Title: Just Partners
Author: Calic0cat <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Story Completed: July 26, 2004
Archives: At http://calic0cat.freeservers.com/ (my site) and at Mediaminer.org under Calic0cat. Anyone who has permission to host my other fics, help yourselves.
Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This story is. Nuff said.
Notes: Heero POV.
*** Time passing/scene change
Author's Notes: Just a little ficlet, really. Feedback is appreciated.
"It's still not too late to change your minds. Just because you're eligible for retirement there's no need to be hasty..."
Duo flicks a questioning glance in my direction. I smirk slightly and shake my head infinitesimally in response. A deal is a deal; I have neither the intention nor, frankly, the desire, to welch on it. We've waited sixteen years for this. He breaks into a broad grin as he turns his attention back to Commander Une.
"What, and disappoint all the folks lookin' forward to our retirement bash? Nuh-uh, no way, Commander," Duo laughs, shaking his head. He hands over his stack of paperwork with a flourish.
I shake my head in response to Commander Une's pleading look. "Believe me, there is nothing hasty about this decision," I assure her drily. I refuse to feel even the slightest twinge of guilt as I hand over my own pile of retirement papers. Duo and I have given Preventers twenty years and we're leaving the same way that we joined - as partners.
Just over twenty-two years ago, Duo and I worked together for the first time, though I certainly wouldn't have called us "partners" at that point. It had taken several joint missions before growing mutual respect and trust had turned grudging cooperation into a partnership. A partnership so solid and strong that when we'd joined Preventers shortly after the infamous Mariemaia Incident, any question regarding its continuation was short-lived.
Oh, there'd been talk of the need to assign partners based on psychological compatibility tests and efficient assignment of skills and a whole host of other, as Duo called it, "bullshit". But I'd compiled statistics showing just how many of those "perfect" matches made by the shrinks requested reassignment immediately following the mandatory three month trial period and, armed with that evidence, Duo had put that silver tongue of his to good use. He'd managed to persuade Une that it didn't make much sense to break up a working partnership just because the shrinks said that, theoretically, it *shouldn't* work.
That was twenty years ago. Two weeks from now, when we officially retire, Duo and I will be the *only* Preventers in the history of the agency to go through our entire time as agents still teamed with our original partner.
At thirty-seven, we will also be the youngest retirees in the agency's history. The twenty year retirement eligibility rule is a legacy from its military roots; our announcement that we're taking advantage of that regulation is shocking a lot of people.
I have to wonder whether the announcement that we'll be making at our retirement party in a few weeks will be equally shocking to our friends and co-workers.
"Last chance to change your mind..."
Duo's whisper is barely audible over the noise of the party. I swat the back of his head and say, "Don't be an idiot. Now get up there and do it."
He punches my shoulder and grumbles, "Bossy asshole." But he stands and makes his way over to the microphone where so many of our friends and coworkers have taken turns embarrassing us tonight. I rise and follow him.
Duo switches the microphone on and jiggles it just so, deliberately making the sound system squeal. He wants everyone's full attention and the ear-piercing feedback certainly succeeds in getting it.
"Umm, hi. Heero and I just wanted to thank you all for coming and celebrating our retirement with us. It's been great having so many friends all together in one place. As for those of you with the embarrassing stories - well, all I can say is - I hope you had fun 'cause payback's a bitch."
Those gathered laugh. Comments and suggestions are shouted. Duo kids around with the audience for a few minutes. They think he's being his usual smart-ass self. I know he's stalling, gathering his nerve for the announcement.
We are not entirely certain how this will be received and perhaps there would be a better time and place at which to make it known. But after sixteen years of waiting, of hiding, of pretending, neither of us want to wait any longer.
"Some of you have asked whether we're going to miss the excitement now that there will be no more missions for us. Well, I'll admit we're both just a *wee* bit of adrenaline junkies but I think the other 'no mores' will definitely make up for that. For one thing, no more ugly uniforms! No more commissary food! And even better, no more mandatory medical exams!"
The crowd roars with laughter. Sally Po yells back that the medical staff will be equally glad not to see him again. It's a longstanding joke between the two of them; I don't even remember how it got started.
"Other than that..." He glances nervously in my direction. The crowd quiets, picking up on the tension. I give Duo a reassuring smile and a nod, my own stomach full of butterflies. His eyes stay locked on mine, searching, still uncertain.
I know he thinks that this is for him, that it's the moment of truth to make up for the years of lies.
It's not. It's for *us*.
I step up close beside him, shoulder-to-shoulder. He leans into me for an instant before continuing, "Well, other than that, no more Preventers housing. We're moving, obviously. So we'd like to invite you all out to our new place next Saturday. We'll be having open house all day but, uh, the wedding will be in the garden at noon."
Stunned silence greets his announcement. Finally, a few voices yell things like, "Wedding? What wedding?" and "So what's the punch line?"
I save Duo the trouble of answering. I simply pull him into my arms and kiss him, deeply and passionately and with all the stored-up possessiveness generated by sixteen years of hiding our relationship from the whole damn universe.
Twenty years of living next door to each other in a Preventers-only apartment building. Sixteen years of hopping between fourth-floor balconies after dark and before dawn, cordless phone in hand in case of nighttime calls from work or friends.
Twenty years as Preventers partners, sixteen as lovers and life partners.
Sixteen years of lies and secrecy about one partnership in order to preserve the other.
Regulations are absolute on the issue; Preventers agents can't even work in the same *department* as their "significant other", let alone be partners with that individual. Duo and I weren't prepared to give up either partnership. So we didn't. At times, the challenge has been nearly overwhelming but, together, we've managed to keep our secret.
And now, with twenty years of protecting the peace behind us, twenty years of assuaging the guilt we carry from the war, we have the next fifty or maybe, if we're very lucky, even more, to enjoy that peace guilt-free.
Reluctantly acknowledging the pandemonium around us, I break off the kiss. I chuckle at the stunned look on Duo's face; he wasn't expecting a demonstration to accompany the announcement. "Wipe that smug look off your face, Yuy. You are such an asshole..." he grumbles, barely-contained laughter lurking in his voice.
"Ah, but I'm *your* asshole and you love me anyway," I murmur in response. He gives in and laughs, then kisses me back just as fiercely and possessively. The noise from those around us grows louder but we both just ignore it.
After sixteen years of secrecy, we can finally drop the masks and be ourselves. Just Heero and Duo, two damn lucky guys who are very much in love - and in lust - with each other.
Just partners. In all things.