Author: Justkat2790
see part 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer

Reasons in a Nutshell + Part 2

Curiouser and Curiouser

After the nut thing, the sling thing, and the hair tie that tumbled from Heero's leather jacket with his wallet, it wasn't a huge surprise to Howard that the Yuy kid was going home with them. Although it was a huge relief. Heero drove. Carefully, and with due respect for red lights, other motorists, and passengers who had never been Gundam pilots, and had just battled a frighteningly aggressive Pad Thai.

Wedged into the elevator of the Kid's apartment building, Howard resisted Duo's efforts to grab his bag by dint of growling at him, then, when that failed, like every other time, by noticing that his sling was slipping. Mean, but he wasn't some pussy ground-bounder. Or an old codger, dammit. He glared at Duo. It was just Earth gravity was all. And by the time Duo had fended off the Yuy kid, the elevator had stopped.

Halfway down the hallway, a door creaked, and pint-sized yapping filtered into the corridor.

"Holy crap! Move your butt buddy!" Snatching Heero's sleeve, Duo skidded with him to the far end of the hall on his leather-soled boots, forcing key to lock, door to open and Heero inside, before Howard even had a chance to blink at the boots. Black leather. Silver toe caps and baby spurs. Staring at the firmly closed and newly-painted door, with its neat brass numbers and two dead-locks, Howard pondered. How in tarnation had he missed the boots?

The door cracked open.

"Howard?"

+

"Sorry Howie!" Duo was cheerfully apologetic as he ushered him inside, taking his bag, locking the door, and pressing him into the couch, in a whirlwind of metre-long braid and explanation. "Mrs Elliott. Poor thing's lonely. Talk your ear off if you give her a chance. And she just lu-u-urves Heero." He grinned at Heero, rather sadistically, Howard thought.

Howard stared, as the most feared ex-terrorist in the Earthsphere turned a dull red and growled something, grabbing his bag and stalking off down the hallway. Wondered when Duo could possibly have stopped speaking long enough to have an ear talked off. Resolved to steer clear of Poor Mrs Elliott.

"So." Duo flopped down onto the couch, stretching out legs that Howard noticed with some shock were now longer than his, and looked around proudly. "Whaddya think?"

Howard glanced about approvingly. Open plan living, with the kitchen barricaded behind a bench arrangement and a small table in an alcove at one end. Nice and small. Easy to evacuate at any time. And, surprisingly ship-shape. Everything safely stowed away in drawers and hatches. Must be the Yuy kid. Unexpectedly homey, and comfortable

Extremely comfortable. Howard relaxed and sank deeper into the cushions, enjoying the bedtime beer that had somehow appeared in his hand. It was only somewhere around the bottom of the glass that he noticed heated discussion filtering from the hallway, punctuated by equally heated silence.

"..."

"Don't put it there dumbass! He's sleeping here."

"..."

"Told you! My guest. My room!"

"..."

"No way!! You'll get backache! You're too tall!

"..."

"Only an inch! Give it here!!!"

There was the sound of a scuffle, the squashy thump of a duffle flying through the air and landing shampoo-bottle-side down, and a door slamming. A back, thumping against it.

Duo emerged flushed and triumphant, followed by Heero Yuy with an armload of bedding.

"Sorry Howie. We've only got two bedrooms so you're getting my bed. I'm on the couch."

Howard blinked in surprise, surrendering the couch, with a regretful look at his glass. Somehow he'd thought that the boys bunked together, but obviously not, judging by the way the Yuy boy was fluffing pillows and making a bed with hospital corners on an overstuffed couch.

Meekly, Howard abandoned his glass and went to rescue his duffle.

+

After they'd cleaned up the shampoo, it was a very comfortable bed, but that didn't stop Howard from jerking awake in the middle of the night, awakened by some noise. Or maybe, lack of noise. No vibration or subliminal hissing, and it was several breathless moments before he remembered that he was groundbound. Sighed, and looked towards the vague, red blur of the bedside clock, resigning himself to wakefulness. Just didn't sleep as well as he used to, these days.

Maybe water'd help.

He struggled out of bed and fumbled his way into the hall. Danged place was darker than the cargo bay at midnight. Pain in the old bazooka trying to see at night without his glasses. Hellfire! He caught himself just in time with a hand on the doorjamb, stumbling over a lump that might have been Duo's boots in the living room doorway.

And stiffened abruptly, fists clenching, peering at a shadowy shape beside Duo's couch, outlined in neon purple haze from the window.

And relaxed again.

It was only the Yuy kid. Standing over Duo. Just looking, seemed like. Or...

Slowly, Heero's hand was drawn towards Duo. Hovered light as a butterfly's wing over a wayward strand of hair, a pale moth to chestnut flame, only to be snatched back as if burned, as Duo sighed and rolled over, braid thumping onto the floor.

More silent moments, and Heero reached down, snuggling the blanket up over Duo's shoulders. Arranged his braid within easy reach of his curled fingers.

Abruptly, Howard caught himself staring, and eased back down the hallway towards his bedroom.

Curiouser and curiouser.

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