Warnings : Yaoi, angst/sap, limey over-tones, OOC, language, Duo POV,
and some really lame attempts to sound technical.
Thanks to Christy, the beta reading Goddess, and Kracken for comments
and suggestions. Thanks guys!
Feed-back is a dream I have.
And I don't own anything in this series, either.
Christmas. You know, Ive
never really believed in it. Never really gave much credence to that whole
religion thing at all. That always surprises people when they figure it
out, and I suppose its my own damn fault for wearing that ridiculous
priests outfit through the war. But nobody had ever stopped to ask
me what the point to that had been; they just jumped to the conclusion
that it was all about God and the church.
Well, I suppose it had been about the church, just not in the way people
Come on; you think my whole life and belief system had been based on that
short period of time that Id been at the Maxwell church? You think
that listening to Fathers sermons every Sunday was enough to make
me forget the real lifes lessons that Id learned on
the street? You think that even if it had, that I wouldnt have just
as quickly forgotten the lessons of the church in the light of what happened?
In the light of watching Father and Sister Helen die for those very beliefs?
Unaided by any God other the one I knew far better than theirs?
That priests outfit had been nothing more than a reminder to me.
Some kind of twisted homage to the man who had, however briefly, been
the closest thing to a father Id ever had.
It had all been about revenge. It had taken me a long damn time to figure
out that Father and Sister would have been totally appalled at the very
notion that I was fighting in their name. Would have been shamed by most
of the things I had done to try and balance their deaths. Id stopped
wearing those clothes then... and fought for other reasons.
They would probably be just as dismayed that I do not celebrate Christmas.
Oh, I suppose I do, in that faithless way that most of the world uses
the date as an excuse. But I dont keep the day with anything like
the joy I could remember in Sister Helens eyes that one lone Christmas
when I had celebrated the season.
We got oranges. Each one of us orphans. I will never forget that as long
as I live. Will never forget the wonder of learning how to peel the thing,
and finding the sweet meat of it inside. Of eating each piece with slow
deliberation. It had been the first thing Id done, when Id
gotten the chance, on falling to Earth at the beginning of Operation Meteor;
bought an orange. I remember feeling vaguely disappointed that it hadnt
tasted quite the same.
In the years since the war, if I had a Christmas tradition, it was sending
gifts to the kids at the orphanage. I sent them books and candy, and saw
to it that they knew the taste of oranges, but at Christmas I did my best
to find something special for each of them, something that could be wrapped
in shiny paper and tagged with their names. Something for them alone.
This year was just being... exceptionally tough. This year for the
first time, I was going to have to ship the gifts to L2 and would not
even get to see them open them. We wont even talk about the guilt
I was feeling over the shipping costs. Especially since Id waited
so long and was going to have to pay courier prices to get them there
in time. Heero hadnt so much as batted an eye when Id told
him about my little tradition. Had, in fact, been rather helpful
in the boxing and wrapping department. He, apparently, wasnt much
of one for Christmas either, and claimed to enjoy the shopping and wrapping
as something hed not done a lot of.
Im not sure, but I rather suspected he was just staying close because
the whole damn endeavor was depressing the hell out of me, and that always
worries him. I tried not to let it get to me, but I apparently wasnt
completely able to cover up the sting of it.
While Id not actually spent Christmas day on L2 since the war, I
had over the years, usually managed to make a trip out that way within
a week or two of the big day. Arranging to deliver my gifts myself, and
getting to see the kids as they opened them. Octavia always made quite
the fuss over opening things early, but would never have seriously
dreamed of depriving me of their laughter and bright smiles. Of their
hugs and sweet voiced thank yous.
I was going to miss that, and it truly was going to be a deprivation.
As we had shopped and hunted for just the right gifts, in my minds
eye Id been anticipating the reactions and it was difficult to have
to face the harsher reality of seeing only the face of some bored and
over-worked postal worker.
Though, between the afore-mentioned shopping, a full-time job, and the
work wed had facing us moving in to the house, I usually managed
not to dwell on it overly much. Was just too damn tired at the end of
the day to dwell on much of anything.
But I was down to my last day, and if I didnt have the package in
the mail the next morning, it wasnt going to make it on time. And
while Id been a week or two early before... Id never been
late. The line between anticipation and disappointment is a fine one,
and I didnt want my kids to cross it. Id made the trip myself
often enough that I recognized the boundaries.
I had my seven packages, fairly sure of the first six and nervous about
the seventh. I didnt even know the new kid, the redhead Id
seen on the recording of Daveys recital. An e-mail to Octavia had
verified that the kid truly was one of mine and that his name
was Mark. Other than that, I knew only that he had a liking for trucks.
All I could do was hope the Tonka-200 with all the accessories would be
to his liking.
Everything had finally been purchased, wrapped, tagged and fussed over
until it looked like it had come straight from the North Pole. I was down
to trying to get it all in the shipping box suitably packed so that I
was sure nothing would be damaged or crushed in transit.
You do realize that youve repacked that box six times, dont
you, a teasing voice informed me and I looked up to find Heero leaning
in the dining room doorway watching me.
If youve counted that high, I groused, youve
been watching too damn long.
He snorted his amusement, but didnt move to help me. I thought it
a little odd, and gave him my raised eyebrow look. His mirth faded but
he just kept standing there.
I dumped another handful of packing peanuts into the box, but it didnt
seem to help and I sighed. I expected Heero to comment, but he maintained
his silence, watching me with an odd look on his face. He seemed to be
chewing on something more than my fastidious packing should warrant.
I pulled three of the gifts out of the packing box, shifting things yet
again, trying to get them in there just right. His eyes on me seemed rather
Spit it out, Yuy, I told him, not looking up. Speak
He sighed and shifted against the doorframe, crossing his arms over his
chest. I had a sudden pang, and stopped what I was doing to look up at
him. You... arent mad at me over this... are you?
Im pretty sure he couldnt have faked the look of surprise
that came over him then and I breathed a silent sigh of relief. Not
at all, he told me firmly, straightening and coming to stand behind
me, resting his hands on my shoulders. His voice took on that teasing
tone again. Just... how do you say we need to talk, without
actually saying we need to talk?
I chuckled at the joke, but couldnt help turning to look at him,
just to make sure that it was a joke.
How about saying kiss me, you fool, first... just to take
the sting out of it? I quipped, never having figured out a better
way to deliver that line.
He snorted softly, his smile warming. Youre nobodys
fool... but kiss me anyway.
So I did, and when I was done, he tugged at my braid gently, inclining
his head in the direction of the living room. Can you take a break?
I nodded, not at all sure about this, and followed him out of the room.
He seemed to want to stay in contact with me, keeping a hand on mine as
we went. It took me a bit to realize that he thought whatever we were
getting ready to talk about was seriously going to upset me. It didnt
do much to calm my sudden case of nerves. I thought back over the last
couple of days, trying to think of something Id done wrong, but
came up fairly empty. I couldnt possibly have pissed off Relena
again; I hadnt seen her in weeks. I had diligently been taking my
iron tablets and was sure I hadnt skipped a meal since that whole
passing out thing. Hair in the drain? No... I was very
careful about that. And Heero sure as hell didnt care if I left
the toilet seat up or not.
He took us to the couch and when we sat, he took my hand and held it kind
of tight. Shit, I was seriously starting to wonder what in the hell Id
I didnt mean to drink the last of the milk! I blurted
finally, when he still didnt seem to know how to start.
He chuckled and gave his head a rueful shake. Im sorry, love,
he sighed, running his free hand through his hair in his frustrated gesture.
Ive been thinking about something all week, trying to make
up my mind if its a good idea or a bad idea... He hesitated,
looking at me with the strangest, almost imploring look on his face. I
dont know how to ask.
I raised an eyebrow and shifted a little until I could throw a leg over
his, offering the more intimate touch in encouragement. His hand dropped
to cup the calf of my leg and he smiled, squeezing gently. Just
spit it out, husband-mine, I told him. If its a bad
idea, Ill tell you.
His eyes looked almost pained for a moment and he sighed, keeping his
hand wrapped around my leg. Hear me out before you decide?
I couldnt help the bark of laughter. Id be delighted
to hear you out if youd just freakin say something!
He quirked a little grin and had the decency to look embarrassed. Ive
been watching you, he finally began. These last few weeks,
and its killing me to see you so... unhappy.
I felt myself flushing and ducked my head. Im sorry,
I murmured. I try not to let it get to me...
Quit it, he told me, voice gentle and fingers kneading at
my calf. You dont ever need to apologize for how you feel.
I just... want to fix this. If I can.
I started to open my mouth to tell him there was no fixing what was wrong.
Started to tell him that I would be alright after the stupid season was
over and I stopped thinking about the kids and the gifts... but then
it kind of dawned on me what he was saying and I just sat with my mouth
hanging open, staring at him.
Let me take you to L2 for Christmas, he said, voice wavering
Such a simple phrase, to damn near stop my heart in my chest.
Go to L2 for Christmas...
To get to see the kids again.
Take a commercial shuttle and...
Sweet Jesus... freefall again.
Just go to L2...
Like a normal person...
Oh God, someone said, and the tone of voice was lost somewhere
between terror and longing.
Never mind, Heero was suddenly saying, and his hand on my
leg was almost painfully tight. Forget it... it was a bad idea.
No, I managed. I just have to... think about it.
I... Im not sure I can...
His eyes seemed to brighten when he realized I hadnt immediately
rejected the offer. Ill be with you every minute. It wont
cost us anything but accommodations on L2, Preventors agents accumulate
travel credit, and Ive never used any of mine. I still have vacation,
and the mechanics department gets several days off for Christmas, so the
time isnt a problem. We can...
I think I was only half hearing him, my little inner pack of hamsters
running around swapping conflicting banners, and I wasnt at all
sure what to focus my attention on.
I could almost feel the freedom of free-fall again. Could feel the icy
cold. Could imagine the voices of the kids, clamoring for my attention.
Could hear my own panting breath, sucking hard for air that wasnt
The Holy Grail, in case no one ever told you, is full to the brim with
a damn bitter poison.
Duo? Heeros voice came to me, sounding tight and strained.
The hamsters scattered and I awoke to my surroundings with a start, realizing
that I was almost grinding the bones in his hand together. I let go with
a startled gasp. Shit... Im sorry Heero!
He wouldnt let me pull too far away, reaching to capture my arms
and holding on. I could see he was unsure of himself. Could see he wasnt
certain if hed done a good thing or a bad thing.
I wasnt sure what to tell him... I didnt know either.
He was searching my face intently and softly said, Let this be my
gift to you. We can do it together, Im sure of it.
God... I whispered, head lost in memories of that trip
to L3. I dont know Heero... Im not so sure...
Only if you want this, he soothed. Its totally
up to you. I just... wanted to take that heartache out of your eyes.
I hate seeing you so miserable.
I ducked my head again, chagrined that Id been letting it show so
much. Id thought I was covering it up better. I... have
to think about it, love, I told him.
Of course, he said, reaching to brush fingertips along my
cheek until I raised my eyes. Then he kissed me in tender apology.
Leave the wrapping go until the morning, and come to bed?
he asked when he pulled away.
I wasnt at all sure I wanted to do that, with my head so packed
full of thoughts that it felt like it might explode, but I didnt
want him thinking hed upset me. Well, upset me more than he was
obviously aware he had. So I nodded and gave him a smile that I hoped
qualified as something more than wan. All right... I just need
to lock up, I told him and he let me go do it.
Come up when youre done? he asked, and there was something
in his eyes that told me he knew it would take me more than the usual
I smiled for him. Of course, I echoed and watched him go up
Whoa. I really had not seen that coming. Hell, I hadnt even known
that he got anything like a travel credit. I was completely
done with my nightly lock-down ritual before I got passed
the whoa stage. So I took a minute to perch on the counter
in my back room and stare out into the darkness of our back yard.
Christmas on L2. I kept saying it to myself, but I couldnt quite
get my head around it. A commercial flight, with tickets and everything.
I wouldnt have to pilot, but I couldnt make up my mind if
that was a selling point or part of the anxiety. Im a control freak,
have I ever mentioned that?
But... getting to see the kids. My God, that sounded so sweet. The
last time Id seen them, the visit had been so short and Id
barely been able to play with them at all. Id been so exhausted
from the stupid expo that Id had a moment of panic that I was going
to pass-out in the middle of Octavias living room. Wouldnt
that have just made the woman scream?
But... Space travel. My stomach tightened just thinking about it. If
I tried to think it through, tried to imagine what it would take to get
us there... I found myself almost panting for breath, just sitting
in my studio. The thoughts swirling almost too fast to catalog. Launch.
Space. Hard vacuum. Biting cold. Horrid solitude.
But... Heero would be with me. I wouldnt have to try and do it
alone. That was what just about killed me on the L3 run, wasnt it?
That solitude? There would be people on a regular flight. Lots of people,
and Heero there to hold my hand. But then... maybe that was
part of the apprehension over the whole thing... imagining Heero seeing
me like Id been on that disastrous last job.
But... Hell, I could do the but thing all night. There
were too many buts that just led to the should haves that led to the could
haves that led to the would haves that led back around to the buts. I
was chasing hamster tails.
I figured Id better get my ass upstairs when I realized Id
been staring out the window for over an hour.
I could see Heero was awake when I walked into the bedroom, but he didnt
speak. Just watched quietly while I undressed and then held back the blanket
in invitation. I crawled in beside him and settled against his shoulder.
Im sorry I took so long, I told him simply.
I understand, he assured me, his fingers coming to sift almost
absently through the fine hairs at my temple.
There didnt seem to be much else to say and we were quiet, but I
could tell he wasnt going to sleep, and Im sure he could tell
the same of me. Eventually I couldnt keep from turning in towards
him, settling my arm across his chest. His fingers left off playing with
my hair and began lightly tracing up and down my forearm.
There was nothing suggestive in any of his caresses, just a need to be
touching. A need to hold. But then his fingers found that wide, taut scar,
the one from the trip to L3, and didnt move away from it.
I love you, he said suddenly, breaking the quiet and catching
me completely by surprise.
I know, I replied, feeling his fingers trace that scar. Forever,
I told him, feeling something in the air that I wasnt sure I was
Are you considering it? he asked gently and there was no doubt
what it was.
Yeah, I replied, repressing a shiver at the admission. I
am. Im just not sure I can.
Then, he said, very softly, his fingertips caressing that
stark, white scar. I need to know about this.
Im kind of ashamed to admit that my flight instincts
kicked into high gear and before I had a chance to think about it, I found
myself sitting up, preparing to... to... Im not really sure
Im not real good with emotional confrontation, in case you havent
Please dont, he whispered, but he didnt grab at
me, and maybe thats what let me sit there and not take off for parts
unknown. Though, being buck-ass naked, I suppose I wouldnt have
When I didnt continue my evasive maneuvers, the hand that I had
obviously thrown off, came to stroke gently along my spine and it crossed
my mind that he was trying to judge just how tense I was. Perhaps choosing
his next words based on what he found.
You know, he said, voice hesitant. You did promise me
that we would talk about it after I was released from the hospital.
I... think this qualifies.
I couldnt help a soft snort. Trying to impress me with your
I felt the mattress dip as he shifted, and he sat up to slip an arm around
my waist, whispering close to my ear, Youre a hard man to
impress. Ill do it any way I can manage it.
I couldnt help the blush, but it didnt matter, because the
bedroom was dark anyway. Dont start with me, asshole,
I grumbled. If you were any more damn impressive, Id have
to have you bronzed.
He chuckled and drew me back down to lie with him, pulling me into the
curve of his arm to rest on his shoulder again. He didnt speak immediately,
but began to rain tiny kisses across my forehead and down the side of
my face. He knows damn well I cant stay upset with him over anything
when he does that. Talk to me, he sighed in between those
I gusted a sigh and felt him shiver as my breath washed across his chest.
Heero... you know what happened... I began, but he cut
Not really, he said, voice almost an admonishment. We
never seriously talked about that trip.
There isnt much to tell, I grumbled, remembering it
already and wishing I could stop the mental images.
Nothing to tell? he chided. Is that why you flinch whenever
anyone mentions L3 in conversation?
I refused to shiver; Id be damned if Id lend credence to his
argument. I didnt know what to say to him. I suppose there wasnt
much point in trying to argue about it. But... I really didnt
want to talk about it either. I mean... nothing like inadvertently
almost committing suicide to make you feel like a real ass.
Duo-love, he sighed when I didnt speak. If were
going to try this... I need to know what happened. I need to know everything.
How can I help you, if I dont understand what youre going
Mission parameters? I teased and he snorted.
I suppose if you want to think of it that way, he muttered,
but didnt sound like he was all that thrilled with the comparison.
I sighed and brought my hand up to rest in the center of his chest in
open apology. Its hard, Heero, I told him.
I know, he whispered, something in his voice telling me he
truly did understand what he was asking.
Not a lot of things as difficult as telling the person who is the most
important thing in the world to you, just what a defective, raving lunatic
you really are.
I sighed and I mulled it over and I tried to decide just what angle to
come at the tale. You understand that it was a complete accident,
dont you? I finally blurted, and his fingers came to find
the scar again.
I... he hesitated and I had to look up at him, trust
you, he finally said, making me understand that he hadnt been
sure. When hed first seen it.
I did not set out to kill myself, I stated, surprised
at how vehement my voice sounded. I was just so... heart-sick
when I realized Id forgotten... Forgotten Solos day.
Forgotten Solo. Id been so guilt-ridden and felt so sick... but
Id only meant to make the small little scar like all the others,
to tally the years since hed been gone. Had simply intended to make
up for my slip.
Thats what I need to know, Heero told me softly, gracing
the center of my forehead with a lingering kiss. What you were feeling...
I had to get out from under that gaze of his and found myself sitting
up again, knees drawn up and arms wrapped around them. I dont
keep a lot of days, Heero, I told the footboard, feeling the heat
of his hand as it hovered over my back, trying to decide whether to touch
or not. There arent a lot of dates that mean a damn thing.
He was quiet, waiting for me to get it spit out. Waiting for me to figure
out how to impart in mere words the moment when Id had the truth
written on the wall for me. In my own blood. In a lovely little pictograph
that I still hadnt quite figured out. I sighed heavily, picking
over a thousand words and discarding them all. His hand finally settled
against me, sliding soothingly up and down my back.
How to say... I panicked; I completely lost my nerve.
How to say... I tried to face it down... and lost.
How to say... The thing I crave the most, makes me shake in terror.
How to say... I dont really remember what the hell I did to
How to say... I got myself out there and wasnt sure I could
get myself back.
How to say... How in the Hell to say... Im not sure
I can do this.
I was aware that his hand stopped moving over my skin; that it had stilled,
feeling warm and solid against me. Then I was aware of him close beside
me again, sitting up and gathering me into his arms.
You can do it because you wont be alone this time, he
whispered huskily next to my ear, and his arms around me were very damn
tight. But we dont have to try it. I only offered because
I thought it might help. If you dont want to...
I do want to, I told him, hiding my face from my own
words in the crook of his shoulder. I want to see the kids...
I just... I dont know...
He stroked a comforting hand over my hair and I was aware of a faint rocking
motion. I closed my eyes and burrowed into it. I know, he
assured me. I know, love.
I managed to get my arms wrapped around his waist and sighed, a sound
that came out more dejected than I had meant for it to.
I feel like Ive made things worse, he said so softly
I almost missed it. I didnt mean to upset you so.
I snorted and squeezed him tight. Maybe we just need to invent a
teleportation device? I teased, trying to make things better.
He chuckled faintly, his heart not really in it. Ill get right
I guess my heart really wasnt in it either, because I just couldnt
come up with a retort and the teasing fell flat.
He drew me back down to the bed, but didnt really let me go, holding
on unyieldingly. I could feel him struggling with words that kept dying
stillborn on his tongue.
Spit it out, lover, I finally grumbled, not liking the tension
He kind of sighed an aborted little sigh and said, I dont
want to say I told you so, but... that was what I was so afraid
of... right from the start. I could sense it in you; that fear of being
alone. I was terrified of you going off on that trip.
I know, I said, after a minute of blushing furiously and not
finding anything more profound to impart. There was no more answer than
that; hed been right to be afraid.
Do you... he began hesitantly. Do you think it would
have been so bad if... if it hadnt been for the timing?
If I hadnt taken that job and launched my ship into the jaws of
all my terrors right on the heels of forgetting about Solos anniversary?
I had to think about that one. Had to worry at it like a sore tooth, and
he waited for me. Though his arms held me so that I couldnt have
gotten up if Id wanted to. I wasnt sure he was doing it consciously.
I dont know, I finally had to confess. I wouldnt
have... wouldnt have done what I did... but the rest of it?
Yeah... I think so. I ran it through my head without the blood.
Without the blubbering hysterics. The launch. The silence. The cold. The
little voice in the back of my head begging for mercy I hadnt been
able to grant.
I shivered... very hard. He held me, but held his tongue as well.
The accident... with the knife, was... nothing, I found
myself telling him. Almost inconsequential compared to the rest.
I would still have come back and done what I ended up doing.
Selling the ship. Leaving the trade. Calling it quits.
Having the nervous breakdown.
He didnt know what to say to comfort after a line like that. Or
maybe he was just suddenly regretting his offer to take a sufferer of
Free-fall fever into deep space.
Ill always wish that youd waited, he said at length,
and it had been so long, the sound of his voice surprised me.
Wouldnt have mattered, I assured him. Its...
only gotten worse. The closest I could come to telling him how much
the idea of going back out there tore at me.
Im sorry, he breathed against my hair. I didnt
mean to make you... think about it so much.
Its all right, I soothed with a mirthless chuckle. The
season is doing that.
Which was the honest truth. Im not sure why, maybe just thinking
about the kids and L2, but something was making the accident... the
big one... not that trip to L3, loom in my mind a lot lately.
Seemed I found myself seeking patches of sunlight, needing to soak in
the heat. Found myself not wanting to be alone. Found myself running from
silences. Found myself remembering.
We stopped talking about it then, curling together as close as we could
get. He held me in the circle of his arms; his leg tucked between my thighs,
close, but not quite close enough. Im here, he whispered
against my skin and I eventually fell asleep listening to the sound of
his steady heartbeat.
And of course there were nightmares. Id had little doubt that there
I cant think about the past so much, especially so late at night,
without attracting the attention of my ghosts and fears.
It was a disjointed thing; the part I remember most was the bleeding that
I couldnt get stopped no matter what I did. Blood was spattered
everywhere... all through the corridors of my ship, and wherever it
pooled, a face looked back at me with sad, accusing eyes.
In the dream, I eventually grew too weak to fight the bleeding and fell...
unable to move. Shadows flickered around me and it began to grow very
And then the ship fell silent. That absence of sound is a thing that will
chill the soul of any spacer. A ship is damn near a living presence; they
are never silent. Not while they are in space. A silent ship is
a dead ship.
I felt my Lady Demon die and I felt myself beginning to die with her,
unable to catch my breath. Unable to find air to draw into burning lungs.
And through it all, a childs voice, crying out in terror and panic.
Begging not to be made to go... promising to do better... promising
to be good.
It was the feel of Heero slapping my face that brought me gasping back
I think he was talking to me, but I couldnt hear over the sound
of my own sickening panting. Over the sound of my own blood thundering
in my ears.
I clutched at him, made him cover me, made him give me his weight and
his reality. I remembered my hands and released him in a moment of fearful
clarity, but lost the moment and couldnt stop myself from grabbing
onto him again.
...here... Im here... Im right here...
his litany began to come through to me, and though they were nonsense
words, they were an unbelievable comfort. For a little bit, we just hung
I made my decision in that dark moment. Ive always had a kind of...
creed, when it comes to my fears. A sort of rule for dealing with things.
When you find something that scares you spitless, you take hold of it
firmly by both ears and you kiss that motherfucker right between the eyes.
Were going, I rasped out, and I remember thinking that
it might have sounded more impressive if I hadnt been shaking like
If Heero understood, he didnt say. If he didnt understand...
he didnt say that either. Just bent down and claimed my lips in
a kiss designed to make me stop thinking about accidents. Stop thinking
about the dark and the cold. Stop thinking.
Just brought us together and loved me back to sleep.
I was surprised when I woke in the morning, to find him awake before me.
Its not a thing that happens often. But when I opened my eyes, it
was to find myself still in the shelter of his arms with his warm, loving
gaze on my face.
Hey, he said. Good morning.
Morning, I mumbled and thought about why he would be up so
early. You... didnt stay awake all night, did you?
He kissed me gently, a mere brush of his lips, but refrained from replying.
Which, of course, was reply enough.
Heero, I grumbled, frowning up at him. You didnt
Hush, he admonished, a damn bemused little smile on his face.
Is it any more than youve done for me?
I blinked at him, understanding that he was talking about his stay in
the hospital. For a heartbeat I was angry with Trowa, sure that he had
told Heero I hadnt actually been sleeping those nights that Id
sat next to him. But then realized that Trowa wouldnt have done
that to me; hed as much as promised me not to.
There was a faint snort of a laugh. My brain did engage after they
took me off the pain medication, he murmured, and gave me a look
of such warm gratitude that I felt the defensiveness just melting away.
I worried a couple of phrases around on my tongue, but couldnt quite
settle on what to say. I knew him well enough to know there was no point
in arguing with him over his lying awake half the damn night guarding
my sleep. And since I wasnt doing too hot in the conversational
department, he chose to completely change the subject anyway.
Are you sure about this? he asked suddenly, and all his mirth
was completely gone, his eyes watching me intently.
I sighed. Totally without-a-doubt, sure? I asked. I
dont have a freakin clue. But... I think I have to.
It wasnt an answer that seemed to please him.
I just... want to try again, I told him, trying to ease
the frown from his brow. I dont like feeling this... crippled.
I dont like feeling like this fear is ruling my life. Can you understand
He studied my face for a moment, before reaching to sweep his fingertips
through my hair. I think so, he admitted, though it seemed
a grudging thing. Then he smiled wistfully. I just feel bad...
I didnt want my Christmas gift to give you nightmares.
Christmas gift? I blurted, before I had a chance to think
about it. But I...
He grinned at me then, like the damn Cheshire cat. I wanted to be annoyed;
I had not known that we were going to do Christmas. I had
not thought that we were exchanging gifts. What in the hell did you get
for the guy that was trying to grant you a piece of your life back? How
did you measure up, when your lover handed you the stars?
He bent and kissed the end of my nose. Yeah, he said, sounding
like he was warming to the idea. I guess all the shopping put me
in the right frame of mind. His kiss moved to ghost across my cheek
and he made me shiver when he whispered against my skin; Not that
I need an excuse to give the man I love gifts.
It was a pretty good thing it was a Saturday, or we would have been late
Much later, spooned at my back, he whispered softly. I want this
to truly be a gift. I want you to let me handle everything... I want
you to let me be here for you. There was the faintest hesitation
before he asked, Please?
I wasnt at all sure if that would make it easier to do this thing,
or not. Having the planning and the arrangements to make, might have actually
given me something to focus on, something to keep my mind occupied. But,
at the same time, if I left it all up to Heero and just trusted him to
get me where I needed to be... I might be able to completely put the
whole trip out of my mind. Might be able to fool myself into pretending
it wasnt going to happen.
I really cant tell you which of those theories was the more attractive.
All right, I told him anyway, and it won me a heart-felt smile
and a tender kiss.
We hadnt been expecting company, so it was damn near a miracle that
we were actually out of bed when the doorbell rang promptly at nine.
I went and opened the door without looking first, an action that only
registered when I heard the exasperated sigh of my somewhat paranoid partner.
I tossed him a sheepish smile, shrugging an apology, and let Wufei and
Sally in. If you ask me, Heero really needs to get over his soldiering
days just a little bit.
What brings you two out so early? I smiled at our guests as
I stepped aside to let them in, choosing to ignore Heeros faint
Wufei, lugging something rather large under one arm, grinned at me. We
got tired of waiting for you two to get around to having your house warming
I think I blinked at him, suddenly leery of what he was carrying. House
warming party? It had never occurred to me.
We havent even gotten everything unpacked yet, Heero
chuckled at him, gesturing them on into the house. I took that to mean
he wasnt at all surprised by the assumption. Which I suppose probably
meant that there actually was going to be one in my future.
Why do these things always take me by surprise? I trailed after them,
listening to Heero and Wufei bantering back and forth but trying to imagine
my house full of all of Heeros Preventors friends. I decided to
file that away under things to let Heero take care of after
I got a mental image of Zechs sprawled out on my sofa. Maybe Id
get lucky and it would just get forgotten.
I stopped my daydreaming when Sally touched my arm. Its a
lovely house, Duo, she smiled at me. And so quiet way out
I returned the smile, putting aside my thoughts for later. Thank
you, Mlady, I told her with a sketchy little bow and she chuckled
I like Sally; shes not a giggler or a simperer. And she knows the
business end of a Beretta from the butt. While she has been known to annoy
me from time to time, at least I damn well understand her. Which is more
than I can say for a lot of women in the part of my world that interconnects
with Heeros. Spacer women are more... direct than grounders.
Hell; spacer men are more direct than their grounder counter-parts.
I dont know... shes just so much easier to deal with than
the likes of Relena or Noin. Even Commander Une. I judge most of my women
friends by the same yardstick; would Toria like them? I think Toria and
Sally would get along just fine. But then... Toria liked Relena now
that I think about it, so maybe I needed a new yardstick?
You know I have to see this incredible paint job before
we leave, dont you? she grinned at me and then chuckled when
Its nothing special, I muttered and Wufei actually snorted.
Nothing special, he stage-muttered with an exaggerated roll
of his eyes and shared this weird indulgent look with Heero.
We had reached the living room seating area and the bundle under Wufeis
arm was deposited on our coffee table. Then Wufei and Heeros respective
butts were deposited on the sofa.
Well, Sally fairly purred, taking my arm and steering me over
to the sofa opposite them. If its no big deal, perhaps I could
convince you to do a couple of little jobs for me?
There was a tiny little, shocked gasp from Wufei, and I looked up to catch
a somewhat scandalized look on his face. Hiding a weird pained expression.
You know... that thing I said about women being hard to understand?
Sally... he growled warningly, like he was reprimanded
a wayward child for asking their host why his house was so messy. Sally
gave him this arched eyebrow look, a kind of quiet what the hell
did you just say? look. Just daring him to finish that sentence.
I had the eerie feeling that I was about to see the two of them launch
into a very ugly fight.
I dont know, Heero interjected blandly. The carpet
layers were of the opinion that paint job upstairs would be worth a couple
of thousand from a home decorator. We could use the money, Duo.
I turned wide eyes in his direction, shocked as all hell at the implication
that I would actually charge that kind of money from a friend. Heero!
I blurted. Dont be an ass... I wouldnt charge...
Then I realized he was teasing and I just shut my mouth on the rest of
He chuckled openly when he saw realization dawn on my face. It didnt
take long for me to figure out that he had just sidestepped whatever argument
Wufei and Sally had been about to have. Hed done it so deftly; that
I found myself wondering if it was something he did very often.
So what did you bring us? Heero asked wryly, turning his amusement
in Wufeis direction. Some recycled gift you got last year
and didnt like?
Wufei, the hint of a blush on his high cheekbones, replied with feigned
indignation. Ill have you know that I do not recycle
gifts. Then he turned his gaze in Sallys direction. Just
because this... woman would have given you a used present, does
not mean that I am so crass.
[back to Sunhawk's fic]