Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

Pairing: 1x2
Contents/Warnings: Shounen Ai/Yaoi, fluff, lime.

AN: Thanks to Nayloushka_9 for beta-reading. Written as a gift for Sharon of the Moments of Rapture site.

Down to Earth
by kebzero

"Oh, come on..."

Heero kept his focus on the morning newspaper spread out before him on the table. Absentmindedly, he picked up his sandwich and nibbled at it.

"It's only for a little while, Heero. A vacation isn't going to kill you."

Heero reached for his glass of juice, but it was held down by another hand by the time he got there. He glanced up at the fiery eyes of his partner.

Curt nod. "Better. At least have the guts to look me in the eye when you try to dodge my ideas."

Heero sighed, let go of both glass and paper, planted his elbows at the table, and rested his chin against folded hands. "Duo, I don't see the point. We had a vacation only a few months ago. We can't take time off whenever we feel like it - we have lots of work down at the office, and-"

Groan. "Oh, don't give me that crap, Heero! You know as well as I do the Preventers could manage a week or two without us - and all we're doing these days is shuffling and filing old reports anyway. We haven't had a field assignment in three weeks, and it's not like we're the only agents they've got."

Frown. "We're the best."

Restrained lopsided grin. "Modesty prevents me from saying you're right, but I'm not going to argue it either. Still... Heero, a week, two, tops. Just think about it - you, me, a Pacific beach somewhere, soft sand, gentle breeze, warm ocean lapping at our feet..."

Grunt, half-smirk. "And a battered, old salvage ship with her ragtag crew and half-crazed captain holding a party. No thanks."

Duo reached for his own glass of juice, and took two solid gulps. "That's not fair, Heero. The Atlantis is a good ship - and if Howard's half-crazed, what does that make me?"

Smirk to complete. "Completely nuts."

Snort. Duo reached over to give Heero's nose a soft pinch and a wiggle. "You dis my friends, shoot down my ideas... how come I still love you?"

Heero snatched Duo's hand and kissed the knuckles softly. He locked onto Duo's eyes, and with a playful glint, he began to suck slowly on one of Duo's slender fingers.

Duo laughed, and pulled his hand free without much resistance. "Well, thanks for the reminder." He sighed. "Come on, Heero - a short vacation. It's Howard's second anniversary of his 'Down to Earth' day next Thursday - he's really hoping we'll come."

"You go, then."

Frown. "Heero, remember last year? When you had that damn field assignment that got extended for an extra week, and I had to go alone?"


"Well, it was pretty damn boring without you. I felt lonely, despite having a lot of friends around."

Heero took another bite of his sandwich. It tasted much more brittle and stale than reason suggested it should. "It wasn't my fault, Duo."

Sigh. "I know it wasn't - but this time, you have no reason not to go. This might be the last time Howard bothers to throw a party for the occasion, too."

Snort, smirk. "I doubt that - Howard will always find an excuse to liven things up. I'm not sure which of you is worse."

Duo grinned and made a faux swing at him, missing by a mile as Heero leaned back in trained reflex. They sat in silence for a while. Heero finished both his sandwich and his paper, Duo gulped down the last of his orange juice, and was tempted to steal the last of Heero's, as well. Just as he got up to do so, however, the former Wing pilot pre-empted him, and downed the juice himself.

You learn many small things and habits - both those of your significant other and yourself - after living together for a while.

Since he was already at his feet, Duo walked up behind Heero, placed his hands on Heero's shoulders and rested his chin against Heero's skull. "He really wants us to come, Heero. We're part of the family, you know. It's been two years since he came back from space, permanently, after helping with getting rid the leftovers of Peacemillion and Libra. He'll even anchor up near an airport, so that we'd have an easy time getting aboard the Atlantis - and he knows all he best places to party in the entire Pacific Ocean. It'll be fun, Heero."

There was no answer.

"You're not afraid of him, are you?" He felt faint movement beneath his chin. Evidently, he had touched a nerve. Duo straightened up, lifted one of Heero's arms aside and plopped down in his lap, wrapped his arms around Heero's neck, eyes locked, searching the shimmering blue depths for what words didn't say. He couldn't resist grinning. "You are, aren't you?"

Embarrassed, Heero's cheeks flushed slightly, eyes turning evasive.

Chuckle. "Oh, come on! Howard, scary? Okay, so he has some pretty loud shirts that could scare the crap out of anyone with a fashion sense - but Howard? He's practically family, for crying out loud!" Duo hastily flipped tousled bangs aside to plant a soft kiss on Heero's forehead. He almost missed the mumble.

"That's the problem..."

"What was that?"

Heero's eyes focused on Duo once more. There was a faint chill to them that made Duo pull back a little. "That's exactly the problem - he's almost family."

Duo flagged a brow. "'Ro, you're not making sense."

"It's..." Heero sighed. "He feels like an in-law."

Jaw drop, consequent snicker. "Wait, let me get this straight - you feel Howard's like your father-in-law, or something?"

Heero felt uneasy, tried shifting, but couldn't move much with his lap occupied. "Well... yes. Or grandfather-in-law, if that makes you feel any better."

Duo laughed openly now.

Heero fought a faint smirk of his own. "It's not funny..." he muttered.

"Hell yeah, it is!" Duo beamed back at him. "You think of Howard as-" More laughter.

Slowly, Heero began a quiet snicker of his own, but decided to end it. He reached for Duo's chin, guided him into position for a lasting kiss, killing the laughter in favor of a truly shared, fairly even pleasure. No sooner did it end, did Duo's lips trek to Heero's earlobe, tugging at it. Dexterous fingers worked Heero's shirt buttons in the slight gap between them, before slipping inside to tease a nipple. Heero's hands were busy untucking the back of Duo's T-shirt, sliding inside the black cotton to caress Duo's lower back.

"Tell me you're coming with me this year," Duo whispered against his ear, before gently biting and sucking on the fleshy lobe. "Tell me..."

Soft groan. "I..."

Duo moved from ear to shoulder, inched in towards Heero's neck and bit down, starting a hickey. One set of fingers danced across Heero's chest, and he did his best to wiggle just right in Heero's lap. The pressure against his thigh suggested he was doing well.

Another slight moan escaped Heero. "Damn you, Duo... You're making me way too excited for a regular Tuesday morning..."

Duo grinned against his skin, and left the hickey halfway done in favor for another passionate, albeit brief kiss. "I take it you're coming with me, then?" To prove his point, Duo reached around to Heero's back, slid a hand up under Heero's rumpled shirt, then back down Heero's spine to tug on the waistband of his underwear, while he kept caressing the nipple with his other hand.

When he felt Heero grope his butt, Duo had a fair idea he'd won. The slight groan that followed when he suckled the earlobe again made it certain. "Damn small ship... no privacy... Ah, damn it... just don't stop now..."

Duo chuckled, but obeyed. "Yes, sir. I guess we'd better make do before we go, then - but we have to get to work soon."

"Nnngh." Pleasured gasp. "No, we don't..."

Grin, kiss to cheek. "Sorry, babe. I think-"

Heero gave him a dazed glare. "I think, that ten minutes from now, we found out the car didn't start..." Lips to chin. "And then we had to look at the problem..." To cheek, warm whispers on skin. "And it took us well over an hour to find it was just... a little... carburetor clogging..." Latch on to nape of neck.

Duo tilted his head, sighed contently. "I think you'd better make that two. We checked the car thoroughly, right?" He felt Heero smirk against his skin. It felt nice to be the victor. Even more so to get a two in one.

When they finally showed up at the office near lunchtime, even the junior investigators could deduce their story didn't pass muster. Their slightly dishevelled appearances and flushed skin tones kept the questions at bay more effectively than Heero's cold glares did - but there was much poorly hidden snickering and many coy smiles following them for the rest of the day.


A week later, they were enlisted as honorary crew members of the Atlantis. The ship had headed for sea the minute they came aboard that Saturday, and by the full week after the trust in the kitchen they had reached another, much less trafficked island. Lacking an airport and being somewhat out of the way, it wasn't a tourist trap - which only put it even closer to paradise. Howard's ship had to anchor up off the coast though, as the small harbor of the only town on the island wasn't deep enough for a vessel her size. The small barges were put to good use, ferrying crew and assorted guests between the ship and the island's lure of bars and beaches.

Heero and Duo had snuck away from the main group, and found a small strip of warm, golden sand they had all to themselves. Their barge was resting near the water's edge. With low cliffs on either side and dense vegetation behind them, they were fairly certain they wouldn't be disturbed.

They had brought one beach bag each, a big cooler box with refreshments and two deck chairs from the Atlantis. Duo was currently resting in one such chair, chilled can of soda in one hand, the other tucked behind his head, sunglasses on his nose; all that he wore besides a pair of Bermuda shorts and sandals. He was half asleep, soaking up sunshine. Heero lay on a big towel beside him, similarly attired, although he had ditched the sunglasses and sandals, and turned his back to the sun, busy reading a book.

He was almost done with the final chapter of the mystery novel when Duo decided to interrupt. "Yanno - isn't it strange how we both use these big Bermuda shorts?"

Heero sighed, not sure what strange train of thought Duo had boarded this time. Still, to ignore it would result in facing it head-on, one way or another. Without tearing his eyes away from the book's crescendo, he asked "What do you mean?"

Duo made a wide grin, sat up as straight as he could in his deck chair, and tilted his sunglasses down enough to look above them. "Well, according to stereotypes, shouldn't we be wearing those flimsy Speedos things?"

Lopsided smirk, subdued snort. "Stereotypes are useless when it comes to classifying individuals." Flip of a page. "Besides, I'm done wearing tight-fitting clothes."

"Hey, I kinda liked you in spandex."

Heero's smirk grew slightly lecherous. "I'm sure you did. You'd better like me without them too, though."

Laugh. "Oh, I do - I prefer my Heero straight up and bare."

Heero cared enough to give him an amused glance for that one - but the novel lured his eyes back, despite how he could make a fairly certain guess how it would end.

"Say, I'm sure you'd look really good in a pair of Speedos. If it helps, I could try a pair too, and-"

Smirk. "A partly appealing thought - but I'd rather neither of us get prosecuted for indecent exposure. Those hip-condoms are only for exhibitionists, anyway."

Chuckle. "Hip-condoms?"

"Well, they are. Nothing is left to the imagination, except maybe real skin tones and 'natural blond' status."

More snickers. "And I suppose your spandex shorts weren't revealing at all, huh?"

Defensive frown. "Those were different. They were tight too, but not as tight as that. They weren't like a second skin - not around the private parts, anyway. More like... Uhm..."

"A protective pouch?" Duo offered.

Amused grunt. "As good an expression as any. Sure, like a protective pouch. As for exposure, that left plenty of things to imagination." He shot Duo a smirk, eyes with a slight sparkle of mischief. "Wouldn't want to keep yours idle."

Duo slipped off his sandals, placed a bare foot on Heero's bum and ground it down a little. "Oh, very funny. You obviously never saw things from my angle, though. The shape of your rear was nicely pronounced by those spandex shorts. Why do you think I always let you go first up stairs and ladders?"

Another grunt. Heero returned to his reading. "And here I thought you simply yielded the point to the more skilled soldier."

Soft slap of foot on ass. Duo got to his feet, only to kneel down, straddling Heero's rear, leaning back to rest his butt against Heero's thighs. He placed his hands on Heero's shoulder-blades, and began rubbing them in slow circles. "Not quite..."

Heero relaxed at Duo's touch, even more so as he finally finished the book and put it aside. There had been no surprises there. He lay down completely against the towel, tilting his head to the side, and put his arms down his sides, lifting his hands just a little to hook around the back of Duo's knees, as if he wanted assurance Duo would stay right there. He was pretty sure the content sigh was his.

Duo's hands drifted, first down Heero's spine, up along his sides, down the arms again, all the while making subtle moves to loosen muscles. Heero had a feeling this was all a prelude to something - though, exactly what, he wasn't sure. Even so, the thought made him slightly uncomfortable.

Duo put his palms down on the sand on either side of Heero's shoulders, and leant down to place a feather-light kiss between the shoulder-blades, before moving in tiny leaps to the nape of Heero's neck. Heero's grip gave in, his hands falling limp to the sand. Duo shifted to lie down on Heero's back, lips still very active, groin grinding against Heero's rear.

If anything, it convinced Heero which path they were going - and right then and there, he would have none of it. "Duo..." he managed to whisper, "Duo, not now... Please."

Above and behind him, Duo froze. Slightly miffed, he straightened up, and sat down on the sand beside Heero, giving him a sullen look as he sat up too. "Why? Don't you want-"

Sigh. "You know that's not it - it's... Well, we're in a public place, Duo."

Duo rolled his eyes. "Oh, come on. This beach is deserted, other than us and a few other wild animals."

Fatigued, solitary chuckle. "Maybe..." He shook his head. "I think I'm a bit agoraphobic when it comes to sex." He leant in to give Duo a kiss, the quickest and easiest apology he could think of.

Judging by the return of Duo's grin, it worked - at least to a point. "Okay, okay. So you prefer dark, hidden tunnels." He offered half a snort. "Look, I'm not an exhibitionist either - but this place is deserted." There was a sparkle in his eyes, and he gave Heero a wink. "Want to go skinny-dipping? You could give me that much, couldn't you?"

Heero reached for the bridge of his nose, closed his eyes and shook his head in fake disbelief. "Duo..." He chuckled. "What guarantees do I have you wouldn't try something naughty the minute we got in the water?"

Wide grin. "None at all, 'course."

"Someone could come by. We don't have the only boat in the area, you know."

Shrug. "Then let them come. We have nothing to be ashamed of, right?"

Sigh. "No, but... Well, the Atlantis is out there, too - well within visual range."

Snort. "By binoculars, sure - you think Howard is scanning the coastline for scantily clad babes again?"

Heero was about to answer, but let it go in favor of a chuckle. "Maybe I am being a little paranoid..."

Grin. "Now, there's an understatement." Duo slapped his calves. "Okay, at least come for a swim, 'Ro. It isn't half as fun without you."

"Do I get to keep my shorts on?"

Duo laughed as he got to his feet. "Sure - at least for now." He gave a wink, and held out his hands to Heero. Offer accepted, Duo helped him to his feet, and then opted for quick kiss and a hug. Heero was slow to return the embrace; a little too slow and lacking in enthusiasm for Duo's tastes. "Okay, Heero - what's bugging you this time?"

Heero's hands came to rest on Duo's lower back, fingers grazing spine. "Hm?"

"When did you turn into such a darn prude, 'Ro? You know, you've barely dared touch me since the day we arrived here. What's-" He cut himself short, leant back enough in Heero's embrace to look him in the eye. "You're not still worrying about Howard, are you?"

Cornered, he fled - at least with his gaze and mind, looking at the far horizon.

Duo grabbed his chin to rectify that, forcefully re-establishing eye contact. "Heero, you're being silly. Howard's a damn good friend, and it's not like he doesn't know we're together - and if you think anything we could ever do would shock him, you've obviously never served on a Sweeper ship. Sea or space, same thing. Sailors get around, and do some pretty crazy things - and brag loudly about it, repeatedly."

Heero tried to answer, but with his jaw trapped in Duo's grip, the words came out distorted. "Ishottatt.."

Duo let go. "What was that?"

He rubbed his sore jaw for a second. "I said, it's not that - I just... maybe I haven't been an attentive boyfriend lately."

Duo grinned, and tapped Heero's nose. "Damn right. I've been wondering where your mind has been for the last few days. Care to tell me?"

Heero bit his lip. "Later - right now, let's go for a swim."

The grin grew towards a frown, but Heero noticed it in time to halt it with one fleeting kiss, and prevented further discussion by rapidly untangling their embrace, grabbing a hold of Duo's wrist, and almost dragging him off to the water. Luckily for him, Duo let go of further questions and worries.

Still, that left the same questions and worries with Heero, gnawing at the back of his mind. Duo was right; he had been a little distant. Ever since they had gotten together, he had had a slight concern with signs of public affection - more so for fear of the wrong kind of attention than most other things. He and Duo could defend themselves; that wasn't the problem. However, if two high-ranking Preventer agents were caught not only in a brawl, but in a tender moment, the tabloids were sure to have a field day, using their loudest war-prints and lewdest doctored photos. Honor and psyche were tough things to defend with your bare hands.

Duo had taught him not to worry so much over such things though, and he'd almost gotten over his uneasiness of Duo's advances when in public. He wasn't really worried of a tabloid reporter cruising by the beach at an inconvenient moment, nor of anyone else showing up to their potentially half-naked brawl at the water's edge.

Duo was right; it was still about Howard. Ever since he had admitted it to Duo, the image of Howard as a protective father figure for Duo had stuck in his mind. He felt like a kid taking his first love on a date, all under the watchful supervision of a scary parent. Of course, they had long since gone past the dating stage - but that didn't diminish the image. Instead, that of Howard the in-law grew, and grew to such an extent Heero barely dared touch, let alone kiss Duo with Howard nearby. To be caught doing anything less innocent...

A mouthful of saltwater brought him back to reality. He flailed in the water, his arms out of synch with Duo's close laughter. Smirking, Heero regained his balance and made a grab for Duo's waist, seeking revenge for the dunking.

At least they could have this much without his current mental qualms interfering.


They lay down on the beach and let the sun dry them off afterwards. Under the sun, they had their late lunch, and then spread out on big towels to soak sunshine, lying close together, occasionally exchanging teasing touches and secretive smiles, but neither pushing further than a good snuggle or quick tumble in the warm sand.

It was fairly late before they packed up and took the barge back out to the Atlantis. The air had grown a bit cooler, so they had put on t-shirts; Heero's a plain white cotton, Duo's with a big, yellow smiley face at the front and a frowning face at the back. Once their barge was secured, Duo took the cooler bag and the deck chairs and headed off to put them back where they belonged. Heero took their beach bags and headed for their cabin.

Just as he finished crossing the main deck and was about to enter a corridor, a shrill, nicotine-shaped voice made him stop.

"Hey, Heero, wait up a second, would you?"

Heero clenched his teeth, tried to sigh the tension away and put the bags he were carrying down. A wrinkled hand landed on his shoulder, and he turned to face Howard. Despite efforts, Heero's answer sounded cold. "Yeah?"

Howard let go of Heero's shoulder, his eyes sullen, showing signs of caution. "Heero, is everything okay between you and Duo?"

Momentary frown. "Yeah, sure - why?"

Howard looked decidedly uncomfortable. He scratched the back of his neck, then reached for a pack of cigarettes in the front pocket of his quite vivid Hawaiian shirt. After a quick pat-around, he found a lighter in his back pocket. "Oh, you don't mind, do you?"

Heero shook his head. Howard lit up.

"Thanks..." Quick, relaxing blows. "Come, let's sit down over here," Howard offered, waving towards a bench by the doorway. Heero accepted. A minute passed, the cigarette calming Howard down, the waiting agitating Heero. "You don't like me, do you?"

Heero gave him a puzzled look. "I've never said that."

Howard pointed at him with the cigarette butt. "No, but you show it plenty, kid. I don't know why, but you're a lot more tense around me now than you were back during the war." He grinned. "And when you think how uptight you usually were in those days, that says a lot, doesn't it?" He started laughing, but broke into a cough. Clearing his throat, he faced Heero's sour expression. "Look - I know you wouldn't want to open up to an old geezer like me, but sometimes it helps to talk. Are you sure you and Duo aren't having any problems?"

Heero nodded. "Everything is fine."

Nod. He put out the cigarette against the metal bulkhead, and flipped the butt out to sea. "I see... Well... Then you have to explain something to me - how come the Heero Duo describes to me over the vidphone or in his letters is so incredibly different from the one sitting beside me right now?"

Flagging a brow, Heero turned defensive. "What do you mean?"

Howard sighed, reached for the cigarette pack again, but stopped halfway there, hands dropping to his lap. "Heero, you seem so cold to Duo - he has nothing but the best things to say about you, some of it downright touching - but ever since you two came here, I haven't seen anything even remotely like what he described. Are you sure nothing's wrong?"

It was Heero's turn to sigh, but he started snickering, and it quickly evolved into outright laughter. The puzzled expression on Howard's face finally calmed him down again. "I'm sorry, Howard - it's just..." He coughed to clear the last chuckle. "If I understand you right, you're saying you thought we'd be more..." he searched for the words, "visibly intimate with each other?"

Hesitating a little, Howard finally nodded.

Heero smirked. "Well, that's partly your fault."

"My fault? What the heck have I done?"

"Nothing, really. It's more that - Howard, a few days back, Duo told me you were part of our adopted family. I agree with him on that, but... Well, it gave me the mental image of you as an in-law - a strict in-law, ready to crush me if I treated his little boy wrong." The surprise on Howard's face didn't diminish. Heero pressed on. "Anyway, that's why we've been somewhat... discrete. Why I have been a bit reserved. I couldn't get around that mental image, so I didn't dare do much more than hold Duo's hand when you were nearby. It's silly, but-"

The surprised face finally broke out laughing; a hoarse, twisted laughter. Howard hit his knee, broke into a coughing fit. A bit worried, Heero patted Howard's back until the coughing ceased. Howard looked at Heero with a grin, mischief in his eyes. "So, I'm Duo's old man now, huh?" Chuckle. "Well, I guess I should be glad you don't think of me as his grand-"

Heero bit his lip. "Well, actually..." A quick glare from Howard made him bite the words down.

"Old man it is. Don't make me even older, Heero." Then the grin returned. "Space, I need another smoke." He reached for the packet again, fumbled about for the lighter. He had just lit another cigarette when Duo came out of the doorway, stumbling in the bags Heero had left there, momentarily struggling to keep his balance. While he kept from falling, he lost a sandal, and hastily put it back on, taking notice of the other two.

"So... What's going on here? Heero, what's-"

Heero was on his feet in an instant, left arm wrapped around Duo's waist, right thumb on Duo's chin, fingers stretched out along his jaw, a strategically positioned knee helping in giving Duo a slight dip backwards - and then Heero kissed him, hard, with a bit too much pent-up emotion than was good for either of them.

Taken aback at first, Duo had instinctively fought the assault, but mellowed quickly enough, wrapping his arms around Heero - both to keep him there, and to keep from falling flat on his ass, reclined as he was.

Over by the bench there was much choking on smoke.

Blushing was commonplace.

The rough, possessive lip-lock ended before the boys could fall over - which they soon would have. Their balance in their bent position was precarious at best, and the soft roll of the sea didn't make it easier. Once upright, Duo flashed Heero a predatory grin, and retaliated, albeit holding out on the dip, not wanting to chance it. Still, he planned to keep this in mind if they ever took up ballroom dancing. He'd fight for the lead, though.

Howard cleared his throat. On the third try, the boys finally gave signs of noticing. The old man chuckled. "Well, what do you know... Duo, I think I finally got to see what you've been talking about." Cough, quick draw of cigarette, grin. "At least part of it." Hoarse snicker.

Heero grew uneasy again. His cheeks heated up as he made a mental note to ask Duo just what he'd told Howard. Granted, Duo was one of the Sweepers too, so... The urge to flee came across him, but Duo kept an arm around his waist, making sure he couldn't shy away. Duo rested his head against Heero's shoulder. "Told ya."

"That you did." Howard chuckled again, put out the cigarette like last time and flung the butt to sea. "Heero, I was young once too, you know. Even old in-laws were young once. That's why they're protective, you see." He gave them a wink, got to his feet and stretched his arms, yawning. "Aaah, it's getting late for this old coot. I think I need to get some sleep soon. Should be nice and quiet aboard the ship tonight, too. Most of the crew is probably going to spend their shore leave in at the island. I think there's some sort of luau going on tonight." Grin. "Or something even nastier a proper captain shouldn't know about."

Duo met Howard's grin, and raised half an inch. "So, they invited you too?"

Howard chuckled, but didn't answer beyond banging his hand twice against the bulkhead, wall sounding off. He paused. "You know - these bulkheads are pretty darn solid stuff. Thick, too - much thicker than regulations require. Water-proof, of course, and almost soundproof, too. I designed the Atlantis myself, back in the day. Best ship I've ever made - and it's entirely mine." Sigh of remembrance. "Oh, well. I'll catch some sleep - Heero, make sure to wake that night-prowler of yours in time for breakfast, okay? I expect to see you both at the captain's table tomorrow, rested and ready. Clear?"

Heero nodded, smirking. "Yes, sir."

Duo gave them both puzzled glances, but couldn't quite think of something to say, much less dare ask. Wisely, he opted for silence, as Howard disappeared down the corridor. They stood there for a while, both with one arm around the other's waist, sides facing, Duo's cheek on Heero's shoulder, Heero's cheek against the top of Duo's head, both admiring the setting sun in the far horizon, bright light drowning to the lapping of warm water against the ship's hull. Duo sighed. "I'm not sure I dare ask what that was all about..."

Lips to chestnut locks. "Then don't."

Chuckle. "Okay..." Silence, pondering, conclusion. "Hey, are you feeling sleepy?"

Puzzlement. "No. Why?"

Grin. "Well... Like Howard said... He's going to sleep, the crew is off partying all night, the bulkheads are 'almost soundproof'... Howard's cabin is at the other side of the ship..."

"Wait, you're not thinking-"

Duo lifted his head, placed a quick peck on Heero's cheek. "Yep. He gave us a pretty blatant hint, the old bastard. So, feeling... 'sleepy'?" Duo wiggled his brows, grin growing predatory.

Heero reciprocated with a lecherous smirk. "Maybe a little..."

They exchanged glances for a few more seconds - and then they both scrambled for the bags, grabbing one each, before heading toward their cabin. To their credit, they kept from running, instead walking side by side, holding hands. Halfway down the corridor, Duo let go, and instead put his hand up Heero's back, under the loose white cotton T-shirt, before playing a little with the waistband of Heero's shorts - and then sliding in to paw a buttock.

Heero shot him a smirk, and struggled not to react otherwise. "You know, I think the hand traditionally goes in the back pocket on the outside..."

Return grin. "Well, your shorts don't have a back pocket. I'm making do."

Amused grunt. Heero copied Duo's move, not wanting to be outdone. If anyone saw them, to hell with what they thought. He made a slight pinch.

Duo's hips thrust forward a little, and his roaming hand went a little further around Heero's hip, pulling him closer. Duo snickered. "Well, I have a back pocket..."

Heero shrugged, made a loose grab. "Maybe - but this pocket is bigger, and I want what's inside it."

Snort. Silence.

"I love you."

Duo halted, which made for some momentary slight tension of waistbands. "That's a damn random thing to say."

Chuckle. "Maybe, but it's the truth, and I don't think I've said it in the last couple of days. I don't think I've said much of anything in the last few days. So - I love you, Duo."

Duo put down his bag, wrapped the freed fingers around Heero's neck and kissed the tip of his nose. "Love you too, softie."

Grunt. Heero put down his bag too, and pulled Duo in for a more proper kiss, albeit brief. "Not exactly a nickname I feel like having right now..."

Laughter. "Well, if the performance pressure is getting to you, big guy, I'm more than willing to top tonight. Then you wouldn't have to worry about little mister happy being down and-"

Heero smirked, and suddenly shifted his fingers so they slid down the edge of Duo's crack. Duo jumped a little at the move, what little space left between them now gone. He kept snickering.

"Okay, okay. for tonight, I'll yield." He slipped his hand out of Heero's shorts, settling for lower back instead. He glanced down the hallway to their cabin door. "So, anything special in mind?"

Heero paused to consider this for a moment, all the while kneading Duo's butt. Duo reciprocated by grinding their crotches together, which didn't make thinking straight easier. Heero's smirk mellowed as he remembered why they were here in the first place. It gave him an idea. In a sincere, low voice he declared "I'll make you fly so high, you'll need your own 'down to Earth' day."

Wide grin. "Now that is setting the bar high, hot stuff. Thought you said you didn't want pressure - if that's not it, I don't know what is. Why do I have a feeling I'll come crashing down, incredibly disappointed?"

Open smile. "If you should fall, I'd catch you - or at the least break your fall."

Grin growing mischievous. "Is that so - so, you were planning a rocket ride for me? And what about re-entry?"

Grunt. "How come whenever I try to be prosaic, you turn it pervy?"

"Oh, Houston, do we have a problem?" Chuckle. "Well, it's a little hard not to think naughty things, with your wigglyfingers down my shorts."

Heero gave an amused snort, and withdrew his hand to just above the waistband.

"So... Now that you're not completely paranoid about Howard anymore... Want to go skinny-dipping tomorrow?"

Quick kiss. "You're incorrigible."

"You're one to talk. Okay, scratch that, then. How about diving? I know Howard has a diving board we can mount up at the stern of the ship. With most of the barges gone, there should be plenty of clearing - and the water out here is fairly deep."

Heero mulled on it for a second. "Sure." He glanced down, tugged at the side of his shorts. "But these might not be the best things to wear if we're diving, and-" His smirk wavered before Duo's suggestive wiggle of eyebrows. "You're not serious..."

Big grin, quick nod. "I packed a pair for the both of us, 'Ro. Bright red ones. I think it's your size... or maybe one less."

Widening eyes. "No. No. No, absolutely n-mmph-"

Duo cut him off by keeping both of their mouths busy. He won the brief consequent battle of tongues, and by the way Heero slumped slightly together, Duo knew he had won the other battle as well. Even so, he entertained the idea of giving Heero some leeway; give him a choice other than the tight, red Speedos. Maybe a pair of very loose, baggy shorts would do just as well - they were bound to surface separately from Heero after any dive.

Heero sighed, but the smile returned. "You always have to best me, don't you?"

Duo shrugged. "Not always - but I take any chance I can get. Now, where were we?"

Heero grinned, and grabbed a firm hold of Duo's waist. "I was going to teach you how to fly."

Laugh. "Okay, let's go, then. Light your engines, rocket man." He broke free, grabbed one of the bags and set down the corridor. Heero grinned, picked up the remaining bag and pursued.

Though Duo didn't learn how to fly, he was soon soaring, and Heero was right up there in the clouds with him.


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