Author: UtopiaDoesn'tExist
see part 1 for notes, warnings, disclaimer

Low + Part 8

Heero's face appeared on the screen. Way too close, with his head bent forward and his eyes partially obscured by hair. He liked to do that, look nice and imposing for whoever would dare to call him.

"Yes?"

"You can stop, Heero. Man, can you even see that close to screen?"

"Duo. What do you want?"

"Just wanna talk. Five minutes."

"Does it relate to guns?"

"No."

"It's not about hemorrhoids again, is it?"

"No."

Heero relaxed and backed a couple of steps away from the screen. "What is it?"

"You know Seb, right?"

"Quatre's son?"

"Yeah. He kissed me."

"Oh."

Duo waited a couple of seconds, then gave Heero a meaningful look, trying to prompt a reaction from him.

"So?" Duo said, after a few more minutes.

"He's thirteen."

"Hey! It was all him! What the hell do you think I am?"

"That's not what I meant. People are hormonal at that age without the maturity to realise who should be off-limits and the consequences that certain relations with certain people could have-"

"I know, I know. Less of the mission mode, please. I just... I reacted really, really stupidly. It shouldn't have been that big a deal, it really shouldn't have. I just... I wasn't expecting it and he was all broody and teenagery before it and God. I'm an ass. A big, hairy, stinking ass. He's gonna be all curled up on his bed now, with the big eyes and the spat-on orphen face and it's all my fault, God, what if I made him cry? What if I made a kid cry?!"

"Did you punch him?"

"No!"

"Then the situation is probably salvageable. Phone Quatre and ask to speak to him. Calm down. I'm sure you didn't make him cry, he's more of a wall-puncher. But anyway, he's probably more embarrassed than upset at you. By the way, buy a cell phone. Then Wufei can get in touch you more easily."

Right, right, that was what he needed. A rational voice, calm him down, make him feel like less of a bastard... And did Heero just wink at him?

+

So he'd bought a cell phone. It didn't mean anything. The saleswoman tempted him with a Para Ordnance P16-40 design. And those were rare, ever since they'd stopped making the good magazines.

Okay, time for some cringing. He called Quatre up.

Sally answered the phone. "Hi," she said. "How are you? Still on the road to scoliosis? Crouching over that desk all day? Are you getting any sleep? You look tired. If you're still staying up for days on end, I'm going to prescribe you some sleeping tablets and start personally force-feeding them to you. You look thin. You've been working instead of buying fresh food, haven't you? You're not fifteen anymore, Duo-"

"Relax. I took a break from work for a while, to get sorted out."

"Can I pretend this is all due to my influence?"

"Why not? Hey, can I speak to Seb?"

"Why? Is he harassing you? Hero worship's a scary thing."

"No, I promised I'd take him camping," wow, where did that come from? Oh well, it would be true soon.

"Oh. Okay. SEB!"

There it was, that mother scream, designed to ring out like a siren and make the child hear it no matter how far away they were. Duo had heard it often enough in L2, where it was pretty much essential to know where your kids were at all times.

"Sorry," said Sally. "It just...develops. SEB!!!"

Seb came moping out of wherever he'd been. Oh crap, he'd made him mope. He was a bad person, he was worse than-

"Duo's on the phone."

Okay, maybe he hadn't hurt him that much by the way he ran up to the screen.

"Can I have something to eat?" he asked Sally. "Is there pizza?"

"I'm rationing the pizza. You can have carrots. Lots and lots of carrots."

"Boiled?"

"Okay! Wow, Duo, you're a good influence. We should send him to you more often."

Sally disappeared off the screen, leaving just Seb and a blush that should be causing draughts in third world countries.

"Sorry," he said. It was a bit of a squeak.

Duo winced. "Again, no, I'm sorry. But I'm an old man, you know. Compared to you, I mean, I still have all my own teeth. I don't wanna be one of those sleazy guys who come up to boys in bars and are like 'I noticed you were on your own, can I keep you company?' and start wearing bright orange fake tan and an open shirt... But I shoulda been nicer about it, uh, at least your first kiss is memorable, eh?"

"I don't think it counts."

"Yeah it does."

"Both our mouths were closed. Some of my aunts kiss me like that."

"That's weird... Well, you'll just have to wait until you're older. Like twenty-four. I'll take you out. Actually, no, I won't take you out. Don't wanna have to punch some guy in the kidneys 'cause he looks at you. And the first one who leers is gonna lose their jaw."

Seb scowled at him. "I wasn't trying to get you into trouble, you know..."

"Ah, shit. I know. I told you, I overreacted. The shock. Don't spring surprises on me like that. My heart, you know."

"You're not that old."

"Yeah? Do you wake up to find a clump of hair that six mice could nest in, and they do, has fallen out of your head?"

"You're still not. You'll probably live for about another fifty years."

"Uh-uh. I'm not getting arthritis and crones disease and all that crap. I'm gonna throw myself out of a high-rise building when I turn fifty."

"Do you think Wufei's old?"

"Huh?" Duo narrowed his eyes at him. "You know I don't. I'm too old to be welcoming kisses from you. Drop it. By the way, we're going camping. See you at eight tomorrow."

+

After about six hours of phoning every half hour, Wufei eventually picked up.

"Hey!" Duo said. "Guess who bought a cell phone?"

"I was about to ask you for your number, actually. It seems like every time I phone the house, you're out. It's either very bad luck, seeing how reclusive you've gotten, or you're doing it deliberately."

"Nah. It's cause every time you phone, I'm round the corner from you with a camera in one hand and the other in my pants."

Slight smile. That was good. Actually, Wufei looked much less... His hair was down, glasses off, no uniform.

"No Preventers work?"

"I think Une has been taking Valium. I have a few days, apparently I've been working too hard. I only accepted because I don't have to compete with you for the most stressed-out and workaholic ex-Gundam Pilot. Although this does mean Quatre gets to reclaim the title."

"I'll get it back. I'll stay up for a month straight if I have to. I might be hallucinating, but damn it, I'll have won."

"Or you'll think you have."

"See, it's a beautiful plan."

"I'm at a loss as to what to do," Wufei said. "How are you finding your free time?"

"The lack of back pain and having all my vertebrae in the right place is definitely a plus. No movement is painful any more. Which is very good news considering how we both need something to - Ah, shit."

"What?"

"Wanna go camping?"

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