see chap. 1 for warnings, disclaimers, notes
+ Chapter Four
"It's a fine day, people
open windows, they leave their houses just for a short while."
-Miss Jane, It's a Fine Day
Duo crawled out of bed when his alarm clock went off. His eyes still glued
shut with dreams he found the snooze button and hit it unmercifully. Then
he slid back into bed and buried his head under the pillow. Five minutes
later, he opened his eyes as the alarm started to ring for a second time.
Then remembering his promise to help Heero unpack, he slid out of bed
with a groan.
The sky was still dark with a faint light rising in the east. Duo peered
at the window across the way and noticed that Heero's room was empty already.
He grimaced, and pulling on some shorts that sat on his dresser, made
his way to the bathroom to brush his teeth.
Ten minutes later, he was out the door and heading across the front yard.
A light was already on in the lower part of Heero's house. Duo silently
berated himself for hoping the empty bedroom had been a false alarm. He
shook his head at thought of waking up this early every morning and raised
his fist to knock on the door.
Before Duo had a chance to knock, the front door opened and Heero stood
framed by light, his clothes slightly rumpled and his hair disheveled.
He smiled down at Duo, as the other boy tried to hide a yawn.
"Morning Heero, show me the box. I think I'm going to fall asleep standing
up if I don't get coffee soon." He hid another yawn behind his hand and
followed Heero into the house. Boxes were piled neatly against the wall.
Duo noticed that at least all the furniture was in place, so no heavy
lifting would be required of him. He hoped.
Silently, Heero led Duo to the kitchen and sat him down in a chair, then
rummaged through a few boxes stacked against the wall. Pulling out two
mugs, he set them on the table in front of Duo, and smirked at the confused
look he received in response.
"I dug out the coffee pot already, I thought you might need something
to wake you up." He explained, turning around and picking up -what Duo
had mistaken for a teapot- and pouring steaming black coffee into the
two mugs. He began spooning sugar into his coffee, watching as Duo sipped
at his own cup and made a face. Heero smiled, "It's from New Orleans,
there's chicory in it. It tends to make it bitter."
Duo was about to add some sugar, when a large black shape barreled through
the door and started vigorously sniffing his crotch. He gasped and managed
to spill some of the scalding coffee onto his wrist.
"Zero!" Heero pointed a finger at the dog and glared.
Duo looked at the enormously fat dog for a moment, then chuckled and set
his coffee aside. Immediately forgetting the minor burn on his arm, he
knelt down on the floor next to the huge beast -which was wagging its
stub of a tail and trying to look innocent- and laughed when the giant
dog began licking his chin.
"This is the dog you needed all those signs for? What does he do, lick
people to death? Or maybe he just sits on them?" Duo grunted as Zero settled
on his leg and gave him sad begging looks while still trying to lick his
face. He gently pushed the overfed dog off his lap and scratched him behind
the ears. "How long have you had him?" He asked, looking up at Heero and
Heero tried to hide a smile as Zero wiggled back onto Duo's lap. "I've
had him for about five years now, he wasn't always so fat. I really don't
know how he got like that." Heero shook his head dolefully and pulled
the panting dog off Duo, pushing the large beast out the back door. He
breathed a quiet sigh as Zero scampered off into the morning mist.
"Wow, I've never really been up this early before. Does it always look
like this?" Heero turned, the quiet voice speaking directly behind him.
Duo was staring out the window, his eyes soft with the dawn light, a strange
look of awe on his face. Heero turned to follow his gaze, wondering what
could inspire such feeling. Briefly, an after image of violet eyes lit
with the dawn's light stayed with Heero, before he focused his attention
out the window.
The sun was just peeking out over the water and birds flocked across the
sky. Waves sparkled in the glare from the rising sun, a few boats slowly
making their way across the bay and towards the open water. Zero was down
by the dock staring out across the water, occasionally his chubby tail
would wag and he'd glance back up at the house, his eyes hopeful. Heero
chuckled and opened the door. He turned, and glancing at Duo smiled and
gestured with his mug at the rising sun.
"Come on, let's drink our coffee out here."
It wasn't the amount of boxes that bothered him, he decided. It was what
was in them, or rather what wasn't in them. There were the usual pots,
dishes, and appliances for the kitchen. And the boxes in the living room
contained normal pillows, lamps, and rugs.
What bothered Duo was that after unpacking over twenty boxes, there wasn't
a single personal thing in sight. Not one family picture, no knick-knacks,
no heirlooms. The bed linens had been white, the towels had been cream,
the couch was a brownish color, the plates had been unadorned white, even
the welcome mat didn't say welcome, but was merely a plain black mat.
It was different then anything Duo had ever encountered, and he didn't
know quite what to make of it.
His own house was filled with family mementos, pictures, books, and brightly
colored furniture. The rugs were all different, the towels didn't match,
and the windows had sun catchers and plants. He shook his head and began
carrying another box up to the attic.
They'd finished emptying the boxes and now they were carrying them up
to the attic for storage. Heero had told him that the boxes would be saved
until the next time he moved. It certainly was practical; Duo admitted
to himself, but for some reason it still made him feel cold to think about
it too much.
He paused and looked out one of the attic windows. The sun had finally
risen and was shining across the water. A few seagulls wheeled lazily
above a lobster boat out in the bay. Duo figured it to be around noon,
briefly wondering if his brother was making lunch. His stomach growled
softly and he turned away from the window to find Heero standing at the
top of the stairs watching him.
"Would you like to come over for lunch? I think we've done as much unpacking
as there is to do." Duo set down the box in his hands, "I bet Mil made
something good, and I know there's nothing in your fridge yet. Come over
for a while?"
Heero nearly smiled at the wheedling tone in Duo's voice. He had to admit
Duo was right about the empty fridge. His own stomach had been telling
him it was lunchtime for the past hour. "I'd be glad to come over, I'm
"You know little bro, I think he's beating you." Duo looked up and glared
at his cousin. Heero had been backing his men into a corner on the chessboard,
and cute comments were not going to help the situation one bit.
He took another bite of his sandwich and stared thoughtfully at the board.
He'd lost his queen about four turns ago and only had a bishop and two
knights left protecting his king. Though he was valiantly trying to sneak
a pawn past Heero's guard in the hopes of raising a future queen, he had
a nasty suspicion that wouldn't work either. It was definitely a hopeless
situation. Duo had a feeling it was not going to improve.
Heero had been waiting patiently, eating his lunch and gazing out across
the bay. Occasionally he would check the board to see if Duo had made
his move yet, but the pieces hadn't moved in over fifteen minutes now,
he'd been looking less and less at the chessboard and more often out at
the water. Though once in a while he would just spend a long minute staring
at Duo, watching the tip of his braid sway in the mild breeze.
When Milliard interrupted, Heero didn't know whether he was happy with
it or not. It meant he couldn't stare at Duo so openly now, but at least
maybe Duo would finally move a piece. He finally nodded to the tall blond
in thanks, receiving a wink in return.
Sighing Duo finally moved one of his knights. Heero glanced at his pieces,
and then moved his rook. "Check."
"Ah hell." Duo glared at the chessboard and nibbled on his bottom lip,
hoping maybe there was still an escape.
"You'll never learn Duo." Milliard started to chuckle softly, and walked
back into the house, his laughter trailing behind him through the open
Duo looked up from the chessboard and met Heero's gaze. Slowly, and with
a small smirk, Heero crossed his eyes at the other boy. Duo blinked and
then burst out laughing, toppling backwards onto the porch and flinging
out his legs and arms, scattering the chess pieces everywhere.
For some strange reason, the image of Duo lying on the black porch with
his braid laid out beside him, a single black chess piece resting against
his cheek. Stayed with Heero long after he turned out the light that night.
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