Title: Home Is Where The Heart Is
Author: Karen, The Huntress
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing or its characters
Feedback: Always appreciated
Home Is Where The Heart Is
by Karen, The Huntress
"This is just great!" Duo exclaimed bitterly slouching in front of the paint-worn motel door.
Heero put in the key and turned the knob. The opening door revealed a small, single room. The faded wallpaper and drab drapes did nothing to improve the room's lack of warmth or Duo's cloudy disposition.
"I know this isn't where we wanted to be at Christmas time, but we really don't have much of a choice." Heero declared dropping his duffle bag on the faded carpet.
"But dammit, Heero, its the 23rd of December and we are stuck in this rat trap." Duo hissed tossing his bag on the equally faded bedspread, "And what is the hardest part," he continued sitting heavily on the bed that reacted with a squeak from somewhere beneath the sagging mattress, "there is no way we can get back home to be with the other guys for Christmas."
Heero sat down beside, "I know I hate that, too. At least we left the gifts at the Safe House so Quatre, Trowa and Wufei will have them Christmas morning. We will have to wait to open ours when it is safe to go back." Heero stated putting his arm around Duo's waist. "We will just have Christmas a little later, that's all."
Duo rested his head on Heero's shoulder. "Well I guess we don't have any other alterative not with most of the OZ Forces in the area looking to fry our butts. I guess we made them mad." he finished a wide grin gracing his pouted mouth.
"Look at it this way." Heero answered tightening up his hold, "We could be hiding out in woods or having to stay in our Gundams, now that would be real comfortable."
"Yeah, I suppose, but still." Duo's words trailed off with a heavy sigh.
"Tell you what." Heero announced pushing back Duo's bangs from his eyes, "I think we can take the chance to go out for awhile. I have an idea that might cheer you up."
"But we were ordered to stay put." Duo reminded his partner.
Heero lifted Duo's face until he looked directly into his liquid violet eyes, "Since when did you start doing everything you are supposed to?" he smiled knowing Duo's tendency to stubbornly march to the beat of his own drummer.
"We won't stay out long, I promise. But we do have to get something to eat and I want to do something for you too, at least, give you some Christmas cheer."
Duo raised up until his lips brushed over Heero's, "We could stay right here and get all the Christmas cheer we wanted." he teased pulling his koibito into a tight embrace and deepening the kiss.
Heero responded favorable to Duo's overtures cupping his hand behind his head using Duo's brownish braid to hold his head steady. His breathing quickened at the warm sensations that Duo's kiss invoked. But for then, anyway, the kiss was all that he would allow. The lateness of the hour told Heero he would not have much time to complete operation, "Make Duo Smile".
Heero Yuy had a self-imposed mission assignment to make his sweet lover feel as good as he could, under the circumstances, at that very special time of the year.
Duo stuck out his bottom lip in a disappointed reaction as Heero pulled back, "Hey, lover, I wasn't finished." he chided pulling Heero closer again.
"We will have time for that later" came Zero Master's promised proclamation, "I want to go into town before the stores close. Now let's go." he ordered pulling Duo to his feet.
Heero parked the car in an alley behind one of the outermost buildings, hiding his pistol under his jacket just in case they ran into trouble. He also made sure Duo had his own sidearm within easy reach.
He hoped that OZ's search for the fugitive Gundam saboteurs had not extended that far into the countryside yet but one could never assume anything, that is if you planned to survive OZ's deadly game of cat and mouse. A quick trip into a nearby store for Duo's Christmas surprise, buy some food to take back and then they would return to the relative safety of the motel.
The sleepy little village was quiet. Not much traffic move along its narrow streets. A few late afternoon shoppers strolled up and down the brick sidewalks passing under antique lamp posts that glowed with a soft yellow light. Each lamp supported a large green wreath tie up at the bottom with a gold bow. Tiny white lights flickered from the bare trees and evergreen bushes lining the walkways. Somewhere in the distant, faint Christmas melodies wafted in the cool night breeze.
The sun dipped low above the skyline painting streaks of deep red and pink and gray as the shimmering solar orb retreated, surrendering to the quickly gathering evening shadows. That was an increased chill in the air prompted by the rapidly advancing darkness.
Heero had to admit to himself the decorations and music did make him a bit dispondent. Being away from his friends, all the family he had now, especially at this time, made his heart ache. But he wasn't going to permit what he couldn't change to ruin his plans for Duo.
Even if they weren't much, and certainly nothing to match being with their fellow Pilots, Heero was going to do the best he could to give his lover the most special Christmas he ever had. Heero pulled up his collar against the chilled air and started around the corner.
"Over here." Heero directed pointing to a quaint store with the word, "Shoppe" in the brightly painted sign above the door adorned with a huge display of greenery accented with red bows and silver bells.
Heero held the door back and let Duo go in first. The aroma of candles and something with a heavy spicy odor filled their noses bringing on a warm glow from within. More strains of seasonal music filled the wonderfully scented air. Duo's eyes widened at the sights. His hearing carried the soothing sounds to his brain easing his fretted mind, for the moment, anyway.
A pleased smile showed on Heero's lips as he watched Duo react like a child stepping into a marvelous wonderland. Then a stabbing twinge of painful sadness touched Heero's heart as he realized how the war had taken so much of Duo's childlike innocence. How the senseless, never ending conflict had robbed them all of the simplest pleasures. Torn from them all their ability to enjoy, with childish abandonment, the most basic joys of life.
Realizing this Heero took a moment to share in Duo's delight. But all too soon, remembering they were not safe so exposed in public, the war and its hazards came crashing in on him once more. Heero forced his thoughts back to the immediate completion of the job at hand and a hasty exit.
Picking up a wicker basket with a wide handle, Heero began his search for what he wanted. The shelves were almost bare of Christmas related items being so near the 25th. But determined to find what he needed to fulfill his requirements Heero left Duo standing wide-eyed before a display of porcelain dolls dressed in their Victorian finery of deep red and green crushed velvet, golden sashes and layer upon layer of starched crinolines flaring out under their long skirts. One had long blond hair tied back with a matching red velvet bow. The other, cascades of ebony locks hanging in ringlets about her shoulders.
To the doll's other side, a collection of stuffed bears in assorted colors and textures sat side by side with their glass eyes shining in the muted shop lights. Heero was just as glad Duo's attention had been temporarily captured by the holiday toys, it would be easier to gather all he needed without giving away too much of the surprise. With a little luck he might even be able to have all his purchases hidden away in bags before his precious partner could get a glimpse of his treasures.
Standing on a side shelf all to itself, a small artificial tree, not more than two feet tall, caught Heero's eye. He carefully slipped it into the basket so as not to ruffle the flimsy branches. Like the rest of the decorations, there were not much left to choose from. Heero finally spied a box containing a dozen red satin balls with gold hanging cords. They were also carefully placed beside the tree. He added a card of tiny, shiny red bows with a sigh of contentment.
The last items were three glasses bowls filled with cinnamon scented candle wax and a disposable lighter. Finally a package of snowman print plastic cups, a half-gallon of spiced cider and a tin of frosted bell shaped Christmas cookies with red and green sugar sprinkles on tops completed his purchases.
Meanwhile Duo had wandered to the window watching the twinkling outside lights grow brighter as the sun disappeared from view. As the secluded blanket of night covered over the lamp-lit streets, it seems so peaceful, so far removed from the din of battle and the bloodshed.
"Will there ever be "Peace On Earth" again?" Duo wondered to himself as a thousand pinpoints of starlight flickered in the heavens.
Heero quietly watched his lover observing the longing in his eyes and knowing that his heart had to be as heavy as his own. Knowing how much Duo deserved to have his life safe, secure and right again all Heero could do now was stand guard over Duo and his heart until the war ended. Until then, he would keep him close and do the best he could to shield Duo from any harm.
Heero knew, without a doubt, Duo Maxwell was the only thing in his stoic, duty disciplined, existence that kept him on an even keel. The only barrier between his heart and soul and insanity. Heero had fought hard to keep Duo from becoming so important to him, not wanted to expose what innermost feelings he still had intact. He had quickly lost that battle.
If something ever happened and Duo was taken away, Heero knew the Perfect Soldier would surely wasted away until nothing remained but an empty shell. Then, when his heart and soul was totally used up, Heero Yuy would, with his last ounce of courage, find the means to join his beloved forever.
But that would not happen. However determined the fates might be they could never severe a bond so strongly forged in love and protection. Heero didn't know if he could do enough to make his koibito not feel so sad, but what he could do, he would do to the best of his ability. Taking another look to make sure Duo was occupied, Heero shoved one last item into the bugling basket and paid the lady at the counter.
Heero, both hands filled with Duo's treats, stepped up by his lover. "Ready to go?" he whispered hating to break the wondrous trance that held Duo so spellbound in the light's sparkling luminousness.
Duo only nodded. Heero swore a watery shimmer washed over his lavender centers of sight. "It will be all right." Heero promised staring at the same shimmering lights. "Come on, I have a surprise for you."
Duo sighed then, for the first time, noticed the bags in Heero's hands. "What is all this?" he gasped at the sight. "Heero, what have you done?" came the next half-whispered question.
Heero smiled, his mood lightened by Duo's obvious happiness. "You will see when we get back to our room. Let's stop on the way and get some takeout for supper then you can see your surprise."
Letting his eyes dart up and down the street to make certain the way was clear Heero, with Duo's arm intertwined in his, walked back to the car.
A quick stop at the drive thru window of a small burger stand and soon Heero and Duo and the mysterious packages were secure in their room. Duo wanted to wolf down his two double cheeseburgers, large fries and jumbo drink but Heero persuaded him to slow down before he made himself sick, "How much fun to do think we will have if you have a stomach ache?" he stated nibbling at his own meal, "That would spoil all our fun." he added being his usual sensible self.
Supper finished, Duo flopped down on the bed as Heero moved the small table near his lover anxiously awaited his surprise. First Heero pulled out the pitiful tree with its droopy branches and shedding plastic needles. "Sorry about the condition," he apologized, "but there wasn't much left."
Duo grinned tentatively touching the fragile branches as if too hard a stroke would defoliate it altogether. "Its all right." he stated tilting his head to see if it looked any stronger from another angle.
"Maybe it will look better with these." Heero declared opening the box of stain balls and the card of bows.
Duo dipped his fingers eagerly into the crimson ornaments and began to arrange them, just so, on the spindly boughs. With the patient dedication of an artist, Duo prudently considered each placement of the scarlet spheres and bows.
Heero made no move to help or give advice. Instead, he sat back on the bed watching with heartfelt interest as his partner secured one ornament then leaned back to seriously study its location before moving on to the next. It was clear Duo wanted the tiny tree to be decked out perfectly to show Heero how much he appreciated his efforts to give him what little Christmas comfort he could.
At least thirty minutes later, Duo was finally satisfied with his project's outcome. "Isn't it beautiful." he proclaimed with a deep sigh.
"It sure is." Heero agreed taking Duo's hand, "And so are you." he sincerely stated giving his lover a warm kiss. His attention and comment was rewarded with a shy blush from Duo.
"Wait, I have something else." Heero announced lifting the next to the last bag from the floor. "First," he smiled, "we have cider, spiced the way you like it."
Duo grinned as Heero opened the snowman cups and poured some for them both. "Now I want you to take off all your clothes." Heero ordered letting an usually wide smile travel over his hardened features.
"I thought you would never ask, lover." Duo smiled quickly beginning to strip.
"Now don't get too excited all at once." Heero cautioned, "We will have plenty of time for loving. Right now I just want you to be comfortable." he added pulling back the bed coverings.
"Slip in." he invited moving aside to let his sweet Duo slid in between the cool sheets. "Come on, don't keep me waiting." Duo begged scooting over to make room.
Heero leaned over planting a brushing kiss on Duo's pouting lips, "Patience my love." he grinned reaching again into the bag.
He set the candles in a semi-circle at the tree's base careful to keep a safe distance from the branches. The last thing he wanted to do was start a fire. He lit each one. Their united flames, wavering through the glass bowls, cast dancing shadows on the wall as Heero switched off the bedside light. The candle light's warm glow and cinnamon scent filled the dingy room making it seem not as cold and lonely.
Heero pulled off the cookie tin lid setting the baked treats by Duo. "Oh!" came the short but pleased exclamation at the sweet goodies, "And they have sprinkles, too." Duo bounced in the bed grabbing one and taking a large bite.
"Hey, save some for me." Heero called as he got out of his clothing and slipped his naked form under the body warmed sheets.
He handed Duo his cider and helped himself to a cookie. The Gundam Masters leaned back on fluffed pillows enjoying their cider and cookies and just being together.
"We're going to get crumbs in the bed." Duo stated licking frosting from his fingers. "I hate crumbs in the bed."
"I will brush them out." Heero promised licking his tongue over Duo's fingers to enjoy the taste of frosting mixed with his sweet lover's skin.
"You know for some reason I don't care as much about crumbs now." Duo cooed sucking Heero's finger as far into his moist mouth as it would go.
Heero added a second digit quivering as Duo's tongue traced around and between before sucking in even harder. Reluctantly Heero pulled out his tingling fingers taking Duo's empty cup, sitting it beside his on the table.
"You seem to have frosting here, too." he observed leaning over to lick the sticky coating from Duo's lips. "And here, too." he moved his tongue over Duo's chin and back across his cheek.
"We don't need any more of these tonight." he stated relocating the cookie tin to join the empty cups. "I think you are already flying high enough without the added sugar."
Duo slipped his arms about Heero's shoulders leaning against his firm chest, "You always have that affect on me and you know it." he whispered running his tongue down Heero's neck. A second quiver, stronger than the one before, was his reward for his focused sensuous attack.
"It is so good being here with you." Heero said pulling the tie from Duo's braid freeing his silky chestnut mane. "I want you to be happy."
Duo leaned back locking his soft sight with Heero's blue eyes, "You know I always dreaded this time of year. It did nothing but remind me of what I had lost, what might have been if...." His voice trailed off with a choked sob.
Heero pushed back stray bangs looking deeply into Duo's moist eyes, "Shhhh, I know. This was never the best time for me either." he confessed. "But we are together now. Let's not dwell on a past we can't change and we certainly have no control over the future. We need to concentrate on the here and now."
"You're right. We have each other and that is all that matters. I will admit I was very disappointed when I found out we wouldn't be able to share Christmas at home with the other guys. Not that I didn't want to be alone with you, but, oh, you understand don't you?"
"Of course I do. I miss the guys, too. It would have been great to have the holidays with them. But this isn't so bad, is it?" Heero whispered pulling Duo as near as he could.
"This is the best Christmas I ever had and you are the reason." Duo sighed lifting his head until he was inches away from his precious partner's face.
"I have one more thing." Heero smiled handing the last bag to Duo. "I know it's not Christmas yet, but I want you to have this now.
Duo smiled in anticipation as he reached gingerly inside. His hand folded over something soft and fuzzy.
Extracting his present Duo found his trembling fingers held a small brown bear covered with long fake fur. Its large black glass eyes and button nose brought on a wider grin. The bear's ever-so-slightly turned up mouth offered a whimsical smile almost matching Duo's elated beaming. "I was looking at this in the store." he stated running his fingers through the smooth fur.
"I know I saw you." Heero declared. "Look, I know something like this may not be the sort of gift you give a man, but I did notice you were paying a lot of attention to it so I...."
"Oh Heero, its perfect." Duo whispered tears welling in his eyes. "It might sound strange, and I wouldn't dare tell this to anyone else, but the reason I was so interested was because it reminded me a bear I had when I was a child. When I went to stay at the Maxwell Church I had one small bag of personal things.
No one but Solo ever knew about the threadbare, ragged bear I kept hidden away in that faded bag. You know I would have been teased unmercifully if the other boys had found out so Solo promised never to tell. My secret died with him." Duo sighed wiping his eyes.
Heero drew him closer, "Its all right, I understand."
"I lost the last tie I had to my past the day they burned the Maxwell Church. Is it odd, after all these years, that I would still remember that dirty, ratty bear? I guess I was trying so desperately to keep my memories from slipping away. Something, anything, not seem so alone."
"No, it is not odd at all." Heero replied using his thumb to wipe away a crystal, violet tinted droplet as it slid down Duo's cheek. "We all need an anchor, even me." he freely confessed fighting back his own tears.
"This is the best Christmas." Duo repeated moving his arms to encircle Heero's neck. "Thank you." he whispered holding the bear to his chest.
"He will be our secret." Heero promised, "Like you and Solo. Will that be all right?"
Duo nodded. His long silky tresses sipped over his shoulders covering he and Heero and the small brown bear. Duo leaned passed his lover gently setting the stuffed critter under the tree. "Hold me, please." he sighed laying his head on Heero's chest so he could hear his heartbeat.
As the candle's light painted soft patterns on the wall and ceiling. As the scent of cinnamon caressed their senses and the silence of the star struck night eased their fears, Heero and Duo held each other tenderly. They were sure, no matter what challenge the war or the world might send their way, together they could overcome anything.
Duo glanced over Heero's chest letting his sight rest on the flickering light gleaming off the silken bear's fur and finding himself amused at its crooked smile. Snuggling as close to Heero as physical possible he moved his leg between his lover's muscular thighs content to be held in Heero's secure embrace. For that moment he dare to let himself believe in a future free from pain and fear.Gently kissing his sweet koibito, Duo Maxwell knew this Christmas was, indeed, the best he had ever had.
"I love you, Heero." he whispered.
"I love you, too." Heero answered with a reassuring kiss designed to begin a night of passion Duo would not soon forget.
End of Home Is Where The Heart Is--Karen Hickman--December 2002
Thank you for reading!!!