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

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe + Part 3

Hanging up his call, Trowa turned to face Quatre. "Well, I may not have to worry about deserting the circus. That was Cathy. The by-law passed council last night and the animals will no longer be allowed within city limits as of the first of the year. So the circus no longer has a home base. They can't last long travelling all the time. There has to be somewhere safe and stable to raise children, allow injured performers to heal, raise and train young animals, perfect new acts, and so on. Even during the worst of the war, they always had a 'home' to go back to. Now they won't."

"Not necessarily," Quatre said slowly, his thoughts quickly darting through myriad possibilities. "It will take a little research to find out which estates would be possibilities, but surely there's at least one Winner property that could host them and also be in a suitable location to act as my home base for WEI business... That way, you wouldn't have to completely give up working with the circus and being near Cathy in order to stay with me..."

Grabbing the blond by the shoulders, Trowa looked him straight in the eyes and demanded, "Quatre, are you serious? I never... I mean... God, Quat, that would be perfect! "

"Of course I'm serious," Quatre responded, tilting his head slightly to one side and giving Trowa an angelic smile. "As long as you promise not to make me eat Cathy's cooking..."

Snickering, Trowa promised solemnly, "Never."

+

Heero realized that someone was watching him just as that someone started to back out of his bedroom. "Come on in, Duo," he urged without turning around.

"I didn't want to bother you," Duo answered. "You're busy, I can come back later."

Turning away from his laptop screen, Heero gave Duo an exasperated look. "Duo, get in here. You are not bothering me and there's nothing new here anyway."

"Still no luck, huh..."

"No. I'm beginning to think there never will be. I don't have any memories before Odin, and if I can't track him back any farther than what I have so far, I won't get much further."

"Maybe the lead that J mentioned will pan out," Duo offered, moving to stand beside Heero's chair.

"I'm not holding my breath."

"Why does it matter so much to you anyway?"

Shaking his head slightly, Heero admitted, "I don't know. Maybe I just want to know that there isn't someone else out there looking for me because Odin took off with me. I'm not even sure whether I'd rather find out that he really was my father or that his 'contract' story was the truth. In fact, I don't know whether I even care what the truth is. I guess it's just the whole 'not knowing' thing."

Duo made a noncommittal noise in response, leading Heero to ask, "Haven't you ever wondered? Ever wanted to trace your own past?"

"No," Duo answered, shaking his head quite definitely. "Considering that the options basically boil down to orphaned and no extended family to look for me, lost and no one looked for me, or abandoned, I'd rather live without knowing for sure which of those oh-so-lovely options it is. Small children do not end up on the street 'by accident', Heero. My own private little fantasy of being the only child of a runaway marriage between two deeply in love - and disowned for it by their families - people who were tragically killed while visiting L2, leaving their beloved child alone on the streets is preferable to what I might find out if I went looking. I'll live with G and Howie as paternal/avuncular figures; Hilde, 'Lena, Dot, and Cathy as sisters; and Q, Tro, and 'Fei as brothers."

"And just where do I fall in your little adopted family?" Heero asked curiously.

Duo dropped his gaze, retreating into that subdued version of himself that Heero was learning to dread. He mumbled something too quietly for Heero to understand what he said.

"I didn't quite hear that, Duo," Heero said, "but I'm sincerely hoping it wasn't 'brother' because then I'd feel awfully odd about doing this." With that, he surged to his feet and pulled Duo into his arms. Wrapping one arm behind his back, Heero slid his hand up under Duo's sweatshirt while using his other hand to lift Duo's face to his for a kiss. With one hand firmly pressed against the bare skin of Duo's back, Heero had no difficulty feeling the exact moment at which the tension went out of his partner. Duo's hands came up to bury themselves in Heero's hair and, for the first time since they'd put their fledgling relationship "on hold" five years ago, Duo took the initiative and ran his tongue along Heero's lips, requesting entrance. Heero readily parted them, a rush of relief at Duo's small show of confidence in their relationship filling him. For several long, blissful moments, Heero simply relaxed and allowed Duo to explore his mouth freely. As Duo began to pull back again, Heero caught his tongue and sucked on it gently for a moment before letting it go. As they parted slightly for air, Heero's cobalt gaze caught Duo's warm, slightly hesitant, violet one. "You never wanted to put our relationship on hold, did you?" he asked very gently, cautiously broaching a subject that he had been avoiding since first suspecting it days earlier. "I was the one who brought it up and you only agreed to try and make me happy..."

Ducking his head against Heero's shoulder, Duo admitted softly, "No, I didn't want to wait. But you obviously weren't prepared to handle juggling a beginning relationship and all the other things that were going on, and I thought it was better to agree to put things on hold than to refuse and end up destroying any chance we had by forcing things to happen before you were ready. But I thought it would only be a year or maybe two at most... I never dreamed that the five-year mark would come and go and we'd still be 'on hold'. I just kept waitin' and waitin' and you never said anything. I was startin' to think maybe you'd changed your mind completely and just didn't want to tell me..."

Heero sighed, dropping his own forehead to rest on Duo's shoulder. "I'm sorry. At the time, I thought I was making things easier on both of us. It was so damn hard spending all our free time together, then turning around and having one or the other of us gone on an undercover assignment for weeks or even months at a time. We were so close to crossing that boundary between friends and lovers and I didn't think I could stand that kind of separation once we did. I never intended to let things go for so long. But I was so used to letting you be the one to take the initiative where anything emotional was concerned that I just kept waiting, assuming that when you were ready to resume our relationship, you'd let me know." Lifting a finger to Duo's lips as he raised his head in protest, Heero continued, "I know, I know. You did finally try to let me know, I just didn't pick up on the hint. I did eventually figure that much out, but only at dinner the night we left for vacation. I guess part of me expected to just come home from an assignment some day to find you standing in my apartment, hands on your hips, demanding to know when the hell we were finally going to make the time for us, maybe even find that you'd moved yourself in already. I wasn't expecting something as subtle as notes suggesting simple friend-type get-togethers, notes that didn't even use the word 'date' to clue me in. And I sure as hell didn't realize that in asking to put things on hold, I'd given you the impression that I'd let you know when I was ready to pick up where we'd left off. After all this time, I'm still not any good at 'subtle', love."

Duo went completely still at that word. Answering the unspoken question, Heero told him, "That's what you are, you know. My love. Spending all this time together over the past few weeks has only confirmed that for me. I was pretty sure of it back before I suggested putting things on hold and I became more certain of it over the time we were apart. I missed the other guys, sure, but nothing like the way I missed you. I thought I was making things easier by calling a time out on our relationship, but all I really did was leave us both with the loneliness and emptiness all the time instead of just when circumstances forced us apart." Drawing a deep breath, Heero admitted, "I fucked up and we both spent five long, productive, but generally pretty damn miserable, years alone as a result."

As Duo's arms tightened around him convulsively and a choked noise that sounded suspiciously like a sob reached his ears, Heero moved them over to the bed he hadn't used since that first night there. Propping himself up against the headboard, he pulled Duo against him, rubbing his back soothingly. "I'm sorry, love, so sorry," he murmured softly. "I love you and I promise neither of us will have to be alone again. We'll talk to Une, get her to take us off the undercover work the way I should have done earlier. Five years ago she might have had a hard time covering those assignments without us, but there's been more than enough other qualified agents to handle them for some time now. I think we've earned our chance to enjoy peace by now; we don't always have to be the ones in the front lines."

"Support staff sounds good to me," Duo responded in a choked voice. Lifting a still-dry face from Heero's chest, he kissed Heero fervently before pulling back to tell him, "I love you too. Have since long before you ever made that request. Agreein' to it just about tore me apart, but I knew pushin' you into something you weren't ready for would just lead to even more pain in the long run. That's why I kept waitin' for you to make the first move towards resuming our relationship - I didn't want my own impulsiveness and impatience wreckin' things. Eventually, though, I couldn't stand the wait anymore and started tryin' to give you a gentle nudge with all those invitations to watch a movie or go out for dinner or whatever. I didn't wanna use the term 'date' 'cause that would seem too much like pushin' you if you weren't ready yet. When you kept beggin' off as too tired or too busy, I didn't know what to think, 'specially since you did accept a few times..."

Gently cupping one hand along the curve of Duo's jaw, Heero regretfully repeated, "I'm sorry. You seemed to be suggesting 'best friend' activities and I could only handle a couple of those before I started wanting more... And since you seemed to be doing okay with the way things were and I expected you to give me some sort of obvious sign if you wanted more, I'd refuse the next few invitations to give myself time to wrestle my emotions back under control again. Face it, love, I'm a completely clueless baka where social situations are concerned. If there was some way I could just magically make myself better at picking up hints, I'd do it in a heartbeat. All those little subtleties of social interaction just slip right by me and most of the time I don't even know I missed something. Promise me you won't ever rely on hints again to get something important across to me, please Duo?"

"Promise," Duo swore fervently.

+

Leaning into the arm wrapped around his shoulders, Wufei said quietly, "We're going to have to stop making out and actually talk about this sooner or later, you know."

Reluctantly, Zechs replied, "I know. If there was one thing I would never have believed would happen during this enforced vacation, this," he pressed a quick kiss to Wufei's lips, "would be it. We've always struck sparks off each other, I guess we were just never in a situation that let us discover the real nature of those sparks. And I've done nothing but fight against my sexual preferences over the years since I first discovered them. As the last male Peacecraft, it was my duty to continue the Peacecraft line, or so tradition said."

"You think you have pressure that way - I'm the last of the Dragon clan, something Master O mentions virtually every time he sees me," Wufei reminded him. "It's only been recently that I finally decided no amount of rationalization that I was 'carrying on tradition' could make up for a loveless, passionless marriage. So up until a year or so ago, I wouldn't have even been willing to admit to the possibility of, as you so succinctly put it, this," he concluded as he pulled the other man's face down to his for a deeper kiss than the one he had just received.

"So - get Une to transfer you to Relena's security staff for a while and see where all this leads us?" the tall blond asked when they finally parted.

"I think that would be the wisest move, yes."

+

"I overheard Iria talking to Rashid. All three of them are coming by this afternoon to 'check up' on us," Duo told Trowa in a low voice. "Heero and I have an idea... They all wanted us to spend a month actin' like teenagers, right? Well, here's what we're gonna do..."

Heading off to pass the plan on to Quatre while Duo went off to relay it to Wufei, Trowa allowed a very, very tiny smirk to creep across his face. This was going to be fun. How very convenient that it had finally started snowing two days ago and hadn't stopped since. And that it was absolutely perfect packing snow...

+

Halfway between the car and the house, Sally stopped in her tracks. "What's wrong?" Une asked. Ahead of them, Iria stopped and turned back as well.

"I think we're about to be ambushed," Sally answered, flicking a quick glance back at the car and debating which direction to run.

"What?" Une asked. The snowball that splatted against her shoulder just as she spoke answered that question quite neatly.

Shrieking with laughter, Relena and Dorothy popped up from behind some bushes and flung a barrage of snowballs at the three older women before turning and running under the covering fire provided by Zechs and Wufei.

"I hope you all realize that this means war," Sally mock-threatened, shaking her fist dramatically. The effect of her speech was somewhat ruined by the slushy snowball that struck her waving hand with perfect accuracy.

Ducking and running for cover from the fresh barrage of snowballs pelting down from the roof , the three women exchanged happy smiles. Obviously, this vacation had done wonders for the eight young adults whose welfare they had been so concerned over.

+

[cont]