Chapter 1: Chance
From Silence to Sound
“That is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen,” Quatre said.
“I beg to differ,” Duo said. “Remember that lamp Relena gave you and Trowa as a wedding gift.”
“Okay you’re right,” Quatre conceded. “But that rust bucket is a close second.”
The rust bucket in question was supposed to be a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air, but it looked more like a trash pile.
“Just you wait Q by the time I’m through with this car it is going to be a babe magnet.” Duo proclaimed.
That had been one year ago and today the body that had been mostly rust was a glossy teal that perfectly matched the color the car would have been in its prime. Now if Duo could get his masterpiece to drive farther than the end of the driveway he would be in business.
Calling it a lost cause for the day Duo headed over to the garage sink to wash up. When came up out of the sink from washing his face Heero was standing by the garage opening.
“Yo,” Duo greeted his longtime friend and housemate. “What’s up?”
“I need a favor,” Heero said. “What did you have planned for this afternoon?”
“Alexander called,” Heero paused. “Apparently there was some trouble at the rental property and he needs a wall fixed without Quatre finding out about it.”
Duo laughed, “Oh boy. I bet there’s a story there.”
“I was supposed to be the one to fix it but I forgot about WuFei’s martial arts exhibition. If I miss going to see it, he’ll dump me.”
“And kick your ass.”
“And kick my ass. So will you do it?”
“What’s in it for me?” Duo asked rubbing his hands together.
Heero went in his wallet and pulled out a few bills totaling fifty dollars. He handed the cash to Duo.
Duo looked at it and smiled. “Sucker, I would have done it for twenty but thanks.” He smacked Heero on the arm.
Heero glared. “Just make sure you get it done today.”
“No prob, buddy. Since when have I ever let you down? Don’t answer that.”
Heero walked away shaking his head. Duo followed him back to their home. After the war and some time apart the former Gundam pilots had settled down together in a three bedroom three bath cabin in the woods. The place was owned by Quatre and he found it amusing to make all of them with the exception of Trowa pay rent. The cabin was quite a long commute to Preventer’s headquarters where they all worked but they enjoyed their privacy.
A short bit away from their cabin was another cabin also owned by Quatre this one was rented by an artist named Alden and his husband Alexander. The Comodeens were a nice enough couple. Alexander was quite a bit older than Alden, about ten years. Both were blond. Alexander stood a much taller than his husband. Being an artist Alden was kind of flighty and eccentric but the two were in love and Alexander spoiled his young husband like nobody’s business. Alexander rented the cabin for Alden so he could have beautiful scenery to inspire his artwork. The nearby lake and surrounding forest had no lack of beauty so the area was perfect inspiration. As for the cabin itself, Duo, Heero, and WuFei earned a rent break for performing upkeep on the property. As soon as Duo and Heero entered their home they were greeted by Trowa.
“Forgot another date Heero?” Trowa asked.
Heero ignored him and went to change. Trowa shook his head and sipped from a nearby mug of coffee.
“You think he would keep track of things like that seeing how anal retentive he is about everything else,” he said. “Add that commitment phobia and it’s a wonder WuFei hasn’t left him for Sally yet.”
Duo laughed, “Yeah. Seriously Tro, WuFei made me promise him I wouldn’t meet anyone, fall in love, and get married before Heero proposes to him.”
Quatre entered from the laundry room. “Really, so do you have any prospects then Duo?”
“None at all and I plan on keeping it that way.”
“Duo,” Quatre began.
Duo cut him off, “Don’t go divining my emotions Q I’m perfectly happy on my own. Now if you’ll excuse me I have things to do.”
Duo bound off to his room with his braid bouncing behind him. He changed quickly into a shirt that didn’t reek and ducked out the back door before Quatre could start on him again. The blonde was of a mind that Duo should be dating instead of tinkering with old cars and machines in his garage, but Duo was in no hurry to dive in the shark pit of the singles game, especially since he knew what he was looking for did not exist.
A run-in with a fortune teller had confirmed that. The one he was destined to love died as a child. He had not only died the child been brutally murdered before he and Duo had even met. Duo hadn’t blinked an eye at the hag’s proclamation. Maybe she was wrong? The air in her shop had been thick with the smell of marijuana. She was high. Duo would not spend the rest of his life alone. The right guy for him did exist.
Duo looked up the blue sky through the trees. It was much too nice a day to be depressed. He headed into the garage for his tool kit and anything he needed to repair the drywall like putty, tape, and epoxy and made his way to the neighboring cabin. Upon arriving he knocked on the door and it was answered by the older blonde, Alexander.
“Yo, Mister Comodeen. How’s it hanging?” Duo greeted.
“Duo, how many times do I have to tell you to call me, Alex?” he laughed shaking Duo’s hand.
“Sorry, force of habit. So what’s the trouble?”
“Ah,” Alex began stepping back so Duo could enter. “The wall in the back bedroom has a hole in it.” He made a face.
“How did it happen?” Duo asked with a grin.
“Let’s just say I didn’t do it and if we keep the incident between us it would be great.”
“Yeah, but Heero knows, too.”
“I’ll find a way to buy his silence.”
Duo laughed, “Good luck. Where is it?”
“The last room on the right.” Alexander said. Duo made his way down the hall. If he had looked back at Alexander, Duo would have seen the smirk on the man’s face. Duo was about to walk into a scene that would change his life forever. Duo opened the door and across the room by a high dresser was a young man. A completely nude young man.
His back was turned to Duo giving him a good view of the guy’s bottom and Duo approved. Slim with small but well defined muscles, the guy’s body was a work of art. He seemed to be short in height which was okay with Duo, because the rest of him was amazing.
Duo got so caught up in lewd thoughts for a moment that he was completely caught off guard when the guy turned around. Let’s just say his height was his only shortcoming. Duo made a sound of distressed lust and the guy threw something that hit Duo in the head. His world went dark.
Chapter 2: Say What?
Love at first head injury.
Duo came awake in the hallway to voices and tiny drops of water hitting him in the face.
“This is all your fault Alex! You sent him in there on purpose!”
“Of course I did. I owe you some embarrassment,” came the reply.
“Why does he look familiar?” the first voice asked?
“Duo Maxwell, Gundam pilot. Well he’s a Preventer now. Congratulations you just knocked out a war hero.” Alexander said.
“I’m not too impressed. Mr. War Hero can dodge bullets but not shampoo bottles?”
“I know when to expect bullets. I wasn’t expecting a shampoo bottle,” Duo muttered. “Is that what hit me?” He turned in the direction of Alexander’s voice. The older man was kneeling beside him.
“Yeah,” Alexander answered. “Take it easy you might have a concussion.”
“I don’t. I know what a concussion feels like.” When Duo turned to face the person kneeling on his other side he felt a jolt in his soul. “Wow, you’re beautiful. Hello, beautiful. Am I dreaming or dead? Cause nobody looks like you except a vision or an angel. Wow.” The young man had big emerald green eyes, even brighter than Trowa’s. He wore only a towel. His hair was glossy black to a certain point then it was bleached and dyed a vivid shade of electric purple. It was still wet and dripping.
The guy made a face. Duo continued, “Man you are the prettiest person I’ve ever seen.”
The young man got up and went back the room slamming the door behind him. The sound of a blow dryer could soon be heard.
“You’re bleeding,” Alexander said going to retrieve a towel.
“I’m fine. Who is that?” Duo asked pointing at the door.
“My brother-in-law, Nicholas Rinaldi.”
“How many brothers does Alden have? I thought you guys said he had an older brother?”
“That’s him,” Alexander pressed the cold wet towel to Duo’s forehead.
“He’s not old.” Duo said.
“He’s older than Alden by ten minutes.”
“How old is that?”
“He’s the same age as me? Good to know. What’s his story?” Duo asked.
“Story?” Alexander asked.
“Yeah, is he married? Does he have a girlfriend or a boyfriend?” Duo emphasized that last word.
“You mean is he gay?”
“He switch hits.”
Alexander chuckled, “But you’re wasting your time. He said he isn’t playing on anybody’s team anymore.”
“Oh come on! Why not?” Duo complained.
The door opened revealing Nicholas fully dressed. He wore a checked flannel shirt that was the same purple as his hair over a black t-shirt. Jeans, biker boots, spiked wrist bands and a fedora all in black completed the look. His hair was pulled back in a ponytail with his bangs framing his face. “It’s no concern of yours,” Nicholas said crossly. “I wouldn’t be interested in you anyway.”
“What’s wrong with me?” Duo asked.
“You don’t knock before barging into rooms. You seem to have voyeuristic tendencies and I have decided based on those facts that I don’t like you.” He replied.
“You’re just pissed he saw your pure pristine virgin ass,” Alexander laughed.
“You, I hate most of all. I have no clue what my brother sees in you.” Nicholas stomped away out of the hall. Duo finally got up following after the youth.
“Hey,” he called as he caught up outside. “I’m sorry I saw you but Alexander didn’t tell me you were in that room. This is not my fault. Why are you mad at me?”
Nicholas whipped around, his purple hair catching the sunlight. “You instead of immediately apologizing and leaving, stood there staring at me.”
“Oh,” Duo said. “Yes I did. Sorry.”
“How long were you going to stand there staring at my bare ass?” Nicholas demanded.
“As long as I could get away with it.” Duo shrugged. Nicholas looked at him with his mouth agape. Duo continued, “In my own defense, have you ever looked at yourself naked because, damn you are sexy!”
Nicholas continued to stare at Duo open mouthed.
“I mean it,” Duo said. “You are like hot, seriously hot. Who could resist wanting a look at you?”
“Hot,” Nicholas seethed. His voice then turned sweet and contemplative. “You’re saying I make you hot?”
Alexander followed them outside to see how their drama would turn out. Hearing Nicholas’s voice Alex knew Duo was in deep shit. Nicholas walked calmly around the corner of the house. He returned a short while later with a garden hose.
“If I make you so hot, here maybe this will cool you off!?” He sprayed Duo with the hose until he was complexly drenched and spluttering. Then he dropped the hose to the ground. “Go away, and don’t come back as long as I’m here!” Nicholas went into the garage and came back with his motorcycle and helmet. He got on his bike and peeled out on to the dirt road with a shower of dust and gravel.
Duo wrung some water from his hair and turned to Alexander who was laughing uproariously. “I should have warned you about that temper.” Alexander said wiping tears of mirth from eyes.
“Yeah,” Duo started. “Thanks for a wonderful afternoon Mr. Comodeen. I think I’ll head home now.” He said calmly. Duo turned to retrace his path through the woods with Alexander’s laughter following him.
Duo made it back home soaking wet but feeling better than he had in a while. He stepped through the back door and entered the kitchen.
“I’m back,” He said wistfully to Quatre and Trowa.
Quatre gasped and immediately flew into mother hen mode. He went into the laundry room and pulled out a blanket and some towels straight from the dryer. “Get out of those wet things. What on Earth happened to you?”
“Yeah, did you fall in the lake again?” Trowa asked.
“No, I just met Alden’s brother. He turned a garden hose on me.” Duo began removing his wet clothes and wrapping up in the blanket.
“Why,” Quatre asked.
“He hates me,” Duo said grinning.
Quatre and Trowa looked at each other thinking their friend had finally lost his marbles.
“Duo?” Trowa continued. “If he doesn’t like you why are you so happy.”
“Because I owe WuFei an apology. I broke my promise. I just met my future husband.”
Chapter 3: Crystal Ball
On an average day Duo meets a fortune teller who gives him some bad news.
Duo was on his way back to the office after his lunch break. Passing by a drug store he noticed a little boy crying. Duo could never pass by a child in need of help so naturally he stopped.
“Hey kid, what’s the matter?” Duo asked the boy. The child looked up at him with his big brown eyes full of tears.
“I’m lost. I can’t find my way back to grandma. She sent me to get her medicine and I don’t know how to get home.” He wailed.
“Okay, you’re alright,” Duo soothed. “Do you know the the address?”
The little boy told him the address and Duo smiled. “I know where that street is. If you want, I can walk you back. Would that make you feel better?”
The little boy wiped his face and returned Duo’s smile. “Yes, sir.” He said.
“Alright let’s go then.” Duo said taking the child’s hand. They made their way to the right street in no time, though it took Duo a while to find the right building. The shop front was painted a strange gray blue shade and the faded lettering on the windows might have said ‘tarot and palm readings’ if most of it wasn’t cracked and peeling away.
“You live here kid?” Duo asked bewildered.
“Yeah with my grandma,” the boy tugged Duo’s hand. “Come say hello.”
They entered the shop and a bell chimed above the door.
“Tommy,” a voice called from the back of the building, “is that you? What took you so long?”
“Sorry, grandma,” Tommy called. “I got lost.”
A woman appeared from behind a heavy curtain. Duo couldn’t tell exactly how old she was because she seemed to be one of those fortunate people who aged well. She had red hair with a shock of white in the front and she was dressed like a stereotypical gypsy.
“Who have you brought with you dear?” she asked.
“He helped me find my way home.” Tommy said.
The woman looked at Duo intently. “Go play in your room now, Tommy.” Once the child was gone she went back to Duo. “So mister Preventer agent, what brings you to my door?”
Duo frowned, “I saw the kid crying on the street and stopped to help. That’s all.”
“My name is Madam O’Dell,” she said. “Please allow me to give you a complementary reading as my thanks.”
“Really, that’s okay. I didn’t help for thanks or any reward. It’s sort of my job, so I’ll be going”
“Please, I insist.” O’Dell beckoned Duo to the back room and he reluctantly followed. The darkened room smelled of something pungent and Duo realized it was marijuana.
“I should go,” Duo said. The ‘before I fail my mandatory random drug test’ was left unsaid.
“Don’t be silly, sit” O’Dell ordered.
Duo sat at the table that had an honest to goodness crystal ball on it.
“Your hand,” the fortune teller said. Duo reluctantly placed his hand on the fortune teller’s table. As soon as she touched him, the woman jerked her hand away as if she had been burned.
“You are death,” O’Dell said ominously. Duo pulled his hand back and stood.
“Thanks lady, I really love being told things I already know.” He turned to leave.
“Wait. I was surprised. Forgive me. For one so young…” her voice trailed off. “What would you like to know about your future.
“Nothing really, I don’t know why I’m here. I …” Duo was interrupted by O’Dell.
“Love,” she said. Duo’s breath caught. Of course he was curious, not that any guy would admit that. “I will tell you of the one you are destined to love.”
O’Dell took Duo’s hand in hers again. She closed her eyes and intoned as though she was in a trance. “I hear music. A tragic melody. The toughest battle you will ever face lies in your future. The love of your life died at young age. In pain and afraid, at the hands of a man who could not contain his lust for a young child.” O’Dell shook her head as though she was clearing her vision. “There you are. Your future, young man.”
“What the hell was that!?” Duo exclaimed. His heart seized in his chest. He could barely breathe. Duo was realistic. He knew it could be a long time before he met someone he wanted to settle down with, but to tell Duo something like that. He never should have agreed to the reading.
“Don’t despair.” O’Dell said soothingly. “I only tell what I see. That does not mean you will be alone forever.”
After the unfortunate reading Duo went back to work and tried to finish his shift without thinking about O’Dell’s ill-omened words but to no avail. By the time he made it home Quatre was in full panic mode.
“Duo, talk to me please.” Quatre practically begged. “You’re hurting deeply. Tell me what’s wrong.”
As is Duo’s way he smiled brightly. “Your empath skills must be off, today. I’m doing fine, really.”
“You’re lying,” Quatre countered.
Duo heaved a sigh and looked up at the ceiling. “Someone told me something I already knew, that’s all.” Before Quatre could ask he continued. “I met a psychic who told me the person I was meant to love for the rest of my life died as a child, so I’ll be alone forever.” Duo raised a hand to stop his friend from speaking. “I know you don’t believe in psychics, which is weird coming from an empath, but I don’t plan on giving up on love Q. When I find someone I like you’ll be first to know. Then it’ll be full steam ahead. I’m turning in for the night. Later.”
Duo went to his room and closed the door. He collapsed on the bed. “No I’m not giving up.” Duo said to himself. “When I find the right one, I’ll know.”
The morning after his meeting with the beautiful, yet angry, Nicholas, Duo was back on way to the neighboring cabin to actually fix the damaged wall. So once again, he was trudging through the woods with his toolbox. When the hostile’s lair came into view Duo mentally prepared himself.
“Alright, Nicky. Your future man’s back again. This time I’m going charm you out of your ugly flannel shirt.”
Chapter 4: Let's Be Friends
Let’s Be Friends
Duo approached the cabin. Alexander and Alden were sitting on the porch. Alex was sipping lemonade while Alden seemed to be sketching something.
“Duo, hi,” Alden called waving.
“Hey Alden, Alex,” Duo replied nodding to the older blond.
Alden made a face, “I heard about what happened yesterday.”
“I’m sure you did. I gave your husband a few laughs.”
“Yes hours of entertainment. Thank you.” Alexander snickered and scratched his slightly dented nose.
“Alex,” Alden admonished bopping his husband on the head with his sketchbook. “I’m sorry about him. I mean my brother not Alex, though I am sorry about him too.”
“It’s cool,” Duo reassured him, “but I do have to fix that wall.” He tapped his toolbox for emphasis.
“Nick is in his room.” Alden stood. “I’ll go with you and smooth things over.”
Alex stood as well. “Oh yeah. Act two is about to begin. Damn I should have made popcorn.” He rubbed his hands together in anticipation.
“Alexander, behave yourself please,” Alden sighed and punched him in the shoulder. “Nicky is going through a tough time. You really have to stop picking on him and no you are not allowed to pick on Duo either.”
The older man pouted like a child, “Fine. Spoil all my fun why don’t you?”
Duo and Alden head inside and down the hallway to the room where Nicholas is staying. Alden knocks on the door. No answer.
“He could be sleeping,” Alden whispers as he pushes open the door. He sticks his head in the room and sees his brother wide awake and busy. “He’s working,” Alden says as he turns back to Duo with a smile. “I’ll let him know you’re here.”
Alden pushes the door open completely. Duo sees Nick sitting in a chair in front of an electric keyboard that is connected to a nearby laptop on a portable fold table. The young goth is wearing a pair of large black headphones and is surrounded by crumpled paper on the floor. He has a pencil between his teeth and is nodding along with whatever music is playing in the laptop.
Alden approaches his brother who jerks in his seat and stops the music pulling off his headphones. “You startled me,” Nick complains.
“I knocked,” his brother informs him. “You were engrossed in your music and you didn’t hear me.” Alden waves Duo in. “Duo has to fix the wall now, okay.”
“No, Soldier Boy can take a hike. Off a cliff as a matter of fact. That would be appreciated.”
“You know if you hadn’t punched the wall, Duo wouldn’t have to fix it. So you only have yourself to blame.”
Nick looks to ceiling and groans. “Fine the Human Hairball can come in, but I refuse to acknowledge his existence.”
Alden turns to Duo, “he said you can come in.”
“Thanks I heard,” Duo mutters as he enters.
Alden gives his brother a quizzical look. “Aren’t you on vacation for a few months?” he inquires.
Nick shrugs, “I was inspired so I started some new stuff.”
“Oh, well make sure you take some time for yourself, too okay. You give those people way too much of your life as it is for the horrible way they treat you. Have some fun.” Alden motions to Duo with his head. “Make a few new friends,” he adds pointedly.
“I like my old friends,” Nick says defiantly.
“Good, contact them. Just do anything besides waste your free time trying to please your bullshit b…co-workers.” Alden seethes putting his hand on his hip.
“Whatever,” Nick shoots back.
Alden let’s out an exasperated breath, “fine, do what you want.” He stalks out of the room.
Duo watches Alden go and turns back to the task at hand. Not the wall. Oh no, the task Duo is set to perform is getting sweet little Nicky to warm up to him.
“Hey,” Duo says to his crush.
Nick glares at him and puts his headphones back on. Duo rolls his eyes and moves closer to Nick.
“Hey,” he tries again.
Nick blows his purple streaked bangs out of his eyes and puts the headphones on top of the keyboard. “What?”
“I want to apologize, again. I mean it I am sorry. We got off on the wrong foot. Let’s start over,” Duo extended his hand to Nick. “Hi I’m Duo Maxwell and you are…?”
Nick Stares at Duo’s outstretched hand before reluctantly taking it in his own to shake. “Nick Rinaldi,” he says with a half smirk.
“See, was that so bad?” Duo asks with a grin.
“Yeah it really was.” Nick returned.
“Give it time. I’ll grow on you. Oh, good example. My best friend, the day we met I shot him. Twice. Now we’re like brothers.”
Nick laughs, “you definitely know how to make a first impression.”
“I guarantee no one ever forgets meeting me.”
“I know I won’t.”
Duo is dazzled by Nick’s smile and the mischievous sparkle in his eyes. He almost tells the young man how beautiful he finds him, but decides to hold his tongue. Duo knows patience will be the key to winning Nick over. He finally turns his attention to the wall.
“You punched this,” Duo asks incredulously.
“I’m stronger than I look,” Nick returns.
Duo shakes his head and gets to work and Nick returns to his own work. Or rather Nick tries to work but the smell of the materials Duo is using to patch the wall smells bad. It kind of makes his eyes burn, too but it doesn’t take Duo long to finish. The hole wasn’t very big.
“Oh, sorry about that,” Duo says crossing over to the window to open it let air into the room. “The smell will go away in a few hours. You know, once it dries.” Duo notices a guitar that was hidden from view by the dresser. “Wow, you play guitar and keyboard. You play any more instruments?” Duo asks.
“Yeah. Guitar, piano, violin, cello, drums.” Nick replies. “That’s all.”
“That’s not enough?”
Nick laughs self-consciously. “I mean yeah it’s enough. I went to performing arts school so. I learned all that stuff.”
“So Alden makes art with paint and paper, and you use music and melody. That’s cool.” Duo says.
Nick blushes. “It’s not a big deal.”
“It is. I’m going to take wild guess here, but you write lyrics and compose too, don’t you?”
“How did you guess?” Nick asks.
Duo raises an eyebrow and looks at the mess around Nick’s feet.
“Oh yeah,” Nick mumbles turning redder. He coughs again.
“Shit,” Duo curses. “Hey let’s go outside for a while. You could use the fresh air.”
Nick nods and he and Duo go stand on the porch, ignoring the stares of Alden and Alexander as they leave the house together.
“So,” Duo begins once he and Nicholas were alone. “Alden said you were working over your vacation. You write music for a living?”
“Yeah, for a band. But I can’t say who.” Nick replies.
“Damn, that’s cool. My friend Quatre would love to have chat with you I’m sure.”
“Quatre’s the landlord right?”
“Yep. A real renaissance man. He plays violin and piano. He writes poetry, too.”
Nick laughed. “Yeah it does sound like he and I would have a lot to talk about.” Nick stretches. “Okay, I should go back to work. If I stop while I’m on a roll my muse will fly away.”
“Oh,” Duo said in disappointment. “Can we hang out sometime?” he asks.
“Really, I’m not going to be in town long and you don’t want to get close to me anyway.” Nick says.
“It’s just not a good idea. I mean no offence; you seem cool but, I just can’t.” Nick turns to the door and twists the knob but it won’t turn. “What the hell?” He bangs on the door only to hear a car starting.
“Hey punk,” Alexander calls from the garage as they pull out. “Alden I are going to spend a romantic evening together. You’re on your own.”
“I can’t get back in. My keys are inside.” Nick pleads.
“I know, sucks to be you!” Alex speeds out of the driveway.
“You, asshole! I cannot believe you! You shit!” Nick rages. He runs his hand through his hair.
“You and your brother-in-law have some serious issues with each other, huh?” Duo observes.
“You have no idea.”
Not one to let a perfect opportunity to pass by, Duo launches one last inquiry. “Do you want to hang out at my place until they get back?”