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

//THIS// is Heero's entries on his laptop.

Trial and Error + Chapter 7

//Mission Duration: 9 days 23 hours

Project 3: Hostility masking affection / love born of conflict

Operation 4xDC

Status: Starting

Both 4 and DC are very hard to manipulate and are also very straightforward and resilient. The strategy for this one will be the direct approach of both subjects. 4 is unavailable for now, a talk with DC can be arranged this morning.//



Dorothy worked for Relena as her attaché and confidante, and he spotted her heading towards her office with coffee and danish as he climbed the stairs to the executive wing. Relena was going out and he had to go with her, and Dorothy rarely stayed in the office past noon on Saturdays, so he had to do this now. It shouldn't take long. Dorothy wasn't going to be fooled by some match-making ploy anyway, so he might as well ask her right out. It was really a simple matter.

"Dorothy?"

She was standing at a filing cabinet glancing over some papers, sipping her coffee. "Heero? What are you doing here? I thought Relena was-"

"Dorothy, I want to ask you a few quick questions." Heero said crisply, aware of time getting short. "It's about Quatre." He removed the coffee from her hand just in case.

"What's up with blondie?" Dorothy drawled but her eyes belied the tone of the question, she looked interested. Yes, thought Heero, good sign.

"I believe Quatre likes you a lot, Dorothy." Heero said firmly.

"Huh?"

"And I believe you like him a lot."

"Well I don't hate the little-"

"I think a relationship between you two would work."

Dorothy's jaw dropped.

"He's kind, polite, and he's rich, he would make a good boyfriend."

The split eyebrows shot up.

"And you'd make a goo- an adequate companion for him."

Dorothy made a strangled noise.

"Don't worry about the sword incident, I'm pretty sure he's forgotten about that."

"I-"

"And the fact you worked for Oz and then joined White Fang."

"Wh-"

"I'm sure if you're nicer to him he'll forgive the fact you conspired with Zechs to blow up parts of the earth."

"What-"

"In fact it's a good thing you're a violent, egotistical strong-willed woman because I hear opposites attract."

Heero looked at Dorothy's face which had gone blotchy. A doubt struck him.

"You do like men, right?"


//Mission Duration: 10 days 8 hours

Operation 4xDC
Status: In Doubt

DC was very unhelpful. Don't know where she learned such language. May have spent too much time among soldiers. Probably not appropriate match for 4 who is very reserved and polite.//



Heero sighed and started to close the laptop, then stopped. It was too depressing leaving it on that note.


//Operation 2x3

Status: Promising

Subjects returned early yesterday morning, and they were talking loudly and confidently. Word 'boyfriend' overheard several times, in 2's voice. Promising. Though there was a lot of swearing as well. Name 'Heero Yuy' mentioned so swearing may very well be in relation to the sentry duty that was required of 2. Hopefully 'boyfriend' was referring to 3. Will investigate and check status.//


Heero closed the laptop and waited for the small rush of good feeling that came from a mission that was finally going right.

It failed to materialize.

It was probably because he was jumping the gun a little. First he should go check on Duo and Trowa.

He was hoping to find them talking companionably or even snuggled together in front of the TV. He was not expecting to see Trowa come out of Duo's room. That was fast, Heero thought, a bit shocked. The 'mission completed' rush was a bit pale and worried.

"Heero." Trowa said at the door. "I was just about to fetch you."

Heero lifted an eyebrow. Fetch him? He suddenly had a flash of Noin rounding up all her friends to announce her engagement to Zechs and - whoa okay that was way too fast.

"Duo's come down with a bad cold, thanks to that little 'favor' he did for you two nights back." Trowa said, voice neutral but eyes intense as they fixed on Heero's. "With his immune system and boosted resistance he'll kick it off by tomorrow morning but he's going to be miserable until then. It will help speed things up if he can stay warm in bed."

"Oh?"

"But this being Duo, this means someone has to sit on him or he'll be up watching TV in his boxers, or biking into town for pizza, or any other stupid stunt."

"Oy!" Came a stuffed-up voice from within the room.

"Hn."

"I have to go get ready for my act tonight, Wufei's on duty with Relena, and Quatre is off-planet, so guess who-"

"That's okay, Trowa!" Duo shouted from inside the room. "Geez Louise whaddya think I am, ten? Heero doesn't need to-"

"You can keep him company and fetch him drinks and stuff." Trowa said loudly. He was still looking fixedly at Heero.

"Heero won't want to-"

"He said yes, Duo. He'll be there in a minute." Trowa said firmly and closed the door.

"Why should I be the one to -" Heero started, since he thought Trowa shouldn't take much convincing to forget the circus for one night and stay with Duo.

The words died in his mouth as he found Trowa an inch from his face.

"Let's get this straight, Yuy." Trowa said in his calm, neutral tones. "When it started raining last night, he persuaded me to go inside for a few minutes every hour to warm up, but he wouldn't have any of it himself. When it started really pouring down, he sent me to get him coffee but he wouldn't budge from his post. Now, as the one who persuaded him to do this, and as his best friend, are you going to watch him or am I going to have to break every bone in your body and tie you into a knot."

"I'll watch him." Heero said carefully. Trowa sounded calm but Heero knew that the quiet man had a protective streak a mile wide for those he considered his family and he could get downright nasty when he felt any of them had been treated badly.

"Good." Trowa said, voice still terribly quiet. "Make sure he drinks plenty of fluids and stays warm. And be nice, Yuy, or I'll cut you up and feed you to my lions."

Heero shrugged and went to fetch his laptop.

Duo's eyes brightened as Heero entered the room, then dimmed as he spotted the machine.

"Oh. You're going to work." He said and sunk back into the pillows. His normally perky nose was red and a bit swollen, his eyes were bloodshot and slightly glazed, his braid was limp and messy, his bangs drooped over a pale face. Shinigami had seen better days. Heero felt a twinge of guilt.

He put the laptop on the dresser and shook his head. "Maybe later, while you're asleep. Let's talk."

"Uh?" Duo sniffled, perking up and smiling teasingly. "You sure you're not the one with the fever? Did you really say 'let's talk'?"

"Yes. I'm sorry it's me and not Trowa, of course. But he has an obligation."

"Oh that's okay." Duo grinned. "I'd rather hang out with you anyway."

There was a moment of silence and Duo looked like he'd regretted saying that. Heero rather wished he hadn't either.

"Why?" Heero felt prickles run up his spine.

"Well...Trowa's my friend and all but...well, you're my best friend, Heero." Duo suddenly brightened. "Yeah. You know, Tro's nice, but on some things we don't see eye to eye. I mean, you don't give a shit if I watch TV in my boxers, right?"

"You know, Duo." Heero fished around desperately. "It's rather good that you two are very different. They say opposites attract."

Duo looked at him owlishly from behind a kleenex. "Well yeah I guess. In some cases. But most times, you're safer with having a mix of similarities and opposites, makes it fun without being an overwhelming -sniff- challenge."

Damn, I should have been asking Duo's advice all along, Heero thought. He seemed to make much more sense than Relena. The problem was, Duo was also a lot smarter than Relena, and he knew Heero better. It would be difficult to get information out of him without letting the purpose of it slip. It wasn't mission secrecy that concerned Heero, not where Duo was concerned; he'd trust Duo with his life. He'd trust Duo with the last chocolate bar if Heero wrote the name 'Yuy' on it. There would be blood on the kitchen floor before anybody touched what was Heero's while Duo was around. Duo would make sure Heero'd gotten it safely, then he'd give him that big blue-eyed starving-street-kid stare until Heero gave it to him voluntarily. But until then you could trust Duo implicitly.

So Heero knew how this was going to go. Sooner or later Duo would tease the plan's details out of him, and he would know that Heero was trying to pair him up and then all hell would break loose. There was nothing more difficult than to get Shinigami to do something that he hadn't thought of himself first.

So subtlety was key. Heero was honest enough to admit his track record with Subtlety was not brilliant up to date.

Duo was flipping through a magazine, looking bored. Heero tried to sound casual.

"So...you'd say that to get two people together, they should have some points in common, and some points where they are different."

"Yup." Duo sniffed and flipped a page. Well, that didn't entirely exclude Trowa, Heero thought, he and Duo did have some similarities.

"And I guess that it would help if they work together, or live together or something." Heero decided to run Relena's other suggestions past Duo as well.

"Yeah, I guess." Duo flipped another page absently.

"And maybe when they have a disagreement- " like watching TV in boxers or going for pizza with a cold "- that's really just a sign they care."

"...in a funny way maybe..." the page slipped limply from Duo's fingers.

"And that's enough to build a relationship?"

Heero realized that he was being too casual; Duo had apparently tuned him out, or else the article he was reading was absolutely fascinating because he was staring fixedly at the magazine and gripping it tightly with his fingers. Just as Heero was about to reformulate the question more forcibly, Duo croaked: "Why do you ask?"

"Just curious. It's some personal research. It's an area I'm not familiar with." Heero said, then frowned. "Maybe we should stop talking, it sounds like the cold is going to your throat."

"I'm okay." Duo said in a small voice. He'd practically disappeared behind the magazine, only one eye peeking out. "Er, research, what kind of-"

"I just want to understand the parameters of what attracts people to each other."

"Parameters?" Duo fumbled the magazine and stared at Heero. "That's a funny way of- oh you mean, what's someone's type?"

"Type?" Heero frowned. The expression was familiar. He'd never really understood it before.

"Yeah, you know, the sort of thing you look for in a guy, well, in my case a guy. The sort of thing that makes people click. 'My type of guy'. Er, when you say...personal research, what exactly-..."

"Well..." Heero tried to think of a plausible lie, but something else came out of his mouth instead, in a rush.

"I just feel so...cut off sometimes. We're friends and I know your fighting style and how you'll react in combat down to the split second but I didn't even know you were gay, and I thought you were happy with Hilde! I thought I got on well with Wufei but everybody seems to be persuaded I'm angry with him for some reason! And he's certainly cross with me now. Trowa's always been very calm and patient with me but just now-" it suddenly occurred to him that Trowa had probably been worried about Duo to threaten him like that, so he dropped that example quickly. "There's only Quatre I seem to get along with without too many problems and that's probably because he's an empath and as patient as a saint. I want to find out more about how people get along, normal people, I - sometimes I get it so wrong I don't even know why you guys still - " Heero shook himself abruptly. What the hell was wrong with him, he was whining worse than Une when he'd said he didn't want active preventer duty anymore.

"Heero."

He glanced up at the soft voice. Duo was looking at him seriously with his reddened eyes. "You're being too hard on yourself. Whatever happens, whatever little bumps and tiffs we have, we're your friends. We know what your training was like, what you went through. We know you grew up isolated, emotionally detached, so we understand that some things don't come quickly to you, but they do, Heero. You've grown and changed so much these last two years, can't you see that?"

"I have?" Beaten down by his recent failures, Heero had felt like no progress had been made at all.

"Well, do you remember any time during the war you'd have sat and watched me because I had a bitty little cold?" Duo sniffed with a wry grin.

Heero frowned, eyes turned inward. "You're right. I left you with major internal injuries to go and infiltrate the lunar base instead."

"Oy, none of that!" Duo leaned out of bed to poke him sharply on the knee. "Sure, you left me, but first you got me out of prison instead of shooting me. I kind of notice it when people don't shoot me. I like that in a man."

Heero found himself smiling. Duo always managed to make him feel better. "Thanks, Duo. I...guess I'm still in training, in a way. I'm glad you guys are willing to help me learn these things, and stick around me in the meantime. Nothing much seems to faze you...?" He was fishing a bit there, curious; he was aware that his attitude these last few days might have qualified as slightly unusual, but he wasn't sure if the others had noticed.

Duo blew his nose and folded the kleenex carefully.

"I won't pretend that we're not all a little...ah, curious about the questions you've been firing at us lately. But we know you'll talk to us when you're ready and not before; you're more pig-headed than I am, Yuy."

"No I'm not."

"Yes you are."

"No- I'm not going to win this one, am I?"

"No but I'll concede that we're both equally pig-headed." Sniff. "Anyway...having you go around and asking us intimate questions is all par for the course, really."

"What do you mean?" Heero didn't recall asking intimate questions before.

Duo sniffed again and looked at him with a wry grin. "It's just one more chapter of the interesting adventure that is living with you, Heero."

Heero frowned. On the face of it, it sounded like a compliment, but he also recognized the teasing light in Duo's eyes. "What do you mean? I think I'm a pretty considerate room mate. At least I clean up after myself."

"You're a super roomie and I wouldn't swap you for anything but you have to admit...well, remember when I found you scowling and threatening our house plants?"

"Relena told me they grow better if you talk to them."

"To them, not at them, and I don't think they take orders well. Then there was the time you drew your gun on that door-to-door salesman."

"He asked me what I would do if I was attacked alone at home at night."

"He was selling security systems but in hindsight it's a mark of progress you didn't shoot him out of hand. Remember the time you turned the house into a sauna?"

"Quatre wanted the heater repaired."

"Yes, repaired, not boosted five hundred percent. It's just a good thing Wufei intercepted you when you started asking around for a small fusion reactor."

Heero scowled. "Okay, in hindsight that wasn't very-...it would have been efficient, mind you." He saw Duo's grin and sighed. "I really am still learning."

"I know you are, Heero." Duo said in a gentle, serious voice. "And we're your friends and strange as it seems we like you just the way you are, so don't fret about it. We'll always be here for you. We'll help you learn as much as you want, and we'll...we've waited years for you to open up this much, we won't give up on you now. Take your time, buddy. There will always be someone waiting for you when you're ready."

"Thanks, Duo." Heero repeated, then frowned. "What do you mean exactly? Ready for what?"

"I..." Duo seemed to catch himself. "It's...maybe I'll tell you one day. Right now, I've got a fever, and my sinuses feel like a frag grenade and someone just pulled the pin. Erm, maybe I should take a nap." He did look a bit flushed and flustered.

"That's a good idea. Try to go to sleep." Heero said softly, and then talked a bit more, in a soft voice, telling Duo about Relena's latest peace plans until Duo abruptly nodded off, as he usually did.

Heero waited until Duo was fast asleep, spread-eagled and snoring with his nose blocked. He carefully tugged the blanket up under his chin without disturbing him; Duo had a gun in the dresser and a switchblade under the pillow and was not afraid to use either, especially when startled.

He gathered up his laptop and left quietly, switching off the light. He hoped Duo would rest. He'd go and sit in the living room on the couch where he could see up the staircase and keep an eye on Duo's door. Any attempt to go and get pizza would be severely dealt with.

[chap. 6] [chap. 8] [back to Maldoror's fic]