torch, December 2000 (January 2001)

Disclaimer: These are not my beautiful boys. Editorial work by elynross and !Super Cat (with a brief cameo by Shoshanna), errors by the author, premise by ari, setting and (lack of) timeline by the fannish hive mind. Do not archive this story without permission.


Duo stood with his forehead pressed against the windowpane and stared out into a thick flurry of white snowflakes against a backdrop of blackest night. He knew there was a tree not ten feet from the window, a big old oak with a trunk so thick it would take three or four of them to reach around it, but he couldn't so much as glimpse it. He turned around.

"It's still snowing." No one in the room reacted. Wufei was curled up at one end of the ratty couch, reading. Heero was sitting cross-legged in front of the fireplace, intent on the laptop screen. Trowa was juggling four small multicolored balls over in the far corner, and Quatre sat on the floor and leaned back against the couch, folding paper cranes. He'd made three good ones and about fourteen that looked like experiments in an unscrupulous gene lab. Duo sighed. "It's still snowing, and I'm—"

"—bored," Wufei said without lifting his head. "We know."

"Yeah, well, you're not doing much to entertain me." Duo walked away from the window. "We've been snowed in for a week. Whose bright idea was it to hole up in a cottage in northern Europe in winter, anyway?"

"Mine," Quatre said, "because I thought we might have a little peace and quiet. It seems I was— Duo!"

"What?" Duo looked down. "Oops." He'd stepped on one of the paper cranes — one of the good ones, too. Quatre was looking up at him rather darkly. "Sorry. I wasn't looking where I was going."

"I noticed." Quatre lifted Duo's foot and put it down away from the paper cranes. "Go and watch Trowa juggle, or something."

Duo turned his head. Trowa was juggling. So what. "I've seen it," he said. "For about six hours. I don't know about you, but it started to feel old to me after about ten minutes." One of the balls flew through the air and smacked him in the forehead. "Hey! That hurt!"

Not a whole lot, admittedly, but more than not being hit by a red and blue and yellow juggling ball. Duo bent and picked it up and threw it back, aiming for Trowa's face somewhere, only to find that Trowa was better at dodging, and also better armed. The next three balls hit him on the chin, the shoulder, and in his solar plexus. Duo oofed, ducked to pick them up, and began hurling them back. The first one hit Trowa's knee. The second one might have, too, except that Quatre stood up just then and it bounced off his shoulder and down into Wufei's book.

Quatre's mildly affronted "Duo!" was drowned out by Wufei's "This is a first edition! Go be bored somewhere else!"

"You haven't turned a page in thirty minutes!" Duo turned and glared right back at Wufei. "You were probably sleeping with your eyes open, anyway!" He took a step in Wufei's direction.

"Duo," Quatre's voice dropped into a deeper register, "step away from my paper cranes."

"Your paper cranes are defective," Wufei said. "If you'd stayed down on the floor, nothing would have happened. Stay away from my book."

"Hey!" Quatre's eyes narrowed.

Duo threw the third ball at Trowa, who caught it in the air and said, quite mildly, "Duo, if you're bored, we can practise a knife-throwing routine. Go stand against the wall over there and wait while I find a blindfold."

"I'm not wearing a blindfold while you throw sharp metal objects at me, Trowa."

"The blindfold is for me," Trowa said, and sent the ball he'd caught flying back, smacking into Duo's cheek.

"Damn it—!"

There was a small, quiet clicking sound. Duo turned his head. Heero had closed the laptop. Not only had he closed the laptop, but he was getting to his feet and looking at all of them with a level, appraising gaze. "This level of tension is not acceptable," he said.

Duo snorted. "You're right," he said. "Let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya."

Heero shook his head. "There are better ways of dissipating tension. We should all have sex," he said, and began to peel off his tanktop.

It was Quatre who found his voice first. "We should what?"

"Have sex." Heero dropped the tanktop on the floor. "Relieve tensions and defuse the current situation. The constant buildup of—"

"Heero!" Duo wasn't sure, but he thought his eyes might be bugging out of his head. Wufei's certainly were. "Are you saying that we — that we all should — with each other—"

"Yes." Heero stepped out of his shoes, took off his socks, and came closer. "The bed in the room by the kitchen should be big enough."

"Heero," Duo said with conviction, "you're crazy."

"It's the most time-efficient solution," Heero said flatly, walked up to Quatre and kissed him. The silence was broken by three small thuds as Trowa dropped the juggling balls on the floor.

Duo closed his eyes and counted to ten. When he opened them again, Heero was still kissing Quatre, who had tangled one hand into Heero's hair and was kissing him back very enthusiastically. Heero was tugging Quatre's shirt out of his pants. Duo glanced over at Trowa, whose face was blank with shock. He thought he probably looked like that himself. Turning back, he was just in time to see Heero take the book out of Wufei's hands and push Quatre down on Wufei's lap, where Quatre proceeded to kiss Wufei with just as much enthusiasm. Duo felt his jaw drop. "How did you get him to do that? Is that, like, a secret brain-washing technique or something?"

"Hormones," Heero said, as if that explained everything. He took hold of Duo and dragged him closer, and Duo had time to think oh my G— before Heero kissed him.

Some time passed.

Duo gasped for air. He had thought about kissing Heero. He had thought rather a lot about kissing Heero, from time to time. He'd never thought it might happen in a shabby room in a small cabin in a country he couldn't pronounce, while Quatre and Wufei necked on the couch not a foot away and Trowa stood staring at all of them as though wondering who to shoot first. Before Duo could grab Heero and demand an instant replay of the past few minutes, Heero had vaulted over the back of the couch and headed straight for Trowa.

"I'm not really in—" Trowa said, and then Heero was on him. Duo was watching closely this time and saw Trowa's eyes first widen with shock and then flutter closed, saw Trowa's hands come up to grasp at Heero's bare, smooth shoulders. That looked good. A little too good, and Duo turned his head, only to be faced with Quatre nibbling on Wufei's neck, while Wufei had his hands under Quatre's untucked shirt.

He wondered what it would take to restore sanity, but just then Heero said, "Come on," and pulled Trowa along out the door.

"Good idea," Quatre said, got up from the couch and took Duo's hand, and then Wufei's, as well, and followed. Duo thought about pulling his hand free. He thought about just going back to sit on the couch and read Wufei's book until this madness was over. But then, as weird as this was, it was a chance to have sex with Heero, or at least get to see Heero have sex. With other people. Three other people.

Duo shook his head, letting Quatre tug him along to the big bedroom with the big bed. The cabin could have done with a complete makeover, or at least new wallpaper that didn't look quite so much like used baby diapers, but this bed was a good piece of furniture, wide and solid. Heero was standing by the side of the bed, stripping Trowa, who offered very little in the way of resistance. Maybe Heero had slipped the others some kind of inhibition-removing drug when he'd kissed them, and just forgotten to give Duo any.

But Heero hadn't kissed Wufei, and Wufei was unbuttoning Quatre's shirt, and slipping the shirt and vest off Quatre's shoulders. Duo started to wonder what had happened to the world as he knew it. He was still wondering when Heero pushed a naked Trowa onto the bed and turned to him, tugging at his sweater. "Take your clothes off."

"Listen," Duo tried, "I don't know if—"

Heero kissed him again.

When he came back to his senses this time, he found that his sweater was up under his armpits, and his pants pooled on the floor around his ankles. Heero let go of him, and he staggered and clutched at the nearest solid thing, which was Quatre. Quatre's bare shoulder. Quatre was, in fact, bare all over and turned to Duo with a happy smile, tugging at the sweater until it slid over Duo's head, and then kissing him. It wasn't quite the same mind-altering experience as being kissed by Heero, but it was... nice, actually, and Quatre was very warm against him, stroking his back, pulling back to smile into his eyes. "Bed."

Duo stepped out of his pants. Heero, Trowa, and Wufei were already on the bed. Naked. All tangled up. It was an appealing sight, and he could have stood and just looked for a while, but Quatre pushed him down on the bed and got on top of him, which was a fairly effective distraction. They rubbed against each other, and kissed. Duo heard someone cry out. When he turned his head he saw that Heero had just gone down on Wufei, and Trowa had just gone down on Heero, and Wufei, whose mouth was free, was making little gasping sounds of overwhelmed pleasure.

It only stood to reason, Duo thought darkly, that Heero would give blow jobs with the same skill that he kissed, and then Quatre stroked the inside of his thigh and he arched into the touch. "Hey." Maybe, since Quatre was being so nice to him, he should try being a little nice back. "Move up a bit."

Quatre moved, and Duo flipped them over and began to lick at Quatre's chest, pale skin tasting a little like cream. The others had apparently decided to skip right over anything resembling foreplay, but Duo wanted to take his time, chew on Quatre's nipples and hear him moan, let things build a little. He liked the way Quatre pushed the weight of his braid aside to tickle at the back of his neck. Maybe Heero had a point. It was good to touch. They all needed this. He and Quatre tussled a little, pushing and stroking and kissing and biting, and rolled over again. Quatre sucked at Duo's throat, and he thrust up, rubbing their cocks together. Turning his head to give Quatre better access, Duo came almost nose-to-knee with Wufei, who was all tangled up with Trowa, the two of them licking and sucking at each other — but then, where was Heero?

A sharper bite than he'd expected made him jerk. "Sorry," Quatre said huskily, and then made a sound at the back of his throat and shifted on top of Duo, spreading his legs. Duo looked over Quatre's shoulder. Of course Heero had found lube somewhere. For all Duo knew, Heero kept lube in the spandex right next to his gun. And to judge by the noises coming from Quatre, Heero was putting it to good use. Duo felt a small flare of jealousy, but it was difficult to be anything but turned on by the way Quatre moved against him. He rocked his hips, meeting Quatre's erection with his own again.

Heero shifted to kneel astride Duo's legs, grabbed Quatre's hips and moved his body a bit, and Duo watched as Quatre's eyes went wide at first and then dreamily half-lidded with pleasure. Pressed down under the double weight of Quatre and Heero, Duo couldn't do much more than lie there and feel Quatre's body rock against his own, up to meet Heero's thrusts and then down again, grinding against Duo and oh, that was good. Quatre was flushed, tousled, and enraptured; next to them Trowa and Wufei made a lovely yin-yang of bronze and pale flesh, both of them moaning around the other's cock. Duo couldn't see Heero. He closed his eyes and kissed Quatre instead.

Things were getting intense for everyone, he could feel it, hear it. See it, when he opened his eyes to watch Quatre, beautifully lost to the rhythm of sex, fingers digging into Duo's shoulders. He could almost sense it in his own body when Quatre became rougher and wilder in his movements, nearing orgasm. Almost.

A muffled cry to the left of him was Wufei, coming, and Heero was pushing into Quatre, who was pushing against Duo, who was pressed into the bed. He could have sworn the whole room shook. Quatre buried his face against Duo's neck, tensed up, and then dissolved into release. Over Quatre's shoulder Duo saw Heero, brows drawn together, mouth a thin line of concentration, and he just about held his breath as Heero kept fucking Quatre with short, increasingly fast thrusts until he slumped forward and buried himself deep, crushing Quatre and Duo into the mattress.

"Heero," Duo said after a little while, pushing at the weight holding him down. "Quatre. I can't breathe." He worked an arm free and shook Heero's shoulder. "Hey! Post-orgasmic daze boy! Roll over, dammit!" Trowa and Wufei were also still and silent now, and Duo realized that he'd missed Trowa's orgasm, which didn't concern him overmuch, and missed seeing the expression on Heero's face as he came, which made him feel a twinge inside like watching someone else get the last helping of dessert and being left with an empty plate.

Before Duo could turn blue, Heero pulled away and lay down to one side, tugging Quatre along. Duo drew a deep breath. Now he felt cold instead. Heero cupped Quatre's face in his hand and looked at him for a moment, seriously and inquiringly, and then kissed him. Quatre, apparently, had a recovery time of point two seconds. The kiss ended, and Quatre looked at Heero and smiled brilliantly, then, to Duo's surprise, clambered over Heero to launch himself at the Wufei-and-Trowa tangle.

Heero looked at Duo. "You didn't come."

"No," Duo agreed, since it was pretty obvious.

Heero pushed himself up to his knees, looked for something and found it, tossing it onto Duo's chest: the lube. He got on his hands and knees and looked at Duo over his shoulder. "You can fuck me."

Duo experienced a moment of almost surreal dizziness. He blinked, and then thought, what the hell. Yes, he could do that. He could definitely do that. Taking hold of the lube, he got to his knees as well and squeezed out cool gel on his hot, unsteady fingers. The easy way Heero opened up to him made him wonder, and fight another wave of jealousy. It didn't matter, he told himself, slicking himself up. Live in the moment. The line of Heero's back, the curve of his ass, the utterly perfect tight heat of him... this was a moment so good Duo thought he could live in it forever, could die in it, too.

With the first deep thrust, he was lost. This was better than anything. He gripped at Heero's hips, caressed his back, wished he could touch everywhere but that would have meant not fucking Heero and he couldn't stop. Maybe if it killed him. Maybe not even then. Glancing to the side he saw that Trowa was between Quatre and Wufei, and it seemed that there must have been a second tube of slick somewhere, and the way that looked with Trowa on his hands and knees like that was actually seriously hot, but it was nothing compared to being inside Heero.

Duo curved an arm around Heero's chest and tugged, straightening them both up and then sitting back on his heels, with Heero on his lap. He pressed his face into the back of Heero's neck and slid his hands down Heero's chest, over the taut stomach, down to wrap around Heero's cock, which was hard again, alive and hot against his fingers. Duo stroked it slowly, just barely shifting his hips in time with the rhythm, until Heero began to move, working himself up and down. The bed was creaking, and the room echoed with moans and grunts and short breathless cries. Duo licked at the sweat on Heero's shoulder; his own braid was sticking to his back.

When Heero started to pant, pushing down hard and putting one of his own hands over Duo's to tighten the grip, Duo let go instead, because he didn't want it to be over yet, not just yet. Despite Heero's dangerous growl of protest, he shifted them forward again, so that Heero was on his hands and knees, then elbows and knees, and Duo was fucking him faster and harder and this wasn't going to make it last longer, not at all. But oh God, it felt so good, to be pressed against Heero's back, to be deep inside him. Duo's hand was locked into Heero's, and he thought his fingers would break when Heero's grip tightened. Heero bucked, slamming himself into Duo's steady rhythm, and growled again, tight and taut and Duo had time to think that he was going to miss seeing it again and then Heero was coming, and that was it, just knowing Heero was coming because of him and he was coming too, dazzled and breathless and full of joy.

They crashed down into the mattress together, and Duo rested his head against Heero's shoulder and waited for his heart to slow down. He watched, lazy and detached, as Trowa came, with a different kind of stillness on his face, and Quatre came, flushed and noisy and almost laughing, and Wufei came, with a scowl that was oddly cute. But he still didn't know what Heero looked like in that moment. Duo turned his head and kissed the back of Heero's neck, just because it was there and because he could. The other three settled down, too, drifting off into their own exhaustion.

The air in the room was cool, Duo noticed after a while. It was winter, and the cabin, though it had its virtues.... He thought about that, trying to come up with any virtues beyond the big bed. Anyway, the cabin was a bit drafty. Heero was warm, though. It would be nice to just lie like this for a long, long time, holding Heero and thinking about nothing in particular, but he couldn't stop the movement of his thoughts. This had been a weird evening, and he had no idea what would happen next. Maybe they'd all get up tomorrow and it would be as though nothing had happened at all. Maybe Heero would order them all into bed again as soon as they seemed cranky.

That thought was enough to make Duo consider, for a moment, just how annoying he could manage to be if he tried. Then he sighed, and disentangled himself, feeling a small twinge at Heero's mumbled protest. He rolled off the bed and walked out of the room. The hallway seemed even colder, and Duo slipped into the bathroom, where the water didn't run quite as hot as he'd have liked, but he washed himself off anyway. At least the towels were big and fluffy.

He walked out into the living room. The reading lamp by the couch was on, illuminating a cushion still dented by Wufei's weight as well as the scattering of paper cranes and paper mutants on the floor. Duo wandered over to the window. It was snowing even harder than before, the air more white than dark. About as interesting as watching television static, Duo thought and snorted to himself, but all the same he stood where he was, leaning against the cold glass, looking out. His body still hummed with lingering pleasure, but his thoughts kept going around and around.

After a while he became aware that he was being watched. Duo turned around and saw that Heero was standing by the couch. They looked at each other for a while, and then Heero came over to the window, too. "That was supposed to improve your mood," he said.

"Worried about a mission failure?" The floor was cold; Duo curled his toes and straightened them again. "It seems to have worked well enough with the others."

"I'm not talking about the others. I'm talking about you."

Duo sighed. "I'll be a good little pilot tomorrow," he said. "I won't disturb the group dynamic, so you won't have to resort to any more extreme measures. Sheesh, where'd you come up with that idea, anyway?"

"I was taught during my training that—"

Duo waved his hands frantically. "No, stop, don't tell me, I don't want to know!" But of course his mind had gone there already, wondering what, exactly, this training had entailed. He shook his head. "Never mind, Heero. Go to bed, or something."

"You should go to bed, too." To Duo's utter amazement, Heero took his hand. "Does sex usually increase your tension level instead of decreasing it?"

"That depends," Duo said, and knew that Heero was going to ask him what it depended on. He twisted the end of his braid around his free hand. "I don't usually have sex with more than one person at a time. And this wasn't quite what I wanted."

Heero looked remote, but he still kept hold of Duo's hand. "What did you want, then?"


"You had me," Heero said, without even a trace of a blush.

Duo felt a strong urge to whack Heero in the face with his braid. Either that, or kiss him. "What I wanted," he said clearly, "what I've wanted for a long time now, is to be with you because I want to be with you and you want to be with me, not because you think the tension level in the group is unacceptable and you decide we should all expend some nervous energy together."

"I see." Heero twined his fingers with Duo's. He stepped in closer and brushed his lips over Duo's mouth, light as snowflakes falling. "But I still think we should go to bed. We can do that tomorrow."

When Heero tugged at Duo's hand, Duo stumbled along, more dazed now than at any point earlier in the evening. "Heero," he said, felt something crumple under his bare feet and looked down to see that he was destroying more paper cranes. "Heero, damn it, do you even know what I'm talking about? This isn't something you can check off on your daily to-do list!"

Heero just pulled him along. Back in the bedroom, the others had crawled in under the covers and looked to be asleep, curled up close together, with Quatre's head resting on Trowa's shoulder and Trowa's hand curled into Wufei's loosened hair. Duo had to smile at the sight. Heero lifted the covers and pushed Duo into bed, and crawled in after him, putting an arm around him and drawing the covers around them. Pressed between Wufei's back and Heero's chest, Duo realized he wasn't getting back out again anytime soon, so he might as well enjoy the warmth.

As for what was going to happen tomorrow.... He sighed. He would have liked to continue the discussion, but it would wake the others up, and Duo didn't think three more participants would improve that particular conversation. He could feel unhappiness gather in the muscles between his shoulderblades.

Then Heero's arm tightened around him, and Heero breathed warmly against his ear. "I want to be with you," Heero said, his voice quiet and matter-of-fact. "Tomorrow, we'll take the other bed. Now go to sleep."

Duo closed his eyes and scooted back a tiny bit, into Heero's embrace. Maybe they'd be snowed in for another week. He didn't mind. Not at all. Tomorrow, in the other bed, there was something he would finally get to see.

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