TITLE: The Black Box
BY: Dev-Aki Basaa
FEEDBACK: It is forever appreciated - firstname.lastname@example.org
ARCHIVE: DHML, GWAddiction, Shinigami & Wing, GWBish, Moments of Rapture (if Sharon-san wants it)
DISCLAIMER: Bandai and Sunrise own all. Im just borrowing the boys and their world. The story, however, is mine.
SUMMARY: Heero and Duo have a poignant moment.
NOTES: Post EW, Duo POV. A big thanks to Sakit for the sudden and quick beta.
He set the small box down on the stack of papers before me. It smeared the still fresh ink from my scribbled assignment notes. For a moment, I cared. Une would probably make some comment about the sloppy condition of my records and I was sick of that speech. But I got over it fast. It was far more pressing that Heero had delivered this item and was now leaving. I grabbed the box and swiveled in my seat, holding it out and calling him back before he could disappear into the maze of hallways that made up Preventer's Headquarters.
"What's this?" I asked. A snarky voice in my head answered the lame question for me. A box, stupid.
The box fit easily in my palm - black textured cardboard with a shiny finish. The box itself appealed to me. Could he just be giving me some box?
Heero had paused at the door but didn't turn around right away. After a deep sigh and shrug of his shoulders, he turned and leaned against the threshold. He was wearing his Prevernter's jacket over a white t-shirt. Regulation said the shirt was supposed to be a button-down with collar, but Heero tended to forget that stipulation.
He shrugged again before he answered. "A box," he said.
You know, that snarky voice in my head did rather sound like Heero.
"Obviously," I answered, drawling out the word with a heavy dose of sarcasm. "But why? Is there a story behind it? Is there a reason?"
Heero just looked at me for a long moment and I swear he was laughing at me with his eyes, though the hard line of his mouth betrayed nothing.
"I suppose you're going to have to just open it and find out."
And then he was gone. Slippery little bastard. I stared down at the box in my hand. It shone like the gloss on a new car, glared by the bright lights of my basement office. I turned back around, facing my desk and set the box down. There was no wrapping or tape so I simply lifted the lid.
There nestled in a pristine white pillow, most of it tucked out of sight, was the most glittering and delicate gold chain I'd ever seen.
Even shinier than the one I'd just lost on our last assignment.
It took me a minute to realize I'd even said his name aloud.
I was out of my seat in a flash, box in hand. I think he'd turned right when he left. Was he heading back to his office? To his car? To someone else's office?
I had to find him.
Duo looked down, scanning the alley ground, but knew better than to really expect to see a glint of gold at his feet. It had to have broken during the scuffle 5 blocks ago. Dammit.
"What's wrong?" Heero asked. He stood at the alleyway entrance, gun raised as he glanced around the corner and down the street they'd just deserted.
Duo continued to pat himself down. He thought maybe it had caught in his clothes or his hair. He holstered his gun to free his other hand and search even more vigorously.
"It's my chain," he answered. "I lost it."
"Is it important?" Heero sounded irritated with Duo's response.
"Yes," Duo said, then he paused and amended with a soft, "no," He slowed his tactile search, though his gaze still focused on and explored the ground around them both.
"Which is it?" Heero still sounded irritated.
"It's not that big of a deal, really," Duo said as he crouched and poked around the cuff of his boots. "I lost the cross that used to hang on it back during the wars, anyway - that was more important. A gift. The chain I'd gotten just to be able to wear the cross. Only, after I'd lost that, it became the only thing I had left of that gift."
Heero didn't say anything. He glanced over his shoulder at Duo before returning to his watch down the street.
Duo fingered through his hair a little, shoved his hands in his pockets and came up empty both times. By the time Heero announced that they were clear and ready to go, he'd pretty much stopped searching altogether. The chain was lost.
He sighed, straightened his jacket and glanced up to nod back at Heero. "Yeah, let's go."
Heero nodded back
They were almost to the steps of HQ when Heero nudged him with his elbow. Duo looked up, just then realizing how moody and silent he was being. It was just a cheap chain that didn't really have any meaning to it. He was being silly.
Heero cocked his head to one side.
"Sorry about your chain," he said.
Duo smiled and shrugged.
"Thanks," was all he said. They parted ways once they passed through the foyer - Duo heading towards his basement office; Heero towards his office on the second floor.
The obvious place to stop first would be Heero's office. I was at first elated to find his door open because he never vacated the place without shutting the door. He even had the overhead lights on and not just his desk lamp. However, he wasn't there. I even called his name, as if he might be hiding behind one of his spindly chairs or something. How absurd. Did I think he'd just materialize?
I took a step further into his office, contemplating waiting for his return. With his door left open, it seemed promising. Heero was nothing if not consistent. He couldn't be far.
That's when I noticed the other small shiny black box. It was sitting on his desktop, settled beside a few file folders and the philosophy book Wufei had loaned him. This box had my name attached to it, written in Heero's neat script on a scrap of yellow paper.
I set the other box down next to its twin and tugged at the yellow note, pulling the tape up off the glossy cardboard finish. I lifted the lid very slowly.
Another perfectly white pillow; another glittering trinket of gold.
Only this time, it was a delicate cross.
"Do you like them?"
He practically caused me to jump out of my skin. I whirled around and felt my braid slap against my right arm before settling into a swing across my back.
I hesitated for a moment, at a loss of what to say. Any gesture like this is overwhelming. However, to have it come from Heero...
"They're beautiful," I told him. "I love them both. But..." I hesitated again, I didn't want to sound ungrateful, but this was highly unexpected. I spread my palms. "What prompted this?"
Heero just shrugged. "You should always smile." His brow quirked a little. "Even if it's just that somewhat creepy smile you get during assignments." Then his expression softened a little more than his usual countenance. "You stopped smiling as much when you lost the chain. I wanted to make you smile again."
I think my jaw made a smacking noise when it hit the floor. I shook off the gapping fish face I was surely wearing and tried to say something that wouldn't make me sound like an idiot.
"Shit, Heero." I didn't start out all that well. "That's...that's the nicest thing I think you've ever said to me."
Heero frowned. "Really? Hn." He looked down then and seemed to think about that. He had the most determined expression on his face when he glanced back up. "We should talk more often then."
I liked the sound of that. I liked the sound of that a lot. We'd been partnered on and off for a long time - especially if you included the wars. I considered him my friend almost by default. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wonder about more sometimes.
"You want to get a cup of coffee?" I don't let opportunities pass me by.
Heero smiled then. Sure it was just a little smirk for some, but for Heero it was wide and wonderful.
"Okay," he answered and reached out and grabbed the doorknob. He nodded for me to proceed him out the door. I grabbed the boxes and headed into the hall. Heero shut off his overhead lights and locked the door behind us. Guess he was done for the day.
As we walked back down to the basement and the HQ cafeteria, he nudged me with his elbow again, as he had at the end of that mission when I'd lost the chain.
I smiled at him and somehow knew that I'd be smiling for him for a very long time to come.