He stares at me. I stare back. "So... you love me, huh?"
I shrug. "I guess." It's something I don't really think about anymore.
His eyebrow rises. "And not in a platonic way?"
I shrug again. "Well, that, too." It's like platonic... but somehow, just more. If it was just platonic, I probably wouldn't have noticed immediately that he tied his hair back in a loose tail rather than his usual braid to let it dry faster -- notable because I can't even see his tail of hair. I can tell just by the way it frames his face. I wouldn't think how nicely he fills out the shirt that hangs loose on me, or how comfortingly familiar his expression is.
We stare at each other for a little while longer. I step forward. "Let me toss those in the dryer," I say, flicking my chin in the direction of the damp clothing in his hands.
He glances down with a brief look of surprise. "Uh, yeah, sure. Thanks." He holds the clothes out to me, but seems a little unwilling to part with them when I reach out to take them from him. He can't be trying to catch me in a significant look since he is studiously avoiding eye contact now. I suppress a sigh and tug the clothing from his grasp.
The dryer is in this little closet in the short hall leading from the living room to the bedroom of my apartment. A sweet indulgence, that washer/dryer hookup. Laundromats seem like an extraordinary waste of time, and may call for a show of trust that is beyond me.
When I come back from my short errand, he hasn't moved much at all. In fact, his hair is pulled over his shoulder and he is twiddling with the ends. Not a promising sign. If it was left up to me, I would probably just end the conversation right there and leave him alone to stew on things. I figure it'll probably take him at least a few days to finish wrapping his head around the whole thing. It took me even longer. Of course, he came here to escape from the rain. I'm not about to send him back out there.
...Ha. Trowa took off, didn't he? He's probably out there right now, and I know he didn't bring an umbrella. Petty retribution, but I'll take what I can get against that conniving little schemer.
...Wait. My eyes slide towards the conspicuously empty patch of floor next to my shoes. "Ch'," I grunt out sourly.
Duo seems to snap out of his stupor to go immediately on edge. "What?"
"That bastard walked off with my umbrella." He takes a few moments to try and figure that one out. I see him assuming that I am simply displeased with the theft of my property, so I provide him with the correct explanation instead. "I was hoping he'd get wet."
He blinks, then laughs. Only a few seconds later, he sobers. "You sorry he said something?"
Well, I think life would be simpler if he hadn't, but... "Not really."
"Were you planning on telling me?"
"If it ever came up, maybe."
He twitches, opens his mouth to say something, then closes it, shaking his head. He tries to find something else to say. Two old friends come to the rescue: pride and dignity. "So... the others know?" he asks stiffly.
"I'm sure they know you're... special to me."
He glares at me, silently accusing me of being deliberately vague and unhelpful. I shrug minutely. I don't know what they know or don't know. No one's ever brought it up with me. Until tonight, that is. But thinking about it, how could they fail to notice that I... had a soft spot for him?
"Didn't think you were interested in this sort of thing."
"I'm not, really." I sort of tried to date Relena for a short while a long time ago, but that didn't turn out so well. My general apathy wasn't quite a turn-on. "But I admit, I've had the strangest urge to kiss you for the last, oh, eleven months now?"
"And... you haven't said anything... why, again?"
I have reasons... just how to make them sound like good reasons? "It... never quite seemed like a good idea. We have entirely different social circles, for instance. Well, you have a social circle, actually. Mine's more like a social... decagon."
His look is wry at first. It transforms into a look more of disbelief by the time I bring geometry into the discussion. Unashamed, I move on. "Point being, I may love you, but that doesn't mean that I can fulfil your social needs."
He stares at me as he digests that. I decide to move into the kitchen to reboil the soup leftover from lunch. After taking a few slow steps after me, he speaks. "And that was it for you? End of story?"
I like to keep things simple. He is well aware of that. "I adopted a wait and see policy."
When I have the flame adjusted, I turn around to see his eyes closed and fingers to his forehead in a pose of thought and frustration. I know I can't have broken him that quickly. He has a very high level of resilience, which is one of the things I admire about him. As I knew he would, he eventually gets over the past and starts thinking about the present. "So... does that mean you're interested in... you know?"
That can mean a lot of things. They can all be responded to with the same two words. "Are you?"
Even though he should have seen that coming, he frowns faintly at me. "I don't-- Well, I... You're my-- Geez, give a guy a little time to sort things out."
I figured as much. I nod, and turn to the sink to wash out my bowl. Leaving it in the drying rack, I fetch a second bowl from my cabinets, and as I pull a couple of spoons out of a drawer, his next outburst arrives.
"Hello!" His arms wave around a little to accompany the exclamation. "You're in love with me!"
"And?" I thought that was clear already.
"And?! Shouldn't you be reacting or something?" He gesticulates wildly again, his expression mirroring a similar confusion.
"Me? I've known about this for years. It's no surprise to me. I'm waiting for *you* to react." He reaches for his hair, wraps it once around his hand, and tugs hard. That usually means he's about ready to strangle me. I suppose that's a reaction of sorts. We're making progress. Excellent. "Can I interest you in some hot soup?"
He tugs again, splutters, then slumps in defeat. "Sure, whatever," he sighs. He takes a step backwards, and thumps his head lightly against the wall a couple of times.
Judging him to be in no danger of hurting himself, I return my attention to the soup. It's like hot chocolate, his comfort food of choice, but more nutritious. A bit of stirring puts a stop to the simmering around the edges. I estimate another minute or two left until it reaches the optimal temperature of hot enough to comfort, but cool enough not to burn.
"Okay, fine. Kiss me."
Perhaps I misheard that rather sudden declaration. I look at him over my shoulder. "Huh?"
His jaw is set, his back to the cover of the wall, his hands braced for confrontation, his voice lined with challenge. Even his hair seems in defiant disarray from when he pulled at it. "You heard me. Open season. Go for it."
"Huh." Interesting way to put it. Interesting proposal altogether. I wonder what led to the offer. I turn around and check my soup. Almost ready. I lower the flame and walk over to where I left the bowls.
I turn back to him. "I'm not going to kiss you just because you tell me to." How often have we ever done anything on someone else's say-so? I don't get that urge all the time, anyway.
"Augh!" His hand goes up to fist his bangs for a moment before he rushes me, grabs me by the front of my shirt, and suddenly we're kissing. It's a messy, uncoordinated sort of thing that disappoints that urge of mine. It decides that this one doesn't count.
He releases me and retreats a couple of steps, looking oddly pleased with himself. It fades into a slightly disturbed look. I give him a few seconds to say something to me, but he doesn't come up with anything. In fact, he's hardly looking at me. Which is just as well. Suddenly I'm not so certain about my position anymore. Several aborted sentences rise and fall upon my lips before I give up for the time being and return to my task.
I fill a bowl with steaming soup, put a spoon in it, and hold it out to him. Those broken attempts at conversation try to revive themselves, but once more, I fail to find the proper words, and so I am reduced to a mere, "Here."
He reaches out to take it automatically, watching me instead of the bowl. The soup still hovering between us, he says again, "Well?!"
One would think that he is the one that declared his love, waiting for me to give him an answer. I have to speak in my own defense. I don't want him basing all of his conclusions on faulty data. "I think that could have gone better."
He blinks, then rolls his eyes. On the way back down, they catch sight of the bowl I handed him. "Alphabet soup?"
Unfazed, I fill a second bowl. "Tomato vegetable beef with noodles that happen to be shaped like letters."
"Alphabet soup," he repeats, following it with a short laugh. "You drink alphabet soup."
"So will you." I gesture towards the stools at the counter. "Sit."
We sit side by side and sip our soup, letting it warm us from the inside out. The rain is falling harder now, unfortunately failing to drench a certain umbrella-stealing somebody. Other than that, it's a good way to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon.
"I don't suppose it's out of your system now."
What, because we kissed? I use a simple snort to let him know what I think about that.
He sighs disconsolately across the surface of his soup. "You're hot and all. I'll admit that. So you're hot, I like you, I like hanging out with you.... Normally, that'd be more than enough for me to try and start something, but... you're like... my friend, yanno?"
"I know." Hardly a bad thing in my mind.
"That's got a certain eww factor attached to it."
Does he mean to imply that he's never been friends with any of the four plus one others? "I'm your friend, not your mother."
He freezes with his spoon in his mouth. Presumably the soup is still there as well since he pauses for a few very deliberate seconds before pulling the spoon out and swallowing carefully. Only then does he make a strangled choke-snort sort of sound. Once that passes, he takes another deep, calming breath. "No. No, you aren't."
"Well. I'm glad we agree on something, then." I push the characters in my soup around, looking to form words more than three letters long. I get as far as 'gund' before I am foiled. I consider inverting the 'V' to act as an 'A', but opt to find another word instead.
He joins me in my word search. I resist the temptation to take a peek into his bowl and spy out what sort of answers are written there for him. My bowl is just as interesting. I wonder if I can use two 'C's to substitute for a missing 'O'. I wonder how lame it is that I'm trying to spell his name. I wonder if he's trying to spell my name.
I give my soup a stir, deciding that the entire exercise is just a little too juvenile for me.
"What did you mean, 'social needs'?" he asks.
I have an 'N' and a 'D', but only one 'E'. "The way you hang out with... 'them' is very different from the way you hang out with me. I don't think I'd be very interested in all that."
"Well, yeah, but... I only... That's..." He trails off thoughtfully for a while. "In any case, I don't really think that'd be a problem."
His declaration is decisive, dismissive. Maybe I will find out one day what he realized but decided not to tell me. Until then, I'll just have to take his word for it. If he wants to convince himself that this is a good idea, then I won't stop him. "So if my concerns are unfounded, and your concerns are unfounded..."
He is unable to capitulate so soon. "Hey, no one said we were right, no doubts about it."
"No, I'm one hundred percent positive I'm not your mother."
He laughs, tries to lean back in his seat and really enjoy it, and forgets that he's sitting on a stool. I press a hand to his back and push until he recenters himself. At the end of his laugh, he sighs helplessly. "Okay, fine, you've got me there."
"I certainly hope so."
"And I guess... kissing you was weird... really weird... but not, like, unbearably weird."
"It could have gone better," I repeat. "I refuse to allow that to unfairly bias your opinions. It didn't count. You really can't use that as an example of how it would be like."
His lips twist in a wry fashion. "What do you mean, it didn't count?"
"That one didn't count. It wasn't a very good kiss."
"What?! I'm a very good--" He restrains himself from finishing only with a supreme force of will. If he continues, his competitive nature will surely kick in and he will be forced to prove the truth of his statements. Hardly what he wants to do at this time. He glares and pouts at me instead.
I keep my smirk to a bare minimum. Pity, really. The urge to kiss him and taste alphabet soup on his lips has finally surfaced. Took it long enough. Another time, perhaps. I look down at my bowl. No 'K', 'I', or 'S'. See? Wasn't meant to be at this time.
The soup has cooled to a temperature no longer comforting, so we don't linger as we finish it up. He licks the last bit from his spoon with a contemplative air, then drops it back in the bowl with a slight clatter. "So... didja wanna... date or something?"
He doesn't really ask it with a hopeful air. I oblige. "Hmm. No." I get an accusing look, as if he is demanding to know why I put him through all of this if I was just going to say 'no'. I finish my thought. "Not right now. You're on the rebound."
His eyebrows fly up. "I'm on the--" He stops and reconsiders for a moment. "Uh, yeah, sure, that's right. I'm on the rebound."
I nod self-righteously. "So in good conscience, I couldn't possibly act until you've had time to get over things."
"Yeah... 'Things'." Consternation settles upon his brow for a few seconds. "And until then... you're still my wingman, right? My buddy, my pal?"
"Cool." He grins suddenly. "Then I still get to bitch about my old boyfriend to you, right? I hope you had nothing else planned for this afternoon..."
We're still friends. That hasn't changed. I only hope this is the last boyfriend he has to bitch about.
|back to three years|
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. This has been an entirely automated message. http://www.cs.hmc.edu/~jchew/misc/gw.html
last modified : 11/3/2004 12:48:05 PST