Trowa didn't see much of Heero and Duo that day - but that was by his own choosing. When lunchtime came about, Hilde volunteered to make the pick-up. Between the three young men barely a word was spoken; a half-hearted joke and comments to the same. They were all thinking back to that morning, but none of them wanted to start a discussion over it.
Even Hilde's return didn't help much, no matter how she tried to get a conversation going over lunch. In the end, she even brought up her new boyfriend. While a final resort, it at least perked their interest. While she only casually mentioned the word, Duo took the bait - hook, line and sinker.
"So, tell us about the guy you've dropped us in favor of."
She shook her head, smiling, well aware Duo would be more persistent than that.
"Oh, come on... Promise we won't go hurt the guy, if he doesn't meet our standards."
Raised brow. "Your standards?"
Grin. "Yeah. Can't let our favorite girl date some stupid jerkwad, now can we? Have to make sure you don't end up with a no-good sleazeball."
Snort. "Thank you, daddy."
Chuckle. "Say protective big brother, and it's a deal."
Lopsided smirk. "I'm older than you, you know..."
Duo made a mild frown, shot his lover a glare. "Only a few months! - And that's only 'cause Heero picked me a lousy birthday."
Heero smirked back, sipping out of his beverage, but said nothing. When the war ended and various documents of official citizenship and sovereign guardianship had to get signed, they had picked each other's birthdays, having no official record or even memory of one from before. Their choices had been hasty, yet symbolic on a personal level. Yet, after the fact, Duo often complained about how his late summer day made him younger than either Hilde or Heero. Of course, there was also the flipside; he was the young, vibrant one while the other two were geriatrics. It all depended on the joke and mood of the hour.
"So, spill, Hilde. Tell us - at least give us his name."
She smiled, leaned in over the makeshift table. "Well... His name is Scott... About as tall as Trowa, short, black hair, deep brown eyes-"
Duo grinned, mischief written all over his face. "So, is he cheap?"
Hilde looked affronted. "No, of course not. Scott's a great guy."
"Great Scott..." Heero mumbled, provoking Duo's snickers. Trowa tugged on a smile too, but Hilde frowned.
"He wouldn't happen to be a cross-dresser, would he? Or fond of whiskey?"
She lost the frown, and sighed. "Guys... shut up. So, his name is Scott. That doesn't make him a Scotsman. Besides, he'd look as bad in drag as Heero would."
Duo was quick to give his boyfriend an appraising look, then a low whistle. "Whew... You mean Scott looks that good... Wow..."
She rolled her eyes at their chuckles, and was tempted to start harassing the other three right back by twisting the conversation to their disadvantage, as she had originally planned. Yet, she decided against it, and kept her tongue. She did not want to force a confrontation unless her three friends weren't able to do that on their own. After some consideration, she decided to give them a few more days. Less, depending on whether or not Trowa repeated his wish for sanctuary at her place - not that she'd mind the company, but it would undoubtedly complicate matters with her still fresh boyfriend. She wasn't sure how Scott would feel about Trowa staying at her place - and she did not want the love lives of others violate her own again, if she could help it.
As evening came, the same uneasy truce lingered on. Small-talk was sparse, and the TV got more attention than its contents justified that night. His housemates were still huddled up at one end of the sofa, but they were hardly as engaged with each other as they tended to be. Heero had reclined up in the corner with Duo cuddled up against his chest - but barring Heero's left palm softly petting the back of Duo's head, their hands were kept off each other. Like Trowa, neither of them smiled more than the straight line of contentment - if even that much. The fact that they were both actually watching the boring drama currently airing would have been yet another sign for Trowa that the two of them weren't unaffected by recent events, either. Of course, Trowa never really noticed, lost in his own thoughts as he was, and he only dared make a passing glance at the couple once or twice during that evening.
That night, he never saw how Heero and Duo simply shared a lackluster goodnight kiss before they rolled over to sleep on the opposite sides of their bed. Nor did they ever see how Trowa curled himself up in his bed, halfway hugging his pillow as he fell asleep.
Breakfast the next morning followed the pattern of dinner the night before. Chatter was at a minimum, but so were the little things Heero and Duo tended to do rather obviously and rather often; small passing touches, kisses, caresses - the kind that usually bothered Trowa quite a bit - and he'd recently accepted that was because they never involved him - unless it was done to tease him, that is. Never mind how even those felt like torment.
It took him half a bowl of cereal to notice the absence of tenderness between his friends, though. Worse, he felt he noticed that his housemates were giving each other - and worse, even him - these rather melancholic glances every now and then. He reasoned the latter away as a trick of the mind.
Heero sat down at the table again, just having fetched a new carton of orange juice. "We're out," he started. "Again. Duo, I told you we have to stock up a bit, now that there's three of us."
"Yeah, yeah," Duo replied, waving him off, much too preoccupied with the newspaper.
A vague frown on his face, Heero pressed on. "We also need a few things for dinner tonight. I have to start ironing and sorting the laundry, so you'll have to run to the store. I have a list of things-"
"Fine..." Duo muttered. The ink figures weren't doing their job; he wasn't feeling like laughing.
Neither was Trowa. He'd picked up on the bitter tone. "Uh... If I can help..."
They both shot him a glance. Duo quickly returned to his paper. Heero gave a curt nod. "Thanks, Trowa - but I can manage on my own. Maybe Duo-"
Snort. "I know the way to the store and back, thanks. Know how to read a note, too. I'm not three, you know."
The frown deepened a tad. "Don't forget the rebate coupons. Last time-"
"Fine," Duo bit back, teeth clenched.
"And then there's the old soda bottles. We could use the deposit on those, but you haven't-"
"Fine," Duo all but barked. "I'll remember, okay?" He ruffled the paper up to form a wall in front of him.
Heero would have none of it, grabbed the paper and restored line of sight, only sheer luck - and some restraint - keeping the paper from tearing. "Don't snap at me, Duo. It's not my fault that you're being a prick."
Grunt. "Kiss my ass, Heero."
Silence descended. Through it all, Trowa had slowly sipped from his glass of juice, eyes going from one to the other, watching the exchange. For a minute, he couldn't believe that he was actually witnessing a fight between the two lovers. Moreover, he wondered what was causing them both to be so agitated. Then again, he had his suspicions - his hopes, even. Perhaps yesterday hadn't been just a joke, after all.
Heero's frown gave way to an almost sinister smirk. "Sure. Do you want one on both cheeks, or one smack down on the lips?"
Face still filled with barely tempered rage, Duo's initial response was bafflement. "Wha-" Then his mind caught up with Heero's words. He made a face. "Eeew, Heero. That's gross - Trowa and I are trying to eat here, you know..."
Heero snickered. Even Duo started smiling, and made a grab for his glass. Trowa sighed into a smile, relieved. Yeah, he had nothing to worry about; it wasn't a real fight. At best, it was good-natured banter, perhaps following an argument. Perhaps Duo was grumpy over not getting any last night, or because the movie had turned out so dull, or because he didn't like being the perpetual errand boy of the tiny family, or-
Trowa's mind went on and on along those lines. As long as he could avoid considering various other recent events as a cause for Duo's mood, he was content with his self-delusion. Still, he had had enough for one morning, and got to his feet. "I think I'll go get started. Hilde will be here any moment, and she asked me to deal with pile two today. She claims it's about to fall over and come in through her office window."
The other two smirked at that, and nodded him farewell.
As soon as Trowa was out the door, Duo leaned in over the table. "...but I'd like to take a rain check..."
Soft grunt, quick pat of knuckles to skull.
"Ow!" Duo rubbed the sore spot, grinning wide. "Fine, fine..."
They resumed their breakfast, but also the silence, the small reprieve gone. Both were thinking about the same things. Neither wanted to admit it. Of course, they were both concerned with their own relationship to Trowa, not their lover's relationship to the same. In effect, they had both been too blinded by their own desires to notice that of their significant other's. Or, after a fashion, both of them.
Duo put down his glass and took a deep sigh. "We have to talk, 'ro."
Heero nodded solemnly, not quite looking at Duo. "I know."
"We have problems..."
Again, Heero nodded his agreement. "I know..." he muttered, not wanting to admit it. Ever since yesterday, and perhaps a bit before that, the passion they shared had mellowed, and Heero wasn't sure why. Had he been that obvious about wanting Trowa? Had Duo noticed the passing glances - or worse still, the kiss the other night? That could certainly explain the distance Duo kept from him recently. Or was it he who kept that distance, and not Duo? Would Duo resent him for-
"And it's my fault."
"I kno-" Heero bit down the answer, looking straight at Duo. Well, that was certainly not what he had expected. His near-automatic answer still hung in the air though, and he could see Duo had picked up on it. There was no doubt in his mind he'd get interrogated over that later - if the cat was not out of the bag just yet, it'd be set free any moment. First, however, there was the matter of whatever Duo wanted to say. Heero pressed his lips together and waited patiently for Duo to continue - and praying he'd get at least a few more minutes to compose a better answer than 'Duo, I think I love Trowa.' That was true enough, but so was the fact that he still loved Duo. Sure, he certainly wouldn't mind a chance at Trowa, but he sure as hell didn't want to lose what he had with Duo as the price for that chance. Still... what had Duo meant by it being his fault? Heero almost sighed in relief as Duo continued.
"I... I think..." Duo slowly swirled his glass around, staring at its brim, not wanting to face Heero. He felt much too awkward for that. Sure, Heero had been game yesterday morning, but that didn't mean he'd go along with... what Duo would like. "I think..." Quick gulp. "You know I love you, right?"
Heero reached out across the table and put his hands over Duo's, halting the glass. "I know - and the feeling's mutual..."
Soft smile. "Yeah..." Sigh. "Well... I think... I might love someone else too..."
Heero's hands froze. Duo could almost feel the chill. Slowly, Heero withdrew his hands. "Okay..." he cautiously offered. "I know..." He looked away again. He heard Duo's hands work his glass again, but he didn't care to see it. "I know that you're bisexual - you told me that a long time ago, and-" Heero clenched his teeth. How could he not accept Duo wanting someone else, when that was precisely what he was going to ask of Duo? "Well, I can understand you have urges I can't satisfy. So... I'm okay with it - just... just please don't tell me it's Hilde."
Soft snort, headshake. "It's not."
Heero gave Duo a glance. At least his worst fear had been dismissed. He didn't want to lose a lover and a friend to each other. He wasn't sure he could share either with the other, either. "Then... what's her name?"
"It's... not a girl, Heero."
Heero's jaw fell at that. It if wasn't- "Another guy?" It came out a bit more testily than he had intended.
Slow nod. "Yeah..."
Heero's face contorted into anger now, and he tried to look Duo dead in the eye - which was very tricky, given how shifty Duo's gaze had become. He finally tempered himself with the thought that he wanted to ask pretty much the same thing very soon. Even so, the resentment lingered. Did that mean he wasn't good enough anymore? "What's his name, then?"
Duo paused for a moment. It was awkward, but it was the only way to get through it. He'd sworn to always be honest with Heero, and gotten the same pledge in return. Sure, little white lies and cover-ups were okay, even if they gnawed on his conscience like nothing else - but something as big as this? He couldn't have hid it from Heero even if he wanted to; they'd learned to pick up when the other was keeping secrets.
Of course, they had been too preoccupied with their own secrets recently to notice if the other was hiding something.
"It's Trowa," Duo finally breathed out, expecting a punch to the face, or some similar physical manifestation of rage. None came. He dared look up, and saw the mild shock on Heero's face. Well, it wasn't quite what he'd expected, but still... "I'm sorry, Heero. I love you, I always have - still do - but recently I've... I've begun to really like Trowa too - and not just as a friend. As something more, as something-"
"You mean, you've-"
Duo quickly shook his head and looked away again, already having jumped to conclusions on what Heero wanted to know. "No! No, I mean... No. Trowa doesn't know I've got the hots for him. At least, I don't think he knows. I don't think I've been obvious about it - I mean, you didn't notice, and-"
Heero's palm cut off his nervous tirade. "Duo?"
Slow nod, eyes evasive.
"And don't worry."
"I really like Trowa, too." Smirk. "As more than a friend."
Chuckle, hand withdrawn.
"You - you're saying- you love Trowa?" Narrow eyes. "Have you-"
Heero was quick to shake his head, now on the defensive. "No. No, Trowa and I haven't done anything." Quick afterthought. "Not anything serious, at least."
Lightning frown. With the tables turned, Duo was feeling remarkably aggressive. "What is that supposed to mean?"
Heero tried to smile, to fend off Duo's anger the same way Duo's smile did his own. His success rate was limited. "I... We kissed once..."
"Yeah, yesterday, when-"
Headshake. "No. A real kiss. On the lips."
Bafflement. Duo asked the only thing he could think of. "Tongue?"
Heero's ears were rapidly gaining color. "Almost..."
"He was... willing," Heero explained, "But he picked up and ran before I could explore that avenue."
Single chuckle. "I see... So, we both want Trowa, huh...?" Heero suddenly frowned as a thought come to him. Duo noticed. "'ro? What is it?"
Heero shook his face, blanked the frown out. "Nothing, I was just thinking..."
He opened his mouth as if to speak, but stopped, tried again. "How would we do this, if..." The words trailed off into nothing, and he looked away. "Forget it."
Duo rested his chin against his palm, elbow firmly on the table. "No, tell me."
"Well... you're a top..."
Snicker. "Damn straight."
"What if - what if Trowa is, too? Look, Duo - I have enough to deal with in taking what you dish out, I'm not sure I like the thought of getting fucked to pieces by two horny guys-"
Duo all out laughed at this point.
The frown returned. "It's not funny! It's not like you have ever woken up with the need to walk bow-legged..." His voice trailed off in a mumble.
Duo bawled even harder, thoroughly amused. After a while, even Heero started snickering along, won over.
"Okay, so it is a little funny... but my verdict stays. I want to be able to sit again, you know. I don't think I could handle-"
Finally settling down again, Duo wiped his eyes. "Well, I don't think you have to worry..."
Raised brow. "Why not?"
"Because I think Trowa is a bottom boy too..."
The brow tried to rise even more. "What-"
"You see," Duo cut in, straightening up a bit, "The other day, I kinda... fell on him, and-"
"Fell on him?"
"It was an accident!" Duo proclaimed, grinning far too much to be taken as truthful. Heero noticed, and Duo knew he did. "Okay," he moderated himself. "So it wasn't an accident... Not entirely, anyway - but my point-"
Chuckle. "By all means, get to it."
Snort. "Am trying, 'ro. Shut up. See, when we fell, my knee kinda fell between his, and as I tried to get on my feet again-"
"I can imagine how rushed you were with that," Heero commented, voice low, smirking softly.
Duo paid him no heed. "-my thigh went a bit higher... and he parted his legs, as if by reflex."
Brows high again. "Seriously?"
Eager nod. "Yeah." Wide grin. "Maybe if you ask politely-"
"Thanks, Duo. I think I can take it from here..."
Grin, quick wink of eyebrows. "I thought you already were..."
"What do you mean?"
"The other night, when I came back from the grocer's - you certainly looked - felt - like you were having some fun long before I ever got back..."
Mild frown, ears flushed, spreading to cheeks. "It wasn't like that..."
"It wasn't!" Heero repeated, going defensive. "Look, he gave me a good foot rub, so I offered to loosen his shoulders in return."
Grin bordering on leer. "Ah-huh..."
Heero sighed, relenting. "Fine... So I was trying to see how receptive he was - okay? Wasn't planning to cheat, but... I wanted to see if he would... look at me."
Duo nodded, remembering the position he'd found the two in. He understood what Heero meant; he remembered how taut Heero's towel had been. "Did he?"
Heero shook his head. "No... I think he would have, if you hadn't shown up so early."
"And what if he had?"
Heero thought it over, shrugged. "Then he'd have gotten quite the eyeful, wouldn't he? I don't know what would have happened after that, Duo - but nothing did, leave it at that."
Chuckle. "Oh, I don't know that... I know how distracting those foot massages of yours can be, since I've been victim to them many times, and all - you got a good grope done too, didn't you?"
"What do you mean?"
Snort, much amused in watching Heero squirm just a little in his seat. "Oh, don't play the innocent - your hands were all over his thighs, weren't they?"
Heero looked for a way out, but there was no such in Duo's eyes. He looked away, face a fresh color now, one step ahead of Duo's. "...and his rear," Heero mumbled, closing his eyes and flexing his palms. "You wouldn't believe how- I mean, just soft enough, and-"
Leer. "Oh, I know."
Flagged brows. "What?!"
Duo snickered, leaned in over the table and rested his chin in his palms again. "You don't think you're the only one who've gotten in a good butt-squeeze with Trowa, do you?"
"You see," Duo interrupted, "After we got up from that fall, I sorta sent him off for lunch, patted his butt and told him 'off you go, houseboy'. He did, but not before he gave me this really funny look."
Heero broke out smiling again. "So, that's when you called him that..."
"Before he and I... kissed, he mentioned that you'd called him your houseboy. He found it funny too, I think."
Grin. "Well, I wasn't joking."
Chuckle. "I know you weren't - back then, I told him that if he wanted the job..."
Duo raised his head out of his palms. "And what did he say?"
Heero leaned back. "Nothing. He tried ripping my big toe away from the rest, but he didn't say anything."
"And then he kissed the pain away..."
Minute frown. "I thought you said you kissed him, not-"
"Yeah, the real kiss was my initiative - but he kissed my booboo first."
Grunt. "Your... booboo..."
Heero landed a soft tap of knuckle to Duo's head. "My foot, you idiot."
Rubbing the impact site, Duo grinned wide. "Yeah, I know..."
They both sighed, leaning in over the table. "Duo..."
"I think... it's pretty damn clear we both lust for the same guy."
"Do you think... we could share?"
"What, you mean like... him and you, at the same time?"
Smirk, borderline leer. "Something like that."
Duo made a grab for Heero's hands, pulled them away from the chin they were supporting, making Heero fall just a little further in over the table. Duo leaned in closer. "I think..." Closer. "I can be persuaded..." They kissed, a light touch only. The table was just wide enough to prevent anything more than that - but it was enough.
"Good," Heero said as he straightened up again. "I guess we've agreed on that much, then..."
Duo only grinned as he got up and started clearing the table.
"Only one problem left," Heero said as he stood up to help.
"How do we break the news to Trowa?"
Duo paused for a few moments, thought it over - and finally broke out in a menacing grin. "Oh, I think I have an idea or two..."
As they cleared the dishes away, Duo outlined it for Heero. It was utterly simple, completely banal - and would definitely get the point across. There was no doubt they'd get their answer, too - if Trowa believed them - if he didn't think it was another cruel tease of a joke. Heero wasn't sure he could come up with anything better though, so although he remained skeptical, he volunteered to be Duo's accomplice.
"What if... what if Trowa doesn't want to-" He weakly bit his lip. "What if he doesn't want us, the way we want him?"
Duo chuckled, nudged Heero's chin up and gave him a light kiss. "You're cute when you worry."
Instant frown. "I'm not-"
"And anyway," Duo quickly cut in, grinning like mad, "I don't think you have to fear rejection - I mean, think back to how he's been ever since he got here. You've seen the way he's looked at us, right? You've noticed he's at least a bit interested? I mean, you even kissed the guy, and you said-"
Heero nodded. "Yeah..." Weak smile. "Let's go for it."
Smile stronger. "Same difference."
Chuckle. "Sure - but for 'it', we need him first, right?"
A knuckle sandwich later, they had the table cleared.
Hilde hadn't been able to focus all that well that morning. Sure, she was glad that Trowa had listened to her concerns about pile two and was doing something about it - namely sorting the junk pile out properly - yet, the ruckus he caused rattled her brain more than once, especially as chunks of metal whined as they rubbed against one another, or worse, against bits of glass. It was much too reminiscent of what fingernails to blackboards sounded like - or some of Duo's loud music. In short, it was not pleasant to the ears of mere mortals.
But, of course, along with the bitter pill was also the view out her window. Trowa was hard at work, and his sleeveless T-shirt had already gained quite the sweat stains. The poor boy didn't seem to have picked up the knowledge that heavy lifting ought to be done with your legs, not your back - but Hilde didn't feel like correcting him - especially not as long as his pants hugged him so well each time he leant over another chunk of junk.
All in all, she didn't get much done. In the end, she went over to the window and opened it. She waited a bit in letting Trowa know though, content at watching his back.
Nobody could ever accuse her of watching out for his back, though. At least not in a literal sense.
He paused, put down the thick steel plate he'd just lifted up, and turned around to face her, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. "Hi, Hilde."
She handed him a water bottle, which was quickly accepted and opened. She watched him drink, eyes drifting from his bobbing Adam's apple to the diminishing pile at his feet. "Thanks for doing this, Trowa."
"It's not a problem, Hilde. We'd have to clear this pile sooner or later. Might as well be sooner, if it will ease your worries about having your window smashed in."
Chuckle. "Yeah... Thanks."
Nod. "You're welcome." Trowa took another sip from the bottle.
"Say... where are Heero and Duo, anyway? If they snuck off-"
Trowa shrugged. "I don't know - I haven't seen them since breakfast. I think they were going to dismantle the severed Taurus suit over by pile twelve today."
"Oh... Well, it's their turn to pick up lunch. Heero's, really, but I can't quite see him going to get it alone. Him and Duo are pretty much glued together."
Trowa sat down on the plate, minding the edges. This way, his eyes were at least level with Hilde's. Not that that mattered much, as Trowa was busy avoiding those.
"I guess I'll go look for them, then."
After some hesitation, and just before she left the window sill, Trowa looked at her again. "Hilde?"
He clenched his teeth once, not sure if he should say this or not. Still, who knew them better than Hilde? "Heero and Duo... they've... they've been acting weird lately."
Mild surprise. She leant out the window just a little. "In what way?"
Trowa took another sip from the bottle. "Well... ever since yesterday..."
She grinned. "Ever since they kissed you, you mean."
He sighed, forcing a smile to his face. "Yeah... maybe even before that... They've - they seem to have lost some of their lust for each other. I don't know why - at first I wondered if they'd had a fight, or something, but-"
She held up a palm. "Wait - by 'lust' you mean-"
"I mean, they're keeping their hands to themselves. Come to think of it, I'm not sure I've even seen them kiss in the last twenty-four hours."
Teasing smirk. "Other than you."
Snort. "Other than me..." He looked up again. "Do you know if they've had a fight?"
She shrugged. "No, not that I know of - but it's not like they let me know whenever they've had a little spat. I'm sure they have theirs, just like everyone else."
Nod. "Probably - but... I think - I think they've been throwing glances at me lately, too."
Trowa nodded again. "At least. I'm not sure, I only noticed yesterday."
Weak grin. "Yeah... You seem a bit daft in picking up when someone's interested in you..."
Light chuckle. "Nothing... So, you think both of them like you, then? Really like you, I mean?"
"I - yeah... I mean, Heero kissed me, there was nothing hidden there. And Duo... Well, there's something there too, I'm sure of it." He briefly clenched his teeth. "I'm afraid, though - even if they're having an argument right now, they still love each other. You would have to be blind not to notice that."
Trowa smiled at that. "Right - that's the problem, though. If I've read them wrong - Let's say, what if Heero's kiss was sincere, but Duo doesn't feel anything for me? What if I end up breaking them apart?"
Snort. "You couldn't, even if you tried."
"And what if they both fancy me, but only for a quick tumble in the sack, and not for anything more... permanent." Sigh. "Not that I would mind that, but..."
Hilde shrugged. "Well, I think you'll be okay, Trowa." She saw he wasn't convinced, though. "I heard of this experiment once - a test they used on the first cosmonauts for figuring out which small groups made good teams. They handed each a little black box with a voltage display and a dial on it. Three of these were hooked together, and electric current was run through them. Now, the challenge to the three cosmonauts was to turn their dials so they all had a balanced needle pointing straight up. However, each time one of them adjusted their own dial, it gave a feedback to the other two boxes. They weren't allowed to see each other during this exercise either."
Trowa's face was blank. "I don't understand what-"
"My point," Hilde continued. "Is that the key to passing that test, was knowing when not to do anything - when to sit back and trust the other two. See, it was way easier for two of them to adjust the current - adjust to each other, than it was for all three at the same time. So, one of them had to wait for the other two to get comfortable with each other, then inch a bit closer, wait for the next adjustment, and so on, until they all had the same, balanced needle."
"See, when there's three of you, you need to know when to back off a lot more. You also need to know when to make your move. You need to be patient, but the results are worth it. The goal of the cosmonauts was to be equals, really - and I don't mean in terms of political dogma. They were a team - and the test proved they could work as one. If you're going for a threesome, then you're in the same situation. You want all of you to be equal, after a fashion. You have to achieve a balance, otherwise you won't have a real threesome. Without that balance, you'd have a twosome and a spectator, or a twosome and a slave. That's not a relationship, Trowa - that's my opinion, at least."
Trowa was not convinced by that little tale. Equals... Yes, that would be nice - but how could he equal how much Duo cared for Heero, or Heero for Duo? How could he make them love him as much as each other? Come to think of it, could he love each of them as much as the other? Did he have a preference of the two? He didn't think so, but would that last, if they-
"Hey, Trowa, snap out of it?"
Soft laughter. "You went a bit distant there... You okay?"
"No..." he mumbled. "It's all crazy. Look, I don't want to mess up a good thing. Maybe I should just stay a spectator and stick to my fantasies. That way, no one is hurt."
Mild frown. "Except you, and the both of them...."
He shook his head, got to his feet. "Maybe I'm delusional. They probably wouldn't want me in their relationship - and certainly not permanently."
She gave a light grunt. "You're wrong," she said, and went away from the window, leaving him to consider her words. She was upset. How come guys had to be so damn angsty? You'd think the so-called strong sex would have more of a spine, more of a will to just get to it, ask the questions, get everything settled - but no. Of the four specimens she had near her, only Scott seemed to have any understanding of proper initiative.
She went for her shoes. As she locked the door behind her, she told Trowa she was going to find Heero and Duo, and send at least one of them off to fetch lunch at the deli.
She didn't see a need to tell him about her other plan.
"You guys suck!"
Heero shut down the acetylene torch and flipped the welding mask up just as Duo pulled his head out of a circuit panel on the other side of the trashed mobile suit. Virtually in chorus, they replied "Huh?"
They could almost see a vein throb at her forehead. She stopped and put her arms akimbo, assured that she was within shouting distance of them, but outside of Trowa's. "I said, you guys suck! How can you be so damn mean to Trowa?!"
Heero put the torch away and worked with removing his gloves. "Hilde, what are you talking about?"
"Yesterday, you guys kissed him. Have you any idea of what that did to him?"
Heero tried first. "We-"
"Would you two just go tell him already? You love him, don't you?"
Then Duo. "We-"
"The poor guy has the biggest crush on the both of you, and it's clear as day - but you two just keep teasing him, and-"
Heero made a second attempt. "Hilde-"
"And you - don't even get me started. You kissed him for real, you bastard. Have you any idea how guilty Trowa feels about that?"
Duo started chuckling.
Her guns aimed for him immediately. "And what's so funny?"
Duo winked at Heero. "Looks like you have your answer, Heero. Like I said, nothing to worry about. He feels the same."
Hilde rolled her eyes, lifted her arms to the skies, begging for patience. "Of course he does! So, why-"
Duo put a hand on her shoulder as her arms came down again. "Look, we only just figured it out this morning - that we both love the guy, that is. We've been thinking of a good way to tell him, and-"
"About time," she spat back, still angry. "Then do so, and soon. It's tearing him apart - and when you do, you'd better make damn sure to show him you both love him, but still love each other too. If you don't, I think Trowa's going to be eaten alive by guilt." She took a quick breath for air, but noticed Duo open his mouth, and cut him off. "And if the two of you even think of sidelining him later, I'll make sure neither of you can't ever have blood-related offspring, even if you wanted to. Do I make myself absolutely clear?"
Duo grinned at her. Standing right behind him, Heero smirked. "Crystal," they replied as one. It wasn't the first time they had faced Hilde's tirades.
"And go get lunch!" she added before turning on her heel, stomping off back to the office.
Heero and Duo obeyed, but not before they'd gotten a good laugh done.
Something was up. Trowa was sure of it, now more than ever.
It started at lunch. Heero and Duo had seemed a little too smug. At first, he wondered if they'd rigged the sandwiches. Duo still hadn't taken out his last revenge on Hilde, and spicing her sandwich with extra Tabasco or suchlike was right up his alley. Given that it was Duo that distributed the sandwiches Trowa feared as much - and kept his half-empty bottle of water close at hand, just in case.
Nothing happened, though. Hilde seemed a bit grumpy over something, but not enough for Duo's vengeance to have been carried out already. Trowa didn't ask. He didn't really speak much at all. Duo was making bad jokes, some which they laughed at, some which earned him a quick pat to the head, or just a sarcastic remark.
But something was up.
The evening had started out the way they always did. Dinner; an even more quiet affair than lunch - and just as quick, as Duo's idea of making dinner involved making a run to the nearest burger joint for takeout. Trowa and Heero didn't complain, though - they were used to it, and Hilde wasn't there to mother them that night. It would appear she was close to putting a leash on the prospective boyfriend - figuratively, of course, not literally - despite some of Duo's cruder jokes at lunch.
The movie, a vintage comedy, wasn't all that bad. Moreover, his two housemates seemed to be over their troubles, their cuddle at one end of the couch far more interesting to sneak glances at this time.
They had asked Trowa to go get refreshments, and he had now returned with a bowl of freshly popped microwave popcorn and a six-pack of soft drinks.
And something was definitely up.
He stood there in the doorway, studying his friends. Duo and Heero had untangled themselves from one another now, sitting at opposite ends of the couch; as far away from each other as they could, each looking away from the other, both looking grumpy. Neither seemed to take notice of his return.
Disgruntled - and apart. That did not bode well, Trowa surmised. For a moment, he was afraid they had fought again - for real, this time. Still, if there had been a shouting match, he was sure he would have caught at least bits of it. He didn't doubt they were just as passionate and loud in their fights as they were in their lovemaking.
Tentatively, he walked towards them. "Uh... Guys? Is something wrong? What's up?"
Two barely muttered "Nothing"s reached him.
Oh, whatever was up, it had to be big. Trowa paused. It wasn't as if he had a choice, either. There was one spare chair in the living room, but that was currently occupied by a large stack of freshly washed, but not yet ironed, folded or sorted clothes. Even if both his hands weren't occupied, he wasn't up to fetching one from the kitchen, either. Besides, those chairs were uncomfortable in the long run. Thus, he slowly made his way for the couch, well aware he was walking into a potential crossfire.
He put the bowl of popcorn and the soda cans on the table and sat down, glancing from one friend to the other, well aware of the tension in the room. It was unnerving. "Just... just what's wrong, guys? You're making me nervous..."
Both of them instantly turned on him then, smirking far too much for Trowa's comfort. Face forward, his eyes went from corner to corner.
"Well, we can't have that..." Duo said, inching closer.
"Definitely not," came the reply from the other end of the couch.
Trowa sat as if frozen, watching them approach him from either side, both looking much too smug for his own comfort. What were they-
Duo reached for Trowa's chin, coaxed Trowa's somewhat panic-stricken face to face him. "D-Duo, wha-"
He was cut off as Duo kissed him, taking full advantage that his last pronunciation was a vowel. As if that was not enough, he felt strong arms embrace him from behind; another set of lips touching his ear, then descending to his neck. Trowa's initial jitters did nothing to discourage his attackers, and he found himself relaxing, closing his eyes, meeting Duo's tongue with his own, leaning into Duo's caresses of his cheek, his arms lax along his sides, content in Heero's warm hug. It was... bliss.
It was... wrong. Reality finally caught up with him, and he pulled back from Duo's kiss, struggled against Heero's hold on him, looked up at Duo with mild panic.
Duo had expected something like this, though, and smoothed his fingers along Trowa's forehead, brushing his bangs aside. "Just relax, Trowa..."
Heero's lips left the hickey they'd started, his warm breath whispering against Trowa's ear. "This is what you wanted, isn't it? Both of us...?" Heero's embrace had loosened, and one of his hands slowly untucked Trowa's shirt as he spoke, slipping inside as soon as he was done, caressing Trowa's abdomen. Heero glanced up at Duo, saw his grin, latched his lips to Trowa's earlobe and cautiously tugged at the flesh.
Duo tried to keep up by sucking on Trowa's neck, leaving a hickey to match Heero's, while he snuck one palm around Trowa's back, his fingertips wiggling their way down a back pocket.
"Yesss..." Trowa hissed out at length, still at a loss about what to do with his hands. Then, as their lips and hands left him momentarily, they provided him with an answer. Duo took Trowa's left hand to cup his cheek, Heero matching the move with Trowa's right hand - albeit the back rather than palm. He did not want to twist Trowa's arm... unless it became necessary.
"We love you, Trowa," Duo stated, grin gone all mushy at Trowa's look of disbelief.
"We both do," Heero amended, stealing Trowa's attention, smiling softly. He leaned in and delivered a soft brush of a kiss to Trowa's lips, feeling Trowa's fingers tremble a bit against his cheek.
Duo leaned closer too. "And you really like us too, don't you?"
Trowa shirked back, uncertain. "How did you-"
Chuckle. "Well, it wasn't as if you could hide it any more than we could... plus, Hilde told us."
"What?" Trowa frowned now. Anger was a good escape - and he was more than a little upset about her breech of confidentiality. Not that he had ever sworn her to secrecy on anything, nor gotten any promises. And, of course, the fact that she told him about David, the ex-boyfriend... He shouldn't have trusted her.
Duo and Heero didn't accept his frustrations, though - they merely laughed it off, then resumed their attack. Duo quickly kissed the tip of his nose, and grinned down on him. "Trowa, do you really want to be pissed at her for making sure this happened...?" Duo kissed him before he could answer; he didn't need to hear it. The way Trowa responded was more than enough of one.
The rest became a blur of eager touches and soft kisses, the movie and the refreshments long since forgotten. Trowa got a brief respite once, when Heero and Duo held hands behind his back, while making a rather prolonged and wet kiss but inches off his face - but then they invited him to join them, nudging at his back.
Coaxed on, Trowa had abandoned his shyness, and embraced lust and curiosity. At first Heero guided his hands up under Duo's T-shirt, which was quickly reciprocated by Duo, riding Heero's green tank top up quite a bit. Trowa's fingers started wandering on their own, but met no objections.
Still trapped in the middle, he grew some concerns when he felt both Duo and Heero touch his abdomen, and rather low at that. They noticed him tensing up.
"Don't worry, Trowa," Heero spoke softly into his one ear. "We're not going to do anything serious..."
In his other ear, Duo amended "Not yet, anyway..."
Soft chuckles followed, as did Heero's tongue making one quick sweep along the edge of his ear. "Duo's right... We want you to want it first."
"There's three of us now," Duo whispered, "And I promise you, none of us will be left behind." He nuzzled against Trowa's cheek, and grazed his free fingertips up and down along a section of Trowa's spine. "For now... just enjoy, okay...?"
Trowa was only dimly aware of how he nodded in reply, and reached around the both of them, pulling them closer.
The movie was long since over by the time the three untangled themselves. Only the need for a bathroom break had split them apart - Duo had excused himself first, telling them to keep on going without him. Heero was eager enough to obey, but Trowa was hesitant - albeit not for long. Heero was much too good a kisser to ignore.
It marked the beginning of the end, though. Attempts to get going again led only to a pile-up of a cuddle - not that any of them objected to that. Trowa was even a bit relieved; the evening had been overwhelming enough already. Thankfully, Heero and Duo had gone good on their promise; even their most daring touches had stayed above clothing - at least below the belt. Not that Trowa hadn't gotten a good handful of his own on occasion.
Heero stood up first, stretching and making a show of it. Duo gave Trowa another light kiss, and they followed suit. Heero and Duo took one of Trowa's hands each, and maintained a hold as they walked towards the bedrooms.
At the doorstep of theirs, Trowa paused. They didn't, though, tugging at Trowa to come along. Trowa shook his head. "Uh, guys - I'm not sure-"
Quick snort, smirk. "We told you, Trowa. Nothing serious unless you want it."
"Yeah..." Duo sighed out, a bit disappointed, but happy nonetheless. "Look, I can understand you're a bit uneasy..."
Heero glanced at Duo. "And you should be. He rolls around a lot when he sleeps - and he snores."
Wide grin, mockery of a slap. "I do not!"
Easy dodge. "You do too!"
Trowa managed to chuckle, but remained tense. They fell silent for a bit.
Duo made another tug at his arm. "Oh, come on... We promise we won't do anything - we're just going to sleep, okay? We just want you close, that's all. You're part of us now."
Heero nodded. "He's right, you know. So, come with us - please?"
Trowa took a step forward, then another, to the great smiles at the faces before him. The door closed behind him, and he and felt their hands slipping out of his, leaving him standing there in the poorly lit room. In the light from the nightstand lamps, he watched them undress, down to underwear. Trowa hesitated, remained standing, watching.
They slipped in under the covers. Duo flipped down the top, and patted the big spot of mattress between them. "Come here, Trowa... please?"
It was the closest thing to a pout Trowa had ever seen on Duo's face. It was mesmerizing. A quick glance to Heero, just in time to watch him roll his eyes, was as good a sign as any he wasn't the first to fall victim to it - and he was falling. He reached for the hem of his shirt, pulled it over his head. He could feel their eyes on him, his hands lingering at the hem of his pants for a few seconds, before he unbuttoned them and let them pool around his ankles. With a thin smile, he stepped out of them and crawled into the bed, greeted by his new lovers.
Once they'd secured their third safely under the blankets, their pillows pushed together so that Trowa too could get some headrest - Heero made another mental note to fetch Trowa's pillow before tomorrow night. Although he did not want discomfort for either of his loved ones, he did not want to leave to just then. Besides, it served as a nice excuse for lying closer.
More soft kisses and caresses followed, but nothing like the couch. This time, it was all a good, almost innocent closeness. Trowa felt Duo's warmth along his back, Heero's at his chest, their breaths against his shoulders. Trowa did his best to hug Heero back with one hand, shifting the other to linger at Duo's hip, fingertips smoothing the black silk boxers, briefly toying with the waistband. Duo put his hand over Trowa's, enjoying the touch.
Trowa very much enjoyed it once his nerves calmed down a bit, but still... "Guys... as much as I like this... we can't sleep like this."
Duo's lips touched the nape of his neck, as Heero rested his cheek against Trowa's chest, Heero's messy bangs brushing against Trowa's chin and throat. "I know..." Duo whispered, then kissed the spot again. "But let's just... lie like this..." Again. "For a little while..." Again. "Okay?"
Trowa slowly nodded, minding not to slam his chin down into Heero's head.
And so, they did; lie there, limbs entangled, bodies close. Trowa had little room to move - but he had no real desire to, not now...
At length, they untangled themselves from one another, to finally go to sleep. They still lay very close to each other, not that the large bed didn't have room for them to spread out even more - they just didn't want to.
Their closeness made Trowa feel safe. Feel loved.
And being woken up by soft kisses did nothing to diminish that sentiment.
-End Part #8-