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

Reasons in a Nutshell + Part 5

Retie our Sash with Heedless Strumming

Crosswords had never been Howard's forte, but he was getting pretty darned good at 'em. Even if he did say so himself. Was getting a lot of practice, what with all the waiting around. Although the beach wasn't the best place for a newspaper. Paper tightly folded to the cryptic, he squinted at the tiny print that they insisting on using these days, and tried to ignore the sounds of watery carnage from the surf.

Ten minutes of wanton destruction, and Duo and the Yuy kid had been railroaded onto opposite teams, in a lethal game of volleyball that had migrated down the beach, annihilated half a dozen towels and turned into a mutant sort of water polo; Duo and his brown-haired amazon against Heero and the rest of the world. The scores seemed to be locked, with Heero and Duo, one each, and the rest of the world, nil.

Hmm... Howard eyed the crossword. Three Down. Retie our sash with heedless strumming... Nine letters. Our sash. Cumerbund. Although... he consulted his beer... one emm or two? One. Maybe. Hopefully, he wrote cumerbund in a circle and tried to rearrange the letters. Wasn't a crunedumb some kind of horn?

Glancing skywards for inspiration, Howard winced, as a body ploughed face first into the sand at the water's edge. Ouch. Looked like that hurt. And, the Kid was nowhere near, oddly enough. Howard nestled his bottle under his deckchair again, just to be on the safe side. Checked over his shoulder.

Nope, no Kid there. Must've scarpered real fast, because that looked like him out the back, catching a wave. Looked kinda funny, actually. Howard peered over his glasses. Ahh. On his back. Uh huh. Smartypants. That'd be him. Come a long way from the runty little kid that'd never seen more water'n a washtub, until Peacemillion. And that, not that often either. He grinned fondly, remembering a runty little kid, and his abiding joy in hot showers. Not much water on L2, that was for sure.

Crumbdune... Nope. That was that crumbly sand stuff. Maybe. Nothing to do with music, for sure. He jotted it down anyway, just to be on the safe side, and looked up in time to see Duo somersault out of the wave and land on his feet. Kid was like a cat. Always seemed to land butter-side up, no matter what.

Bum...duncer. Howard stared at it doubtfully, then crossed it out. Cryptics didn't normally have rude stuff in ‘em.

Duo was waist deep over near the second sand bank, with the Yuy kid and that brown-haired girl. Howard inspected her through his sunglasses. Pretty little thing. Nice Hawaiian-print bikini, too, but she was darned lucky it was Duo she'd latched onto, and not Heero Yuy, because she might just have lost an arm. Still might, if the look on the Yuy kid's face was anything to go by. Didn't seem to worry her though.

She was still tugging on Duo's arm, small hand locked confidently around his forearm as if it belonged there. Howard eyed the hand around the wrist so recently broken. Maybe that was why Heero was cranky. Kid was like a mother hen around Duo. Howard frowned, trying to remember if that was Duo's cracked wrist or not, as she abruptly let go and grabbed onto Duo's shoulders instead, laughing up at him. Tugged him down until he was neck-deep in water, and clambered astride his shoulders, clinging tightly, giggling, as he listed sideways and then caught himself with a shout of laughter.

"Hang on! Dumper!" Duo's voice was unmistakable over the wash of the waves, as he locked his arms around smooth, tanned thighs and dived into the green, glassy monster with the girl still on his shoulders The two of them vanishing for five long breaths, before exploding out of the foaming white wash, streaming with water and clinging together, laughing uncontrollably. Snatches of sound drifted back towards Howard with the calling of gulls.

"Come on! Piggy-back wars! It'll be fun!!"

Didn't look like the Yuy kid's idea of fun, somehow.

Howard watched thoughtfully as Heero shook his head and dodged a hopefully-smiling girl. Put her aside with one hand and waded towards the shallows, his face obscured by inky streamers of hair. Paused on the safety of the first sand bank to look back out to the breakers, pushing his hair back with a jerk of his hand, then continued on to shore.

Rummaging under his chair, Howard rescued his beer, and then glared at it. Warm. Thunderation.

Miraculously, a cold bottle found its way into his hand from the cooler as Heero stretched out face-down on his towel, and Howard took a welcome swig, relishing icy glass against his skin. Then glared again. Water. Thunderation.

He glared at the Yuy kid for good measure, but he had his head down on his crossed arms. For a moment Howard thought that he'd gone to sleep, but then he caught a focused spark of blue, arcing seawards through all that mess of hair. Kid really needed a haircut. But wasn't asleep, after all.

Sighing, Howard eyed his water, and drank a small mouthful, eyes drifting back to Three Down.

"...retie our sash with heedless strumming..."

"Oblivious," said Heero Yuy softly.

"Hmm?" Howard blinked and looked up. Followed Heero's veiled regard to where the water swirled and simmered in hidden sink-holes between the sandbanks.

And saw Duo, still engaged in joyful battle. Pausing, the Kid glanced around once, as if looking for something, then dashed water from his face and waded back into the fray. Yodelled a blood-curdling war-cry, the laughing girl on his shoulders urging him on, her hand, curled securely in his hair. Slim, brown calves hugging his sides.

"Oh," Howard said thoughtfully. "Hmm...


He looked back down to his paper.

"Oh I see. Oblivious."

He pencilled it in.

[part 4] [part 6] [back to singles a - k]