I watched as Trowa reached around Quatre and calmly shut his lover's
laptop down. Deftly closing windows and saving data even as Quatre sputtered.
'Trowa! What are you doing?'
'You've been at this long enough,' he was told in no uncertain terms.
'Your eyes are so bloodshot I can't see the whites. You need some sleep.'
'I have to finish this...' Quatre argued, but it was weak, and he didn't
even reach out to try to take back control of his system.
'It'll be here in the morning,' Trowa said calmly as he closed the lid
of the laptop. 'Now come on.'
Quatre took the offered hand, letting himself be pulled to his feet even
as he muttered a plaintive, 'Along with tomorrow's stack of work! I'm
never going to get caught up!'
I couldn't help the goofy grin as I watched the blond workaholic led from
'Good night,' Trowa called over his mate's muttered complaints. 'I trust
you guys can find the guest rooms?'
'No problem, Tro!' I replied, waving after them. 'I don't think they've
moved since the last time we were here.'
His answering chuckle faded as they went down the hall.
'What are you grinning at, Maxwell?' Wufei asked as he closed the book
he'd been reading and set it aside. 'You look like a cat that is contemplating
a bowl of cream.'
'I want somebody like that,' I told him bluntly, since he'd asked, idly
swinging my leg over the arm of the chair. 'Somebody to fuss and take
care of me.'
I thought Wufei would bust a gut with his abrupt laughter. 'You wouldn't
stand for it, and you know it!' he exclaimed when his mirth let him.
'No, I wouldn't,' I agreed amiably. 'But it would be nice anyway.'
'That makes no sense,' he smirked, taking his reading glasses off to return
to their case. 'Not that you've ever made any sense... but that made less
I snorted and closed my own book, holding my place with a finger. 'I always
make perfect sense to those who are quick witted enough to keep up, isn't
that right, Heero?'
I twisted around to where Heero was sitting, studying the chess game that
he and Trowa were in the middle of. 'Absolutely,' he agreed, though I
wasn't sure he even knew what he was validating. That's what partners
do, you know... back each other up.
'See?' I grinned in Wufei's direction.
'Oh yes,' Wufei smiled benignly. 'Having your opinion supported by your
equally senseless partner makes it all quite clear.'
'You're missing the point, dragon-boy,' I sighed in patient exasperation.
'Your points are usually less points and more idle ramblings,' he intoned
in mock disdain. 'But please feel free to explain yourself.'
'It is not so much the act of...' I waved my hand at the doorway where
Trowa and Quatre had gone. 'What shall we call that?'
'Babying?' Heero suggested, eyes never leaving the chessboard.
'Cosseting?' Wufei threw in. 'Mother-henning?'
'Over-protectiveness?' Heero tried, and I decided the suggesting part
could go on for hours, so I pounced on that last one.
'Over-protectiveness,' I agreed. 'Thanks, buddy.' And Heero nodded slightly.
'It's not so much the over-protectiveness, as the simple demonstration
that someone cares.'
'Ah,' Wufei said, a sound that spoke of deep understanding. He's rather
perfected that sound and can pull it out at the slightest hint that he
isn't following your reasoning.
'Don't 'ah' me,' I told him severely, shaking my finger in his general
direction. 'It is a basic human need... to be cared for.'
'Even if the one being 'cared for' would bite the head off the... what
did we call them? The mother-hen?' Wufei grinned, standing to stretch
his arms over his head.
'Protector,' Heero corrected absently, still studying the chess board.
Wufei snorted. 'My apologies... would bite the head off the protector.'
'Yep,' I told him. 'Even Quatre makes a token effort at objecting... but
you saw how seriously Trowa took it.'
Wufei stopped in mid stretch and looked at me. 'That is the most twisted
logic I have ever heard.'
'Well you've been telling me for years what a twisted individual I am,'
I informed him haughtily. 'It stands to reason that my logic would be
just as twisted.'
'True,' he sighed sadly, and tucking his glasses case into his pocket,
turned for the door. 'So I will stop the debate over your sanity and bid
you both good night.'
'When did this become a discussion of my mental state?' I replied rather
indignantly. 'I though we were talking about Quatre and Trowa?'
'No,' he fired back from the doorway. 'We were talking about your own
sad need for someone to take care of you... because you obviously lack
that ability yourself.'
'Good night,' Heero called as Wufei disappeared from view, his faint snicker
trailing after him.
'I am perfectly capable of...' I began, but he was already gone, so I
let it drop. 'He just can't follow simple logic,' I told the room at large
and Heero nodded faintly, his eyes making chess moves.
'Obviously,' he agreed.
After a moment, I sighed and reopened my book. Since my sparring partner
had retired from the match, I might as well see if Elijah Baley ever learned
to work with his new partner or not. Quatre's library was one of the best
things about coming to vacation at the Winner-Barton estate. The guy had
I found myself yawning not long after that, and would have laid the book
aside and retired myself if I hadn't just gotten to one of the cooler
action scenes. Slidewalks... what a concept.
Suddenly the book was plucked out of my hands and I blinked up to find
Heero standing over me, glancing at the page number before closing the
'What are you doing?' I squawked, and watched a slow smile spread across
'You've been reading long enough,' he told me calmly. 'Your eyes are getting
'But I was just getting to the good part!' I grumbled, and I remember
thinking that it was a rather lame defense. Sounded kinda... plaintive.
'It will be here tomorrow,' he informed me, and I started getting a creepy
sense of déjà vu.
I watched him lay my book aside and tried to think of something clever
to say, but all that came out was, 'Yuy? What...?'
Then he took hold of my hand and tugged. Heero. You know; my partner of
a million years? There was a voice in the back of my head that had several
snarky things to say, but the majority of me just... went. I let him pull
me to my feet.
'You need some sleep,' he said, that little Mona Lisa smile still in place
and I wondered about echoes.
'Are you... fussing over me?' I asked suddenly, and the corner of his
mouth twitched just a shade past Mona.
'Maybe,' he hedged even as he was pulling me across the room.
I tried to hate myself for following docilely, but there was a strange
feeling in my gut that I was poking at and trying to identify.
'For sitting up late?' I had to question, and drug my feet just a bit
in token resistance. It made me feel better.
'Well,' Heero said, and he gave in completely to the smirk. 'I thought
about waiting for something a bit more... serious, but it's been almost
a year since you hurt yourself on the job. I thought I'd just work with
what I had.'
I couldn't manage more than a sputter, and I swear the more I sputtered
and blinked, the more he seemed to be enjoying himself. He let go of my
hand, moving around me to take me by the shoulders, the better to do the
'You're not... not going to tuck me in, are you?' I asked, utterly appalled
when my voice broke, changing the line from teasing banter into something
'Only if you want me too,' he answered, and if he'd been anyone else,
I would have added 'demurely' to that.
I stopped moving like I'd hit a brick wall, suddenly not at all sure just
what we were dancing on the edge of. Something about the breathy sound
of his voice reengaging my brain. Even though we'd ceased our forward
momentum, Heero didn't remove his hands from my shoulders.
'Fussing?' I asked. 'And all that it... implies?'
Body heat told me he'd moved a bit closer to me. 'Are there implications...?'
he began, but I turned then to face him, and something in my expression
took the grin off his face.
I raised a hand and laid it against his chest and when it didn't make
me want to move away, nor make him flinch, I smoothed it further up until
my fingers were resting on his shoulder. I kept staring at them, thinking
how surreal they looked against Heero's shirt. The one with Heero still
After a moment, Heero lifted his own hands and gently placed them on my
hips. That didn't make me want to move away either. I was aware he was
watching me, so I felt a certain obligation to meet his gaze.
'This is weird,' I murmured, wondering if my eyes could get any wider.
'Not so weird,' he told me. 'It's a basic human need, you know... to be
'And,' I had to ask, given that lead in. 'Do you? Care, I mean?'
'Very much so,' he said without hesitation.
And that led us to more staring. I realized after a moment of wondering
how my mouth had gotten so dry, that it was my turn in this strange tennis
match of words, but my vaunted wit had totally abandoned me. So I put
my idle hand on Heero's other shoulder just because I didn't know what
else to do with it, and it seemed kind of awkward to just leave it hanging
there. Did that count enough to put the ball back in his court? Apparently
not, because he didn't speak. Or maybe he was at as much of a loss as
Then there was suddenly the touch of another hand in the center of my
back and I had a strange moment of trying to figure out how in the hell
Heero had done that before Wufei said, 'Good thing I came back for my
book... it could take you two the rest of the night to figure out what
to do next.' And then he shoved.
The resultant lurch, full body contact, and loss of balance rather predictably
ended with me in Heero's arms and Wufei snickering helplessly even as
he moved around us to retrieve his forgotten book.
'I'll leave you two alone now,' he chuckled as he came back around us,
a rather self-satisfied smirk on his face.
'Jerk,' I grumbled with the tiny part of my attention that wasn't totally
focused on the feel of Heero's chest against mine... the strength of the
arms that were supporting me.
'Very clever, Maxwell,' Wufei mocked as he went back out the door. 'Your
command of the English language is remarkable. Count me as thoroughly
chastised and completely contrite.'
'I...' was the best I could manage, more concerned with just how close
Heero's face was to mine and the fact that he wasn't letting me go.
'Good night, Wufei,' Heero said, not taking his eyes off me, but
there was a hint of don't come back in it. A broad hint. Ok... more like
I thought I heard Wufei snicker again, but then Heero was leaning in and
what the hell Chang Wufei was doing was the least of my concerns.
Some tiny, clinical voice in the back of my head wondered how in the hell
the touch of Heero's lips on mine could turn my knees to water. Heero;
with whom I had worked shoulder to shoulder since the war. Heero, who
I'd roomed with, fought with, joined the Preventers with, bantered with...
why had I never noticed this before?
'You seem... a little shaky,' Heero smiled when he drew away, his fingertips
grazing along my cheek. 'Maybe I need to see you to your room.'
'I don't know,' I told him. 'You look a little flushed; maybe I should
see you to yours?'
His smile quirked into something a little rueful and I wondered if he
were feeling that same odd feeling in his chest that I was. That same
'I think,' he murmured. 'That this... fussing may require more research.'
I snorted and was suddenly moved to wrap my arms around his neck, just
to see what it would feel like. His arms closed around me automatically,
and it was liquid heat from my knees all the damn way up. I shivered.
'Oh,' I told him, voice oddly thick. 'I really don't think I should be
alone right now.'
'Most definitely not,' he agreed, rubbing his cheek against me like some
great cat. 'Your temperature is elevated; you could be coming down with
'But you've been exposed,' I said, actually able to put a hint of remorse
into it, and that was where he finally lost it, snickering helplessly
into my shoulder.
'God,' he whispered after a moment. 'Why have we waited so damn long?'
'It wasn't us,' I deadpanned. 'It's Wufei's fault for not pushing sooner.'
That got me a full-fledged laugh, and then it got me kissed, and a little
while after that it got me fussed over in ways I'd never imagined.
And to this day I can't look at a copy of 'The Caves of Steel' without
smiling like an idiot.
[back to Sunhawk's fic]