2-15-2001

Valentine Chocolate by Kea
Timeline: post-EW, same as 'Tanjoubi' and "MerryChristmas, Duo Maxwell"
Archive: Dreamscape Studios (url in sig file)
Pairings: 1+2
Warnings: very frustrated (and occasionally shoujo-anime-boy genki!) Heero, a tiny pinch of mild angst, definite sap and fluff, those who like happy endings beware. I am not responsible for any tooth decay that occurs from this fic. Inspired by way too much anime/manga, especially Marmalade Boy, Hime-chan, and Card Captor Sakura. Strong language warning - I tend to think Heero can get pretty wound and he's currently experiencing that fifth-grade-boy fascination with profanity...
Disclaimer: You know who owns them; if you don't, where the heck have you been? Also, no small furry creatures, natural resources or Gundam pilots were harmed in the creation of this fic. Dreamscape Studios promotes a profit-, drug- and sanity-free workplace.

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"Damn."

"Shit-damn."

"Goddammit all to fucking thirty-fucking-seven fucking levels of fucking hell shit-damn!" Heero threw the pistol into the kitchen drawer and slammed it shut with enough force to wrench it off track. No matter how frustrated he was, shooting a hole in the demon-possessed mixing bowl wasn't the answer. The landlord still had no idea they were (retired) Gundam pilots; several rounds of semi-automatic bullets embedded in the countertops did tend to be a giveaway...

"How," he ground out, glaring dangerously at the barely-congealing chocolate mold, "does Duo make sense out of any of this?" The kitchen resembled nothing so much as a decimated battlefield, with blood-like streaks of chocolate everywhere, even on the ceiling, and utensils bent, broken, or thrown in fits of temper. Dirty bowls from earlier ventures filled most of the sink, cookbooks and faxed recipes from Quatre's staff lay like crumpled bodies amidst the carnage. And, in the middle of it all, one irate teenager cursed to 'fucking hell' the day he was born Japanese.

It was a stupid tradition, really. In truth, he had no idea why he was even bothering, as Valentine's Day and White Day [1] didn't exactly apply to same-sex relationships. Or did they? Admittedly, his knowledge in this area--or most anything having to do with romance--was painfully lacking all around. The hearts and flowers decorations started appearing in stores two days after Christmas, not to mention enough candy to send the planet into a diabetic coma. And, like the fucking baka (or was that baka-fucker?) he was, he asked Duo what it was all about.

"This stuff?" Duo pointed at a display that looked like it had taken a long bath in Pepto-Bismol and shrugged. "Just Valentine's Day... a sort of Christian-turned-secular holiday that evolved over time from the beheading of a early Christian saint into this grand celebration of love and romance. Now how do you make Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon out of that?" With a wide grin, Duo dragged Heero out of that aisle and towards more important things...like the half-price Christmas candy.

Still...Valentine's Day...it had stuck with him, tickled at his mind since
late December. There was something important about it, something he couldn't quite remember. Something... distinctly Japanese. Which meant it was up to Heero to remember it. As well as his lover spoke the language, grasping certain aspects of the culture still eluded him. Only by an elaborate compromise that included a custom-made pair of slippers [2] had he convinced Duo to abandon his shoes at the door.

Valentine's Day... besides the absurd 'girls give the guys homemade chocolates and if a guy doesn't get any chocolates it's a negative reflection on his masculinity' thing, what was there?

Realization stopped him right in the middle of his homework on that auspicious February day. "Fucking shit!" he exclaimed, jumping to his feet. [3]

"Yeah, I'm not fond of Civ, either," Duo quipped back, feet elevated and fidgeting above his bent knees as he lay on his stomach. He glanced up at Heero with a 'you weren't standing there a minute ago' look and thoughtfully chewed on his pen cap, waggling a mischievous eyebrow. [4] "Unless that was a profanity against some of your bodily functions and not a hundred and fifty pages of reading for tomorrow?"

Heero made a disgusted sound and stormed downstairs. "I just remembered an errand I have to run," he called back, voice a slightly tinny echo against the loft's high ceilings. "Don't you have class tonight?"

"Yeah, the adult cooking class at the community college, not university stuff. It should be an interesting one." He'd abandoned his book to lean over the upstairs landing, watching as Heero shuffled into his coat and slipped on his loafers, tapping the toes on the ground to make sure they were on. "The title is 'Tofu: How to Make the Inedible Edible." That earned him a glare from Heero, and in return earned Heero a pulled-down lower eyelid and a stuck-out tongue. [5] "I'll be gone when you get back, but wait up for me, okay?"

"Sure thing. No class till eleven tomorrow, so we can sleep in. Ittekimasu." [6] Heero didn't understand where the calm voice he dimly recognized as his own originated; so much of his mental energy was shrieking 'Run! Run!' now that it had identified the current mission and its parameters. It shamed him sometimes to realize the Soldier would never die, would never do more than just rest peacefully until needed. He shut the door behind him, leaning against it with a brief sigh. Sometimes... it shamed him to realize just how much better Duo deserved.

Duo... deserved things like Valentine chocolate. Traditional, homemade Valentine chocolate.

He had squared his shoulders, a familiar gleam back in his eyes as he marched toward the grocery store. "Ninmu ryoukai."

The double boiler boiling over and sizzling chocolate and water dancing on the burner thrust Heero back into present tense and he loosed another harsh round of conjugated profanity. He yanked the pot off the stove and reflexively jerked his burned hand away, watching in painful, slow-motion disbelief as the cookware fountained sprays of chocolate in its tumble towards the floor. "I don't believe this," he growled, wincing as he ran cold water over his hand. "I can win a war but I can't make a fucking chocolate."

Hand bandaged--with the convenient first aid kit Duo had mysteriously placed in the kitchen--he picked the pot up from the floor, dropping it in the sink, and aimed another glare at the chocolate molds that refused to set. "I think I used too much milk," he admitted, poking the light-brown liquid layer on top of one with a spoon. "But it seems to be hardening underneath. Maybe I can pour off the goop and the chocolate underneath will be fine."

Heero picked up the plastic mold sheet, carefully cradling it to drain the excess liquid into the sink. The chocolates were still a bit spongy on top, but logically without the moisture they would harden, ne? The entire plan worked perfectly...until the slippery heart-shaped chocolates slid out of the mold. He frantically grabbed for them, but one by one they cascaded down the disposal. He could have sworn he heard them laugh.

"Why," he seethed, banging his forehead on the cabinet door, "couldn't our tradition have been writing fucking love sonnets?" [7]

It was almost eleven when Duo came home, shucking his boots and not even bothering with slippers. His nose scrunched up immediately, the charred aroma unmistakable even in the open-air loft. "Heero? Did something catch on fire?" Stretching, feeling every vertebrae slide back into place, Duo walked towards the kitchen.

And froze.

He wanted to laugh, he did. Never before had he seen a more pathetic sight. The kitchen looked like a prime candidate for federal disaster relief funds, to say nothing of the cook. Heero's apron was nearly brown, his head scarf having fared little better. [8] The dark, sullen almost-pout on his face, however, sent any laughter someplace far, far away. Eyes averted, head slightly bowed, Heero extended a plate of battered chocolates.

Something in Duo's heart nearly caught fire. "For me?" he asked softly.

Curt nod. Still no eye contact.

It was so rare, these moments where Heero Yuy carved up the firings of electrons and hormones known as his heart and laid it bare at Duo's feet. When he presented the weakness behind the warrior, the small glimmers of vulnerability, the glimpses into the boy... no, man... he might have been without the war. More whole. Less broken.

Not that it mattered. Whole, broken, or anywhere in between, Duo wanted and loved him.

"Arigatou." Duo plucked up a gummy lump of chocolate and, without hesitation, popped it into his mouth and chewed. And chewed. And chewed.

"How is it?" The near-scowl was still there, surrounded in chocolate streaks, but midnight-blue eyes fastened to him like Velcro.

With effort, Duo swallowed his mouthful, the whole not-lying thing a lead weight in his throat. "Awful," he admitted slowly, "but knowing how much trouble you went to, how hard you worked... gives me a more delicious feeling inside than a pound of Godiva." He sucked his thumb and rubbed off the streak on Heero's nose, setting the plate on the counter and sliding arms around to hug him tightly. "Do you have any idea how important it makes me feel? How valued? How... wanted?" Duo shook his head, nuzzling against Heero's shoulder. "Just when I think I can't love you more..."

Heero didn't quite get it. He had totally fucked up the tradition, ruined more than one piece of cookware, made some shack-nasty chocolates, and still Duo was holding onto him in that way that made his skin feel entirely too small. "Duo?" He'd failed in his...goal--at the last second he adjusted that thought from 'mission'--but strangely Duo didn't seem to care.

"Come on, let's sit down. You look like you've had a rough night." Gently, Duo guided him towards the couch, situating Heero on it before curling against his side. "You know," he mused, hyacinth eyes somewhere between pensive and amused, "I never quite believed that witticism about great minds thinking alike, but..." He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small paper bag, holding it out with a nervous laugh. "I did have class tonight, but I stayed after so I could surprise you with Valentine chocolate." That delicately pointed chin tilted just a bit, giving him a better view of his lover's face. "Does this mean we'll start finishing each other's sentences and laughing at the same things in movies like old married couples do?"

Forget his skin; the whole world was too small to hold the pulse of his heart inside when Duo looked at him like that. He thumbed away the moisture gathering in one purple-dusk eye, hoping Duo didn't notice his own slight mistiness. "Ba--ka," he intoned gently, brushing back his bangs and kissing his forehead.

"Just checking." He glanced down at the bag in his hand, shaking the confections inside it. "I know you probably never want to see chocolate again, by the looks of you, but... quid pro quo, Yuy." The bag crinkled in a barely-concealed but playful demand. "Eat one and tell me it sucks so we'll be even."

"You asked for it." He plucked up a petite heart, barely bigger than the tip of his finger, and stuck it in his mouth, chewing and swallowing thoughtfully. "It doesn't suck, Duo. Oishii...just like you." [9] All of the day's tensions and frustrations gradually drained out of him as Duo's other hand massaged the back of his neck near the scarf's knot, leaving him feeling very relaxed and content, if contentment were something as simple as lax muscles and Duo's warm vanilla-mint scent surrounding him. Was this... peace... what everyone on Earth and the colonies now experienced? In some primal, selfish way, he hoped not; it felt far too special to be shared at large. And yet, these moments... with this boy... made all of the killing and training and hurting worthwhile.

"I've never been very good with words," Heero mumbled absently, turning into Duo's touch like a cat. "It's hard sometimes to find the right ones to express these things I don't have names for." Sleepily, he cuddled towards Duo until they were stretched out on the couch, his ear resting on the braided boy's heart. "More than Valentines, more than chocolate, I think I was looking for a way to let you know how I feel."

Duo swallowed several times before his voice obeyed. "Does that mean I should count on White Day, too?"

Against his chest, he could feel Heero's face pull into a smile. "Don't push your luck."

Shinigami grinned, tugging the disheveled scarf off Heero's head and tossing it behind the couch. "Wouldn't dream of it," he said, lacing his fingers through that thick hair as a small snore rose in response. "I love you, you know?"

"Love... *snerk*... you too..." Heero's fingers found the end of his braid, clutched it close like a treasured, precious thing. "H'ppy Val'tine day... D'wo."

Duo trembled, ready to shout, cry, or both, and wrapped his arms tighter around his lover... no, his love. He could almost see the words floating in the air like tiny soap bubbles. 'Love you, too.'

"You have no idea how happy, Heero," Duo whispered thickly.

OWARI

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[1] White Day, at least the way it's been explained to me, is the reverse of Valentine's Day. That's the day the guys give the chocolates to the girls. Mark your calendars for March 14th. ^_^

[2] The slippers appear in an unreleased fic (that kind ofgot lost in all the Christmas brouhaha, seeing how it was a Christmas fic) that is going up on the site in a few days. They're black with 'Shini' embroidered in white on the top of the left one and 'gami' on the right.

[3] The note is in the way it's pronounced. I used to know this guy who said that all the time, but it was more like 'facking sheeet', which isn't a bad approximation of a Japanese pronunciation of it. Thus, that's how I hear Heero saying it. *giggles*

[4] Duo...is the poster boy for the oral fetish. *hides her own chewed pen caps*

[5] That favorite uniquely Japanese way of calling someone a fool. I warned you this was inspired by way too much anime.. ^^;

[6] Ittekimasu is said when leaving the house. It's not entirely translatable, but it more or less means 'I'm leaving and I will return.' There are likely some more culturally subtle nuances it conveys, but... ^^;

[7] In "Tanjoubi", it's hinted that Heero has discovered both a like and a talent for poetry.

[8] Major Card Captor Sakura influence here. There seems to be a standard school uniform at Sakura's elementary school for everything, even a cooking one. It consists of a fairly long apron and a scarf to hold the hair back. Even the boys wear them, and since Jenn and I think Li-kun is a brown-eyed baby Heero...the outfit just seemed to fit.

[9] Oishii means 'delicious' or 'tasty'