by Aoe

Stuck With You... + Part 13

12/25/204

Well, it's Christmas. Whoopee!

This morning I woke up next to Duo again, and I have to say that if there's a better Christmas present waiting for me under our little tree, I don't know what it could possibly be.

Yeah, the presents are still under the tree. I had a hell of a time dragging Duo out the door this morning without opening them, but we were already late for work. Wufei smirked at us when we came in, and Quatre blushed and smiled, but we weren't actually fooling around.

Well, not much. We were just... noticing... that Duo went to sleep naked.

Okay, so maybe we fooled around a little. But it was really just touching and kissing and stuff. A really nice way to wake up, though. And I was pleased to finally be the one who got to work late.

I wonder if Heero will hack into this file again. For a while, I contemplated not writing anymore, but... I guess I AM the journal type. I like writing out my feelings. I still have a hard time expressing them any other way, so this journal has become a great catharsis for me. So I don't care if Heero reads it, because writing it has been good for me, I think. I'm not doing it for his benefit, so if he wants to know my most candid thoughts about him and everybody else, he can just knock himself out.

So. Now Heero is on my mind.

I wasn't too thrilled with him when I woke up today, with Duo's story still fresh in my mind from last night. I mean, Heero was really a jerk to Duo. But then, I got to thinking about Heero's version of events, and... He WAS a jerk. There's no denying that, he even knows he was a jerk. But... really, he was just being himself. He didn't know what to do, how to act, and he dealt badly with the situation. But despite what Duo says about Heero having been around people long enough to know how to act like a human, the truth is, he'll never really quite get it. He's actually come a long way in the past few years, but the truth is, he was just not raised to interact with people. He's smart, yes, and a quick study in most things, but I think this is a formative problem with him. It's not instinctive, the understanding of emotional nuance that lets normal people communicate on so many different levels. I can understand his problem, because I have some of the same difficulties. I don't think I'm as bad off as Heero is, but I know there's a lot I don't pick up on. Like Duo's reciprocation of my interest. Although Heero saw that one, so maybe that's not a good example. Anyway...

Duo and Heero. Opposites attract, but they need something in common to keep that attraction healthy. They just didn't have that, I guess. Just like with Quatre and me, shared experiences from the war were not enough to build a lifelong relationship on. Eventually, there was nothing left but sex, and while Heero was probably okay with that, Duo was not. Duo needed more. Heero knew that, but he didn't know what that more was, or how to give it to him. Frustration and anger on both sides, added to depression for Duo, who has always been far more susceptible to that particular demon than we've all allowed ourselves to acknowledge. It was just a bad situation.

Not that they didn't love each other. I know Duo still loves Heero, and Heero still loves Duo. Just like Quatre and I will always love each other. But we don't work as a couple. Sometimes love isn't enough.

But Quatre and Wufei... They do have a lot in common. They both come from the higher echelons of society. They are well-educated and accustomed to being treated with a certain respect and deference. They both suffered great losses in the war, and they both went through the same conflict between their inherent peaceful natures and their warrior vocations. Wufei embraced his violent side a bit more enthusiastically than Quatre, but he already had vengeance to drive him when the war began. But before that, he was a scholar, and quite happy with his books and study. I think the two of them will get along quite well.

As for Duo and I...

We have a lot in common, too, I think. Homeless, nameless survivors that we were, we need both more and less than other people do in a relationship. As Quatre did not and never could, Duo understands what it means for me just to stay with him, to share my space with him. And I understand that he needs constant reassurance, which must have driven Heero crazy. He doesn't need much, though. He doesn't need passionate declarations and public make out sessions, although I doubt he'd be averse to them. But really, all he needs is a special smile, a light touch. Just a reminder that you're there. He can't be alone. I've never been that fond of touching. Touching invites attention, and I was always happier being ignored. But I like it when Duo pays attention to me. So we'll both have to adjust a bit, but it shouldn't be too hard.

Heero...

I worry about Heero. The further we get from the war, the more the rest of us are letting go of that part of our lives. Even I am beginning to shed some of my soldierly behaviors, and I was raised a mercenary. But Heero... he doesn't know how to be anything but a soldier. A fighter. I even wonder if he treated Duo the way he did to try and force conflict into their relationship, to make it comprehensible to him. He probably wanted, even expected, Duo to fight back. But that falls under the heading of not understanding Duo's needs. He didn't want conflict, just a little affection. But for Heero, conflict may be the way he shows affection...

He just doesn't have much in common with any of us. Not enough to build a lasting relationship on, anyway. That must be lonely. I wonder if it bothers him.

Probably. He's probably learned enough by now to understand what he's lacking. And what he's missing. It's Christmas, and he'll be alone tonight.

But I guess... that's life.

Sorry, Heero, but he came to me. But then, I think you understand.

Trowa closed his journal file and shot Heero a pensive look. The Japanese man was typing busily on his own computer and didn't notice.

Duo, who had just walked up to Trowa's desk, followed the taller man's eyes to Heero and frowned slightly. "What's that look for?" he asked curiously.

Trowa shrugged, leaning back in his chair to smile up at Duo. "No reason," he replied. "Just thinking."

"Ah," Duo murmured, but refrained from prying. Instead he grinned widely and abruptly deposited himself in Trowa's lap.

Trowa cursed and kicked the underside of his desk, barely keeping the chair from tipping over backwards. He managed to return it to its upright position and scowled at Duo, who was giggling like madman in Trowa's tight embrace.

"You're going to break the chair," Trowa warned him, trying to hold onto his irritation.

Duo blinked at him innocently and asked, "So what?" Then he tucked his head in against Trowa's shoulder and began nibbling on the taller man's neck.

"Oh... umm... good point," Trowa murmured, eyes half closed.

The blissful moment was abruptly shattered as cold water splashed into Trowa's face. Duo yelped, sitting up and glaring at their attacker.

Wufei smirked at them, dangling an empty mug from one finger. "Get a room," he advised.

"Wufei," Duo growled dangerously, "you messed up my hair." Trowa glanced at Duo's head to see that half the shorter man's hair was plastered to his skull.

Wufei snorted. "Like anyone could tell," he said dismissively.

"That's it," Duo snapped. "I'm serving up some justice, Maxwell style!"

Wufei, who was beginning to edge away, still smirking, shot back, "You mean, hot, fast and greasy?"

Duo surged off Trowa's lap with a shriek of rage and took off after a swiftly fleeing Wufei, yelling at the top of his lungs, "I am not greasy, China boy!"

Une stuck her head out of her office at the noise, but by then Duo had chased Wufei out of the main office, so after a moment's frowning, she withdrew.

Trowa wiped at his wet face with a tissue, and hoped Duo caught Wufei as he felt a trickle of cold water slide down his collar.

"It's like working with two-year-olds," Ken remarked, but when Trowa looked up at the younger agent who'd appeared beside his desk, Ken was smiling fondly in the general direction Duo and Wufei had taken.

"You should try living with them," Trowa suggested, grinning at Ken's theatrical shudder.

Ken smiled down at Trowa and got right to the point. "So, what are you guys all doing tonight?"

Trowa frowned thoughtfully. "You know, I... don't have the slightest idea. We haven't really planned anything this year, things have been so crazy... "

"I thought so," Ken said, smile widening. "So, I was thinking... do you guys, maybe, want to come hang out with the rest of us losers with nowhere to go on Christmas?"

"What?" Trowa asked in confusion.

Ken scratched his head. "Well, you know, you guys aren't the only ones who don't have family to go home to tonight. Some of us are war orphans, too, and some of us just live too far away from home... Jeanie in Forensics hasn't spoken to her family in three years, you know, stuff like that. We all usually get together on Christmas, so we're not lonely. We've thought about inviting you guys before, but you always had your own plans, and we figured you wouldn't want to mix with us anyway. But I thought maybe I'd ask, this year," Ken concluded, smiling hopefully.

Trowa blinked in surprise. "Well, I... I hadn't thought... I mean, sounds good to me. I'll ask the other guys, see what they think," he said.

"Cool!" Ken declared happily. "If they're up for it, or if just you and Duo want to come, drop by my desk and I'll give you directions later."

"Okay," Trowa said. "Great." He smiled at Ken. "Thanks," he added.

"For what?" Ken asked, frowning in confusion.

"For... thinking of us. Inviting us," Trowa explained. "I know we're... kind of unusual. We don't quite fit in. I mean, I guess this is kind of a pity invite, but it's still nice to be asked."

"Pity invite?" Ken repeated incredulously. He shook his head in amazement. "Man, and I thought I had self-esteem problems," he added with a grin.

Trowa cocked his head in confusion.

Ken rolled his eyes. "We love you guys," he explained exasperatedly. "You're like the office mascots. And most of us consider you our own personal heroes."

"Really?" Trowa asked.

"Yup. Everybody else is too shy to invite you to our stupid little party, but ever since we spent that stake out together, I've come to understand that... well, that the sun doesn't rise and set on your asses, to quote a friend," Ken confided, grinning.

"Hey, I only said it didn't rise and set on Quatre's ass," Trowa corrected with a grin of his own.

Ken rolled his eyes again, laughing. "Forgive me, oh great one," he begged.

"Perhaps," Trowa said airily, earning another laugh from Ken. "I'll run it past the others and get an answer for you," he added.

"Great!" Talk to you later," Ken declared, and walked back to his own desk with a little wave.

Trowa leaned back in his chair and smiled to himself.

Well, everybody decided that joining our coworkers sounded like a plan. Even Heero decided to come along. It should be an interesting evening.

We're all going to the restaurant directly from work, which got me some more whining about presents from Duo, but he finally decided that presents could wait while we all partied for a while.

I have to say I'm still kind of shocked to discover that the other Preventers would want to hang out with us. I guess I'm so used to being the outcast that it never occurred to me that the people we work with are the ones most committed to what we fought for. But I mean, we were terrorists. We still feel a lot of guilt over the things we did in the war. It's not like we were glorious heroes. We were little better than bloody murderers.

But it was war. Everybody killed. Sometimes, just as we forget that we weren't the only people who believed in our cause, we forget that we aren't the only ones left with blood on our hands. Not even Relena ever condemned us for fighting. Why should we condemn ourselves?

Why am I indulging in such heavy, grim thoughts today? It's Christmas!

And I'm going to a party!

And Duo's my date!

He actually made me ask him. And then he stood there for five minutes "considering" before he said yes.

Jerk.

I forget the name of the place we're going, but Duo is familiar with it.

For some reason he's been giggling inanely ever since he found out where we were going, though. He won't tell me why.

In a way, I regret that we won't be having our traditional little Christmas get together, but... we kind of had it last night. And I'm looking forward to hanging out with my coworkers. I mean, we've been Preventers for seven years. We've been here since the beginning, almost. It's about time we made some friends around the office.

Oops, it's time to get going!

[cont]