(kodoku na okami)
and Fools + Part 05
(Sometimes soldiers find weaknesses.
Sometimes fools are surprised by what they find.)
Heero had come to hate homework. It wasn't the homework itself. It was--
"Um, can you give me a hint on number twenty-five?" Duo asked.
It was the desk. "Subject?" The desk had a large, square top and seats
for two people facing each other.
Heero was still trying to figure out why Duo had to make all those unnecessary
sounds around his words. "Physics," would have been sufficient, but Duo
had to add an "Ah" or an "Um" or an "Er" to everything he said, even in
Japanese. He shifted mental tracks and found problem twenty-five in his
memory. "An inclined plane."
Duo squinted at the problem as if that would help him see it better. His
head cocked to the left, then the right. He twiddled the end of his braid
between his fingers. Heero was rewarded with that look of sudden understanding
that Duo always got. Why had he watched for it? He'd seen it often enough.
"Oh, like my hair. It's straight, just twisted into a braid."
He thought about that for a second. "Close enough." Duo's mind ran in
Heero went back to his English Literature homework. He didn't like literature
classes in any language, especially when the instructor assigned composition
pieces. He was writing a sonnet in the English Romantic style. He had
no problem with the rigid rules of form, but the actual writing was...
difficult. Five minutes passed as he squeezed out three more words.
"Um, hint on number thirty?"
Heero searched his memory. Problem thirty wasn't part of the assignment.
Duo may have been a loud-mouthed idiot, but in the fifteen days and twelve
hours they'd been sharing this room, Heero had learned he wasn't stupid
-- and he didn't do unnecessary work. He looked up and saw Duo watching
"Anou. You, uh, seem to be concentrating awfully hard and not writing
"English. A Romantic-style sonnet." Leave me alone. This is difficult
enough as it is. But he didn't say that. It would certainly provoke--
"Hey, can I read it?"
Funny. The boy was serious. He really wanted to read it. "It isn't finished."
Heero tried to think of a better excuse but the paper slipped from his
hands before he realized it.
Damn the little thief's hands! Training redirected the anger. Heero
slowly considered ten different ways of killing Duo with varying degrees
of pain. "Duo, give it back."
Duo recognized the threat in Heero's voice. Most people wouldn't, but
Duo's catalog of the subtle signs of the emotions Heero kept in tight
rein -- stabled is more like it -- had grown quite large. "Y'know,
English is my first language. And I like the Romantic poets. I could,
uh, help you with this." He looked at Heero, watching the almost-invisible
twitches and twinges as Heero considered his offer -- contempt, faint
surprise, disbelief, one he didn't recognize, careful considering.
Should be safe now. "And the first thing is, um, war and bloodshed
aren't exactly in the Romantic style."
"The Romantic poets wrote about nature." Duo looked at him, uncertain
where he was going. "War is natural."
Duo's mouth quirked into a sad smile. "Not to the Romantics. They were
interested in Nature with a capital 'N'. Y'know, uh, trees, grass, wind,
clouds, water, ... and magic." He drew himself up and quoted, his voice
different, deeper, passionate. "Come away, O human child! / To the waters
and the wild / With a faery, hand in hand, / For the world's more full
of weeping than you can understand."
Heero stared at him, eyebrows raised a hairbreadth. Duo watched him for
a moment, then decided that must be surprise and added it to his list.
"What is a faery? Did you write that?"
"I wish!" Duo laughed. "I draw. That's William Butler Yeats' 'Stolen Child'."
He paused, staring through Heero into some unseen place.
They had covered Yeats in English Lit, but Heero knew that particular
poem wasn't in their books. Duo must have memorized it. Maybe he did know
something about this. If he was going to have to put up with the boy's
mouth, maybe he could direct it to something useful. "So what should I
write about in a Romantic sonnet?"
"Hmmmm?" Duo's eyes half-connected with the here-and-now. "Come with me."
Before Heero could protest, Duo grabbed a pencil, a notebook and him and
was dragging them out the door.
"Hnnnnn!" Heero jerked away.
"OH!" Duo retreated as if expecting a blow. "Ah, sorry?" His voice squeaked.
Heero contemplated a few more painful deaths, then shrugged. He was just
trying to help even if he was being obnoxiously enthusiastic about it.
"Lead," he ordered. Tension melted out of Duo's shoulders. Heero saw his
hand move away from the pocket with the gun.
Did he notice that? Each wondered.
They continued at a more sedate pace, Duo chattering away about Romantic
philosophy and Heero three-quarters-ignoring him as he scanned for threats.
Eventually, they came to a part of the park that seemed forgotten by everyone
else. "Sit." Heero sat with feline grace, leaning against a tree. Duo
flopped down unceremoniously beside him. "What do you see?"
Heero looked around. "Trees. Water. Grass. Birds. Dirt." He stopped, not
certain what else to say, and looked at Duo. The boy was watching him
and Heero could see he'd written words, Heero's words, in the notebook.
Duo motioned for him to continue. Heero looked around again. "Sunlight
on water. A pond. ... Cherry trees. Cherry blossoms. Ducks. Sparrows.
... Clouds." Duo was strangely silent. "That one looks like you." Heero
wondered what was wrong with Duo -- he wasn't saying anything -- but he
knew he wasn't supposed to look at him. "Wind blowing the cherry blossoms.
I smell them too."
After a few minutes, Duo nudged him. "OK. Here's a list. Pick five things
off of it." Duo had dutifully written down everything Heero had itemized.
Heero had never noticed how neat the boy's handwriting was.
"Cherry blossoms. Sparrows. ... Sunlight on water. ... Wind. ..." Nothing
else on the list seemed right. He was about to add dirt, when Duo said,
"Four is good enough."
"You said five." He didn't like mission parameters changing underneath
Duo smiled, shaking his head. He'd had his own chance to see understanding
begin to dawn as Heero had named things while he wrote. He liked it. "Rhyme
and rhythm are the only formula in a sonnet. The rest is up to the writer.
You could choose five or ten or four or even one thing on this list and
still write a sonnet. Four is enough." He turned the page and wrote Heero's
choices on a blank sheet tore it out and handed it to him, then wrote
them again in the notebook. "Tell me about those things. English or Japanese.
It doesn't matter which."
Heero stared at the paper. "Cherry blossoms are flowers from a tree of
Duo punched him in the shoulder. "Look at what's around you." He slapped
the paper. "A map is just a representation. It's useless if you don't
see what it represents."
Heero looked, and slowly described the things he saw. Neither of them
noticed the hours passing until the sky began to glow orange with sunset.
Odd that his internal sense of time hadn't warned him how late it was.
That didn't matter right now. "Can we add sunset?" Heero asked, almost
Duo glanced up at him and froze as if he'd spotted a wary deer and didn't
want to frighten it away. This wasn't the Heero he knew. This was, perhaps,
the Heero beneath the soldier. The one he hoped to see more often. He
liked this Heero -- very much. "Tell me about it and how it fits with
the other things," he said, softly. Heero spoke and Duo wrote until the
sky was dusted with stars.
"OK," Duo said, "that's enough. I'm gonna go blind if I try to write by
starlight. Let's go back to the room." He stood and offered Heero a hand
up. To his amazement, Heero took it and pulled himself up. Duo squinted
in the darkness. Heero looked a bit, well, out of it. He laid a gentle
hand on the other boy's elbow, guiding him as if he were blind until he
felt Heero's steps return to their normal, assured pace and the elbow
"Don't lose that mind set just yet. There's more work to do." Heero looked
at him, and Duo read the unspoken question. "You've got to go through
three pages of description in English and Japanese and beat it into a
sonnet form in English."
"You wouldn’t want me doing your homework for you now, would you?" Duo
flashed him a quick grin, not waiting for the answer he already knew.
"I'll help if you need it." He handed Heero the notebook. "You go on and
get started while I go get us dinner. Just take those pages and try to
make the words fit a sonnet form. And remember what you saw when you said
them. That's important. Chinese food?"
Heero nodded and watched Duo's braid disappear into the darkness. He knew
something wasn't quite right. Duo had said almost nothing all afternoon
and when he had spoken there was not an "Um" or "Uh" to be heard. Strange,
He looked at the notebook. His night vision was excellent and he
saw the clean, flowing English letters Duo had written. There were little
drawings beside many of the words, vignettes of the things he'd described.
And the Kanji... He has a hand worthy of haiku. Heero decided
he wasn't going to rectify this afternoon with his image of Duo -- not
any time soon -- and he needed to finish this poem tonight. He walked
up the stairs to the room, reading, and noted a tiny "DM-195" at the bottom
of each sheet.
When Duo came in with dinner a half-hour later, he was surprised to see
Heero laying on the top bunk. "Hey! I'm not gonna write that sonnet for
you, Spandex Boy."
Heero ignored the taunt, simply pointing down at a piece of paper on the
desk and watching as Duo read. When Duo's mouth dropped, something warm
stole through Heero's chest, just long enough to feel before it hid again.
"Damn," Duo whispered. He read it again. "Damn. Heero, you wrote this?
I mean, uh, yeah you obviously did, but... Well... Damn!" He shook his
head, then grinned, "I'd've never guessed you had it in you."
Heero saw "lie" written all over Duo's face, but didn't know why it would
be a lie. Duo laid the paper on Heero's dresser as if it were a fragile
crystal ornament and set dinner out on the desk. "Um, let's eat. I'm hungry."
He yammered through the meal. Heero wasn't certain how Duo managed to
eat and talk at the same time, but he did notice that "Um" and "Uh" were
back. Things seemed to be back to normal, but Heero knew something had
changed today. He just wasn't sure what.
[part 04] [part
06] [back to LoneWolf's fic]