Disclaimer: I wanted to use affection in a different way with this. I've no doubt in my mind that there's probably been fics involving telephones and sexual distraction. That's not what I wanted with this. I wanted to combine the fact that these are two people who are still recovering from the war a few years before, but that they're together, solidly dealing with the memories and the pain. In that sense, they're adults. But I also wanted to portray the fact that they've missed out on being children, and in this fic, I wanted to have them behaving in a way that's probably more immature than the series would have them be. Yes, these characters are incredibly brave, wonderful mature people. I wanted to pay tribute to that, and for that to come across initially in their determination to overcome the past. But I also wanted to show a side of them that is a throwback to the childhood they missed out on. If it comes across that they're OOC, so be it.

Essentially, they're still only teenagers. They still have their serious sides, their very realistic traumas resulting from all they went through. But the way I see them now is together in a very steady, secure relationship, and enjoying that. This fic isn't about sex. It's more about the sort of easy affection that occurs between couples who've been together for some time and know each other almost too well. It's an intermission into their daily life as partners, and for this, it's not about the smut. I really just wanted to portray a sense of comfortable affection, of security in each other, of trust. I still don't know if I achieved it, but I hope I did. Perhaps it's not for me to say, in the end.


Part 2

By almasy


25th March, AC200
11:49 PM

I've spent 10 minutes trying to express how wonderful it feels to get away for a while. 10 whole minutes of scrawling and erasing, frowning and cursing. I've decided that I can't do it. Trying is a good cure for this current insomnia, though, you know? Duo's sleeping, but then he's done most of the driving today. He's absolutely exhausted. There's no way I'm letting tomorrow go the same way, in any case. I'm putting in my fair share, because aside from anything else, I think he's only agreed to go in the first place because I really wanted to. He let me off today, in the way that only he can, without being patronising, or condescending, or using my weakness to place himself above me. Very straightforwardly, he said that he just wanted me to relax and let him take care of the driving. And so it was.

I take no responsibility for us getting lost.

It's crazy, that such a seemingly unattractive predicament should be so pleasant for me. Lying back across the front seats, legs propped over the driver's door, I can watch the stars overhead. It's such a clear night, you can see every ball of fire in the universe, I'll bet. Probably a couple of colonies, too, if you squinted enough. Such a cloudless, vacant sky above me, and yet such peace all around. I love it. There's no bustle of the city, no carhorns, none of the friendly catcalls or the buzzing of the street shops. Just total quietness, wrapped up in a bundle of velvet darkness. There's nothing around me but acres and acres of black sand, gently whipping up in the slight breeze. Nothing but Texan desert, sand dunes and the moon above it all, shining coldly and giving me light enough to write. I don't use a computer for my diary, as I know Duo does, and it's somewhat difficult to write in the dark. Not tonight though, and it's lovely to be able to take my time with this entry. Usually, I can afford a few verbal sketches here and there to describe what's going on in this chaotic heart of mine, and then perhaps a little allowance for the more professional updates to be made. Tonight, in the dead of the night, I've time enough to create a proper lasting memory.

By God, but he's devastatingly beautiful though. I wonder sometimes whether anyone's ever thought that before. Not because it isn't true, but because of the way those around us see him. People who come into contact with Duo Maxwell always seem to leave with a completely wrong impression of him. To the people on the streets where he grew up, he wasn't beautiful. He was an easy target, a sexy youngster who'd obviously have no qualms about putting out for them. I wish I could say that they were the only people who held such an idiotic belief close to their black little hearts. There's other misinterpretations of him, other assumptions people make about him that are so far away from the truth that even Trowa would be appalled. But that one, oh, that one hurts him more than I'm able to bear witnessing. He survived all of those years of poverty, odds stack up like mountains against him, and he survived whilst always taking the hardest path. It would have been so understandable, had he given in and put out for the money to get the only meal he'd had in days. Who could have blamed him for it, a kid exhausted and starving, and desperate? But he didn't. He found other ways. He always found another way. He spent so many years staying true to his own self-belief, that he was better than that. That he didn't need to do that. It was easy for him, to find another solution to his problems, given that he's extremely intelligent, but he took some risks to protect his own sense of dignity.

When I found out, I was so proud of him. It takes a lot of strength to resist temptation when it seems there's no other choice; when your stomach's empty and you've got a ready-made solution right before your eyes, and I have rarely had more admiration for him when I discovered that he never once gave in. And his reward? His prize for being so brave, so strong and perserverant? Being referred to as a slut. It makes absolutely no fucking sense. It seems that it doesn't matter what the truth is, he's a whore in the eyes of most people. And people wonder why he's so down on humanity. He's been slapped by life more times than he cares to remember, yet people continue to think he's this airheaded, chirpy little boy who goes through the world skipping and singing. Let me tell you, it's a credit to his own strength that he's survived this long. I've seen him so dragged under by depression that I was terrified I'd never be able to reach him again. To call him happy-go-lucky is laughable. He hurts more than any of us inside, of that I am sure. Yes, he can be happy. When he's happy, it's like living with a sunbeam. He's got so much warmth, such an incredible capacity for being loving, that being in his company is sorely addictive. He's happy in his own way; wicked with black humour, naughty, perhaps a little childish when he feels like it. But he's always, always got his serious side not too far away. The darkness is always just around the corner. He's forever reminded of his past, and he does spend a lot of time in silent contemplation, sorting out his demons.

To me, he's just Duo. He's got problems, as do we all, and he deals with them as he's dealt with everything else. Be brave and hit them face on. He's darker than I am, far more intelligent and a lot stronger in his mind, but underneath, there's a fraility to him that I would gladly devote my life to protecting. God knows it's taken enough of a battering during the 19 years of his life. People just don't see what I see. They don't look at him and see the beauty of his face, calm and peaceful in sleep and surrounded by long strands of beautiful, light brown hair. They see a pretty, cheap ride. They don't listen to him speak and hear the intelligent mind, the original ideas, those dark concepts he comes with. They hear a mindless laugh, they can't see the irony in his jokes. They see stupidity in bright red letters. Well, fuck them. I don't think I've ever been so privileged, knowing him for what he really is. If they don't want to know this incredible man lying in my lap, they're more brainless than I have words for.

I don't think he's particularly happy about having to sleep in the car, though. He may be into confronting that which he dislikes, but having to sleep in an uncomfortable place isn't a challenge he especially relishes. The thing with Duo is that his sleep is important to him. He doesn't need as much as I do, and he's perfectly content to take it when he can, but he has to be comfortable to get proper rest. And vehicles are not what he calls comfortable. There isn't much choice, though, given that we're in the middle of nowhere. We couldn't find a motel, a building of any kind. It's just open space. He was knackered, so we just had to pull over and let him get some rest. I tried to make him as relaxed as I could, curling him against my own body and wrapping my long coat around him for a blanket, but I get the impression that we should set about finding a proper bed for him tomorrow. He'll have a real ache in his back when he wakes up, the car being so confined. I'm not sure he'll be too impressed, if he wakes up, that I'm using his head to rest my diary on, either. Hm, definitely a motel for us tomorrow.

It was probably my fault, seeing as we set off late because of me. I hate getting up in the morning, you know. Even though Duo had said we would be leaving early, the alarm clock sounded and I couldn't bring myself to get up. I just burrowed under a heap of covers for another hour and a half or so, and Duo said he didn't have the heart to drag me out. He got the car packed, -our very impractical but rather gorgeous black, open-top Porshe-, filled the back seats with technical equipment surrounded by bubble-wrap and cardboard. After which, he got a bit impatient and suddenly found enough heart to dive under the covers and lift me out of my warm cocoon himself. Enough was enough, he said. It was either I got up or we didn't go. Even in my fuzzy sleep-addled state, I could hear the humour in his voice, and allowed myself a small smirk, whilst pretending to be still asleep in his arms. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, to find myself being carted through into the bathroom and firmly placed under the hot shower spray, still half unconscious. Spluttering, I came round pretty quickly, enough to see him walking out of there whistling cheerfully, a mischievious twinkle in his violet eyes. A flood of Japanese cursing followed, which he pretended not to hear, and I showered with thoughts of revenge breeding in my brain. I suppose he made up for it, though, so it wasn't really neccessary. He had a cup of black coffee all prepared for me when I got out, and he towelled off my hair whilst I drank it. I think my hair fascinates him, in some ways. He's had his long ever since he was young, for reasons I very much understand, and doesn't really know what it feels like to have short hair. Mine only just touches the back of my neck, dipping a little below my ears on the side, and he's forever playing with it. Which is fine by me, as I have a really sensitive scalp. The feel of his fingers through my hair makes me go all wobbly, admittedly. Needless to say, I forgave him pretty quickly.

I couldn't help but prolong our departure a little further, though, given that I hadn't yet packed. Duo, ever the practical one, had somehow found time to throw his entire wardrobe in a bag and put it on the back seat, and so I decided that if I forgot anything of mine, I'd just borrow off him. Sometimes I wonder why I have my own clothes; his are far more comfortable. There's only one pair of jeans that I can't leave behind wherever I go, because they're the comfiest pair of trousers on the entire planet and he hates the style, and thus, hasn't got a pair. He claims that he'd get cold legs, wearing denim with holes in the knees and across the thighs, but he doesn't know what he's missing. I'd bought them like that because they looked comfortable, and they've pretty much moulded into my shape now. They're a great fit, and if I could wear them all the time, I would. Much to Duo's annoyance. He once thought it'd be funny to draw on my skin where it was exposed by the holes, writing his name all over my legs, but I got the last laugh when he realised that the pen he'd used was a permanent marker. It took weeks to get the words 'Duo Yuy' and 'Hiiro loves the Shinigami' off my thighs. He was absolutely mortified, especially considering I refused to cover it up. Makes me laugh just thinking about the look on his face when I went to visit Relena like that. As for her, well, she almost defied her own ideals of pacifism then and there. Heh.

So I pulled on the favoured jeans, hurridly stuffed any other garments lying about the floor into a rucksack and tossed it to Duo, who rolled his eyes and headed out the front whilst I did a last check over the house, wrote a note for our clients, and then locked up and dutifully followed him out to the car. Throwing my trusty, boot-touching black coat into the back seat, I handed him the house keys in exchange for my black t-shirt that he'd obviously picked up from the floor, guessing that I'd have forgotten about it. I began the tricky task of pulling the shirt down around my middle, realising in a moment of icy shock that it was the one Duo had bought me when he came to the conclusion that he really loved my bellybutton. I looked at him pleadingly, holding my hand out for the house keys back, but he shrugged dismissively and opened the car door for me with a wicked smirk. I pointed at my bare midriff, now cold in the morning air, with a pair of puppy eyes that would have made even Colonel Une's heart melt.

"Matches your legs." He commented, putting one hand around my back and guiding me none-too-gently into the car. Cheerfully closing the door after me, he hopped into the driver's seat and adjusted his sunglasses. "Seatbelt," He instructed. "There's a good boy."

"But I'm coooold!" I whined desperately. "This is inhumane!"

He started the engine and looked at me matter-of-factly. "Well, Mr. Yui," He began,

"You should have thought of that before you put on those bloody jeans that you *know* I hate."

There was a moment's pause before his face broke out into a cheeky grin and he eased the car forward and down the street.

"Brrumph." I said sulkily, pouting in a childish manner which meant I had to fight to keep a smile off my face whilst I did it. "Fucking freezing. Your fault."

Changing gear smoothly, and turning onto the main road, Duo's eyes flicked to the address he'd placed on the dashboard, the only guide he had to his destination. He then glanced at me briefly, before reaching out one hand to rub my bare, chilled stomach soothingly.

"Just go back to sleep, o grouchy one." He quipped.


When I awoke, he seemed lazily content with our progress; a languid smile on his face and a gleam in his eyes behind his sunglasses. Looking to my right, I could see nothing but desert, which didn't inspire the same confidence in me, but I shrugged and let him get on with it. Sitting up straighter in the seat, skin sticking uncomfortably to the black leather, I yawned and murmured,

"Whure ur we?"

"'Bout halfway there." He answered softly, stroking my hair in a welcoming sort of way. "Feeling better?"

"I'm too hot now." I said, sticking my tongue out at him. "What happened to the weather? Why's it gone all ... crap?"

He shrugged dismissively. Wearing a short-sleeved black shirt and dark jeans, he didn't seem in the least bit affected by the sauna-like temperatures we were experiencing. His hair, which he'd swiftly braided that morning, was hanging over his right shoulder and gently tapping against his thigh. I felt the urge to lean over and toy with the end, the gentle coil that sat at the end of the twists of hair, but I had a feeling he'd get distracted by my hands in his lap and drive us into a sand dune, so I resisted. With every fibre of my strength. Almost as if he'd read my mind, though, he used his left hand to carefully draw the braid over his right shoulder and then brought it closer to me, letting it fall down next to my knee so that I could play with it. I smiled, grateful for the gift and for his having known what I wanted, and snuggled into his shoulder as I ran my fingers through the tips of his luscious, light brown hair.

All was calm, in the moment, as he sleepily absorbed my touch on the strands of his long hair and nuzzled his body back into mine and I nearly fell asleep again. I probably would have, and all would have remained calm, had it not been for the interference of Michael Jackson. Not literally, of course. Over the radio. I caught the opening bars of 'The Way You Make Me Feel' with a gleeful laugh, just as Duo reacted with a horrified stare, as if in disbelief that the object could commit such a crime as to inflict Michael Jackson on him at a peaceful moment such as this. Duo hates Michael Jackson. And the reason for this, I presume, is because I love nothing more than singing along to said singer. Hiiro Yui cannot sing. Hiiro Yui would make some of the rejects on Pop Idol look like Maria Callas. But, as they say, I make up for my lack of talent with my excess in enthusiasm, and I try very hard to imitate the little vocal spins of Mr. Jackson. This would amply explain why Duo hurriedly tried to either change the channel or break the radio, so as to recapture that moment of tranquility just seconds away.

He was in vain; defeated by my extraordinary Devastated Look. He's now immune to my puppy eyes, but he cannot bring himself to refuse me if he thinks I'm going to cry. Duo hates seeing me cry. He hates even the idea that I might cry. He's even willing to put up with my Michael Jackson caterwauling, if it means he escapes seeing me in tears. Not that I cry that often; usually only after I've had a nightmare, like last night. It's just the threat of it that gets him, and I've a horrible, sadistic yet strangely amusing habit of exploiting it. And so it was; the song stayed on, and I did my best to pitch my voice to a suitable height in order to copy the 'ee-hee' noises of the opening bars. It must have been torture for him. The only MJ song I've heard he likes is 'They Don't Really Care About Us'. Why this is, I can't possibly imagine:

'In my soup, on the news,
Everybody, dog food
Bang bang, shot dead,
Everybody gone mad
All I wanna say is that they don't really care about us.'

Absolute nonsense at such high speed that I can't keep up with it. 'Nuff said.

I think really, though, the other reason that Duo doesn't like me singing Michael Jackson songs is that they're mainly about girls in pretty dresses or women said Jackson is being accused of impregnating. It makes Duo somewhat edgy listening to me sing,

'Hey, pretty baby with the high heels on, You give me fever like I've never, ever known!'

Still. He indulged me for the first verse and chorus before looking decidedly pained.

"Doesn't he sing any songs about guys with long braided hair who love their Japanese boyfriends that cannot sing?" He inquired innocently.

'The way you make me feel...You really turn me on...You knock me off my feet...' I sang back happily, as a response, and he grinned.

"Better." He confirmed.

'Go on, girl! Aaow!'


"Ee-hee! Mm?"

"Shut up."

"Well, Mr. Maxwell," I began, "You should have thought of that before you made me wear this shirt, which you *know* I hate."

And before he could reply,

"Just drive, o defeated one."


And so, he did. Around in circles for appromixately six hours. How this is possible on a straight road, I don't know, but we certainly ended up pretty far from where we wanted to be. Or at least, that's what Duo thought. He was getting really annoyed by this point, displaying a rare show of his scary temper as he bashed the steering wheel with one hand and sighed. I looked around for any indication of where we were, and getting none, I sank back into my seat with a resigned heart. He looked at me softly and stroked my hair.

"I think we're lost, baba." He mused, then gazing wistfully at the dark sand blowing across the sun-baked black roads before him.

I nodded in agreement. "It's getting pretty dark. Haven't a clue where we are, can't see a damn thing."

"I know." He confirmed. "Bit pointless continuing like this, because we'll just get more lost, but I haven't the faintest what we're going to do."

I shrugged, toying with the radio in the hope that it might have magically converted itself into a location-finder or some kind of incredible map. No such luck, I decided, hearing the positively whiny tones of The Bee Gees leaking out of its grates. With a shudder, I switched it off and glanced back at Duo, who looked both tired and stressed.

"Stay here?" I suggested nonchalantly. As far as I was concerned, he needed sleep pretty bad and I wasn't worried about staying put. We've been in far more dangerous situations than this in our time, and it looked comfortable enough to me.

"What?" Obviously, Duo did not share this logic.

"Here, stay here? Just stay here for the night, you get some sleep, and I'll see if I can get us unlost tomorrow morning."

"We can't stay here." He stated, more as a reflex response than a decision based on deep consideration.

"Why not?" I objected, with a shrug of my shoulders, letting the cool wind whip my hair up.

"Because it's not safe. And it's freezing. The car isn't comfortable, and we'll get aches, and probably murdered." He smirked a little as he spoke, despite his own weariness.

"Well, if you feel like driving around some more, not finding a motel, not finding anywhere more comfortable, and getting all the while even more exhausted, that's fine. We'll just follow your plan." I knew I had him. Even the mere mention that his tiredness could get any worse was enough to stall him in his tracks and force him to reconsider. Poor baby, he really was utterly knackered.

"Okay. You win. But I'm not taking the blame if we're both killed by some demented psychopath." He muttered but seemed to relent, veering down into a dune and switching the engine off, comforted that we were surrounded by small walls of sand and thus safer than exposed on the main road.

"Trowa hates deserts." I said by way of explanation. "So don't worry."

His smirk widened. He tells me off for my Tro-baiting, but I know he loves it really, in a sadistic sort of way. Then, his face flickered vaguely into a serious expression and he half-heartedly tried to scold me. Not getting very far, he settled for having my coat drawn over him and then snuggled against me, closing his eyes for some well-earned shut-eye.

Leaving me in my insomniatic state to ponder all the possible ways of wiping Trowa Barton out of the Universe as we know it.

Good times, good times.

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