Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is owned by Sotsu Agency/Sunrise - this was written for "edutainment" purposes only.

Pairings: 2xH => 1x2xH => 1x2
Contents/Warnings: Het/Shounen Ai/Yaoi, Duo POV, minor sap/angst, bad lime/lemon, twisted attempts at humor, squickish at times.

AN: Written for the 'Bad Sex' contest 2003. Ended up first of ten entries.

First Place!

Ten Times
by kebzero

They say you always remember your first time - of sex, I mean. I think what they really mean, is that you can never forget. I certainly can't. For that matter, I can't forget the first ten times, and it's not 'cause they were so damn spectacular - they were quite the opposite; one disaster after another.

Okay, so I'm laying it on a bit thick here. Nobody got killed or permanently injured, at least not physically, but all in all - I'm actually glad things worked out the way they did. It could have been better. It could have been a lot worse. Best to count your blessings and move on.

You don't quite believe me, do you? Okay, here's my ten disasters, in chronological order, as best as I remember them - don't think I haven't tried to forget some of these...


It all started out late last summer. Yeah, I was only sixteen, so what? So was she - and it wasn't like we planned it or anything. Hil' and I had been celebrating the one year anniversary of our joint salvage yard business. Times had been good; the guys and I had made a huge mess of large chunks of space debris, and the colony officials as well as big companies in commerce, tourism and travel wanted it gone, especially out of the shipping lanes. I still had Deathscythe back then, so I had the best gear for slicing big chunks of metal and towing it back to recycling under my control. Was a lot of fun.

Anyway, Hilde and I threw ourselves a little party and got drunk. Really drunk. It's not like I hadn't touched beer before - maybe it was that champagne stuff she bought for the occasion that messed my tolerance levels up. As a result, my memories of that night are a bit blurred. I remember Hilde's giggles. I remember her moving closer. I certainly remember the sloppy kiss she gave me. Had I been just my regular drunk, I would have sobered up then. As it was... That didn't happen.

We had been living together at the salvage yard ever since we bought it, but up until then we'd only been friends. Good friends, flatmates, though with separate bedrooms, business partners, and - well, you get the idea. Sure there had been a bit of flirting, but it was all just for fun... I think.

But back to the drunken brawl. After the kiss, memories get hazy. Can't recall which of us made the first move, but we ended up naked quickly enough. Not like I hadn't seen it all before - but Hilde didn't know that. Still don't; I don't think I'll ever have the guts to tell her I peeked at her in the shower.

Hey, don't give me that look! It only happened once, I swear - and that was an accident! I was rushing for a bathroom break, and she hadn't locked the damn door. And just so you know - for penance, I tried to give her a similar moment. Problem is, she's the kind who knocks, not checking the handle. In the end, I did get that penance - but that's a whole other and a hell of a lot more embarrassing story. Let's just say the girl knows how to play poker. We all learned that the hard way. Never think I've seen Quatre blush that much.

Despite how driven out of my senses I was, I distinctly remember being nervous - really nervous - but that's normal for your first time, right? Right... It wasn't like I didn't know anything - I think movies and porn mags had given me a decent idea of what went where during sex. As if that wasn't enough, I had conquest and cock-and-bull stories galore from the Sweepers to draw upon.

Didn't stop me from being next to paralyzed that night. Hil' was quick to take the lead. Maybe she wasn't so plastered as I was. Maybe she planned that all along - you know, get me drunk and take advantage of me? Remind me to ask her about that next time I see her.

Nervous didn't prevent excitement, if you know what I mean - but that was also the problem. We never really go to the actual 'connecting bits' part. Hilde's pawing centred around Shini Junior - hey, don't laugh! All guys give the independent second brainstem a nickname - most of them just don't have the guts to admit it.

Anyway, she was groping along, as was I, and my body was kind enough to do two things to show it didn't like me at that moment. One, I came, a hell of a lot too soon. Not like I meant to, but Hilde didn't take it well, drunk or not. More importantly, two - I started heaving. I turned to run to the bathroom, and barely made it to the toilet in time. A small miracle, if you tell me - running with a woodie, even a retreating one, isn't the easiest thing in the world. I think I understand why women were banned from attending the ancient Greek Olympics now, even as spectators. A poor sprinter could end up injured, if there was a lightly dressed matron leaning over the field wall.

Must have been hell for the gay or bi athletes, though.

I won't say what my little streaking did to the carpet, even if you dare ask. At least I didn't barf until I reached the toilet.

I spent most of the evening in the bathroom. The morning after - well, let's just say we were both embarrassed out of our wits, with hangovers delivered directly from hell. I think we swore never to mention that episode ever again.


I should probably be glad for what happened. In our drunken fumbles, we didn't think as far as protection, and I don't think either of us were keen on becoming parents back then, which could have been the result, had my body not misfired. Oh, and we got a new carpet. The other one went to the incinerator before colony lights-out. It was just a raggedy old piece, anyway, and neither of us really wanted to try to wash the, uhm, stains out.

Still, despite the huge fiasco of that night, it did change things between Hilde and me. That occasional flirting evolved to more active pawing. And kisses. She's a damn good kisser, I'll give her that. I do have some basis for comparison on that - and no, I won't give you the full list. Have to keep some secrets.


It took months before either of us dared hint at 'giving lovemaking a second go'. Her words and initiative, not mine. I was busy tending to my last humiliation - but it wasn't like I could say 'no'. Stupid male pride, making me want to repair my image. That, and Shini Junior's unhelpful input, and- Quit laughing already, it's not that funny.

This time, everything was supposedly planned out. We didn't want a repeat of the drunken mishap, right? Well, she took charge of just about everything - we were going to have a 'quiet, romantic dinner at home' - which meant my cooking, usually of the type 'let's re-heat the pizza leftovers from yesterday', was out of the question. She sent me shopping. I got everything on her list, I swear I did! It's just... When I got home, she searched through the grocery bags and gave me this really strange look. She asked me if I hadn't forgotten something. I showed her the list she'd given me. She laughed, gave me a hug, and asked in a near whisper if I remembered what we were planning that night. Took me a while to think - she was nibbling at me earlobe at the time, so I believe I was entitled to be a little distracted. Yeah, the thing not on the list, but which she apparently thought I was bound to remember anyway - condoms. I distinctly recall groaning. Hilde snickered, whispered lewd somethings in my ear. I won't repeat what she said, but I was suddenly motivated to go back to the store. Amazing what power dirty promises can have.

Motivated or not, there was still only so much embarrassment I could take. They had a tiny rack of the things, but had it safely hidden right next to the cash register. Which meant, the entire line could see what you were buying. If you lingered, they might even notice - and this was in the afternoon rush, line packed with full-time moms with carts filled to the brim and the occasional kid running around. I had this really bad mental image of all of them seeing what I was buying - the only thing I was buying - and laughing out loud in a joint effort. Nothing can show as much ridicule as a pack of moms. Then again, maybe the red-haired girl in the check-out counter would announce it over the PA system. It is always like that. When you go to the supermarket and buy tons of things, and maybe one or two enormously embarrassing, but important things, guess what's not labeled properly or not registered in the bar code system. Yeah, that's when that redhead pushes the PA system button to ask all the other store personnel if they know the price of horribly embarrassing item number one. It never happens for milk, salad, detergent or butter. Try passing the counter with a mountain of groceries and a thin vein of condoms, sanitary napkins or laxatives. I guarantee you which item or items will be un- or mislabeled.

The end of that story was that I grabbed a pack from the rack, threw more than enough money at the redhead, told her to keep the change and rushed out. And no, I didn't accidentally pick a bag of breath mints instead. Almost wish I had.

Dinner went well. Footsie under the table and the follow-up snogging on the couch went even better. We took it a lot slower this time, but we ended up naked in bed once more. We fooled around a bit - I took great advantage of Hilde's ticklish nature - with some care, though. She has that nasty tendency to give almost spastic kicks if I overdo it. We'll... get back to that.

It was when we were about to get down to business things went out of control again. I dug out the condom from my pants pocket, opened the pack, picked it out and tried to apply it. It didn't fit. Not to brag, but - well, it just didn't. Not that I told Hilde that; I had my back toward her, and I wasn't about to admit defeat. So what if Shini Junior had to wear a diving suit three sizes too small? I gritted my teeth and struggled to fit. It did, but it hurt. Later - much later, Hil' told me she noticed how I had struggled and that she had to stifle a laugh when she had seen how contorted my face had been.

Anyway, at least Shini Junior got as far as diving in this time - but not for more than a few dips. It hurt, and I had to pull out. Hilde gave me a puzzled look, and my mind was trying to put together an even remotely plausible excuse - when the damn stressed condom chose to split, tip inward. Now I can safely tell you - being flogged the nether regions is not on my list of sexual fantasies or kinks. I spent the night whimpering in the bathroom. Hilde came to comfort, once she was done laughing up a lung. I swear, the girl likes to see me in pain, mental or otherwise.


They say the third time's the charm. Well, it started out okay. A few months after our second failure, we decided to try again. Even got decent condoms this time. And yeah, guess which item was announced over the PA system in the store. Gave the moms a good chuckle. I swear, that redhead doesn't like me. Or she's just another of those girls who like to humiliate guys every chance they get. Then again, aren't they all like that?

Remember Hilde being really ticklish? Yeah, that was our undoing this time around. We got almost as far as the last time, but I foolishly decided to tease her with one more tickle, and attacked her sides. Left me wide open for a spastic foot-to-groin kick. Hilde says my voice was falsetto for almost a day after that. I don't recall - I think I've done my best to repress that part of the memory - but the pain I recall quite clearly.

And yeah, that kick kinda ruined the mood for me that evening. Spent most of it curled up in the foetal position. Hil' was real apologetic about the whole thing, though I can't blame her for what happened. As least I learned never to tickle her unless I'm way out of the target zone. Nothing is remembered as clearly as pain, physical or mental.

We abandoned our separate bedroom policy about that time, too. My room was re-designated as a combined guestroom and auxiliary storage, though for the most part it remained unchanged. The two beds we owned were rather big; we salvaged them from a hotel going bankrupt right around the time we started up. Either was easily large enough for two - and given the nature of the place they came from, very sturdy.

We took great care in cleaning them up before putting them to use.


It was at this point we both began wondering if we were cursed, or something. We stuck to kisses and cuddles; that seemed safe. Then came Christmas, and the whole Mariemeia thing. As you damn well should know, we made it through that just fine. The victory party afterwards... oh, that's a different story.

'Course, most people called it a delayed New Years Eve party. They didn't want a victor and a loser in this conflict - the last big one, they hope. So do I. Anyway, the people filling up the three-story high and richly decorated ballroom were almost all A-list celebrities or high-ranking politicians or now ex-military leaders. We pilots got invited too, but there were hardly anybody else around our age there.

I brought Hilde as my escort. Trowa brought his sister. I made a point of avoiding her. She sent me a look that gave me the impression she was still mad at me for finding Trowa way back, after he got amnesia. Wouldn't want to mess with a knife-thrower. Quatre didn't as much bring Rashid as get stalked there by the mountain of a man. Rashid takes his vows seriously, but with respect. He gave Quatre enough space at the party, but always kept an eye out for his charge. I figured Heero would have brought Relena, but she had her own invitation, naturally. I think he came alone. Not sure if Sally got in on her own or along with Wufei - but they sure kept dancing around each other a lot at the party.

Then there was Dorothy, miss Forkbrows herself. Now, it's not like I don't like her - heck, I don't really know the girl - but there's this creepy aura about her. Heero and Quatre have both made comments that made it sound like a good idea to keep a distance from her. Still, she was standing all alone by the buffet table, nursing a drink, and since Hilde had abandoned me for the girl-talk group Sally and Catherine had formed, I figured I might as well go talk to Dorothy. You know, keep her company.

She's really not that bad - as long as you avoid talking about wars and fighting, of course. She's kinda passionate about things like that. She has a nice smile, when it's not a smirk. Her smirk is creepy. I even had her laughing at my jokes by the time Relena showed up and whisked her away. Rel' was one of the speakers that night, and she needed a sounding board for the final details of her speech. I'm just glad she didn't pick me. Went on to talk to Quatre and Trowa for a while, got some of the finger foods they served - most of it tasted real bad. Didn't help to think it probably cost a heck of a lot.

Hilde came back, if only briefly. She teased me about Dorothy, asked me if I thought she looked good. I just grinned, kissed her and told her she had nothing to worry about. She laughed, gave me a crooked smile and an elbow in my side, and said she wasn't so sure of that - and then she turned and walked away. She had the real up-to-no-good-grin, so I was about to follow her and keep her from - or join her in - doing something stupid, but Heero chose that moment to approach me, and put a hand on my shoulder just as I was about to move.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," I mirrored.

"Enjoying the party?"

I shrugged. "Could have been worse."

He nodded.

"Hey, aren't you supposed to speak tonight too?"

He gave me another nod. "Just a short commentary, before Relena. Planning to stick around?"

I thought about it. "Nah. Sounds pretty boring. Think I'll just hit the sack early instead - we got rooms here, didn't we?"

"Yeah, they gave the five of us and our guests the entire seventh floor - didn't you and Hilde check in earlier?"

I shrugged. "She talked to the receptionist. I was busy getting a bellboy for our bags. Poor guys are overworked."

"Then Hilde has your key, too?"

"No, she gave me one - but it didn't have a number stamp."

Heero put his drink aside. "Better ask her, then - I think you got the suite a little down the hall from mine, the one closest to the elevator. Just ride the lift over there-" He pointed out the glass lift on the far wall from the massive windows behind the podium. "-up to the seventh floor, walk straight ahead, and try the first door on the left." He paused, searched his pockets. "If you have trouble, you could always crash in my room. I've got a spare bed. I have an extra key here somewhere... ah, there." He handed it to me.

"Thanks. pal, but I don't think I need it."

He shrugged, opened my palm and put the key there anyway. "Suit yourself - but better safe than sorry."

I didn't bother pushing it, closed my hand. "Thanks." Besides, it's always nice to have a backup plan.

He seemed pleased by that, but I didn't know why, not then. He looked across the room, and nodded towards the buffet table. "Look at that," he murmured. I followed his eyes, but saw only dinner guests. Quatre and Trowa were over there too, talking, smiling, laughing. Mostly to each other. Have to give Quatre credit. Almost every man in the room wore the standard black suit and tie getup. He was the only one in a white suit, but it actually looked good on him. For a moment, I thought that was what Heero meant; Quatre's untraditional outfit. Then I remembered who I was talking to. Heero might be a lot of things, but 'fashion-follower' or 'aesthetics-analyzer' were not among them. He's always stricken me more as a functionality guy, when it came to clothing. Why the hell else would he wear spandex so often?

"Look at what?" I finally answered.

He gave me a really puzzled look. "Don't you see it?"

"See what?"

He snorted, smirked, but didn't answer. I figured I had missed a punch line, and let it slide.

We talked a little bit, ended up discussing our plans for the future. Heero said he didn't really have any - that he was going to travel around for a bit while making up his mind. I gave him an open invitation to visit Hilde and me at the salvage yard. After a short pause, he said thanks, but there was this sad feel to the way he said it.

He had to go prepare for his little speech soon after, so I went searching for Hilde. I just wanted to get some rest. The party was damn boring. Had to give up before long, though. Everyone were gathering up and getting seated over by the podium next to the huge windows, and I definitely didn't want to stick around for the dull prattle. I took the elevator up to the seventh floor, loosened my tie on the way, and tested my key in the first door on the left, like Heero suggested. It didn't work - until I realized I was using Heero's spare key. It went better with the other one.

The room was completely dark, though. I took off my jacket, shut the door and started working on the shoes, while I fumbled after the switch. I heard a giggle, and I froze. It didn't sound like Hilde, and I thought I'd made the blunder of walking into the wrong room. Then I heard more snickers, and those I was sure were Hilde's. I finally found the switch, and on the big bed I saw Hil'... and Dottie, both smiling at me and pulling on the blankets to cover their bosoms.

Now, there's a few things that goes through a guy's mind when he finds his girlfriend in bed with another girl. Reactions range from 'hooray!' to 'what the-'. Most common is the complete loss of coherent thought. Following that, 'excited' or 'shocked' is pretty much determined by how cozy the girls are, and how they react to the boy's arrival.

I pretty much remained in the first stage, not knowing what to think, much less say or do. The giggles stopped, and I heard Hil' ask my name, really cautiously.

I walked out, oblivious to my disheveled state, already having taken off my jacket, tie and shoes. I wandered aimlessly, and ended up in the elevator. Hilde came running after me, and made it in just before the doors closed, quickly pulling in the short trail formed by the sheet she'd hastily wrapped herself in. We just stared at each other for a while. Then she hit the emergency stop button, giving me no chance to escape any time soon - at least not as long as she guarded the button.

Ever seen what cornered animals do? Nine times out of ten, they attack. "What the heck is going on, Hilde?!"

She looked away at first, took a step back to lean against the glass wall. "Calm down, okay? I didn't think you'd get upset - I only thought... Well, I thought maybe two of us would make it more interesting. Easier for you, somehow. You seemed to get along just fine with her, and if I didn't know better, I'd say you were getting flirty with her back there. I figured-"

I sighed, at a loss at what she'd been thinking - if she had been at all. "Hilde - for one thing, I don't love Dorothy - I love you. I'm not saying I don't find her attractive, it's just - well, I don't think she's my type. I mean, she's almost... scary."

Hilde smiled a little. "Scary?"

I grinned. "Well, yeah, like 'dominatrix in full leather getup' scary, in the setting you arranged."

She laughed. "Afraid of strong women, tough guy?" I was about to answer when she kissed me. "I'm sorry, Duo. I thought the whole 'two girls at the same time' was a common guy fantasy. I asked Dorothy, and she was game - she was a bit surprised when I asked, but-"

I couldn't help but laugh. "You think I wasn't?!"

Giggles. "Sorry." After hesitating a little, she asked "So, it's not a common fantasy, then..."

I found myself blushing as I answered. Have I ever told you how horrible it is trying to live without ever telling a lie - especially if you never learn when to just shut up? "I didn't say that... but there's a reason they are called fantasies. They get messy in the real world." She wasn't all that wrong. I admit I'd thought about threesomes and crazier things from time to time, but never seriously. Such fantasies are kind of a guy thing, just like picking on healing scabs or pushing buttons with big, glaring red warning labels stating 'do not touch'. Why the heck do they put those up, anyway? Don't they know that's basically begging for a weak-willed lad to disobey?

She winked at me, kissed me on the cheek, snuck a hand down by back pocket. "Isn't that the point?"

"Hilde..." I growled, and she assaulted my lips again, the sheet around her losing its grip. Next thing I knew, we were on that road again. Amidst the kisses and paws and my pants falling around my ankles, she whispered something to me with stressed breaths. I only caught the worlds 'I', 'pill', and 'worry'. I recall wishing I interpreted it right. Soon enough, I had only the shirt on my back left, hanging loose over my shoulders, and Hilde close against me, pressing my backside up against the glass wall of the elevator. For some reason, I never even noticed how cold that surface was until later. Of course there was something more important I failed noticing.

The elevator had started moving again, descending from the pitch-black shaft towards the lit ballroom. You know you're at a fancy place when the lifts don't have those sometimes nasty tugs at starts and stops, especially after emergency stops.

Now, Hil' and I didn't realize we were moving until the whole lift was filled with light - light from the massive chandeliers of the ballroom. After a few quick utterances of 'Oh, shit' and other assorted swears, we - well, I - raced for clothes. Hilde struggled with the sheet and desperately pushed the up button, but apparently the thing was on an override, intent not to accept new commands until it reached bottom - which took a while, given how slow the damn thing was. Since I was at least somewhat dressed, I tried to shield her from the line of sight, her against the wall, me in front.

Luckily, everyone's attention was directed towards the podium across the room. We thought - hoped - we'd gone completely unnoticed.

When the lift finally reached bottom, the doors opened to prove us wrong. Heero stepped in, just in time before Hilde's button pushing brought results. He glared daggers at me. "What the heck were you doing mooning the ballroom? Why-" And then he noticed Hilde. He turned real quick. I swear, he even blushed a little.

"Uhm, Heero? We only got a little lost, and..."

"Carried away is more like it," he snorted back.

I sighed. "Please tell me nobody noticed - Damn, can't this elevator move faster?"

He looked over his shoulder at me. The bastard smirked. "Only us at the podium - Relena and me. She was in the middle of her address, when she spotted you. It... distracted her a little. When I noticed, and found where she'd been looking, I figured I'd come here and ask you just what kind of stupid prank you were up to. You said you were bored earlier, and you always end up doing-"

Hilde braced herself a little, and chuckled. "I think this one is my fault, Heero - we didn't notice the lift started moving again, and-"

He turned around, ears still a little tinged. "Obviously."

None of us spoke for the rest of the trip to the seventh floor. Pure luck nobody else hailed the lift on the way. Hilde ran into our room, said she'd fix things with Dorothy, upon which statement Heero flagged a brow, but didn't ask. It turned out she had already left. We both apologized to her later, though. She was a good sport about the whole mess - of course, we didn't tell her the entire story. Bad enough Relena and Heero knew that other bit.

Hilde and I got fully dressed again, and decided to head back down to the ballroom again. I think both of us felt a little too awkward to try to sleep right after... that. In the end, it wasn't such a bad idea. The crowd had loosened up a little now that the formalities were done with. We overcome one major embarrassment - Heero was right; nobody had noticed - for which we were very, very glad. Relena had the quirkiest smile on her face when I ran into her, though. I fought the blush, and turned to walk away, only to bump into Heero, almost falling flat on my butt in the process. That didn't help.

He smirked as he pulled me aside and briefly flashed his jacket to show a data block tucked in his inner pocket. "The security cameras," he whispered. "I took the liberty of... replacing this block, just in case anyone would check the recordings tomorrow. Nobody were on duty up there tonight."

I sighed, very much relieved. Hadn't even thought about the possibility of surveillance cameras. "Thanks, pal."

He chuckled. "Don't mention it. I'll dispose it." Smugness disappeared in a flash. "Of it," he hastily corrected. My brain didn't catch it in time to ask about that little slip before the smirk was back in place. He nodded across the room. Curious, I looked, and saw Quatre with a little sway in his step, obviously at least a wee bit tipsy - or even more likely well beyond that. He had the silliest grin, too. At the next step, he faltered, and would have fallen flat on his face if Trowa hadn't been there to catch him.

He put Quatre's arm over his shoulder, and shuffled towards the lift. Rashid came over to help, but Trowa politely declined. No, I didn't hear him across the room - but I can read lips, you know. I think all of us can. 'I'll take care of him,' he told Rashid. 'He'll have to sleep it off. I'll take him upstairs.' The big guy hesitated, but agreed.

I just found the whole situation bizarre. "I didn't think Quatre even touched alcohol," I commented. Heero nodded. I shrugged. "Guess someone must have spiked the punch, then."

Heero's lips curled into a really peculiar half-smirk, like he knew some big secret. "Yeah... someone..."

We fell silent for a while. By the time Trowa had half-carried, half-dragged Quatre to the elevator, Heero looked at me with an amused expression. I could practically see the glint in his eye - which was kind of spooky. To see that in Hilde's eyes is an omen bad enough. To see it in his... "You still don't see it, do you?"

"See what?" I answered honestly.

He chuckled. When you see it, let me know, okay?"

I still didn't have a clue what he was babbling about - but I nodded anyway. He smiled, and walked away, disappearing in the crowd before I could ask what I had just agreed to.

The party ebbed out soon after. Hilde and I retired, and got a decent night's sleep - half of it, anyway. We didn't try to get frisky again, though. We were both too tired - or too nervous of what would happen if we did try.

I tried finding Heero down at the breakfast table the next day, to return his spare key, but he wasn't there. Wufei told me he'd left after the party. Since I had his key, I checked his room later, but it was cleaned out. Didn't look like he'd used it for any more than storing his bags. I handed in his key along with my own and Hilde's.

Quatre was also absent from breakfast. Trowa came down and informed us Q was fighting off a 'killer headache', and went back up with a breakfast tray with enough for the both of them. I was a bit stumped Rashid didn't rush to help his revered boss - at least back then. I think I must have worn blinders or something.


Things were calm for a while after that. Hilde and I went back to sorting out useful scrap from useless crap, and for a while, we limited our love life to an 'R' rating. Not that we didn't have fun, despite that. See, it was right around that time we found a somewhat shady novelty shop in one of the less trafficked shopping districts of L2. We browsed the stuff, just for laughs - I don't think the store personnel minded. Customers who didn't laugh, tended to blush. Both usually bought stuff after the sensations were brought under control. I think Hil' and I got the better deal of those two choices. We ended up buying a few things there - nothing major, and only one or two we actually intended to use at some point, for that matter. We found a big cardboard box to put the stuff in, and so the kink box was born. And put away in the closet.

It mostly sat there alone - though I did discover that the big, fluffy artificial feather, when tied to a spanking cane, made for a great way to tickle Hilde to bits without risking the family jewels. She got even, though. She's not the only one with ticklish spots.

The next big love life mishap happened when one of those 'R' moments escalated. See, we had had a really busy week, and I knew we both had to unwind. I remembered we had bought some massage oils for the kink box, and figured we might as well put that to good use. As I went through the box, I also came across some candles - the kind that releases fragrances when lit. I figured it'd help set a good mood. Silly me.

Hilde lit up when I suggested it, and soon enough we were in the bedroom, both of us down to underwear. She didn't object to her going first, either. She needed it. Her shoulders were tensed up to the point of resembling solid rock.

She spread out a towel to rest on, lay flat on her stomach and unhooked her bra. I straddled her thighs and applied the oil on her back, somewhat too liberally. I had given quick backrubs and the like before, but never with any liquids involved, other than ointments for torn muscles, and that sort of thing. This stuff was much more slippery - and almost consequentially, a whole lot messier. Hilde seemed to enjoy it, though.

The only sources of light in the room were five of those scented candles I had set up earlier, so I couldn't really see if she enjoyed it all that well, but I think I both felt and heard it, though. I mean, the relaxed moans she made as I moved down her back sent more sweet shivers along my - and Shini Junior's - spine than anything I'd heard the times we'd tried to- Uhm, anyway...

The candles actually smelled pretty nice, almost sleep-inducing, and definitely relaxing. 'Weed for the New Age', the dusty old label had said. Figure I'm the only customer who knew what the heck that meant. I used another towel to wipe away some of the superfluous and very fluid oil. I didn't want to spill any of the stuff on the bedspread, and the towel Hilde lay on was only so big. Hilde asked me to go lower. Well, actually she sort of whispered it as an order; 'lower, slave boy.'

Yeah, about that...

See, when she saw what I had prepared, she went to the kink box for one extra detail - a set of cuffs. I suppose the furry little things are supposed to go around the wrists, like most cuffs, but the chain between the cuffs is almost an arm's length. She asked if she could snap one around my ankle and the other to the frame of the bed, quickly explaining a dirty little fantasy she'd had. She didn't ask for the rest of it, though - Not that she told me much more, but we'd exchanged fantasies before. I knew her brain was as in need of a good wash as my own. Anyway, I agreed. Obviously. I snapped one cuff to one of the bed corners, and the other cuff on me. Even if it was a tight fit for my ankle, it didn't limit my mobility all that much, given the lengthy chain, so I figured I could indulge her in that. Goodwill is a good thing to have in a relationship.

I followed her command, though. She was my 'queen' for the moment, wasn't she? Back to lower spine, then toes to thighs. I was working on her arms when she shifted, tugged at her panties, in a half-growl ordering me to treat that newly exposed portion of skin. I grinned and obliged, carefully kneaded her bum for a while. Then I did something I probably shouldn't have.

I stopped, crawled up a little and started kissing her neck - which stretched my furry chain to its limits. She giggled, turned and kissed me back. Things got... a it out of control from there. Of course, there was that little curse thing over our love life.

Ever heard the sound advice that when you put a candle in a candlestick, you're supposed to let a few drops of stearin in there first, before applying the candle, so it won't fall over? Yeah. I've heard it too. A million times. Often followed by laughter. Only wish I had heard it before that day - which I hadn't, of course.

So, yeah; one of the candles fell over - which in itself shouldn't have been all that much to worry about. Candle flames aren't all that resilient, and the chance of them actually setting something ablaze is slim. However, this candle landed right in the terry cloth towel I had used to wipe away excess massage oil - and the type of oil we had gotten, was apparently quite flammable.

Hilde shrieked. At least that's what I claim. One of us definitely did. We both reacted, though, and fell off the bed opposite to the bed bonfire. We got up to run for the fire extinguisher, only I reached the end of my rope - or rather, chain - and managed to tug the bed, metal frame and all, a few inches after me before I fell down again.

The key was conveniently parked on the other side of the bedroom blaze, on the nightstand, so I couldn't get to it without throwing myself into the flames. I wasn't suicidal enough to do that, no matter how peculiarly nice the flames smelled. It was right about then I began regretting going along with Hilde's request. For the same reason, I'm not too crazy about bondage these days - at least when it's me tied up.

I'm just glad Hilde came right back with the fire extinguisher. She's never been one to panic, I'll give her that. Needless to say, inner fire was killed along with the outer, and we decided we had to get a new bed. My old one was put back into temporary service while the order went through. Luckily, the new bed - a big monstrosity of solid oak we managed to get remarkably cheap - came quickly. My old brass bed has a few squeaky springs; another reason we chose Hilde's bed as the common one in the first place.

For a while after that, 'R' went to 'PG-13'. We were kinda spooked. We joked about it, but... Well, we hadn't heard of any other couple that had literally lit the bed sheets. All in all, I guess we were lucky to be able to look back at it and laugh. Our friends definitely have, every time the story is mentioned. I almost regret sharing it with them - but the humiliating stories given in return makes up for it.


We were slowly getting back into the 'R' groove when I caught Hilde leafing through one of those stupid women magazines - the kind that feature nothing but articles with as much actual information and knowledge as 'Playboy' interviews, but don't show it as blatantly. Dumb as I was, I asked what she was reading. Playful as she was, she showed me. I'm glad she didn't have a camera handy, for my cheeks must have gone totally red. It was a piece on food sex, complete with ample illustrations, barring very little, if anything. I'll spare you the details. Wish I had been spared them too.

I guess normally, the tease-and-pranks game Hilde and I have going on, would have ended with that - or with my immediate 'revenge' by humiliating her somehow. It didn't. Instead, it passed in silence - until I got back from a salvage operation two weeks later, finding Hilde sitting in the living room, in her bright yellow bathrobe, holding a bottle my drowsy eyes identified as chocolate sauce.

Once more, I'll leave you to put the puzzle together, and find the missing pieces. To this day, I don't know if she intended it as a prank or not, just to push me into a dare. I should have backed away. I didn't. I have a big problem with backing down from challenges, and it has gotten me in weird situations and big trouble before. That will probably continue indefinitely, something both Hilde and Heero have learned to exploit.

Now, food sex is usually just for the foreplay bits. Open expanses of skin might be less sensitive, but definitely touchy enough - and it's a whole lot less messy to, err, clean up, than 'folded' or 'furred' areas. Ripe rape-corn and scolding apple pies are for people gone bananas.

If you didn't get that last part - never mind.

So, I kept my boxers on and Hilde held on to her panties. We took turns with the bottle, spreading thin, short lines of liquid chocolate over skin, and waited for the other to lap it up. That wasn't as damn easy as it sounds. First of all, the chocolate sauce was a liquid. A relatively sticky liquid, but it would obey the laws of gravity quicker than, say, cream would. I think we got more laughs than excitement from the whole thing. Hilde was more daring than me, though. I painted a line on my bicep, thigh and belly, she retaliated with one over her hip to barely under her waistband, matched it with a line down across her belly button, and finished with a wavy streak over her left breast.

The first two were hard enough, and her laughter combined with my hesitation condemned the panties to laundry in the near future. The third one was the killer though, partly 'cause of my own stupidity. See, I had half-expected her to make that article into a dare. In preparations for a necessary later rebuttal, I had sifted through a couple of her silly magazines, searching for something to use against her. I won't tell you if I found anything for that purpose; the point is moot - but I did come across one of those 'factoid' columns, one that said women could get an orgasm from mere breast stimulation - hey, don't look at me that way, it's what it said. Even suggested nursing mothers were prone to it. What do I know, whether there's actually a shred of fact in that or not?

I didn't know what to make of it, but with the sweet, brown line across the tan mound and peak, I figured I could at least try something other than a tongue twirl across. Really, really wish I hadn't. I started lapping up the chocolate at either end first, switching sides and narrowing in from both ends - and finally, I went for it, but didn't stop even when it was definitely clear of chocolate. Didn't take long before Hilde started laughing. I looked up at here with one eye, still didn't stop - until she cradled my head, smoothed my hair and said in a voice as patronizing as only she can make it - believe me, both Heero and I have tried to copy it - "Does wiwwle wawy Duo want a dwink?" Yeah, baby speak. I stopped cold. Can't begin to describe how humiliated I felt. I leave that to Hilde. It's also the reason why I never, ever mention the words 'breast', 'boob' or any possible synonyms for it within her earshot. She immediately links in this little 'breast-feed' incident, and she's not above reminding me of it.

I tried to look away, hide my blush, but she laughed, smiled at me, cupped my cheek to make me fully face her again, and kissed me tenderly.

It went downhill soon after. We foolishly kept going with the bottle, instead of either giving up or moving on. What can I say? We're both competitive to the extreme, and neither of us would quit until the other surrendered - or the bottle ran out. As it happened, neither did. Egged on by Hil', my line placements grew more daring too; the only place that I made really off-limits was my back, because of my braid. Chocolate sauce and long hair doesn't mix well. Still, my boxers were condemned to laundry right along with Hilde's panties.

I had one big advantage over her, though - I happen to like chocolate. She wasn't to crazy about it back then. She loathes it now.

I think we were about to finally move on to the more 'serious' bits. We'd gone plenty sticky from sauce and saliva as it was; I was about to suggest we take it to the shower, but Hilde was licking my nipple clean at the time. Found out I kinda enjoyed that, so I kept silent. She finished. I kissed her, and noticed how pale she suddenly looked. I was about to ask, but she covered her mouth and ran for the bathroom.

The only thing that got serious that night, was Hilde's stomach. What beer did to me, chocolate sauce did to Hilde. At least I hope it was the sauce. Whenever this incident comes up, I try telling her I still drink beer. She grins every time, shoots Heero a glance if he is around, and pats my cheek - but says nothing.

We limited activities again after that. We both pledged to keep any sort of food out of the picture. The damn sauce took a good while to clean off, since we'd been air-dried, waiting for Hilde's heaving to stop. We still had a fairly good time limiting to less pervy stuff, though.


That's when I decided it was my turn to take the initiative again - and try to do everything right - you know, by the book; the whole dance-and-dine line? I was a little stumped for decent ideas, though. I mean, if we went to the places we usually went dancing, our clothing would kinda recommend we head for the nearest burger bar to match the events. I wanted to take here someplace really nice - like the kind of place you actually have to have reservations a long time in advance to even get in? But the thing is, I don't think I have the right rhythms for waltz - not if I'm gonna lead, anyway. That leads to stepped-on toes. Ask Hil' or Heero, if you don't believe me.

In the end, combining the contents of my wallet and my wardrobe, as well as my taste, gut feeling and input from both upper and lower brain, I chose something in the middle. We would dress a little bit better, go to a place were the dance pace was less frantic, but not overly formal, and go to this really small, but good Italian place a few blocks away from the salvage yard. It had almost just opened, so Hilde didn't know about it yet.

Okay, so I didn't plan for us to end up making out on the couch when we got back home, or for us to eventually practically tear each other's clothes off as we stumbled towards the bedroom... but I am a guy - always hopeful. There was just a slight problem waiting for us - or me, rather.

Lucky number seven, they say. I say it's as cursed as all the other numbers. I really, really wanted to make love to Hilde - I really did. Fairly certain she felt the same way, given how she dragged us in there, and even tore off a few buttons in my shirt in the stripping process. Shini Junior, on the other hand...

I know I'm not the only guy who've ever been in that situation. Know I won't be the last. I sat there, condom in hand, waiting for the little guy to catch up with how the rest of the body was feeling, but no, neither mental not quick physical methods of persuasion worked - and to think they usually mean the opposite when they say the thing has a mind of its own. So far, it's been the only time I've had this particular problem, though - just to make that perfectly clear.

I felt like screaming, crying, breaking things. It was damn frustrating - not to mention humiliating. Especially when Hil' asked me what was taking so long. Before I could answer, she had crawled over, rested her chin on my shoulder and looked down to see for herself.

I have to give here credit for not laughing. Or for not feeling sorry for me - at least not clearly enough to show it. She hugged me close, kissed my shoulder. We ended up sleeping huddled together that night too. It wasn't all that bad a substitute. Better to stick with the devil you know, right?

We hit another of our long 'fondles only' breaks after that. I think we both needed it - and it was... nice. No pressure. Shini Junior even learned to cooperate a little more - not that I - we - went from rehearsal to actual testing, so I couldn't be sure.


Next big thing happened when I came back early from a business trip to L3. A shipping company there had decided to scrap an old Heavy-Lift Vehicle, and we got the bid. I had to go pick it up, rent storage and workspace at the colony dock here, and cut it apart, but the company paid for the fuel, and I got to keep half the profits from the scrap. Not a bad deal, despite the amount of work it'd be for a small company like ours.

Couldn't find Hilde anywhere when I got home; not in the yard, the office nor the apartment. I was attempting to raid the fridge when I realized she'd probably gone shopping - at least I hope she had, 'cause the fridge was nigh-on empty. I decided to take a shower. When I got back to our bedroom for clean clothes, I lined the outfit up on my side of the bed - and noticed the things laying at her side. The big towel wasn't a problem - but what I saw sticking out of it, immediately bothered me.

It was a dildo. Or vibrator. I didn't bother to check to find out which. I had enough to deal with, with just the thoughts the sight caused. I know it's gonna sound damn selfish, but I felt sorry for myself - and damn inadequate. I mean, what's a guy supposed to think if his girlfriend uses something like that? Definitely affects his confidence. Not that I could really blame her for it. I hadn't exactly been able to satisfy that bit during our last attempt - but it still hurt. I didn't know whether I should hope she just used it to- well, I guess girls have a harder time masturbating than guys. We have all the parts necessary readily accessible, all out in the open, and they don't.

I don't know how long I stood there, almost paralyzed, wet hair soaking the back of my bathrobe, my main brain racing along, backup cringing in agony - but the sound of grocery bags landing on the kitchen table brought me back. Unfortunately, it did so right as my inner battle reached 'frustration', bordering on 'rage'.

I stormed into the kitchen on that sentiment, and before she had the chance to even say 'hi', I pointed to the bedroom and almost yelled "What the hell is that?!"

Her smile wavered as she put down the cereal box she had been holding, and appeared to consider what I meant. Then she went 'Oh', and began laughing. "Oh, you mean-" More laughs.

That was almost more than I could handle. I took several deep breaths in an attempt to calm down. "Look, I know I haven't exactly been able to-" Stumble. "That we haven't-" Lip nib. "But still, I mean-"

She grinned, walked over to wrap her arms around my neck, and kissed me. "You silly boy. You're thinking I found a replacement for you, don't you?"

My jaw worked, but I couldn't make a sound.

She giggled again. "Don't worry, Duo - you're as unique as you are irreplaceable."

I finally let my accusing finger rest, along with the arm backing it up. "Then - then why-"

She kissed me again. "You didn't take too close a look, did you?"

My last bit of rage spoke for me. "Well, I didn't exactly cherish the thought of inspecting your private toys, and-"

She put a finger across my lips. "I've never used it. Go back, take another look." And then she resumed unpacking the groceries. I just stood there for a while, completely at a loss. "Go on," she said, waving me off, grinning.

So I did.

My artificial rival lay just where I saw it last, nuzzled up in the towel at Hilde's side, as if it felt right at home there. I frowned, gritted my teeth, and quickly unveiled the bastard, as if the rush of cold air could have bothered the inanimate object. At least I hoped it was inert. The movie title flashed before my eyes; 'Attack of the Avenging Vibrator, part II - Batteries Now Included.'

Remind me never to watch late-night movie-marathons again.

Once I could see the sucker - no, poker - in all its glory, my mind got a whole lot more to consider. A heck of a lot more. Yes, it was a dildo, but it had some sort of harness, and it had two heads, one on either side of the straps. I think I heard my jaw hit the floor. Hilde must have heard it too, 'cause she was suddenly in the doorway grinning at me, struggling to keep from giggling with abandon at my totally bewildered, and faintly fearful expression. "What- What the heck is this?"

Big grin. "Curious, Duo?"

I frowned at her as she came close, hugged me from behind.

"I got it for the kink box. I read some articles on anal play and domination a while ago, and when I saw this thing, I thought-"

Combining what I saw with what I heard, I spotted her train of thought coming out of the fog in my mind, tore from her embrace, spun around and took a firm grip of her shoulders, more panicky than angry. "No way. No freakin' way!"

Grin to smirk, wink following. "Afraid you might like it?"

I rolled my eyes, sighed, threw my arms up in frustration and took a few steps away.

"Look, Duo-" she began softly as she picked the thing up. "I was just thinking... well, things haven't gone too well when you were, uhm, in charge. I know I wouldn't have to do this to dominate, but..." She grinned. "I kinda like the idea."

"Well, I sure as heck don't."

She held it up by the straps, and it showed how unbalanced it was; the wearer side had slightly more substance to it. Demonstratively, she pushed the short end, and let go. It bounced back. "See, it's spring-loaded. With every thrust, it hits both sides - up to a point, of course. It has to build up resistance so the one wearing it doesn't get impaled at first thrust."

I didn't know what to tell the woman. I was absolutely clueless in how to deal with this. My girlfriend wanted to fuck me. Really fuck me. The movie titles returned, louder and lewder than ever.

The demonstration continued. "Look, it even has interchangeable parts." She grabbed a firm hold of the short end, twisted it off like a screw-top.

I cringed. It's a male thing. Any mauling or overly rough handling of shapes like that brings weird sympathy pains. Ever wondered why guys dislike cooking shows where they rapidly chop up cucumbers or bananas?

Hilde reached inside the towel, and produced another headpiece - about the same length, but much thinner, nearly that of a finger. She twisted it on. "See?"

I still couldn't form a reply. It was all just too absurd.

She put the widget aside. "Look, I can understand this makes you uncomfortable, Duo - but given all the other things we've tried - Don't you think we could try this too?"

My jaw still chewed air.

"I promise you'll enjoy it - If you don't, I'll... I'll do the dishes, laundry and clean the bathroom for two months. How's that for a win-win situation?"

Her grin only made me frown more. She was in her 'pushy' mode, I recognized it all too well. She was as stubborn as me, something that had caused many a long-lasting confrontation in the past. Still does. I knew she wouldn't relent until I agreed, and if I didn't agree soon, she'd make it a dare. Remember how I take to challenges? "Six," I mumbled.

She jumped me, wrapped her legs around my hips, arms around shoulders, kissed my neck. "Three," she whispered in my ear.

"Five," I said, beginning to smile.

"Four," she countered. "And if you do like it, I get to decide what we try the next time we explore kinky stuff."

I growled a little, not sure if I liked the thought of that - but I didn't expect it'd be enjoyable in the slightest. I nodded my consent, and she kissed me right behind my ear, before getting off. She packed the device away in its towel again, and dragged me into the kitchen, not caring if I got dressed or not. I had a feeling dinner would be a hurried affair. I was right.

That's how we came to be back at the bed, both naked. Well, she had the double-headed gizmo strapped on, but other than that, nothing. She'd taken a detour to the kink box and brought back the furry handcuffs with the long chain. I cringed at the mere sight. She treaded it through the gaps in the headboard and shackled my wrists. Said she didn't want me chickening out or interfere. I let her. I took it as a challenge, despite how my brain - the big one - kept reminding me of my bad experience with the cuffs.

She pushed the gadget, just to test it, made an 'ooh' face that broke into giggles. I gulped. At least she didn't bring anything else for here little domination act. She easily could have. That girl is full of surprises, even now.

She coated up my end of the bargain with lubricant, wiped her hands dry and moved closer. She pushed my knees up, gave Shini Junior a quick petting session. I gasped, my heart beating quite erratically by then. She moved into position, and I felt the cold thing touch my rear. "Relax," she told me.


I'd say any guy about to be sodomized by his girlfriend has a right to be a little tense. We've all been there, guys - right?



Hilde pushed inside, the blocks of the harness preventing her delicates from taking the brunt of the force, as opposed to my butt. It didn't really hurt, though. After all, the passage saw wider loads coming through on a regular basis - but always in the other direction.

She moved, each thrust going to us both. My hands were tied, but hers were all over - me, for the most part. Shini Junior savored her attention.

Now, they don't tell you this - as much as they tell you anything about things of a sexual nature - but the ass is a damn sensitive place. A whole lot of nerves are bundled up there. If you manage to stimulate them in the right way, it can feel good. If you stimulate them in the wrong way, it hurts. Ever had constipation? Ever wondered why some people like spanking, while most children desperately try to avoid it? It's all in the wrist. Honest.

It dawned on me why the lower part of the fun-stick was riddled with little bumps. I really didn't want to admit it then - heck, I still have a problem admitting it - but it felt good. Hilde's hands made it all that much better. If her face and short breaths were any indication, I figure she was enjoying herself too.

It ended well, for once. Not spectacularly so; I know that now that I have a basis for comparison, but it was the first attempt at sex Hil' and I had where we actually managed to get through it, right to completion for the both of us. Once we untangled ourselves and the thing linking us, we fell asleep, exhausted and content.

I awoke to the sound of her soft sobbing. At a loss why she was sad, I wrapped my arms around her, kissed her cheek. She paused her tears.

"You- You're gay, aren't you?"

Needless to say, that startled me. "What did you say?"

She broke free from my embrace, scooted to the far side of the bed, hugged the sheets to cover her chest. She forced a smile. "You're just like all the other pilots... I should have known..."


Smile gone. "Oh, don't get cute with me, Duo - you know what I'm talking about."

"Hilde, I haven't got the foggiest idea of what you're rambling about. What the heck do you mean, gay - presumably 'like the other pilots'?"

She gave me a serious look, got her sobs under control and reached out to touch my cheek. "Great Space... You didn't know, did you? You haven't noticed?"

"Noticed what?" I began, but my subconscious was suddenly gladly ready to answer before she did, mostly with images of Trowa and Quatre; a subtle dance that was really anything but, if you suspected, or looked for it. My jaw must have been chewing air again, for she didn't answer.


"I - Okay, when I think about it, Trowa and Quatre - maybe - but Wufei? Or Heero? No, I just don't see that. And I am not-"

"Okay, maybe not Wufei," she interrupted. "He and Sally have been tip-toeing around each other for so long, though. But Heero... Oh, Heero is most definitely playing for that team."

"And how would you know?"

"Because he told me!"

Things got real quiet after that outburst. She clasped her mouth, and I suspected she'd just breached a confidence - or at least come very close to. I didn't want to push it, but I have to admit I was damn curious about the whole deal. "...and what about me?" I dared in a low mumble.

She sighed. "I don't know... Maybe because all the others are, because... We never seem to make things happen - the only time we've really been able to finish was last night, when you had a stick up your-"

"Thank you ever so much for reminding me."

Quick smirk and wink. "Any time." Sigh. "Look, Duo-"

"Hil', I love you, don't you know that? Don't you feel that?"

She smiled back at me, wiped her cheek, nodded. "Yeah, I know. I love you too, Duo. I'm just - just afraid you're really on their 'side', and not - I mean..."

I crept close and hugged her again. "I love you," I whispered, and neither of us talked any more that night.


By an almost unspoken and unwritten agreement, we didn't talk about any of these things the next day either. Or the day after that. We tried to get back into the playful atmosphere we'd always had, and for the most part, we succeeded. Still, she had given me enough to think about. She as right, I had to have been blind not to notice Trowa and Quatre - not that I thought I'd dare actually ask them, just to remove all doubts. If there was something there, it was their business, really. If they wanted me to know, they'd tell me, wouldn't they?

And then there was Heero. If I were to believe Hilde's outburst, there wasn't even room for doubt there - and I did believe her. She hardly ever lies to me, she knows I don't like lies. I dismissed the thought Heero had joked with Hilde. He doesn't do that, not about things like this. I wanted to ask Hilde about it, but I figured she wouldn't tell me any more than she'd already let slip, and I didn't want to upset the fragile balance we'd found.

Which left seeking out the source - and that didn't tempt me, even if I could find him. It did remind me what Heero had told me at the victory party, though.

A week passed. Hilde and I got started on dismantling the HLV, but even with high-power plasma torches, it was too much work for the two of us to do alone, before workspace rental ate up most of the profit margin. Hiring help was sure to do pretty much the same. I kicked the hull of the great cargo hauler more than once in pure frustration, thankful for wearing steel-toed work boots, and missed Deathscythe and his plasma scythe immensely. He would have done the job in a jiffy.

We were arguing over what we were going to do on the way home. We could try to get cheap labor - but it would have to illegal to be profitable, and we'd laid those days behind us - mostly. We could call in favors from other scrappers we'd helped in the past, but even the thought left a sour taste in my mouth. It was basically admitting to your peers you weren't up to the task, to walk the path you'd chosen. Not something I do easily. If at all, if I can help it.

Fate threw us a curveball when we reached the yard. Sitting on the doorstep waiting for us was Heero, a beat-up black bag at his side. Over dinner, after getting cleaned up, we learned he was still on his 'walkabout' trip, happened to end up in our neighborhood and thought he'd stop by for a visit. I had given him an open invitation, after all. He told us he had passed by L4 to see Quatre a month earlier, and he was even considering traveling all the way out to see the fledgling Mars colony, if he could scrape together the funds from the odd-jobs he took along the way. I think both Hil' and I took notice of that comment.

We got a good account of his random journey, both on Earth and in space. Neither of us dared ask why he didn't try to settle down. It was his business. I had plenty of things I wanted to ask, but I really didn't want to in front of Hilde. On the other hand, I did retain enough awareness to note how tired he looked, and was about to offer him a bed, but Hilde beat me to it. I'm glad she did; she had our current problem in mind. Well, she really had more than the HLV troubles in mind, but I didn't figure that out right away.

She told him about the scrapping project, hinted at the part where we'd bitten of more than we could chew when he showed a little interest, and promptly asked if he'd care to help us in return for board and lodging. Like she argued, it wouldn't boost his mission-to-Mars fund, but it would give him some temporary permanence to his current streak of vagrancy, and he definitely looked like he needed it. He quickly concurred.

I admit, I was a bit pissed at her at first for trying to exploit a friend like that - but Heero accepted before I could say anything. He took a deep breath and made the quirkiest little semi-smile before announcing he could probably use a little pause in his travels, but he was very adamant he'd leave when the job was done.

He never did though, and I'm glad for that.

I offered him my old bedroom, the one that now doubled as a guestroom - not that we'd had that many guests staying over. I don't think we'd had any since Hil' and I started sharing the other bed, actually. Wufei used the couch once, a long time ago. Can't recall any other sleepovers. Our friends seem more comfortable checking into nearby hotels than to stay over at our place. Heero looked a bit stumped by the offer, as if he had expected the couch. I shrugged him off, told him it was way better than the lumpy green couch. I'd spent enough nights there during the early days of the salvage yard and the rare occasion since to know. He grinned, too tired to argue, accepting that offer as well.


For the next several days we worked on the HLV, barely taking breaks for food and sleep. With Heero's help we made rapid progress. Didn't hurt our profit margin either. Heero doesn't eat much, so he was pretty cheap labor - and there's no taxation of friends lending a helping hand, at least not on L2. I think he found the whole thing fun. Not that many career paths put you in a position of wanton destruction - well, carefully planned destruction, at least.

More than once did I think about Hilde's comments - about the guys, about him - about me. Never dared ask - not that I had any opportunities. Caught myself looking his way more than once though, Hilde's words in my head. Occasionally in both.

Was he? If he was, what did he think of me? What did I really think of him? Was I? I shook my head at the thought. Hilde was my girlfriend, and I cared deeply for her, I knew that much.

So why was I stealing glances at Heero's glistening bare chest, occasionally dropping a little down to peek at where the folded-down overalls wrapped around his waist? Of course, she did too. She was subtle about it, but I noticed - not that I dared confront her on it. You don't throw rocks when living in a house made of glass. I don't know if anyone ever told Hilde that, though.

She attacked when she knew I was most vulnerable - just as I was about to fall asleep one night, her cuddled up to me. We'd been working on the HLV for over a week by then, and with Heero's help we were over three quarters done. I was dead tired; the shower could only take away the sweat and part of the tension. Sleep and time controlled the rest. She moved her leg across my thigh, rested her chin on my one shoulder, began painting random patterns with her fingers on the other. "Duo?"

"Huh?" I replied, groggy already.

"Remember our deal last time we... you know..."

I sighed a groan. "yeah, I remember." Her grin bore eerie indications she'd thought about it too - and made up her mind. I gritted my teeth, wondering what she'd put me through next. Costumes and role play? More of the stuff from the kink box we'd only bought ridicule - at least originally? I didn't offer my ideas, just in case she hadn't thought of such things yet.

"I've been thinking... maybe we should try a threesome again - I mean, for real this time?"

That woke me up. Maybe I should have seen it coming, but- "What?!" I struggled to keep my voice down. Heero's room was right next to ours, and the walls weren't all that thick.

She snickered, tried to calm me down with her wandering fingers, leaving shoulder for chest. "Just hear me out before you start yelling, okay?"

Frown. "Fine, fine, just what - no, who-"

"Heero. I want you to ask Heero."

I tilted my head to look at her, and did so in utter disbelief. "Are you nuts? He's my friend, I can't ask him something like that - and if you are right about him being gay-"

"I am."

I blinked. "Then why do you even want to-"

Soft smile, voice matching. "Because you seemed to enjoy the play last time. I thought, with his... help, you - we - might be able to actually complete an-"

"Okay, I get that bit. I just don't get why you want to sleep with a gay guy - and we don't know if he's the slightest bit interested in me, for that matter."

She snickered a little. "Sleep with you and a gay guy, Duo."

I churned on that lovely implication for a bit. Body mechanics only left so many possibilities between the three of us. "Now, look-"

"Just admit it, Duo. You really liked it last time, and I've seen the way you look at Heero. You swing both ways."

Hilde tends to be kinda blunt when she wants to force her points through. Still, in my opinion this idea had all the signs of failure, but a promise was a promise. I gritted my teeth. "Fine... I'll ask. You get to tend my bruises. If you're wrong, he'll beat the crap out of me for even suggesting-"

She laughed, leant in and kissed me. "He is gay, and I've seen the way he looks at you, too. He won't say no."

I sighed, but didn't answer. Took me forever to fall asleep that night, as my mind raced over just what to say to Heero.


I rushed through breakfast - mostly 'cause I couldn't face Heero. Or Hilde's playful winks. I didn't like that she made me ask, but I had given my word last time - and I was going to follow through. I could only hope Heero would be gentle. I didn't want bruises or broken bones from just asking a damn question.

The whole mess distracted me at work too. Snuck more peeks Heero's way than usual, and I had to admit to myself he was a pretty good-looking guy. Somewhere in the back of my head, I began wondering if Hilde was right about me being bisexual. Wasn't quite ready to admit it, though - and that made how to phrase the questions for Heero all the more difficult.

We stopped early that day, and on the way back we decided to order take-out. Japanese, in Heero's honor. After we got cleaned up, Hilde volunteered to pick up the food, and I knew all too well why. Heero and I found plates, glasses and cutlery, and brought some cans of soda with us to the coffee table in the living room. I sat down in the couch, and he took the armchair on my left. I popped a can, took two swigs, and tried to speak. "Uhm... Heero..."

Can pop. "Yeah?"

I looked away, bit my lip. I didn't want to blurt the question out right away. "Uhm... Remember what you told me at the victory party?"

He got a faint smile, nodded and took a sip of his own soda can. Yeah, guys are good at ignoring glasses, when there's nobody around to point out their presence.

"I - I think I see it now. You meant Trowa and Quatre, don't you?"

The smile grew to a smirk. "Yes, I did. I'm glad you see it now." He paused, turned serious again before venturing "Are you offended by that?"

I shook my head, took another swig of soda, as if the overly sweet stuff could steel me for asking the next question. I gulped, looked him straight in the eye. "Heero - are you gay?"

He didn't even bat an eye, sort of froze with an amused expression on his face. "Yes," he finally answered, shrugging it off as if it was of no importance, and calmly took another sip.

"Oh..." I cleverly replied. So, Hilde had told me the truth? Heero had told her? But why? I didn't even know how to ask about that. It made me uneasy, the way they appeared to have something going on between them - but then again, it was unlikely to be cheating, if I were to believe what Heero had just admitted - and I did. I figured one or both of them would clue me in when they were good and ready.

Which left the question. "Heero... Hil' and I were thinking- uhm, we were wondering-" I couldn't say it.

He looked at me, eyes filled with curiosity - and that damned distracting smile reappeared. He chuckled. "Just spit it out, Duo."

I gulped down more soda, nerves failing me. There was still the risk he'd be offended, and pummel me.

"You want me to help you fuck your girlfriend, right?"

And indeed I spat it out; soda all over the table, and myself into a coughing fit.

He laughed. The bastard laughed. I glared at him, struggled to get my coughing under control. He put a hand on my shoulder, but removed it again the instant I glanced at it. That smug smile went soft, but his eyes still had the glimpse of mischief in them. "I'm sorry, Duo. I couldn't resist - but that was what you were going to ask, wasn't it?"

I think my blush was answer enough. Even so, I nodded. "How - how did you-"

"How did I know?"

I nodded again.

"Hilde asked me."


Another chuckle. "She asked me first - I told her I'd do it if you asked - I didn't want part of this if you didn't want me to."

I just stared at him.

His smile grew unsteady. "Well, do you?"

"Yeah," I finally answered. "Hilde wants this, and I sorta promised her, so..."

"You're not disgusted with the idea, then?"

Short sigh. "No, I'm not - Just... a little uncomfortable, I guess."

Some of Heero's smugness returned. "When Hilde first asked, I didn't believe her - especially since she was essentially handing her boyfriend's ass to me on a silver platter - and a damn fine one it is - ass, I mean."

I gaped, and feeling a tad insulted, I snapped back. "Hey, wait just a minute - we didn't say anything about who were gonna do-"

His laughter cut me off. "Duo, think about it. If you don't want to play 'manwich', that's fine with me - I don't mind the idea of you topping me - but where would that leave Hilde, huh? Squirming under me, or behind you with that toy of yours again?"

I knew he was right, in a way. I didn't really want to 'share' my girlfriend in that respect - not that Heero appeared even the slightest interested, but that did pretty much leave the options he mentioned, and I'd be damned if I let Hilde put that thing inside me ever again. Synthetics and substitutes tend to be cold, not cool - and I was a bit curious. "Let's make one thing perfectly clear here, Heero. This is between me and Hilde, you understand? You're just - along for the ride?"

Great Space, he looked smug. "Got it. I won't try to kiss you or anything, unless you start it. I know you love her and not-" Flash nibble of lip, quick rescue. "But I will have to touch you, and I won't be able to avoid brushing into Hilde, either."

I laughed. Couldn't help it. "Yeah, I know you'll be 'touching' me, Heero. You'll be fucking me, I'd say that's a damn intimate touch." Laughter died, I felt close to tears.

"I understand. I'll only be there to-" He could barely contain his snickers, "provide you with stimuli."

I dared a chuckle, submitting to the madness of the moment. "So, that's what you call yours."

Dumbfounded. "Huh?"

Weary grin. "Never mind." Pause. "Anyway, why the hell did Hilde tell you about- about-"

"The double-dildo of yours?"

I nodded, cheeks ablaze.

Smirk set from stun to kill. "She's told me a lot of things." He put his hand on my shoulder again. "And don't worry - even the best engine has ignition problems at times." He patted my shoulder twice, got up. My jaw worked, trying to come up with a retort. He continued long before I could utter a single syllable. "You are a very handsome guy, Duo - and Hilde is lucky to have someone as.. open-minded and daring as you." He paused a little, as I looked up at him. "I know that- I-" He looked away, shook his head. "Never mind. I have to go to the bathroom." And he did.

Hilde came back shortly after, and immediately asked if I had talked to Heero. I gave her the very edited highlights and tried to make her say why she had made me ask when she already had. I could almost hear it answered by 'to have fun with you' - She loves to tease. She would have kept me fumbling a lot longer than Heero did, if she wanted to. He got back from the bathroom though, so I never got to interrogate Hilde properly.


Dinner went quickly. I got the distinct impression the other two wanted this night to be 'the' night. We hardly spoke, but smiles and eyes can say a lot words have trouble with. Hil' started footsie. I didn't mind that. Got a bit uncomfortable when she pushed my foot against Heero's, using both of hers to push ours together. His smirk wavered a little - and his ears tinged slightly, but he didn't move his foot at all. I grinned, decided I might as well have some fun with the guy - Space knows he had played me the fool long enough.

Now, the problem with a three-way footsie is... well, three pairs of legs and feet moving around in a cramped space. Makes it hard to 'hide' your moves. How you shift in your seat tells a lot, too. So, while one set of toes tickled Hilde's foot, I moved my other along Heero's shin. He flagged a brow as I passed his knee. He nearly choked on his water when I quickly slid in between his thighs and wiggled my toes against his groin for all they were worth. In hindsight, maybe I went in a bit too fast, and that caused Heero's expression, not surprise, as I thought back then. Hil' and I got a good laugh, though. And murderous glares. I gulped, for I was sure he'd get even with me for that. I suppose he did.

I was right about that night. Hilde was eager, Heero did as he promised; just came along for the ride - in other words, he stayed neutral. As for me - I think I just wanted it over with. I thought it was crazy. She went into the bedroom first, said she wanted to change the sheets for the occasion.

I used the opportunity to ask Heero if this was going to affect our friendship. A dumb question, I know. He laughed and said something along the lines of 'hell, yeah,' but quickly added we'd still be friends, no matter what happened - as long as I wanted to be his friend. I could live with that - especially since I wasn't sure I'd even be able to look at Heero once we'd done this. A fear unfounded, thankfully.

Undressing was awkward. Hilde took great care in helping the both of us to shed clothes. Heero didn't seem to mind, and that bothered me a little, made me wonder just what was going on between them. Yeah, I as jealous, for reasons I couldn't figure at the time.

Heero and I didn't move against each other, not until Hilde practically ordered it. Naturally, she'd already divested Heero of his shirt, leaving me to unbutton his pants, while he tugged on the hem of my T-shirt. He blushed. I'm pretty sure I did too. Hilde just snickered. We both got even by removing her blouse - and tickling her. I showed Heero the best spots, and warned him to stay clear of her legs. Remember how Hilde kicks?

I tried to focus on Hilde lying beneath me, raining kisses on her, caress her wherever. I tried to - but it was kinda hard, since Heero had one of his fingers up my rear, preparing me for things to come. Pun not intended. Hilde at least offered him some attention, one hand pawing at me, the other at him. I looked as she brushed her hand against his thigh, going up, up... and stretched to fondle his crotch. I must have frowned, or something, 'cause Heero chose that moment to slide his finger out and squeezed my buttock. I shot him a glare. He grinned back. "It's okay, Duo. You can touch me, or not. Goes for the both of you. I don't mind either way."

Again, I tried to focus on Hilde. "Nah, I'm-" Finger back in, grunt. "F-fine."

Beneath me, Hilde giggled, softly slapped my cheek. "Oh, come on, Duo. It won't kill you." And then she grabbed my arm, lead it toward Heero. I would have lost my balance if Heero hadn't reacted and used his free hand to support me. Of course, that support wavered a little as Hilde wrapped my fingers around Stimuli, and pulled.

Hey, it was he who said it first! The nickname just stuck to mind!

We did eventually get started; Heero behind and inside me, Hilde in front and around me. It was damn awkward. It was... nice. Heero took more and more charge, though - but I had kinda expected that to happen. Honestly, I was past caring at that point, lost in sensations. My bedmates were too, from what I could see and hear.

She got there first. I really didn't know if I should have kept going - but I never got the chance to decide. Heero put one arm around my chest and pulled me back, got us both upright, wrapped his fingers around now-free Shini Junior and increased his pace. I came right after, feeling like a rag doll in his arms. He made a few more thrusts, and that was it for him, too.

He let me go, and I collapsed on the bed, next to Hilde. She flashed me a sated grin amidst her panting. I responded in kind, looked over my shoulder at Heero, got a satisfied smirk in return. Hil' dragged my arm across her belly, and fell asleep a few moments later. Heero and I weren't far behind.

Now I know what you're thinking. 'Hey, this doesn't count! Nothing went wrong here, so it can't be part of the ten!'

Wrong. So very, very wrong. See, the sex itself was... satisfactory, for all of us - but not what it led to. See, the problem with threesomes in the real world is that there has to be a damn fine balance between all the people involved. For just one night of fun, it might work. For a stable relationship, it rarely does. For two people taking a third in, it often changes an already perilous balance.


When I woke up, the first thing I noticed was that my arm rested on a warm spot of the bed - which was not where I had left it. Opening my eyes just a little, I saw Hilde was missing. I found that a bit strange, 'cause I usually noticed when she got out of bed. The second thing I noticed, was an arm draped across my own chest and stomach, and a body spooned to my back. Heero was holding me close - intimately close.

At first, it felt uncomfortable. I mean, last night was last night by then, and I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to do something like it again - even if it had been... interesting. His grip was firm though, and after a little a while I found myself enjoying his soft breaths sweeping over my neck and his warmth against me. I tried looking over my shoulder, and as best as I could tell, he was still asleep. Probably dreaming, I thought. Then I became aware of Stimuli.

I sincerely wished that he was dreaming, for his own sake. He moved a little, ground against me, again, and again. I freaked a little; there was no way I'd let him dry hump me, and there was no doubt in my mind he was very much awake, after all. I wiggled out of his grasp, resisted the urge to punch him.

Realizing his bluff had been called, he chuckled, rubbed his eyes. "Morning."

Frown. "Yeah, seems like you are having a damn good one."

Soft smile, almost a little apologetic. "Sorry, couldn't help it." Smirk. "You're simply irresistible, Duo."

I snorted at him.

Smugness gave way to sincerity. "I mean it, Duo. I know this - last night - was just for-" He paused, looked away for a second. "Thank you."

I never did find a good comeback for that one. He got up, and with his back to me he stretched, popped a few bones, loosened up his bare muscles. I don't know whether I felt envy or desire. Probably a bit of both. I was at last agreeing with Hilde - the thought of which reminded me of her absence. "Heero, where's Hilde?"

He turned, shrugged. I quickly looked off to the side. I couldn't deal with staring into Stimuli still standing in half-attention. "I don't know," he answered.

"Damn it, Heero - put some clothes on, will you?"

He chuckled. "I will - after I take a shower." Smirk. "Want to join me?"

I did the mature thing. I reached over to the chair by my nightstand, grabbed my bathrobe and threw it at him, and followed it up with sticking out my tongue at him, even if I knew he was just kidding... I think. "I'll wait until you're finished, thank you very much." He left for the bathroom, taking my bathrobe and his grin with him.

I searched out my boxers, then went looking for a fresh set of clothes and put it aside. To the sound of running water, I began tidying up a bit, mostly sorting out things due for laundry. I didn't have time to finish before Heero stood in the doorway, wearing my bathrobe, almost falling off his shoulders, loosely wrapped at the waist. "Shower's free."

Grin. "Thanks, man." I grabbed my pile of clean clothes and headed for the bathroom. "Could you go see if Hil' is in the office or out in the yard? I can't hear her anywhere in the flat."

"Sure," Heero's muffled voice replied. I didn't bother looking to see why; cleanliness beckoned.


The shower did nothing but good. As I began the meticulous task of washing my abundant hair, I once again congratulated myself on buying an extra large hot-water tank when we refurbished the place ages ago. It was an investment that kept paying delightful trickles of dividends.

I dried off as best I could, wrapped a towel around my still very much damp hair, and got dressed. I found Heero in the kitchen, nursing a cup of fresh coffee and sifting through the morning paper. Feeling for some orange juice, I went to the fridge. Reaching inside it, I asked "Where's Hilde?"

"Couldn't find her. Her shoes were gone, though." He put the paper down with a smirk. "Maybe she took a morning jog for fresh breakfast rolls."

I had to laugh. He had picked up on the fact Hil' was not a morning person. Neither of us were, either. I poured myself a glass, gulped some down to soothe my dry throat. I paused as I looked at him. He was wearing a pair of his faded jeans, his blue-with-white-stars-patterned boxers sticking out of the not-quite-on pants. Hadn't bothered with socks yet, evidently. It was his half-buttoned shirt that made me wonder, though. "Hey, isn't that-"

"He put down his coffee. "Yeah, it's yours. Do you mind?"

I shrugged. I didn't. Other than the fact the shirt was on top of the due-for-laundry pile when I saw it last. "No, but - well, that's the one I wore yesterday..."

He smirked, took another sip of his brew. "So? It didn't stay on that long." He tugged out the collar, pressed it first against his cheek, then took a demonstrative sniff. "Besides, I like it just like this..."

I think I blushed a little at that, more bothered than amused. But not by much. I sat down at the opposite end of the little table. "Thanks for... helping out last night."

Snicker. "My pleasure."

Sheepish grin. "I'm sure it was..." I tried to think of something clever to say when I felt a bare foot over my own sock-wrapped one, carefully sliding across. I didn't move, other than lift my head to stare at him - which was kinda hard, since he had his eyes closed, and held his cup with both hands before his mouth, savoring another swig and faking innocence. His foot crept up my pants leg, his toes reaching above my sock, caressing my shin skin. He could barely mask his smirk behind the cup, and suddenly, he opened both eyes, abandoning all pretence. We laughed a little. He didn't retreat, but didn't advance either. I let him continue. At least it wasn't a ticklish spot. "Uhm, Heero?"


"I'm glad you... joined us last night. It was good."

"Oh?" He smiled. "I thought you two had had plenty of good times before. From what Hilde told me-"

"It was never quite like last night, though," I interrupted. I registered his 'I bet it wasn't' smirk, gave a sole nervous chuckle. "I guess Hil' and I needed Stimuli to get everything to work."

He put his coffee down again, folded his arms and leant back, but kept his toes at my shin. The warm smile grew a bit somber. "Well, everyone needs proper stimulation in order to-"

I cut in with my laughter. "No, not stimulation. 'Stimuli' - Your dick, Heero."

His jaw drooped. "I don't follow..."

I grinned. "Remember yesterday? You said you'd only be there to provide 'Stimuli'?"

Heero's cheeks went pink, and slowly moved towards bright red. I couldn't feel his toes anymore.

I kept grinning, delighting in making him the one to squirm in uneasiness for a change. "Hey, relax, pal. It's just a nickname. I figured-" I stopped another thought striking me. "Or maybe you've given the little fellow another nickname already?"

His cheeks went to deep red, and he glared at me. I snickered, put my hands up in defense. "Okay, okay. Big fellow."

He glared even harder, but his frown tugged on a smirk. He was embarrassed, but amused. That didn't stop my curiosity, though.

"Okay, spill - what's its nickname?"

His smirk broke through the red. "I'm not telling."

"Oh, come on - tell you what, you tell me yours and I'll tell you mine."

He sighed his smirk away, and continued to struggle towards a more relaxed complexion. "No."

"Why not?"

He hesitated, bit his lip. "It's just... well, it's personal."

I gave him a bit of a frown.

"Look, if you absolutely have to call it something, 'Stimuli' is fine."

"Personal?" I asked, and thought it over. "Does it have anything to do with me, by any chance?"

He immediately looked away, slowly nodded. "I - I don't want to offend you, scare you, or hurt you, Duo. That's why I don't want to tell. 'Stimuli' is fine."

He was obviously greatly bothered by it. For a second I considered pushing on, ask if it had been something like 'Duo's Li'l Plaything' or 'The Duo Love Tunnel Express', or any number of similar childish suggestions dancing around in my mind - but I didn't. I chose another path. "Heero - why did you agree to last night?"

He sighed, but didn't answer.

"Do you love me? I mean, as more than a friend?"

He started nodding, then changed his mind and shook his head. "Yes... No... I - I don't know." He looked up at me, a slight fear in his eyes. "Not if you don't want me to. Yes otherwise."

I bit my lip, unsure. "It isn't just some crush or temporary infatuation?"

No hesitation this time. "No - it's - it's stronger than that. I just-" He sighed again. "Look, I know you love Hilde, and her only, and as much as I envy her for having you and your love, I accept that. Last night... Well, when she asked me, I didn't know what to think anymore - but it was a chance to be intimate with you, and I figured it'd be the first, last and only chance I'd ever get at... touching you."

I had to grin. Touch me, indeed...

"I love you, Duo," He continued, voice trembling slightly, "But I respect your choice. If - if what we did last night helped the two of you, I'm glad - but I mostly agreed for my own selfish reasons. I'm sorry. I understand it won't ever happen again, but.. if you're happy, I am too."

There was a long silence. He kept staring out the doorway to the living room, and I kept my eyes on the table. "Heero..." I finally began, "It's not that I don't like you - I mean, I find you very attractive, and I love you too - but only as a friend. My best friend. I just - well, it feels weird trying to think of you as anything more than that."

"And what about Hilde?" he snapped back, maybe a little bitter at being refused. "She was your best friend once too, wasn't she?"

I bit my lip. He had a point. I didn't dare answer him, and replied with a question of my own. "How long, Heero? How long have you... wanted to be more than friends?"

Some of his bitterness faded, and he even smiled a little. "Too long. Ever since... I don't know. Definitely since the war ended. When we thought the war ended."

We fell quiet again. I thought it over. "That's long before Hil' and I got together," I finally offered.

He nodded. "You were still always with one another, though. I figured you really loved her, that you could never love someone like... me."

"You mean another guy."

After a little hesitation, he nodded.

More silence. I drank some more orange juice. I felt like some sunshine stuff to dilute the somber twilight mood. "Just how - and when - did Hilde find out, anyway? About you, I mean? Did she corner you with it, or did you just spill everything to her at the first, best occasion?"

He shot a weak snort, amending his tiny smile. He still didn't dare look my way. "Just about the same time as I realized, I guess - and both. Remember the hospital on the MO2 resource satellite?"

Yeah, I remembered, all right. Some of my best friends wrapped in tubes and bandages, the rest of us with mostly minor injuries, milling about them. I nodded.

"You stayed by her bed for days on end, Duo."

"Hey, I stayed with all of you. Quatre was in the same room, remember?"

Heero nodded. "Wufei and Sally finally dragged you away to give you some rest. You were too tired to argue at that point. I promised you I'd keep Hilde company until you returned - I don't think you even registered that."

Chuckle. "I didn't. Think I fell asleep on Wufei's shoulder."

Heero tugged at his smile again. "I thought she was asleep. I... observed Trowa. The way he hovered over Quatre. The quiet words they spoke, the screaming words they didn't... I was jealous. And Hilde was awake. She caught me by surprise, asked me if that's what I wanted. I didn't know what to answer her, so I said nothing. 'I've seen the way you look at Duo,' she whispered, looked over at Trowa and Quatre, and continued 'You want something like that with him, don't you?' I took my time, but I eventually admitted as much by nodding. That was the first time I admitted it to myself, too. 'Do you love him?' she asked. I had to think even more about that one. Finally, I told her I thought so. 'Then tell him,' she said, grinning at me. To put it mildly, I was surprised. I thought the two of you were together, and I asked her about that. Hilde laughed a little, said she wasn't sure - that the two of you flirted a lot, but neither of you actually did anything. I told her I thought you were crazy about her."

I was about to object a little, but Heero pressed on. "Maybe you weren't, but you sure acted like it. She was the focus of your attention, and I was a little jealous." Heero smirked. "I didn't tell Hilde that last bit, by the way. What I did tell her was that I didn't want to confess to you as long as I thought you were head over heels in love with her. She gave me a really odd, warm smile, reached for my hand. I offered, and she took a firm hold of it, squeezed once, and fell back to sleep."

"...and you never dared tell me-"

"I didn't want to say anything, because I thought you were happy. If I had said anything, it would only have destroyed our friendship, at best. I don't even want to imagine the worst." He nibbled on his lip again, and for the first time in a long while, he dared to look at me. "You are happy with her, aren't you?"

I'm ashamed to admit it, but I didn't answer 'yes' right away. I actually had to think for several seconds. I try to blame it on being caught off-guard, but neither Hilde nor Heero believe me. Both keep teasing me about it. "Yeah," I finally replied. "Yeah, I am."

His smile grew weary, and his eyes fell to the table. "Good..." We hit another awkward pause, before he looked up again. "I still love you, Duo," he began carefully, "and I still want you. Last night was... indescribable, and I thank you for that." He smirked. "I guess I have to thank Hilde for that, too. It's just - It's just that I want you alone. Us. Nobody else. I-"

We heard the door close, startling us both, and Heero cut his sentence short. I stood up to go check, but didn't get much further than to my feet before Hilde stood in the kitchen doorway. She looked - no, glared at me, then at Heero, eyes flashing wider once, then back at me, just as stern, but with a shimmer to them. I think she recognized the shirt.

"Hilde, you okay?" I began cautiously. "Where have you been?"

She frowned, folded her arms and leant towards the doorframe. "Out. Needed some air, so I took a walk. Had some thinking to do."

"About what?"

She snorted. "About us, what else?"

"What about us?"

"About whether or not we should bother."

"Hil, what exactly are you-"

"I saw you last night."

"Hey, last night was your idea."

She threw her arms up, well beyond frustrated. "Hell, yes it was! Why do you think I dragged Heero into this?! I suspected you'd enjoy that, and I thought - well, I didn't want us to keep going the way we have, end up in a dysfunctional on-and-off relationship, and maybe marry, only to have you wake up in a forties midlife crisis wanting a divorce and the freedom to date other men!"

"Hil', what the hell-"

"Duo - last night - I saw your face. Great Space, did I ever see your face. You never looked more ecstatic, certainly not the times we tried sex."

"Hil', I was with you last night too, damn it, and-"

"Do you think I forgot?! No, you looked happy enough sandwiched between us - but when Heero pulled you back for your little finale - Duo, the only time I see you with that face seems to be when you have a damn stick up your ass!"

My response to that is... not suited for repetition. Things went downhill in a hurry from there. Names were called, old bitter memories and plenty new ones flung back and forth. Heero mostly sat there, as if oblivious to our argument, sipping his coffee. He wanted to stay out of it, as he'd promised - but as it got uglier, he tried to intervene, but he never got further than the first word before Hil' and I in perfect unison yelled at him to shut up. His word had been 'Uhm...'.

Hilde and I had fought before then. We have after too. We've had some pretty darn heated arguments, but we always managed to cool down again, and get over it. This time... well, this time was different. I don't know just how many vile things we exchanged - but whatever my last insult was, it was enough for her to punch me, almost decking me in the process. Heero says I deserved it, and more. She screamed "That's it! It's over!" and stormed out right after, shutting the door behind her with enough force to shake plaster of the walls and the door itself almost off its hinges.

It was actually a good thing she chose to leave. It could only have gotten worse.. If we'd continued, we might have crossed that undefined fine line between 'reconciliation possible' and 'eternal enemies'. We didn't, and I'm glad. It still took a while to rebuild our friendship, but we did.

I kinda lost touch with the world right then. It's a natural reaction to having your heart ripped out and stomped on - figuratively or not. I fumbled back towards my chair. Heero says he pushed it under me just in time to keep me from crash-landing on the floor. It's probably the truth. I hid my face in my hands, already regretting most of what I'd said just minutes before. I sat there, hiding from the world in the most basic way, feeling frustrated, powerless, abandoned - but I didn't cry. Great Space, I felt like it. Just couldn't. I think Heero put his hand on my shoulder at one point, but he didn't linger.

Hours passed, as I sat there in the kitchen, staring holes in the kitchen table, nearly catatonic. A sandwich on a plate broke my line of sight.

"You have to eat, Duo."

I looked up at Heero, nodded meekly, and ate the sandwich in small, slow nibbles. He put a glass of juice before me to wash it down. I obliged, but returned to my passive, absent-minded state right after.

Heero didn't bother me. He let me sit there, let me work on this myself. He could have chosen to grasp that chance with both hands, but he didn't. He just kept nearby, sent me food plates again at dinner and supper. I barely registered he was in the room.

It wasn't until the colony approached lights-dimmed that he approached me, shaking my shoulders to make me focus again, at least for a little while. He barely succeeded. "Duo? You should get some sleep. Real sleep."

I nodded. I think. He put my arm across his shoulder, and supported me during our slow shuffle towards the bedroom. I realized we were heading for mine and Hilde's bedroom, and stalled. Heero must have sensed that, for he immediately redirected us to the guestroom - my old room, currently his - instead. He helped me off with shoes, and after some pause, pants, but he didn't dare touch the shirt. After making sure I was tucked in, he left the room. I heard furniture being dragged around in the living room, and I assumed, correctly, that he was moving the couch closer to my door - if not outright across it, to prevent me from leaving without him noticing, and go do something stupid. Heartbreak makes you prone to do stupid things. Then again, so does falling in love in the first place - but not quite the same things.

It took me a while to notice, but Heero hadn't changed the sheets. Why should he have? He later told me he'd tidied up the master bedroom, but didn't think I might not want to sleep there. I didn't care, though. Didn't really mind. A bed was a bed - for the most part. I ground my head into the pillow, detecting Heero's scent. It was comforting, in a way. It gave me something known to hold on to, as I descended into dreams. I don't remember them. I'm pretty sure they were nightmares, though.

I remained in my zombie-like existence for two days, Heero helping me along as unobtrusively as he could. He was about to change the bedding in the guest room the second day, but I snapped out of my faze-out long enough to tell him not to. He gave me a puzzled look, but shrugged and did as I asked.


On the morning of the third day, I had dug my way out from the dark place. Once more in full possession of my wits, I was able to sneak past - or rather, over - Heero, who was sleeping on the couch dragged before the guestroom door to block it. I'm kinda proud I managed that. It was worth it to see his shocked face in the kitchen doorway a little bit late, astonished at seeing me making breakfast. I grinned. He smiled, sighed in relief I hadn't run out alone.

I made plates for the both of us, placed them on the table, and was going for something to drink when Heero came up to me and gave me two pats on the shoulder, leaving his hand there. I kept my face on the table, gave a bitter smile. "Come to pick up the pieces?" I mumbled.

He didn't waver. I felt the grasp on my shoulder tighten just a little. "No. I'm here to prevent you from falling apart in the first place."

A bit surprised, I looked at him, but met only a dim smile.

"You still love Hilde, don't you?"

Resuming my studies of table patterns, I gave two meek nods. Sure, I still loved her. Love doesn't die that abruptly, if it's been around long enough.

"Then I'll help you make things right between you."

Again, I gave him a puzzled face, only to be met with his soft, warm smile again.

"Duo, despite everything that's happened lately, I- You're still my friend. My best friend. I want you to be happy."

I could so read the omission of the words 'with me' in his eyes, but I didn't say anything. After thinking about it for a minute, I reluctantly nodded my agreement, accepting his help.

Breakfast passed in silence, except for Heero carefully making the suggestion we resume work on the HLV. Once more, I agreed. That job had to be done, and quickly, no matter what else happened. Three lost days were enough.


I lost myself in work. At night, we went home, me to sleep in my old room, Heero to crash on the couch. I offered him a swap, he refused. I suggested he take the master bed, but he refused that too. I think he was as reluctant as me to go sleep there, because of memories. I almost dared offer him to share my bed - not for anything but sleep, mind you. It was big enough for two, after all - but I didn't. I thought it might send him the wrong signals, give him false hope.

I never noticed the few times Heero snuck away from work, obsessing on the HLV as I did. Four days later, he came back from one of those quick breaks - but he wasn't alone; he brought Hilde. I didn't know what to say at first. Neither did she - but she wasn't mad anymore. Heero left discreetly, leaving the two of us to deal with each other. When we finally did speak, fate would have it we started at the same time. Why does that always happen? She smiled dimly. I did too.

We talked. We apologized. We slowly won back our old friendship. We laughed at silly jokes. Then I did the stupid thing of asking her to come back. Her face fell at that. It took a while for here to tell me, probably because she wanted to let me down easy. Basically, she wanted us to go back to the early days, when we were friends, good friends, but nothing more; the time before the drunken mishap that sent us on our path. I didn't want to, tried to tell her how much I loved her, how much I wanted her to stay with me. She just smiled, shook her head, before she leaned over to mess up my bangs a little, and told me I didn't really know what I was talking about, or what I wanted.

In hindsight, maybe she was right. I did - and still do - care a great deal for her, though. There's something about first loves that linger on, forever - but for a moment, I thought Heero had set her up to this, somehow. I guess I just wanted someone to blame. Luckily, I blurted out as much, and Hilde set me straight right away. Heero had done nothing but urge here to talk to me, to at least bury the anger. It had taken him a few tries, but he'd won her over, reminding her of the carefree friendship we once had. I can't thank him enough for that. Hilde's continued friendship means a lot to me. A heck of a lot.


The next day, she was back with us, helping out with the HLV. She had a good deal of money in it too, after all, we were still partners in the salvage yard. She told me - Heero obviously already knew, though I've never gotten him to tell me how - that she had stayed at a cheap nearby hotel for the last few days. She had already found herself a new apartment. I told her we could still share the salvage yard flat, but she gave me a secretive, shy smile and shook her head. She wanted a place all of her own, she said, a place without the chance of a relapse. I think I understood that much, and let it slide. I have never commented on it to either of them, but I'm pretty sure she didn't have the funds to cover both hotel bills and the apartment deposit that readily available. Maybe I'll trick the truth out of them someday.

Hil' and I had bought most of the stuff in the flat together, but one of us had always been the main drive to get the objects inside, often at the reluctant acceptance of the other. I guess that's one reason why Wufei during his first visit a long time ago bluntly stated our home reminded him of modernist mosaics; random, meaningless patterns, only with even more mismatching colors. We weren't offended. Besides, we got even by playing more than one prank on him.

Hilde and I split things fairly easily because of that. I let her take our bed. It was almost new, given our little sheet fire incident that had sent its predecessor to a glum future as metal pieces in the yard. I didn't want it, anyway. She did, but she didn't answer when I asked why, only gave me that damn secretive smile of hers.

Her new place is actually pretty nice. The rent is low, too. I have a suspicion I'd find the real owner of that apartment block to be a certain Winner, if I sifted through enough dummy corporations. Have a fair idea who would have set that up, too - but getting Heero to spill secrets is almost as hard as wringing them out of Hilde. Almost. I have a new set of techniques to use against him now.

Too bad they work both ways.

We spent another two weeks tearing the old HLV apart, gutting it of all the useful bits, separating the more valuable scrap metals from the rest. By the time we'd cleaned everything up at the worksite, paid off the shipping company and dock authorities, we still had a tidy profit. Both Hil' and I wanted to split the money three-ways, but Heero staunchly refused, saying he'd gotten his pay according to our agreement. He didn't want any more, he added. That sneaky little liar.

He waited a day before announcing he was resuming his walkabout. Hilde promptly suggested we have a 'bon voyage' party. I seconded her idea, rendering Heero's objections moot. It turned out to be a pleasant evening. Just the three of us, but that was enough. In a gesture of goodwill, we even let Heero pick out the vids from the rental place. To our surprise, he didn't go straight for the documentaries or intricate dramas, which he'd displayed some interest for on past occasions, but instead picked two fairly simple flicks; one action/adventure, one comedy. Don't ask me about the titles, I can't remember. I just recall poking fun at everything in them, mostly in unison with Hilde, leaving Heero a little indignant, since he'd picked them. He loosened up after a while though, and joined in the mockery. Pizza, burgers, soda and beer formed the main course; potato chips, popcorn and other snacks supplemented it. We had fun.

Hilde left early. Said she had to get home before the old lady on the first floor would mistake her for a burglar and call the cops - almost certainly a fake excuse, but I let it slide. I still think she left early to avoid cleaning up and helping out with the dishes.

Heero stayed to help, though - but as soon as we were done, he went to pick up his beaten-up black bag. As he put on his shoes, I leant against the wall and folded my arms. "So... Where are you gonna go now?"

He shrugged, reached for his jacket. "I don't know. That's part of the walkabout - finding yourself, your place in the universe. I'll just have to keep going until I do, I guess."

I nodded. "Thanks, Heero - for everything. Not many would have bothered to-"

He chuckled, put his jacket on. "There's nothing I wouldn't do for a friend, Duo. Least of all you."

I hesitated. Great Space, did I hesitate - but finally I got to my senses, and gave him a hug. No matter what else had happened, he was still my friend, maybe my best friend - after Hilde. He deserved that much for a farewell.

He hugged back, but very cautiously. "Bye, Duo. Maybe I'll see you again some other time." He picked up his bag. "For now, I just have to figure out who I am - where I belong now, in the great scheme of things." He smiled, opened the door, and started walking out. I followed, stopping in the doorway. He turned to face me. "Thank you," he near-whispered, and after lingering for a second, he leant in to kiss me on the cheek. I tried not to react more than to show a little surprise. Heero smiled at my dazzled face. "Thank you - for everything." And he resumed his walk down the gravel path out of the yard.

I still don't know what I was thinking. Maybe it was the fear of being alone. Maybe it was the tingling after-effect of that simple kiss, maybe it was because I finally wholeheartedly agreed with Hilde - enough to act on it. Then again, maybe I just thought I needed someone to split the rent costs now that Hilde was gone. In any case, I mumbled out "Stay..."

Heero stopped cold, looked over his shoulder. "What was that?"

"Stay," I repeated, a little louder and firmer.

He walked back up to me, a dim smile on his face. "Again?"

I wrapped my arms around his neck, practically pulled him inside with me, and to my lips, kissing him for all I was worth. It took him a stunned moment to respond. He dropped his back and kicked the door shut behind him.

It only escalated from there. Heero's shoes and jacket went off somewhere near the door. We were shirtless by the time we passed the couch, pants half off by the time our little one-way dance reached the bedroom door. Before long, clothes were but a memory, and all we had were each other - and a small set of accessories. As if we needed anything more.

Now, before you go all 'whohoo'ing and suchlike, since Duo Maxwell finally opened his eyes for mister Right, or whatever - remember what this story has been all about. That's right, my first ten times - or first ten attempts, successful or otherwise. If you have been counting, you'll know we've only reached nine so far...

It started out well enough, as most of my times with Hilde had. He knew just about all the right places to touch - which convinced me he and Hil' had definitely exchanged some words about me and my fancies at some point - not that I minded. Great Space, not at all. Touches, kisses; it didn't even hurt all that much when he quit teasing and entered me. Overall, it was as blissful a moment as I could remember. Then it happened.

We both heard the loud rumbling noise, enough to make Heero slow down his pace, listening. We heard it again, identifying it as a growling belly.

No, it wasn't my stomach screaming for more food. The sounds came from Heero's abdomen. Another few thrusts, a mixture of annoyance, pain and pleasure on his face. Quickly, he leant down to kiss me - and then he was out of me, and doing the 'woodie run' towards the bathroom, mimicking my earlier run, with three distinct differences. One, he wore a 'raincoat', to the great relief or the new carpet. Two, he walked with his ass cheeks pinched very close together, which amused me to no end - and three, he didn't barf upon reaching the bathroom.

At least not with his oral orifice.

I'll spare you the rest of the sights and sounds of that evening. Sufficient to say, Heero's stomach has had a hard enough time adjusting to normal foods. Junk food could still be too much for him, though. He was horribly embarrassed, but it wasn't as if he could have helped it. Shit happens. Literally.

I did what I could to help - mostly try to keep his mind off of his body as it tried to cure itself, as well as fetch more toilet paper and try to air out the room every now and then. After nearly two hours, he was done - and done for. I helped him back to bed, and nestled him close, careful to lay him on his side, so that neither bum nor tummy got unnecessary, uncomfortable pressure. It took a while before he fell asleep. I kept up a while longer. Seeing Heero sleep halfway draped over me, head against my shoulder, a content smile on his face, erratic breaths against my neck - I enjoyed it. It also made it very difficult to fall asleep.


This might sound cruel - but I like teasing him with the fact that on our first roll alone, it was he who got a sore ass, and not me. That much, I eventually told our friends too - but not more, not the details. Heero went beet red; anger, humiliation or fear I'd tell the rest of the story, I don't really know - but he made sure my ass was very much sore next morning - not that I minded the slightest; I had expected that would happen. Some reactions are easy to predict - and prepare for.

So, there you have it; my first ten times, or at the very least, my first ten attempts, all depending on what you think is the threshold between 'complete' and 'incomplete' with regards to sex. In my experience, you don't need the whole package to have fun - but it doesn't hurt - all depending on the size of the package and use of the same, of course.

Heero moved in with me on a permanent basis soon after. Hil' and I have taken him up as our first employee - the wage is poor and the hours lousy, but I think he appreciates the colleagues, fringe benefits and the flexi-time involved by influencing when his boss - well, one of them - gets up and goes to bed.

Hilde and I have returned to our initial strong friendship. We still flirt and fight on occasion, and she is my best ally in teasing Heero. Unfortunately, she is his best ally when I am the victim, too. Heero calls it 'poetic justice'. I call it 'double-crossing Hilde' - and it's not like Heero and I haven't tried playing pranks on her. We just seem to lack her... zest.

They both occasionally tease me with the idea of another go at a threesome. Sometimes, its hard to tell whether they're just kidding or not. I think they are, though. I hope they are. Dealing with one lover at a time is enough.

Heero and I eventually got the hang of the whole sex thing - No, not quite on the eleventh take, or the twelfth go, or - well, we had a few initiation problems. When we got there, though... My first ten times might not have been the most spectacular. With Heero, that eventually changed, and we made up for it all - times ten.


back to fiction

back to kebzero fiction

back home