Doesn't want me sitting there all by myself.  She knows she won't get me out on that dance floor any more than absolutely necessary."

Curiouser and curiouser.  "Umm.  That's an odd arrangement."

"Come on, Duo.  Free food, a moderate amount of alcohol, and party favors.  How can you say no?  There will be a lot of people there that I don't know, either.  Aha, I believe we might just have a match...."  He extracted his find carefully from the tangle and studied it critically.  "This looks like it'll work, right?"

Duo hastily reached his hand out and pushed the bra down.   "I don't want to see that held up against you, man."

Heero favored him with a mild look.  "I was just turning it around so you could get a better look at it."

Well, it had coincidentally been at chest-height, then.   "Then I don't want to get a good look at what the happy bride's gonna be wearing under her dress.  That's just wrong."

He shrugged with an amused smile.  "So does that mean you'll come?"

Duo scratched at the back of his neck in thought.  "When's this wedding of yours?"

Heero chuckled indulgently.  "Saturday.  But it's hardly mine.  This is entirely Lena's show."

Typical.  "If it were yours, there'd just be an 'I do' in front of a judge, and that'd be it?"

"Undoubtably.  But I suppose, if that were the case, I wouldn't get the chance to see her so... what do they call brides?  Radiant?"

A funny look sprouted on Duo's face.  He hesitated before smiling wanly.  "Yeah.  Radiant."

Heero's brow rose when he caught sight of the price tag hanging from the bra in his hands.  "And at this price, this had better make her look damned radiant."

Duo cheerfully seized the opportunity for a digression.   "Yeah, that's something I don't get.  It's like, the less material there is, the more they charge.  And that's not even one of the real expensive ones.  I heard they could get into the hundreds.  I mean, does one bra really hold her boobs up *that* much better than the other?"  A woman walking by shot him an evil eye, prompting a chagrined smile to try and make up for it.  It didn't quite work.  He cleared his throat in the awkward moment.   "Well, maybe it's just the thought that counts.  I guess if a guy goes to the store and buys... never mind."


"Never mind," he repeated, looking around pointedly.   "Lingerie department, remember?  No man's land.  I think we're being guys enough as it is.  We need to get out of here.  That line clear up yet?"

Heero took a peek around the racks.  "Looks like it.   Let's go before someone cuts right in front of us."

Duo trailed obediently behind him, indulging in another bit of masochism.  "Sure you don't want to pick up an extra little surprise for your lady while we're here?"

 "I think she'll be pleasantly surprised if I've managed to get this right."

"You shouldn't get her hopes up, man.  You're setting a precedent for the rest of the marriage, here.  That's a lot of pressure to live up to."

He paused in his step, and Duo nearly bumped into his back.  Turning to face Duo, he gave his companion an odd, thoughtful look.  "I think," he started carefully, "that I'll let John worry about that."

Duo blinked with growing suspicion.  "...John?"

"The groom."

He digested that with the working of his jaw.  At length, he asked an exploratory question.  "So what role are you filling during the ceremony again?"

"I'm walking her down the aisle.  Her father died when she was young, and I've known her pretty much since then.  I'm the closest male friend she has."

"I see."  That... changed things considerably.

After waiting a considerate amount of time for that to soak in, Heero decided to get back to the point.  "So did you want to be my date or not?"

Moving right along.  Leaving the rest of it to be contemplated at a later time, Duo skillfully shifted mental gears without a hiccup.  "Date, huh?"

Heero shrugged nonchalantly.  "Or 'guest', if you prefer."

"Huh."  He thought for a few more long seconds before shrugging.  "Nah, sounds like a date to me."

A minute smile was his reward.  "Good."

"Yeah.... dammit."

Heero looked over his shoulder to where Duo was looking.   Another woman had just gotten in line.  He chuckled.  "Come on.  We'll never get to the register if we just stand around here."

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This piece of fiction is the intellectual property of the little turnip that could. The basis for this fic, i.e. Gundam Wing, Kyuuketsuki Miyu, et al., is the property of someone else. The author can be con tacted at jchew at This has been an entirely automated message.

last modified : 2/27/2005 00:44:25 PST