3-6-2001

*grumbles* i've decided to push off physics in favor of finishing this damned part. gomen, minna; i had 2 tests to study for as of friday (then we got 2 snow days) so i couldn't write. but hey, i got something done. i -think- this'll end around 28 parts. so.

i don't know san francisco very well... or at all. so if saying that there are houses accessible by the MUNI is completely wrong... well... ignore it. ^_~ i remember there being small-ish houses... but of course quatre's house wouldn't be small. *sighs* eh, whatever. in my au, san francisco works this way. ^____^

the sap between heero and duo is making me sick. o.O i'm starting on the angst to counterbalance it... else i'd need to brush my teeth 15 times a day. ^_~

 

 

FiND ME .23.

 

Duo playfully kicked the blanket off of himself and Heero. He tumbled off the side of the bed and looked around. "Coming?"

Heero was on the other side of the bed in moments.

Together, hand in hand, they walked slowly to the kitchen. "What do you want?" Heero queried, opening the refridgerator and peeking in. Duo stuck his head alongside Heero's, making the latter smile and the former giggle a little. Heero pulled Duo into his arms, closing the refrigerator door. "Are you hungry?"

"Not really," Duo demurred.

"Didn't think so." Heero kissed him lightly, leaving Duo hungry for more.

Duo twisted in Heero's arms to face him, then wrap his arms around Heero's neck, pressing them close together. "I still need a shower," Duo pointed out.

Heero tried to run his fingers through Duo's hair, stopping at the third gnarl. "You do," he said ruefully.

Eyes gleaming, Duo pouted for a moment, before adding, "Come?"

 

Treize returned to his office with a plastic bag of Chinese food. Dorothy grinned as he passed her, and he deigned to ignore her. Instead he left the office door open to anyone who wanted to join him for lunch, then took out the contents of the bag.

Sesame chicken in one container. Lo mein in another, and the little carton of white rice. Then the won ton soup and the fortune cookies.

"Lunchtime!" someone sang out in the hallway. Probably Hilde. Scampering, then, giggles.

Zechs poked his head in. Treize snickered to himself, as he realized Zechs had a tendency to do that often. "Mind if I eat lunch with you? Some of the guys are kind of scaring me."

Treize laughed. "You mean Relena, Dorothy, and Hilde?"

Making a face, Zechs nodded, inviting himself into the office. He drew up a chair to the other side of the desk and sat his lunch bag on the table. Treize looked at the bright blue plastic insulated bag carefully.

Without looking at Treize, Zechs said evenly, "Relena bought it for me."

"And made your lunch, too?" Treize grinned.

Nodding, Zechs snickered. He opened the lunch bag and pulled out a couple Tupperware containers. Treize raised an eyebrow before munching on a piece of sesame chicken. "Don't say it," Zechs growled. Opening the Tupperware revealed two sandwiches, an apple, some form of salad, and juice.

Treize tried valiantly not to snicker as he reached for some lo mein.

Leaning backwards in his chair with a sandwich, Zechs made a face before taking a bite. "Turkey," he said, after he swallowed. "Not bad."

"Healthy," Treize pointed out.

"I think Relena's maternal instincts are popping up too soon."

They both laughed at that. Treize, too, leaned back in his chair, holding the container of sesame chicken.

After a moment of staring at the ceiling, Treize finally said, "I know something I think you don't know." He looked at Zechs.

Zechs at the moment was about to laugh. "T, how old are you?" he said. Without waiting for an answer, Zechs continued, "That sounded like something an 8-year-old might say."

"I was going to suggest a trade in secrets," Treize said blandly, ignoring the jibe.

His friend looked at him thoughtfully. "How do you know I don't know?" he pointed out.

"I don't. For all I know, it's the same thing as your secret," Treize replied. It was obvious from his tone that he was genuinely curious and, in no little amount, concerned as to what Zechs' secret could mean.

Zechs let out a huge breath. "It's... complicated," he averred. Treize was about to sigh and let it go when Zechs held up a hand. "Wait. I'll tell you."

Ice blue eyes gazed at him intently, losing the coldness in their surprise.

 

Heero wrapped his arms around Duo, contentedly burying his face into Duo's hair. They were curled up together on the couch, under a blanket.

This was after they'd spent the better part of an hour drying Duo's hair.

"What to do today?" Duo murmured, just as comfortable.

"Anything you want." Heero thought for a moment. "Better go visit Quatre, though."

Duo moved slightly, to get a little more comfortable. "Mm," he agreed, voice low and mellow. "But in a little bit. I'm comfy."

Heero didn't say anything in reply. Instead, he cuddled closer, causing Duo to squeak in mock protest. He breathed in, taking in the aroma that was uniquely Duo - in spite of sharing shampoo - and could only smile blithely.

The phone rang.

They blinked at each other for a moment, not moving. When the phone rang again, Heero cursed and muttered, "Leave it."

Duo smirked and lightly pushed Heero. "Go get it, could be important." Another light shove sent Heero rolling off the couch in the direction of the nearest vid phone.

Having obtained one, Heero stubbornly returned to the blankets before turning it on, waiting a total of 5 rings.

"Hello?" Heero didn't leave the crankiness out of his voice.

Quatre was immune to it. "Hi, Heero!" he said, smiling. Completely understanding Heero's death glare, he added, almost laughing, "Did I interrupt something?"

"Cuddling!" Duo called from out of vision range.

Laughter. Light laughter coupled with Trowa's softer chuckles in the background.

"Did you want something or did you call just to annoy me?" Heero added, hiding a smirk.

"Just to annoy you," Quatre assured him. "Actually, we were wondering what you were doing today. Trowa called in sick today."

"Is he actually sick?" Heero's tone was completely unbelieving.

Trowa elegantly faked a cough in the background, sending Duo and Quatre into peals of laughter.

"No, he's not," Quatre admitted. "But I wanted all of us to hang out together or something, today."

"And don't you have a business to run?" Heero added.

This time Quatre made a face. "Heero, Allah was so kind as to create jobs such as secretaries, bookkeepers, assistants, assistants to assistants, and suchlike. I can take a day off every once in a while."

This time Heero let himself smile. "We'll be over in," he glanced at a clock, "An hour or so."

Quatre gave him a look. "Heero, it takes about 15 minutes here in the MUNI. I'd say 20, tops, if they're not running on time."

Heero smirked, making Duo giggle. "I know." Not allowing Quatre a chance to answer, he turned off the phone.

In moments, they had molded against each other again, fingers entwined, pressing light kisses against lips and faces.

"This is a better way to spend the day," Heero remarked at one point.

Snickering, Duo kissed Heero. "Maybe," he agreed. "But we said we'd go."

"We can always call back." Heero was actually beginning to pout. Duo's eyes almost fell out of his head when he noticed that.

"Heero?"

"Hm?"

"You're... making puppy eyes at me."

Laughter. "Is it working?" Heero said teasingly, nuzzling Duo's neck.

"Mm, keep doing that and you could probably convince me of anything," Duo murmured, letting go of Heero's hands to tangle his fingers in Heero's hair.

"Anything?"

"Probably," Duo gasped, as Heero's tongue and lips began probing at his collarbone, flickering to the side and down.

Then Duo whimpered when Heero stopped with a sigh, leaning up to kiss Duo on the lips. "Then maybe I should stop tempting you," Heero said. He reached up to stroke Duo's cheek with the back of a hand. "We did promise Quatre and Trowa to be there. Eventually."

"Eventually," Duo said, kissing Heero again. "Eventually isn't now."

Heero laughed softly as he sat up, pulling Duo up with him. "We should get dressed now," he said, indicating their current attire of boxers. "And at least start thinking about getting ready to go."

"Spiffy," Duo said, with a long-suffering sigh. His eyes twinkled as they wandered into the bedroom to pick out clothes.

 

"We're gonna see them today," Eryn told her sister as the latter walked into the living room.

Jess froze for a moment. "Today?"

A little surprised at Jess's reaction, Eryn looked at her and said, "Yeah, Mueller and Alex will be waiting for us arou- Jess?"

Her sister had relaxed fractionally. "Oh."

"You hate it, don't you?" It wasn't really a question, more a confirmation of an idea.

"Yeah, don't you?"

Eryn looked away. "I do. But that doesn't mea-"

"Don't you start, too." Jess's voice was tight and it was the first time she'd snapped at her sister in a long time. Eryn was startled. "I know what I have to do and what we have to do. We're not as cold-hearted as we wish we were." With that, she stormed out of the small apartment.

Leaving Eryn to stare at the door after her departure. "God, Mom," she whispered. "What have we done? What are we doing?"

------*
"Heero?" Heero looked up; he'd been walking down the hallway staring at the floor.

Zechs was looking at him slightly concernedly. "Do you want to talk about it?"

Heero shook his head mutely.

"Are you sure?"

Heero nodded.

There was a lingering silence for a moment as Heero refused to meet Zechs' eyes, but couldn't will his feet to continue down the hallway. Finally, Heero said quietly, "Does it ever get easier?"

"You mean do you ever get numb?" Zechs sighed. "I know I shouldn't pry, but what happened? Did something go wrong?"

"Didn't Treize-sama tell you?" Still in a quiet voice. He knew if he tried to speak up, the anguish would show through. Never in his difficult childhood had he been trained to completely conceal his feelings. Never had he been required to take pointless deaths in stride.

"No."

A soft sigh. "I miscalculated."

The breath of air released from Zechs was both sympathetic and painful. "I see."

Heero closed his eyes for a moment, able to see it clearly in his mind. "I added too many explosives. I killed children that didn't deserve to die."

"There are always casualties that should never occur, Heero." Zechs' voice matched Heero's for softness. "There will always be. I don't think it gets easier but..."

"But you get used to it," Heero interrupted.

"Not really," Zechs answered with a sardonic smile. "You just learn to block it out. Filter your emotions. Basically kill yourself inside."

"I see." He didn't.
*------

Treize looked much like a goldfish. Zechs was no better off. Both were considerably started at the other's secret.

It was Treize who finally broke the silence. "Well." Just one word. It basically encompassed everything they were thinking. "Now what?"

"We can't tell him," Zechs said firmly. "Is there any way to-"

"I'll contact them and initiate a meeting," Treize finished the sentence. "I want to find the extent of their interest in Tristan Mordaux."

Words forming a question he was asking himself. "What is *our* interest in Tristan Mordaux, T?"

"I'm not sure," Treize said. "If there were a way...?"

"So ensure he wouldn't be a problem, everything would be nice." Zechs' smile was wry. "But," his statement harbored a bit of a frown, "would he change his opinion...?"

"If he found out?" Treize smiled a little at the way they were finishing each others' thoughts. Then he, too, copied the frown. "I don't know. I see your point." His elegant fingers were toying with an empty Chinese food carton. Absently, he knocked the carton into the garbage can right next to the desk.

"The poor boy," Zechs whispered, closing his eyes and picturing his sister in the same situation. "Regardless of his reaction... I can understand."

Treize nodded. "As can I." He rose. "I think we need to start doing something about this, though." Pausing for a moment, he asked, "Trowa took sick leave today, didn't he?"

This time Zechs had to snicker. "Yes, he did."

"Healthy, isn't he?"

"Mm-hm."

Treize sighed, this time melodramatically, and with a twinkle in his eye. "I think we need to do something about these sick days."

Suddenly, they both began to laugh. It felt good to laugh in the face of something serious.

 

Throughout the trip on the MUNI, Duo and Heero had their hands clenched together and were sitting closer than humanely possible. Every once in a while Heero would reach up to will a wisp of hair off of Duo's face. Said wisp of hair would inevitably fall back down again, causing Duo to giggle.

After Heero had swiped away the hair for the 23rd time - Duo had been counting - the bus lurched to a stop and Heero glanced up. "Our stop." They hurried out the doors and paused, the slight wind riffling through their hair.

"I hate walking to his house," Duo grumbled playfully. "They better have someone waiting at the bottom of the driveway."

Heero agreed. Quatre's house, in the suburbs of San Francisco, had a drive way at least a mile long. He wasn't looking forward to walking up the whole thing.

The walk to Quatre's house wasn't that bad. Less than a mile from the MUNI stop, and with some nice scenery. They walked with their hands clasped together, simply enjoying the silence.

Duo had been right: there was a driver waiting at the bottom of the driveway. With a smile, Heero helped Duo into the car, then settled in afterwards.

Quatre and Trowa had obviously been alerted to their presence because they were waiting at the front door when the car pulled up.

Bouncing out, Duo hugged Quatre, then Trowa, cheekily. "Hey, guys!"

"It took you a while," Trowa said wryly, looking at Heero. Heero smirked and didn't answer. "I made you something."

Heero was startled when Trowa reached inside the doorway and pulled something outside. Then Duo and Heero collectively gasped.

"Trowa, how long did this take?" Heero accused, as they began to meander inside. Heero accepted the carving- it was a perfect replica of a gun with a ribbon lightly wound around it, streaming off to the side. Heero understood perfectly. If Trowa had wanted to paint it, the ribbon would have been violet.

"He started before you came," Quatre assured him, leading them upstairs to his sitting room. "He just finished it this morning, which was part of the reason we wanted you to come visit."

Duo was fairly ogling over the carving. "Geez," he said, whistling in appreciation. "That's amazing."

They all sat down on couches at once, Duo holding the carving gingerly, inspecting it from all angles. Heero and Trowa exchanged glances; Trowa smiled, and Heero returned the smile.

 

"What time?"

Eryn whirled around in surprise to see her sister leaning against the wall. "What time what?"

"What time are we meeting them? Just Alex and Mueller?"

Eryn nodded slightly. "Around 4:30. At their place."

"I see." Silence for a moment, as Jess stared out the window and Eryn absently tangled her fingers together. "Do they care?" Jess finally whispered.

"They do," Eryn answered, looking at her sister, then looking away. "It's just, life isn't-"

"-All cookie dough and sprinkles, I know," Jess sighed, finishing the phrase their mother had told them as a child. "I get it."

Rising, Eryn thought for a moment. "You going to be okay?" she asked sincerely.

Not answering the question, Jess refocused her eyes on her sister. "What happened to us?" she said frustratedly. "We used to be okay; you, me Alex, Mueller... we were so close, and we were..."

"Younger?" Eryn suggested.

Jess closed her eyes, as if pained. "Maybe we should've stayed that young, somehow. Do you realize how long we spent... trailing Tristan?"

"Yeah."

Opened eyes. "This is the last time," Jess said firmly, more to herself than to her sister. "This has to be the last time."

Wordlessly, Eryn moved to the small kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She pulled out a carton of apple juice and poured two glasses full. After putting the carton back, she walked back with the two glasses and held one out to her twin. Jess reached out and accepted it, sitting down on the nearest chair.

"Last time," Eryn finally echoed. "Yeah, it has to be, huh?"

"It's like coming full circle," Jess added. "This is such shit, but that's the way the cookie crumbles, huh?" The glass of apple juice was swirled in her hand for a moment before she took another sip. She ventured a grin.

Eryn cracked a smile at that.

Suddenly both girls were hugging each other and laughing, trying to remember the childhood they'd thrown away far too early.

 

"So what are we going to do?"

Treize frowned slightly. "Meet up with them, somehow, somewhere, sometime soon. I have the phone number still."

Zechs nodded. "I want this resolved as... quietly as possible," he sighed. "It'd be nice to be able to go into something and come out in one piece." His smile was genuine but tinged with memories.

All Treize did was nod in agreement.

 

[TBC]