2-1-2001

kyuu-chan's b-day present. happy birthday, mistress! ^____^

archive: dhml archive 'n' HB, if she wants it. anyone else, ask and ye shall receive.

warning: fluffy stuff. badly written sap. angst, too.

disclaimers: duh.

[hey, jaded
you've got your mama's style
but you're yesterday's child
to me
so jaded
you think that's where it's at
but is that where it's supposed to be?
you're getting it all over me]

-aerosmith, jaded

[warmth]
lady of the mer

Snow dusted the rooftops, sugary frosting on a cake. Lovers wandered around, red-and-gold heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolate clutched between them. Puffs of vapor wandered lazily from warm mouths, usually grinning and jolly. The February cold bit through their mufflers and hats, but they didn’t seem to mind.

Of course not.

They were in love.

Warm breath ghosted across the glass, melting the dainty ice-lace that Jack Frost had drawn there. The form that sat upon the plush velvet window seat was wrapped in a worn, black puppy-dog blanket that embraced the boy with warmth. Duo pressed a warm hand to the frozen pane, enlarging his view-hole so that he could peer through at the passers-by.

He sighed and wrapped the blanket closer to him.

Today was Valentine’s Day. The day for paramours, for love, for walks in the park, for slow, languid kisses.

But not for him.

Not for Shinigami, the pilot of Deathscythe, the forgotten war hero. Not for the street brat, the violet-eyed thief, the member of Solo’s gang. Not for Duo Maxwell, the youth with a ridiculously long braid, the joker, the mask-master.

But all those masks were old and worn now, feelings showing through the repaired cracks. Even his much-used joker’s mask was worn and faded. He only needed his author’s mask, his mask for being the best-selling writer, whose books were in demand all over the now-peaceful colonies.

But they didn’t know. Didn’t know the pain of having you muse roughly taken away from you. Didn’t know the pain of seeing your only friend’s life seep out of their eyes, and you not able to help. Didn’t know living with the guilt of knowing that the church tragedy was you fault. Didn’t know running back, only to find your only home a pile of black rubble.

Didn’t know, didn’t know.

Duo rocked back and forth, oblivious to the single, hot tear that snaked its way down his cheek.

It was going to be okay. It was going to be fine. It was going to all right.

Everything was going to be fine.

Fine. Just fine.

Duo’s breath hitched a bit and a soft whimper escaped his lips.

Absolutely perfect.

[*]

He’d thought Heero would appreciate home made cookies rather than a box of store bought chocolates.

That’s why he crafted them with such loving care, making sure that the dough was just the right consistency, that there was just a tiny bit of cream added for richness and just enough flour so that the mass wouldn’t stick to the rolling pin, but not enough to create clumped pockets of the stuff. He used dark chocolate chips (milk chocolate would have made the cookies too sweet) and shaped the sweets into as much a semblance of a hearts as he could with out the aid of cookie cutters. He baked them just enough so that the chocolate was melted and gooey and the cookie soft, taking the ultimate care not to burn them.

Then he wrapped the confections in red-and-white tissue paper, tied it with a ribbon, and placed the bundle in a punched, heart-shaped tin he’d acquired gods-knew-how long ago. Then he’d smiled, bright and happy.

Heero might be surprised, but today was Valentine’s Day and he’d be damned if he didn’t give his muse a gift of some sort.

The boy had dusted as much of the flour off himself as he could, but a bit still clung to his braid, staining the strands dusky white. He’d wrapped himself in a coat, scarf, and mittens—all black, of course—and tucked the tin under his arm before tramping down the stairs of his apartment and emerging into the frostbitten, snowy cold of a New York City February evening.

Duo didn’t mind the icy wind that whipped him, turning his face red with cold. Didn’t mind the flurries that danced around and clung to his eyelashes. Didn’t mind the walk to Heero’s apartment, down the street. Walked straight and smiled, all teeth visible.

Lamp posts glowed softly yellow, illuminating a five foot radius and giving just enough light to see in the gray dusk. Couples walked arm-in-arm but Duo took no notice, his only goal to reach Heero’s house. He muttered inappropriate curses at the red-lighted traffic signal trough his still-smiling mouth, annoyed that the machines were prolonging him from his muse any longer than necessary.

Then he was there.

Heero’s house.

A nondescript thing, brown and three stories. But it was where Heero lived, it was here that Duo’s muse resided.

And so Duo didn’t care if the house was a shack under a bridge.

Heero had been living there ever since the last war ended. He’d always liked cities, and so New York just seemed like the perfect one. He and Duo lived a block from each other, a pure twist of fate. While the blue-eyed pilot had taken up on Sally Po’s offer, Duo had started to write.

Duo would watch Heero go to work every morning—he was the stationed Preventer here—from his window and waved. Heero waved back, usually, and a tiny smile (a slight curving of lips) played on his face. Duo rejoiced in these small victories. Sometimes they’d get together for lunch or dinner or something. Nothing very special, friends in a distant sort of way.

But Duo didn't mind. Just as long as he could write, he was fine. And as long as his muse was around, he could write. And his muse was a certain blue-eyed somebody who lived down the street.

That didn’t matter, though. Duo was fine with loving from a distance. He’d done it for what, seven years now? All he needed from his twenty-two year old life was a smile from Heero every day. Yes, that was it. Nothing more, nothing less. Just that.

The braided boy—it had grown a bit, now the rope of hair reached almost to his knees—trudged up the stairs (one, two, three snow-dusted steps) and knocked on the door. Five firm, loud knocks. There was movement behind the shadowed glass panes.

A voice.

“I got it!”

Duo’s smile grew, spread to his eyes and his lips stretched their farthest.

The door opened.

“Duo!” An ecstatic Relena Peacecraft clad in naught but a long-sleeved shirt and pants opened the door wide. Her twenty-one year old face had lost most of its roundness and she’d pulled her blonde hair back into a half-ponytail.

Duo’s smile grew tight and the sparkle was lost from his amethystine eyes.

“Hi, Relena. How are you?”

“Good, good! Come in! We don’t want you to catch a cold, now do we?”

“No, it’s okay, Relena. I only came to give this to Heero. Is he in, by the way?” Duo’s cheer was clipped and forced. He offered the battered tin to the girl in the doorway.

“I’m sorry, Duo, but Heero isn’t here. I’ll tell him you came,” the girl paused and sniffed the air. “Hey, are those cookies?”

“Yeah. Chocolate chip. I made them. Where is Heero?”

A glint of mischief entered Relena’s aquamarine eyes. “Oh, he’s out shopping.” She waved a white hand around. “You know, for Valentine’s Day?”

A short nod. “Aa. Well, give this to him, okay?”

“Sure, Duo. Take care of yourself, now. I’ll tell Heero you came. They smell delicious, by the way.” Relena took the aforementioned cookie tin.

“Thanks. Bye, Relena. I’ll be seeing you.”

“Yeah. Okay. Bye, Duo.” The door closed.

The black-clad boy stumbled down the steps in a daze. He didn’t much remember the walk home, didn’t remember taking off his outer garments, didn’t remember wrapping himself in a blanket and sit in the much-used window seat.

Didn’t much remember his heart breaking, shattering.

Didn’t much remember.

[*]

There was a knock on his door.

Duo unfolded himself from his seated position and walked to the door, blanket slipping from his grasp to puddle on the floor. His loose hair rippled around him like a cloak.

He pulled open the door with a creak and glanced around the doormat.

There was no one there.

He was about to close the door when his eyes were drawn to a package on the floor. It was a tiny, heart-shaped thing, fitting in the palm of Duo’s hand. He picked it up and inspected the red-velvet covered box as he shuffled back inside the apartment.

He opened it with a snap and stared.

There lay a tiny golden cross, crossbar interwoven with lilies[1]. It was simple, elegant. The craftmanship was better than any he’d ever seen, gold wrought so well it was as if the lilies flowed into the cross. Tiny amethysts studded the ends of the cross, the stone matching his eyes.

Duo withdrew the minute golden chain from its casing in wonderment. Its links so fine they looked like a single, golden thread he was afraid would snap with the slightest provocation. As he clasped the cross around his neck, he noticed a tiny, folded note that had been tucked under the cross in the box. He fished it out and unfolded it carefully.

It was written in Heero’s bold hand:

You’re an idiot. And I love you for it.

Duo’s eyes widened to the size of plates. What? Heero loved him? Duo Maxwell? Couldn’t be true.

But here it was, ink on paper.

Oh, gods, he had to get down there before Heero left!

Duo dashed from the apartment, not bothering to pull on a jacket. The elevator was too slow, he decided, the stairs were faster. He raced down them, careful now to fall flat on his face.

He reached the stairwell in a matter of moments. The door was nothing, and he was in the free air, now.

Ah! There Heero was! He was but a tiny figure with dark hair, but the tousle on his head was unmistakable.

It took Duo ten seconds to approach the other boy, and when he did, he immediately enfolded the other boy into an embrace. The black clad boy closed his eyes and rested his cheek against Heero’s back, not bothering to let go so he could turn around.

But then the blue-eyed ex-pilot stiffened in his arms and so he reluctantly loosened his arms so that Heero could turn around. Then, immediately, Heero relaxed, and Duo was encircled by a pair of strong, tanned arms and pulled to the other boy. The long-haired boy sighed happily, not wanting to move for a moment.

So they didn’t.

[end]

[1] one of the many symbols for death. ^_^

c&c begged like the comment hog i am. offers of du-chan with whipped cream 'n' a cherry on top. ^_^