Author: Calic0cat
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Fragments + Chapter 38

I took the car out of gear and gave Heero a considering look. I knew that he was tired and needed rest but - well, I kind of thought he might just maybe need some company too. Specifically, mine. I'd missed him this week and our relationship was solid enough by now that I was pretty damn sure he'd missed me too. "Hey, want me to come in for a few minutes? Have a cup of coffee maybe?" I offered quietly.

Despite how tired he looked, Heero gave me a small smile as he answered, "Sure. C'mon in."

I climbed out of my car and followed Heero into his apartment building. It had been one hell of a long week, made longer by the fact that Heero and Sally had spent most of it several thousand miles away on a kidnapping case.

Over two months after being injured, Wufei and I still had not been cleared for field duty; neither of us could manage the full count of chin-ups required. He was still trying to rebuild the strength in the arm that had been so badly broken and I was having major problems getting the full range of motion back in my injured shoulder. The Preventers really couldn't afford to have two teams stuck on desk duty for an indefinite time period so Une had decided several weeks ago that Heero and Sally might as well partner each other in the field until the physiotherapist gave us the okay to return to active duty. They'd had a few assignments together but this was the first one that had involved more than an overnight trip.

Cases involving kids were always tough; we all had a tendency to push ourselves to our limits and beyond on those. Heero and Sally had gotten the politician's little boy back safely - scared and hungry and fortunately with nothing worse than some nasty scrapes and bruises - but it had been a pretty damn close call for the poor kid. His captor had threatened to send a body part with the next note and judging from the guy's record - this wasn't exactly his first "alleged" offense though he'd never been convicted of anything - he probably hadn't been bluffing.

I had a sneaking suspicion that neither Heero nor Sally had slept more than a few hours during the entire five days that they were on the case. Heero in particular; that intense concentration that used to drive me crazy during the war *did* actually serve a very important purpose at times. But it also took its toll on Heero; I'd finally figured out just how difficult it was for him to step back *out* of that mode. And it had only taken me *how* many fucking years to realize that?

At any rate, I knew that he needed to relax and unwind. I was hoping that I could help him with that. Nothing much, just a little quiet comfort and some of that TLC that he'd provided me with during those early weeks of my recovery. A chance to demonstrate my own commitment to our steadily deepening relationship.

Inside Heero's apartment, I gave him a gentle push towards the bathroom. "Go shower," I ordered. "I'll fix some coffee or something for us, okay?" He just nodded and walked slowly down the hall.

By the time Heero padded into the kitchen, hair still damp, feet bare, and his Preventers uniform replaced by sweatpants and a faded T-shirt, I had soup and a fried egg sandwich waiting for him. Along with a cup of chamomile tea; he needed sleep not caffeine. His eyes widened slightly at the sight and he protested, "You didn't need to..."

I cut him off firmly, "Yes, I did. Sit and eat, Yuy." His expression changed slightly at my words, stilling and beginning to blank, and I realized that he'd misunderstood. Had taken the use of his last name the wrong way. I had meant it in the way that Wufei and I used each other's last names - to scold, to tease, to make a point - but Heero was more accustomed to me using *his* last name to distance myself with polite formality. 'Shit. Real bright move there, Maxwell.'

Stepping over to Heero, I hugged him tightly. "I *need* to look after you because I love you and I missed you," I said simply. "Missed spending time with you. Missed *this*..." He was tense at first, stiff and unyielding in my embrace, but as our lips met in a tender kiss, that changed. His arms closed around me in return and his body relaxed, leaning into mine. Warmth, tenderness, and comfort were freely shared.

The smoke from my own fried egg blackening in the pan on the stove behind me finally broke us apart. I had to throw it out and start over again. And reheat Heero's meal since he insisted on waiting to eat until I could join him. I didn't mind; the embrace we'd shared was more than worth it.

***

Once supper was over and the dishes washed and put away, we relocated from the kitchen table to the livingroom couch. Heero told me a little bit about the kidnapping case but for the most part, we just sat together, alternating quiet kisses and caresses with casual talk about inconsequential things. Like the upcoming office baby shower for Zechs and Noin.

"So anyway, Wufei suggested that we just go in with him and Sally on the baby gift, that way we can get one of the bigger items on the list. I think he said she'd suggested the car seat. I told him that sounded good to me. What do you think?"

A soft snore was the only response I received. The exhaustion had finally caught up to Heero. I *should* have probably woken him and helped him stagger down the hall to his bed then headed off to my own. But his warm weight leaning against me felt pretty damn good and he *was* sound asleep - it seemed awfully unfair to wake him just to move him to his bed. And I didn't feel much like leaving, frankly; this just felt *right*. It reminded me of those days that we'd slept together as "Max" and "Odin". Of the moments back then when the danger that we were in had faded into the back of my consciousness, lost in the simple pleasure of spending time with the man I loved.

So instead of waking Heero, I wriggled and shifted and finally managed to get us both lying down, spooned together on the couch, without waking him up. I dragged the blanket off the back of the couch and shook it out over us. And despite the fact that I knew damn well I'd be stiff and sore after spending the night sharing a couch with Heero, it didn't take long at all for me to join him in slumber.

***

"You stayed..."

I managed to drag my heavy eyes open and looked directly into Heero's. He'd managed to roll over to face me without knocking me off the couch. I was impressed. "Yeah, I did," I answered with a faint half-smile. "I love you, I missed you, and I didn't feel much like leaving. So I stayed."

He shifted to lean his forehead against mine and said softly, "I'm glad."

"Me too."

We simply stayed there watching each other and half-dozing for a while. I was just glad that today was our usual day off so we didn't have to worry about rushing to get ready for work. Finally, I brought up a subject that we hadn't really discussed since the first night it was raised. The closeness and quiet comfort we were sharing at the moment made this a very appropriate time to bring the subject up.

"Heero, when we talked before about what parts of that mission we wanted to be real, we were in agreement that we wanted the relationship we'd been pretending to have to be fact, not just fiction. We agreed to try and reach that goal." I smiled softly and brushed the tousled hair away from Heero's face. His eyes were dark and serious, his face very still, but I could still see the faint hint of worry.

Completely unnecessary worry. I'd had a lot of time to think things through while he was away and I'd reached some important conclusions and made an even more important decision. We'd made a lot of progress in our relationship. We still fucked things up sometimes but we'd learned to talk about things that bothered us rather than just ignoring the problems until something little and insignificant became something really big and important. Our relationship wasn't perfect by a long shot but we were still working on it and it was getting pretty damn good.

It was time to take another step. To make the implicit commitment that already existed between us into something more openly acknowledged.

Softly, I admitted, "I realize that in a way we'll always have to 'try'. Good relationships don't just happen; they require on ongoing effort from *both* people involved.

"But I think that we've both proved that we want this..." I kissed him tenderly, "...and are willing to work damn hard in order to have it." I met Heero's eyes - eyes no longer dark with worry but beginning to brighten with happiness. Taking a deep breath, I continued, "I love you. I trust you. I know that you love me." I smiled and pressed my lips to his faintly curving ones before murmuring casually, "Think we can get Une to let us have a couple of weeks off after Mattis's trial?"

Heero blinked in confusion. "Probably. Why?"

I managed to keep a straight face as I responded, "Well for our honeymoon, of course."

Stunned, Heero repeated, "Our - honeymoon?"

"Yeah, honeymoon. It *is* traditional for couples to go on one after the wedding..." I didn't get to say anything further; Heero had other plans for my mouth and I certainly wasn't going to object. The trial date was over eight months away and the trial itself could easily run several weeks; there would be plenty of opportunities to discuss things between now and then.

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