Author: Anria Lalumin
Disclaimer: I stole the title off POD. I stole the characters off Sunrise and Sotsu Agency. I got the inspiration from quite a few places -- Koyasu no Miko's "Something I Can Never Have", anything by Shoori and Aoe, and -- would you believe it -- the film of Bridget Jones's Diary. So you see, I own nothing. Although this fic will not follow any of those storylines, so I guess I own something ... a psychotic muse, maybe?
Warnings: um, hm. What to put here? Yaoi, developing shounen ai, off-colour humour (if you look reeeeeal hard), that's it.
Pairings: If you've been reading along so far, you should know. But what the heck. 1x3, 2+1, 2+3, eventually 1x2x3, and 4x5/5x4 (don't go there).

Thinking About Forever + Part 5

Trowa stretched, leaning back in his chair and rubbing a crick out of his neck. He really needed to get out into the field again; if he kept up with the desk job he'd probably develop a permanent hunch. Checking the clock, he saw it was almost one. It would only take him a couple of minutes to get from HQ to the café he had arranged to meet Duo in, so he decided it was time for his lunch break.

He stood, grabbed his jacket, and wove his way through the assorted desks piled high with paperwork. He paused by one in particular.

"I'm going to meet Duo," he told Heero. "Want to come?"

"Mission report," Heero grunted.

Trowa barely resisted rolling his eyes. Even after the wars were over, not only did Heero get more field work than him, he still insisted on finishing the mission report before doing anything else -- sometimes including eating and/or sleeping. He strode past the Japanese man bent over the keyboard and made his way to the stairs. He could have taken the elevator, but those things were so cramped they always reminded him of either an OZ cell or a mobile suit cockpit, neither or which he wanted to be reminded of.

Trowa's ears were assaulted as he stepped out onto the street with a multitude of sounds that had not changed since the pre-colony days -- cars, vans and motorcycles all conspired together to make as loud a noise as possible, while not polluting the atmosphere the way they had hundreds of years ago. Once they'd found a way to make electric power stick, the whole world became a lot cleaner. Some places had taken longer than others, being as what had been called back then the 'Third World' countries had only be able to afford the cars that ran on petrol and diesel, but now the skies over cities on Earth were clear of the fog that had hung over them for decades.

Weaving his way along the sidewalk was far easier in a Preventer's uniform than it had ever been when he only wore jeans and a turtleneck. If you didn't have something to make people stay away (like height or some sort of official uniform) they had a tendency to just walk along like they expected you not to be there. Oh, it was never problem for Heero, who had grown far more than his Asian ancestry would suggest, or Duo, who had simply shot up once he was off the growth restriction hormones Professor G had put him on so he would actually fit in Deathscythe's cockpit, but him, Quatre, or Wufei? Forget it. Trowa himself hadn't grown at all since the wars, which left him at a grand total of five foot three, while Wufei was a couple of inches taller than him and thankfully Quatre was still shorter than him. Being short meant people automatically assumed you were easy to push around -- although the uniform had a tendency to disabuse them of that notion. [1]

Trowa scowled to himself, thinking it annoyingly ironic that he had once been the tallest of all the pilots, and was almost now the shortest, and the way Quatre had been eating recently he wouldn't be surprised if he soon became the shortest. Duo seemed to find it especially funny -- and considering that he was now taller than Zechs, maybe he had a right to.

It's a wonder he didn't faint, he grew so fast, Trowa thought irritably. There were days when you could almost hear it. He shook his head. So, let's see whether he's here on time.

Trowa surveyed the customers of the café, both those with no respect for their ears who sat outside and those who were more sensible and retreated back inside. Nope, no Duo. For the second time that day, Trowa barely resisted rolling his eyes. Why was he not surprised?

"Table for two," he told the waitress who came up to him. "My companion will be joining me shortly."

"Yes sir," she said, bobbing her head respectfully and almost wondering out loud how someone so young -- and so short -- had ended up as part of the Preventers. He had an impulse to tell the girl he was a nineteen-year-old ex-Gundam pilot and terrorist who had been recruited to work for the Preventers because he'd served under Lady Une when she was part of OZ and despite the fact that he had been a double agent she still looked on him as her favourite.

Do you want the poor girl to faint?

He swallowed a smirk as she hurriedly took down his order for a bottle of mineral water, then rushed off. Leaning back in his chair, he watched the doorway carefully, and the street through the windows, waiting for Duo to turn up. At twenty minutes past one, he finally did. He charged straight into the café, looking adorably frazzled and out of breath, before finally spotting Trowa in the corner and wading his way past disgruntled customers to him.

"Sorry, I'm so late," he said, grabbing a chair and throwing himself into it. Duo looked nothing near his usual neat image, with random pieces of hair sticking out of his braid in loops, like he'd slept in it and hadn't had a chance to rebraid it since. His clothes were mismatched, too: classic cut black jeans, it appears, go well with everything but a baggy green T-shirt with food stains and random tears on it. Duo yawned widely, his jaw cracking. He scratched absently at his head, eyeing Trowa with eyes that were faintly bloodshot. "Fell asleep -- thought I could get up in time." He chuckled. "Not."

"What would you like to drink?" Trowa asked quietly, fighting off a smirk. It was just... so Duo, to do something like this. And then to look around at the people staring at him as though they were the ones with a problem. "Beer? I can't drink, I'm on duty in half an hour, but you go ahead." Duo usually liked his beer, Trowa reasoned, plus it would make it easier to get him to talk.

He wasn't prepared for Duo to wince and press a palm to his forehead as though he had a splitting headache. "No, Tro, I think I'll have water -- lots of water." The last bit was muffled as Duo leaned forward and dropped his head on the table top, leaving Trowa to stare at him in surprise.

Has he got a hangover?

The other man beckoned over the waitress who had served him last, and placed Duo's order.

"Have you got a hangover?" he asked, amused.

An unintelligible groan was his answer.

"You're just lucky it's your week off, then. Otherwise Une would have your ass for breakfast."

Trowa caught a couple of nervous looks at the two at the mention of Lady Une, the Director of the Preventers. He frowned as he realised he was repressing yet another smirk. He seemed to be doing that far too often these days. Duo distracted him from his thoughts by lifting his head to rest his chin on the table, peering up at the green-eyed boy through his bangs. "So, what d'you wanna talk about, Tro-babe?"

"A few things." There were far too many people watching here, Trowa decided. "Do you want to talk a walk?"

"Out there?" Duo cringed. "Be nice to the man with a hangover. I'd rather not have to walk through that migraine-waiting-to-happen any longer than I have to."

"Come on." Trowa stood up and tossed a few bills to the waitress, indicating they were leaving. "We'll go to the park."

Duo sat up, paying more attention. "Oh yeah!" he said. "Those trees always deaden the sound pretty damn well. See, I always knew having a park in the middle of the city was good for something, now we don't have to worry about pollution no more."

"So are you coming or not?" Trowa asked, amused. Duo bounced up out of his seat, accepting the bottle of mineral water he had ordered from the waitress with a grin and a thanks. Trowa led the way, weaving his way along the sidewalk with Duo following in his wake and yelling out future obstructions over his head. Sometimes, Trowa decided, it was useful to be walking along with someone over a foot taller than you. Annoying, but useful. Eventually they made their way into the thick mass of trees, and the sound of the midday traffic dropped off dramatically.

Duo sighed, a beatific smile surfacing. "Ah, that is sooooo much better," he said, flopping down onto a bench and leaning his head back onto the old wood. After a moment he rolled his head to the side and opened his eyes to peer at Trowa, who was just standing there, watching him. "You got somethin' to say or not, Tro-babe?"

Trowa sighed and sat down beside his friend. It was at times like these he cursed that he didn't talk as much as Duo. Sure, he knew the words to say, but it would be so much easier to say them if he was used to talking non-stop. Stop thinking about it, he scolded himself. Just ask him, damn it! How bad could it be?

"Duo... you weren't... yourself, the other night. Is something wrong?"

"Huh?" Yeah, nice stall, Maxwell, Duo thought sarcastically to himself. Shit, I didn't think they'd noticed....

"At dinner," Trowa clarified.

Duo rolled his head back along the edge of the bench to stare straight up at the sky, lined with the tall buildings surrounding the small patch of greenery in a sea of grey. His mind rapidly went through all the possible ways he could respond, and realised that the most favourable option -- breaking his motto and flat-out lying -- would never work. Even as he knew Trowa and all the other pilots better than probably anyone else on this planet, it worked the other way round as well. They knew him better than anyone had ever in his life.

In the end he sighed. "I know you're worried, Tro, but it's just not something I can tell you. I've gotta work it out for myself."

"Weren't you the one who told me it was often a bad idea to work things out for yourself?"

Duo raised an eyebrow at him. "I'm not you, Tro," he said. "When I work things out for myself, I don't end up with the wrong conclusion and get depressed and suicidal."

Trowa winced. Duo sat up, a friendly hand landing on his shoulder. "Sorry, man," he apologised. "I didn't mean to just ... come out and say it like that."

"Don't worry," Trowa told him flatly. "I deserved that."

"Damn it, this is what I was talking about! You don't deserve it!"

Surprisingly, Trowa smirked at him. "I know. You knocked that into me, remember?"

Duo stared at him for a moment, then said, "Did you just make a joke?"

"You decide."

Despite facing straight ahead, Trowa could see Duo's half-bemused, half-incredulous expression beside him. "I will never understand you, Tro-babe."

"Well, you were the one who kept on at me to change. How can you hope to understand me when you're the one who advocates me changing my way of thinking?"

Duo chuckled. "You sound like Wufei. So logical."

Trowa couldn't help but smirk -- and this time, he couldn't repress it. "About Wufei..." he said, then the rest of his sentence degraded into a chuckle.

Duo stared at him. "Tro? Are you feeling okay?"

Trowa snorted, trying as hard as he could to hold back the laughter that always seemed to bubble up when he thought about Wufei and Quatre -- and the circumstances he discovered it. He raised a hand to his mouth to cover the chuckles that leaked out. "There's something I have to tell you about Wufei... and Quatre...." He snorted back a chuckle again.

Duo was staring at him hard now. "What about them?" he asked suspiciously. Trowa could just feel the 'Who are you and what have you done with Trowa?' comment waiting to surface.

"I went to see Quatre yesterday.... He wasn't alone...."

"Trowa, are you saying what I think you're saying?"

"Depends on what you're thinking."

"Tro!"

Exercising a bit of the strength of will he had not needed since his days as a Gundam pilot, Trowa schooled his facial features and cut any trace of amusement from his voice as he told Duo precisely why he found mention of Wufei and Quatre amusing. "It appears that Quatre and Wufei had been... enjoying themselves... rather thoroughly, considering there were random pieces of clothing thrown all over the apartment... the night after our meeting at the restaurant."

Duo stared at Trowa's perfectly expressionless face for a moment longer, then burst out laughing. He fell over backwards, landing with a thud against the arm of the bench, and dissolved into a fit of giggles.

"I did the same thing, when I found out," Trowa told him.

It took Duo a much shorter time than his companion to calm down, however. "You know, I knew Quatre was planning something," he said, eyeing those forms of wildlife stupid enough to live in a park in the middle of a big city. It was mostly pigeons.

"Oh?"

"He had his angelic look on around us. He only ever does that when he's planning a prank or something more... is meaningful the right word?"

Trowa focused on a couple of pigeons who had landed on the other side of the path, picking at someone's discarded and half-eaten sandwich. "How long do you think it will last?" he asked quietly.

"A pretty long time, I'd say. If only because they're both too stubborn to want anything but a long term relationship." Was it just him, or did Duo sound wistful? "I mean, Wufei's about as stubborn as they come, and Quatre's gotta be pretty damn tenacious to have twenty-nine older sisters and still wear the pants in that household...."

"What makes you think he does?"

"Huh? Well, he is the head of the family business... ."

"I meant the 'wearing the pants' thing."

Duo eyed him warily. "Tro, are you saying Q-bean has been keeping secrets of the transvestite kind from us all this time?"

"I've seen pictures." I will not smirk I will not smirk I will not smirk....

"Really?!" Duo sat bolt upright as quick as he could, then winced and clutched his head. It appeared he was still not quite over his hangover.

"Um-hm. He looked quite adorable."

"Adorable?"

"Well, he was about four at the time, and it was on Halloween...."

"Tro!" Duo's laughter echoed around the park.

After a moment, Trowa checked his watch and stood. "My lunch break is almost over."

"Already?" Duo pouted.

"If you'd been here on time...."

"I know, I know. Gomen." Sighing, the American stood, dusting off his pants. He grinned at Trowa. "So, see ya some other time?"

"Yes." Trowa half-turned, then hesitated. "Duo...."

Duo looked up. "Yeah, Tro-babe?"

"You... you do know... that if you ever want to say something, anything, I... I'll be there, you know that, right? I -- I'll listen to you... and I won't judge you -- or anything," he added hastily, looking just past Duo's face so he wouldn't have to see him when he gave his speech.

When Duo didn't reply, he looked directly at his friend, to see a sad look on his face. "Yeah, Tro," he said softly, eyes far older than they had any right to be, "I know."

+

[1] This happens to me. All the time. I'm short -- about five foot four, though that's not entirely accurate -- and I swear if it wasn't for the fact that recently I've taken to wearing a long leather coat and chunky boots I'd still be dodging people on the street. Now, however, they avoid me! See, clothes do make a difference. One time I got so pissed off I just walked in a straight line -- I moved out of the way for old folk and things like little kids where it was just courteous for me to move -- but apart from that, I kept going. ::evil chuckle:: There was one group that seemed intent of pushing everyone off the sidewalk, so instead of walking on one side like usual I charged straight up the middle. Now that was fun!

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