This was agony. Heero had never been so anxious for anything in his life, so worried and impatient. What Duo must be feeling he couldn’t even begin to imagine.
What if this didn’t work? What if the night rolled on and on, what if the moon rose higher and higher, and nothing happened? Would they simply start over and try to keep closer this time? What effect would that have on Duo? Hell, on Heero? Could he live another thirty days like this? He never had managed to tell Duo the unfortunate news about Trowa… how much longer would he keep putting that off?
There was no warning; it happened all at once, with a slight flash: Heero found that his hand was no longer clenched around a small plastic figure in a Star Trek uniform, but resting on the warm flesh of a bare human arm. He drew in a breath that was stabbingly sharp in its suddenness as he jerked the hand back instinctively. The entire world seemed to grind to a maddeningly painful sluggishness as Heero turned slowly under the moonlight to look at Duo for the first time.
Standing a couple of inches taller than him, Duo, though solidly-built, was as scrawny as Heero would expect of someone that hadn’t actually eaten in eighty-seven years (though, logically, why he should have expected this, when Duo had been a doll for all that time, he wasn’t really sure). And as Duo was completely naked — of the little uniform there was no visible trace — it was obvious that he was also every bit as well-hung as his plastic proportions had indicated, though Heero (for various reasons) didn’t let his gaze linger long that far down.
Moonlight on one side and electric light from indoors on the other fell on skin from head to toe that looked smooth and flawless. (A result of the curse breaking, perhaps? Heero had no concept of what that entailed, nor of what Duo’s skin had been like before.) His braid, still coming undone at the end as it never had been tied properly, fell as far as ever, but now obviously had the weight and fluidity dictated by its new mass, since it was swinging gently from side to side as if from sudden motion.
And his face… It was like seeing a work of art done over in a totally different style… the live-action version of a long-running cartoon… all the aspects Heero had come to know, now in a more appreciable form. But that wasn’t all. Simply put, Duo’s face was perfectly, stunningly beautiful. And his eyes really did seem — though it was hard to tell in this dimness — actually to be that impossibly warm blue Heero had so long admired.
Heero would have known him anywhere in an instant — without the braid, without the eye color. Beyond these obvious identifiers, there were other, subtler indications that yet spoke loudly to Heero: even in this long-awaited, breathless moment between the curse and the rest of his life, even dazed and motionless, Duo’s bearing and expression, perhaps some invisible air about him, were so perfectly typical of him, of everything Heero knew of him, that he would have known him even if every physical feature had been completely different from what he’d anticipated.
The moment ended. Duo’s eyes widened, and he swayed slightly as if, as seemed not unlikely, his sense of balance was a little rusty. He clutched the balcony railing for a second or two, breathing hard, and his gaze sought out Heero’s. Then he threw himself at Heero and started to scream.
There were words in there somewhere, but Heero couldn’t make them out. He was far too occupied being squeezed to death by the enraptured Duo; trying to keep them upright as Duo half jumped, half danced even while hugging Heero; hoping not to go deaf as Duo shouted his sudden, overwhelming excitement and happiness directly into Heero’s ear; wondering vaguely what the neighbors were making of this; and processing his own massive relief and pleasure at the success of the past month’s endeavors.
Duo was threatening to drag them both to the ground with his wild movements, his arms strong and warm and insistent on Heero’s shoulders, and he was still yelling. Heero was laughing in amusement and fondness at Duo’s behavior and happiness at the situation in general, but he couldn’t help thinking that out on the balcony might not be the best place for a naked Duo to go on screaming. Heero thought he’d already seen signs of other apartment-dwellers’ curiosity or annoyance at the circumstance.
His suggestion they go inside probably wasn’t heard at all; but Duo did allow himself to be led, a little unsteady, through the door. There he stopped in the hall, as if he was incapable of walking any farther — and his faulty balance made this theory seem plausible — and continued his rejoicing with tears running down his face.
This time Heero could pick words and phrases out of the noise, but they were so slurred and disjointed still — “walking agnn… muscles, ohmygod… eighty-se’en… feel th’air… moving around’n my own… whole fucking month…” — that Heero’s laughter did not abate. At least, not until Duo put his hands on him.
If they weren’t exactly the same hands Heero had invented for his fantasies, they were close enough that the old, hypothetical image was already melting into the wonderful reality. And now they were sliding manically over Heero’s body, across his face and through his hair, up and down his shoulders and arms and back and chest.
“It’s real,” Duo said, more or less coherently. “I can feel you.” He obviously had no idea of the effect this was having on Heero, nor how close the latter feared he was to giving everything away. And yet Heero couldn’t move; he’d wanted for so long to have Duo’s hands on him, the tangible warmth and presence of Duo so near him, that he simply could not bring himself to pull away. His entire body was heating, desire washing through him.
Then Duo threw his arms around Heero, pushing right up against him; Heero could feel Duo’s face against his neck, and Duo’s hot, excited breaths on his skin ensured that Heero could draw none of his own. “You smell j’s like I imagined,” Duo whispered. He lifted his hands and ran them through Heero’s hair again as he drew back, and Heero feared that his effort not to shudder in response was in vain. Half an instant later it didn’t matter, though, for Duo had come eye-to-eye with him again — and leaned in and kissed him.
Utterly stunned, Heero couldn’t at first respond in any way. But when Duo would have pulled away almost immediately in a jerky movement suggesting he hadn’t meant to do it in the first place, an instinct not unlike self-preservation kicked in and sent Heero’s hands out clutching at Duo hastily and desperately, keeping him close, and he kissed him back hard. It didn’t matter that Duo had probably only done it in the heat of his returning sensations. It didn’t matter that it undoubtedly didn’t mean to him what it meant to Heero. All that mattered in the entire universe was that Duo, human again, was kissing him.
Duo’s eyes widened, and then he pushed even closer, pulling at Heero more tightly, and thrust his tongue into Heero’s mouth. And perhaps he’d been having a hard time getting it to work properly for a while at first, but he seemed to have remembered plenty about its usage by now.
He was hot through Heero’s clothes, his restless hands still running across Heero’s form with abandon, and Heero’s concerns about why Duo had begun this kiss were melting away along with the rest of creation. His arms slid up Duo’s bare back, which was as smooth and flawless as it had appeared in the moonlight, one hand taking hold of the braid and gripping it tightly while the other simply pulled at Duo as if it were possible for him to come nearer. He was pressed fully up against Heero as it was, clutching just as desperately as Heero and squirming as if unable to stand still, provoking Heero into that full display of desire he’d been so trepidatious about just a few minutes before.
Duo’s skin beneath Heero’s hands was warm and soft, and he smelled and tasted strong and new and clean as if he’d just been made. And he was kissing Heero with a passion and intensity that suggested Heero had been wrong about a number of things. Only when Heero was thoroughly dizzy, erect, and breathless — and god knew how Duo was affected, given that he’d already been unsteady — did they break apart far enough to draw in gasping breaths and attempt verbal expression.
“I thought…” Heero was staring at Duo’s eyes — Duo’s beautiful human eyes; how could they really be that color? — and speaking only a breath away from his lips. “I thought you didn’t…”
“I thought you didn’t!” Duo replied.
And by mutual accord they erased the distance between them again — this time in a bone-creaking hug, holding each other as close as possible as if in defiance of this apparently long-running misunderstanding.
“Well, I do,” Heero said fiercely into Duo’s ear.
“Me too,” said Duo, rendering the entire exchange a triumph of coherency. “Forever and ever and ever.”
Heero chuckled weakly at this, though he really felt like crying. He was aware of Duo’s shiver at the touch of his breath against his neck. “Oh, god,” Duo said, and began slowly and very deliberately grinding his bare erection against Heero’s clothed one. “It is so good to finally be able to feel you.”
Both the touch and the words made Heero shudder, which was punctuated by another wave of desire. As he drew back, releasing Duo, he saw in the other’s face a look of mixed need, pleasure, and apprehension lest he’d been too forward. Heero took him by both hands and, walking backwards, pulled him through the door into his shadowy bedroom. Duo, now grinning with relief, allowed himself to be maneuvered toward the bed.
“Sit down,” Heero commanded. “You’re going to feel this.”