Author: Calic0cat
Notes: See Part 1 for warnings, pairings, etc.

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe + Part 2

"They're what? " Zechs demanded in disbelief.

"Sleeping," Abdul replied calmly.

"In the library? All of them? At 11:30?"

Relena placed one hand on her brother's arm and smiled up at him. "It's quite the sight to see," she said. "The first time that they kept me at a safehouse for protection, it surprised me to walk into the living room in the morning and find Gundam pilots draped all over each other and the furniture, sleeping quite peacefully. Rather sweet, really, though I'm sure they'd all object to that description. Unfortunately, that particular time they had a rather rude awakening as I ah - expressed my dismay somewhat vocally at finding Duo sprawled across Heero's chest in what I thought was a much too intimate fashion." Reading the odd look that Zechs shot at her correctly, she corrected his assumption, "No, it's nothing like that. No group orgies, brother dear. Sometimes the nightmares about all the death and the killing get really bad and they just all find some relief from them in being near another person. Some of them need actual physical contact, while for others merely being in close proximity is enough. I spent a few rather strange nights on various couches or in chairs myself during the war and even over the years since then when only one of them happened to be assigned to watch over me and had trouble sleeping." She broke into laughter at the disbelieving looks from Zechs and Dorothy both. "Oh come on now, I wasn't that bad all the time! I could actually be considerate and helpful when circumstances called for it!"

+

Stirring slightly, Duo reluctantly decided that perhaps it was time to think about getting up. Having actually been fed a real meal last night, his stomach apparently thought it should be entitled to another one and was grumbling rather insistently. Starting to sit up, he stopped as his braid resisted movement. 'Damn, forgot about that habit of Heero's. Guess some things never change. Never could figure out what it was with him and hanging onto my braid in his sleep...' Resigning himself to staying put till Heero woke up, he twisted slightly so that he could see the others. Wufei looked like a pretzel, all curled up in a chair. 'Shit, 'Fei, you're gonna regret sleeping this long like that... We aren't 15 anymore and that position would have made any of us pretty stiff and sore even back then...' Getting his first good look at Quatre's face, Duo was unable to suppress a low whistle, "Damn Quat, have you ever got one hell of a shiner..."

"Gee, thanks, Duo, that's exactly what I wanted to hear first thing in the morning," the blond in question retorted sleepily from the rug.

"Quatre, could you move your head a little? I think I've lost all feeling in that arm," Trowa spoke up.

As Quatre sat up, Wufei started to stir in the chair. Incoherent muttering in Mandarin accompanied every move he made.

"Not exactly 15 any more, are we?" Duo observed as Heero finally woke up enough to release his braid and allow him to get up.

"Ouch," Heero observed, rubbing his back ruefully and glaring at the couch accusingly, "no, we're not."

Rubbing at his own stiff limbs, Quatre declared, "Not that this was ever completely comfortable even then... All in favour of turning a spare room into a dorm for us all so we don't have to go through this again just to have a decent night's sleep, say 'aye'."

An immediate chorus of "Aye"s rang out.

+

"We're supposed to what? " Wufei asked in surprise.

"Decorate the house for the holidays," Quatre answered. "We've spent most of the week so far catching up on sleep, but I think we've about used that excuse up. I don't know about anyone else, but I don't want Iria, Une, or Sally showing up to take a more direct hand in things because we're not following their 'schedule'."

"Good plan," muttered Zechs, digging through the boxes of decorations littering the floor. "My god, there's enough mistletoe here to carpet the place in it," he exclaimed in disbelief. "All the boxes marked 'holly' are full of mistletoe instead! And the couple of boxes marked 'mistletoe' have holly in them..."

"Great! I call dibs on the mistletoe," Relena said cheerfully. "Dorothy, want to help?"

"Why my dear Miss Relena, I thought you'd never ask," Dorothy responded with a sly smirk.

Looking back and forth between the two young women, Zechs closed his eyes and shook his head slightly. "Not going to ask, don't want to know, please don't tell me."

Laughing, Relena held a cluster of mistletoe over her brother's head and gave him a quick peck on the cheek. "Don't worry about it, bro. I'm a big girl now and my sex life was never your problem to begin with."

Turning red, Zechs hid his face in his hands, "Too much information, sis! Go on, get out of here you two!"

Snickering, Dorothy repeated Relena's mistletoe trick before picking up a stack of boxes and pulling Relena out of the room with her.

"Anybody want a little sister, cheap?" Zechs muttered.

"No thank you," Quatre said fervently, "I have more than enough females in my life as it is."

"Better not let Iria hear you say that," laughed Duo, picking up a couple of boxes of ornamental candles. "And I don't need one either - keeping Hilde out of trouble till she got married was bad enough and 'Lena and Dot already act like bratty sisters around us anyway..." With that, he wandered off, carefully choosing a different direction from the two women.

+

After a full week of relaxing with nothing more demanding than decorating the house for the holidays to do, all eight houseguests were beginning to feel much better. Enough better, in fact, that two particular houseguests had started arguing as they usually did whenever they were in close proximity.

"Zechs, he wouldn't 'get on your case' nearly as much if you'd stop getting on his!" Relena declared in a decidedly frustrated tone. "Okay, so I'll admit the crack about blowing up half the mountain if you get in a 'pissy mood' was out of line, but then again, you started it with that crack about working for the 'diapered dictator' if he got bored! And if Maia finds out you called her that, Chang Wufei will be the least of your worries!"

"Behave yourself, Zechs," Dorothy scolded. "Your sister is supposed to be taking a break from peace-making, not spending her entire vacation carrying out peace negotiations between two houseguests! Honestly, you're acting like a couple of high school kids!" Muttering under her breath, she added in a voice soft enough to only reach Relena's ears, "Ones with crushes on each other..."

"Now go find somebody else to bother!" Relena ordered her brother. "And if you run into Wufei again, kiss and make up rather than picking another fight!"

Stalking down the hall, Zechs muttered under his breath, "Kiss and make up, she says! As if that would make things any better! No, I'd be more likely to get run through with that damn katana of his..."

"Talking to yourself now, Merquise? What's wrong, no one else interested in what you have to say?" came an insolent sneer from the doorway to the games room.

That did it. With just one thought in his mind, wiping that insolent look off of Wufei's haughty face, Zechs pointed above Wufei's head, said succinctly, "Mistletoe," grabbed the Chinese man by the shoulders, and kissed him forcefully on the lips. By the time Wufei recovered enough to stop sputtering and start uttering threats, Zechs had beaten a prudent retreat, borrowing a car to go to town for the rest of the morning.

+

"What's Wufei so worked up about this time?" Quatre asked Trowa curiously.

Watching the young man in question stomp out of the room, Trowa answered, "Don't you mean 'who'?"

"Oh dear," Quatre sighed. "What did Zechs do this time?"

"That's the interesting part - he wouldn't say. Though if I didn't know better, I would almost swear he blushed when I asked him that question."

"Chang Wufei blushing? Now I'm even more curious," the blond said, moving towards the door to see where Wufei was disappearing off to.

Looking above Quatre's head, a small smile crept across Trowa's face. "Mmm, guess I'll have to keep you too busy to be curious," he said, advancing on the Arabian in a purposeful fashion. "Mistletoe," he explained, pointing upwards, in response to Quatre's curious look. Pulling his partner towards him, he murmured softly, "I just can't get used to not having to bend down to kiss you anymore. How did we let so much time go by?" Not giving Quatre a chance to answer that question, he leaned forward to bring their mouths together in a warm, lingering kiss.

As they drew apart again, Quatre offered softly, "I don't know, but what I do know is that I have no intention of letting it happen again." The puzzle of Wufei's odd behaviour forgotten for the moment, he drew Trowa towards him for another kiss, murmuring just before their lips met, "I have to remember to thank Iria for all that mistletoe..."

+

Walking through the cold but snowless countryside, Heero stole a sidelong glance at his still-too-subdued companion. While Duo's eyes would brighten briefly at times, they still remained too dull and shadowed to suit Heero. Duo's hair had regained its healthy shine and the dark circles were gone from around his eyes; he had even gained a tiny bit of weight back. But Duo was still far from his old self. And Heero very much suspected it was his fault. Oh, not due to things he was doing now - those were the things that would bring that short-lived brightness into those amethyst eyes - but rather due to his failure to respond in past months to Duo's tentative attempts to suggest that perhaps it was finally time to begin exploring that long-delayed relationship they had once both been so eager to begin. It wasn't like he had intentionally ignored Duo's attempts - he had simply not recognized them for what they were.

Even though a number of years had passed since the war, Heero realized that he had not gotten any better at understanding the subtleties of social interaction. Working 16 hour days seven days a week didn't exactly leave a lot of time for socializing, and Duo had always been his guide in those matters in the first place. Now, however, that had resulted in a distinctly unfamiliar situation. While Duo would eagerly take him up on any offered time together, it was entirely up to Heero to make that all-important first move. Duo had been disappointed too many times to risk it again. Heero winced at the realization that, had he caught on sooner to the real meaning of that sudden spate of notes left on his desk for him to find on his return from assignments, neither of them would have ended up in sufficiently rough shape to be forced into a prolonged vacation. He certainly didn't regret the vacation time together, but he did regret the lonely, nightmare-filled nights and too-long workdays that had led to it. And he was beginning to have an awful, sneaking suspicion that the real fault on his part lay even further back than that.

Over the past week, Heero's efforts had been directed at simply re-establishing his friendship with Duo. They had spent so little time together outside of work in the past five years that he had expected to find changes. The degree of change in Duo, however, was disturbing. From happy, laughing, and full of energy, Duo had become very solemn, quiet, and subdued. Heero knew that he hadn't been around very often to spend time with Duo, but was shocked to discover that months had frequently passed without Duo seeing any of his closest friends. The other pilots had all been working ridiculous hours as well and Hilde had gotten married and caught up in her own life. That left Une and Sally - both too busy to spend more than a brief lunch break with him occasionally, Dorothy and Relena - also too busy for more than an occasional vid-phone call, G, and Howard. While Howard had dropped by from time to time, months tended to pass between his visits as well. Which left G. And while G took a very paternal interest in Duo, he was more likely to challenge Duo to a game of chess than a game of basketball, more likely to discuss a potential invention than the hassles of working with someone years your senior who was nevertheless your junior in rank. And, as Heero himself had discovered, it was virtually impossible to make even casual friends with the other Preventers. Even Duo had finally given up in the face of continual resentment and mistrust, both stemming from the dual causes of his past as a Gundam pilot and his current high-ranking status as a very, very youthful Preventer.

'No wonder he said he was tired of being alone... For all intents and purposes, he's been alone since I suggested putting our relationship "temporarily" on hold five years ago... And while I've spent the time alone too, I've never craved social interaction the way that Duo always has... My request five years ago was made with the best of intentions, but I guess that old saying about the road to hell being paved with them is right...'

After returning to the house, Heero decided that since Duo was far too serious lately, he was going to have to do something about that. And since Duo also seemed to be waiting for him to make the first move towards advancing their relationship... Patiently, he waited till Duo passed under a clump of mistletoe. It didn't take long, Relena and Dorothy had put some over every doorway in the house and numerous other locations besides. Catching Duo by the shoulders, Heero directed his attention upwards. "Mistletoe," he said simply with a grin. Duo's eyes drifted shut as Heero leaned forward and - dropped a light kiss on the tip of his nose. "Mistletoe tag, you're it!" Heero whispered with a smirk.

"Why, you..." Duo's eyes snapped open and danced with surprised laughter as Heero took off for another room. Cheat him out of a proper kiss then make a run for it, huh? Well, two could definitely play at that game. Tearing down the hall in chase of his elusive partner, Duo collided with Relena. "Oops, sorry, 'Lena," he apologized.

"What on earth are you up to, Duo?" she inquired.

"Mistletoe tag," he explained with a grin.

"Mistletoe what? "

"Mistletoe tag. Speaking of which..." he pointed up above their heads, then gave Relena a quick peck on the cheek, "Tag, you're it!" On that note, he took off for another room.

Laughing, Relena headed off in search of someone else to pull into the game.

When Zechs walked into the house half an hour later, he wondered what on earth all the shrieks and laughter were about. The sound of running feet echoed through the mansion. Shaking his head and deciding that he'd probably find out soon enough, he took off his coat and bent over to remove his boots.

Having been quite literally dragged into the game of mistletoe tag, Wufei was currently stalking Duo in an attempt at retaliation. Spotting Zechs bending over to take off his boots, a distinctly evil smirk crossed Wufei's face. Here was the chance to get back at him for that kiss earlier. Ignoring the part of his mind that was demanding to know just how kissing Zechs qualified as "getting back at him", Wufei waited till Zechs started to straighten up, then pounced. He pressed his lips to Zechs's in a kiss just as forceful as the one Zechs had planted on him earlier, then pointed above their heads, explained, "Mistletoe tag - you're it!" and took off running before Zechs had a chance to gather his wits.

Taking pity on the stupefied form of her brother, Relena reminded him, "You're 'it', brother dear. Now you have to catch somebody else under the mistletoe and give them a kiss to tag them!" before taking off again herself.

+

[cont]