12-24-2001

I don't know why I find it strange when stories that I do on a lark come back to roost as a roc. "Gifts" started out as a one-off answer to a Cutter challenge. Then it attached itself to S&F. Now it has a sequel, also part of S&F. Sometimes life is a strange, winding road.

Enjoy. And Happy Whatever Holiday You Celebrate This Time of Year.

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Celebrations
A Soldiers and Fools Story
Christmas, AC206
By LoneWolf
(kodoku na okami)

COMMENTS: I struggled with the idea of a "Gifts" sequel for months. Then, all of a sudden, there it was. <shrug>

BGM: "Do You Know Where You're Going To"

WARNINGS: yaoi, a drop of lime at the beginning

--------------------

I knew he didn't care that all I'd gotten him for Christmas was a pair of jeans and a shirt, but after he gave me the pin, I had to do more. I formed my plan even as we spent a quiet hour together watching the city lights through the window after dinner. While he was in the bathroom getting ready for bed, I pulled out a good sheet of paper and put down the haiku that I'd been writing in my head for the past year. It was the counterpoint to my "Imperfect Haiku" -- though its flaws didn't keep him from saying it was his favorite.

When he came out, the ink was still drying and I was touching in the last faint embellishments I always drew around the poem. The other had been just his face. This one had both of us suggested in the feathered edges of the characters.

I showed it to him.

He stood looking at it for long time, then finally read it aloud. "Aoi jiu / murasaki no hana / kokoro-yuku." He smiled then. And not one of those tiny little smiles he does. But it wasn't a silly grin either. It was a smile of perfect contentment. He looked at me. "Kokoro-yuku n'da," he said. He laid the paper on the table then climbed into the bed. I sat at the table and watched him, until he said, "Come hold me, koi-baka?" He never has to ask that twice.

So it was that, on Christmas morning, I woke from a very moist dream to the scent of cordite and a gentle kiss -- and him laying on top of me, which probably explained the dream. I knew what was going to happen next.

He pulled away, staring into my eyes and whispered, "Murasaki no hana."

I looked up at him. That wasn't what I'd expected, actually. I'd expected him to kiss harder. But before I could say anything, he did.

"Mmm. Mmm mm mmm mmmm." I said -- then gave up and slid my tongue up between his lips and wrapped my legs around his waist, encouraging him.

Not that he really needed encouraging.

--------------------

"What were you saying?" he asked when I woke up again an hour later.

"Huh?" Then I remembered and smiled. "I was telling you that was a great way to wake up on Christmas morning, eggnog breath."

He lifted his head from my shoulder to look at me with a hint of a glare. "Eggnog breath?"

I grinned. "Aa." Me stealing his line made him smile.

He rolled off of me and propped his head up on his right hand. "You are unjust."

"Oh, God. Don't go Wufei on me."

"I shall repay you for your unjust behavior this evening."

"Anoouu, Hee-koi, why not pay me back now and this evening?" I knew exactly how he planned to pay me back and I was looking forward to it. Call us both insatiable if you must, but, it's what happens when a bunch of mad scientists plays with your body chemistry while you're a teenager and you survive to become an adult. Well, more or less adult.

"Lunch."

Oh, yeah. I'd forgotten about that. Still... "What time is it?"

"08:35." I never need a clock when he's around.

"Lunch isn't until 14:00. Give us an hour to get there, fifteen minutes to pick up the wine, and an hour to get ready..." Which meant we had over three hours.

Heero has never been much for words when actions will do. Before I could finish the thought he'd grabbed me and pulled me close and was kissing me again.

Boy, did he ever pay me back. We were fifteen minutes late leaving for lunch.

Luckily, it only took half an hour to get there and ten minutes for the wine.

No. Surely you don't think I checked the night before to be sure we'd have plenty of time for... recreation in the morning.

--------------------

Heero paid the cab while I stood on the snowy sidewalk holding the two bottles of wine and taking in the house. It wasn't as impressive as I'd expected. The house, not the wine. At seventy credits a bottle, the wine was damned impressive, even if it was just a blush Zinfandel from California. According to the cooking e-zines I subscribed to, it was not only a good dinner wine, it was popular among the Philadelphia crowd, and since we were in the suburbs of Philly...

No, it was the house. It was nice enough, but somehow I'd expected more from an architect's house. I'm not sure what, just more... something.

I felt Heero standing beside me. "It isn't too late to back out," I said, hoping he'd change his mind. I wasn't really sure that I wanted to go through with this. Actually, I was thinking I'd like to be back at our little Hotel P condo laying in bed with him, but that's usually true.

"As much as we spent on that damn wine, there is no way in Hell I'm not gonna get a full Christmas dinner out of this deal."

I looked at him, surprised. It sounded more like something I would say. Actually, it sounded exactly like something I would say. He was trying his best to grin like me too, which made me laugh. I would've flicked my braid at him, but I had it stuffed under my jacket. Cold is bad for hair. It dries it out and makes it brittle.

His face reverted to a more normal, bland statement and I felt his arm around my waist. "Ninmu kanryou."

Sometimes being the object of a mission pisses me off, but right then I was glad for it. "Aa," I said. "Let's go."

We walked through the white landscape of the front yard, snow and gravel crunching under our feet until we reached the front steps. Heero pressed the doorbell, setting off a chorus of "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," which made me giggle.

"Hentai," he mumbled under his breath, trying to sound offended.

"Aa." I am. I admit it. But so's he, or he wouldn't've known what I was thinking. We make a good pair.

He took the bottles from my hand and held them, one hand under them, one behind the necks, looking for all the world like an expert wine waiter. I was about to laugh again when the door opened.

Pause.

"Duo! You made it!" Oh yeah, I forgot to call ahead. Oops. Then I was nearly knocked on my ass as Hilde rushed through the door to hug me. I returned the embrace gently. After a moment, she pulled away, then turned to Heero and hugged him too. Somehow, Heero managed to pass the bottles off to me while moving his arms around her for a quick hug in return. "Thanks for letting him come," I heard her say softly.

"Hilde? Who is it?" Followed by footsteps on imitation hardwood floors, getting nearer. It wasn't an unpleasant voice -- somewhere in that range between tenor and bass that qualifies as a firm baritone. Even so, I clutched the wine bottles nervously. Hilde let go of Heero and pulled us in just as Ian stepped into the hall from one of the side rooms.

The door closing behind us gave me the chills, just like in some bad horror movie.

He was, in many ways, the quintessential old, old Irish -- which is to say jet black hair, translucent winter-pale skin, and dark eyes with a hint of both merriment and fire lurking in their depths. Of course, he was also six foot six, which meant he was more than a foot taller than Heero or me. We Gundam pilots were chosen for our size -- or lack of it. The only reason Heero and I are the Preventers' two-on-two basketball and beach volleyball champs is because we can both jump as high as we are tall. Strength was another requirement for a Gundam pilot. Of course, that mad scientist tampering I mentioned earlier has something to do with both too.

"Ian," Hilde said. "This is my old friend Duo Maxwell." I held out my hand, which Ian took after an almost undetectable pause. I read a tiny hint of something almost like anger on his face. It wasn't quite, though. There are certain advantages to being in love with someone who has expressions as minute as Heero's. You learn to see these things.

Ian's grip was tighter than it really needed to be and I matched it. I don't think that made him any happier, but I always have a hard time turning down a pissing contest -- the sillier, the harder.

"And this," Hilde continued, either not noticing the sparks or ignoring them, "is his partner Heero Yuy."

Lest Ian assume that "partner" only extended as far as the Preventers insignia on our jackets, Heero slid his left arm around my waist, laid his left hand on my hip, and pulled me against him, then held his right hand out for Ian. "Nice to meet you," he said, somewhat mechanically. A bit too mechanically, actually.

This time, Ian's pause couldn't be missed as his eyes followed Heero's arm behind my back to the hand on my hip, across my waist to where our hips touched, up to my face, which was probably looking a little goofy, then across to Heero's face, which was probably looking more than a little dangerous. He took Heero's hand and I saw a distinct wince as Heero nonchalantly squeezed.

I nudged against Heero and mumbled, "Shinai."

Heero's hand relaxed a notch, which caused Ian's face to relax a notch. Heero let go of him.

"We were all in the war together," Hilde said, acting for all the world as if nothing had happened.

I decided she must be ignoring the three of us acting like hormone crazed teenage boys, choosing to play dignified hostess and move things along, her unruffled disposition asking her guests and husband to be civil more loudly than her voice ever could. Hilde was always smart about that kind of stuff.

Her behavior jolted me out of the tableau and I moved into the scene I'd hoped would happen. "Wine?" I held out the bottles.

She took them and looked at them for a second, then showed them to Ian, whose eyebrows rose when he read the label. Damn straight, architect boy. Down, Duo, I told myself. Don't make a bigger ass of yourself on Christmas than you already have -- especially not over a girl you don't want. Of course, that didn't mean I didn't care about her, and I guess that's why it was so hard to stand there -- knowing he loved her more than I did.

"Which of you is the better cook?" Hilde asked.

"Uhhhh..." Yeah. That's me. Mr. Articulate.

"Duo," Heero said. "He still doesn't trust me with a knife and an onion." That wasn't entirely true. Heero is no slouch in the kitchen. Not as diverse as me, but damn good at the things he does. And if I wanted an onion diced or sliced, I always gave it to Heero. He could cut a consistent size without paying attention.

"Same here," Ian said. So we were finally moving past the first awkwardness. Thank God. I could feel the muscles in my back and shoulders relaxing. I hadn't realized I was that tense.

Then Heero ambushed everyone. He pointed to the bench just behind Ian in the hall. "Is that based on a Greene and Greene design?"

My jaw dropped. Hilde's did too. Ian's face lit up like, well, like a kid's on Christmas morning we he sees all the presents under the tree. "Yes, it is. I designed it myself based on the Thorsen furniture."

"Aa. But that," Heero pointed to the side table next to it, "looks more like Byrdcliffe."

I just thought Ian's face had lit up before. "Come on. Let me show you the chairs in the living room." He was already leading the way.

Heero slipped out of his jacket, hung it on the coat tree beside me. "Roycroft," he said, pointing to it and smiling one of his faint, bemused smiles at us before following after Ian. I have to say, the shirt I got him, which he was wearing, did match his eyes perfectly.

"Where the Hell did Heero hear about Byrdcliffe?" Hilde asked when she finally managed to speak.

"Damned if I know. What's Byrdcliffe?"

We stared at each other for a few seconds, then Hilde shrugged. "They'll be busy for a while. Give me your jacket and we'll go finish dinner while Ian shows Heero the furniture." As I pulled the jacket off she spotted the pin on my shirt. I'd worn a black shirt and black jeans -- a combination I almost never wear anymore -- so it would show up better. "Niiice. Is that what Heero was getting yesterday?"

I glanced down at it and grinned. "Yeah." I turned around and showed her the silver wings on my braid. "He got me this when we first got together. He has this thing about me and angels. Go figure."

She turned me around and looked at me with her serious eyes. "It makes perfect sense to me." Then she smiled. "Now, we have work to do in the kitchen." She turned, grabbing my wrist and dragging me down the hall.

For a few seconds, it was just like old times. But, for all the sepia-tone and blurred edges nostalgia puts on the past, I knew the present was better.

--------------------

We talked for about five minutes. Hilde told me Byrdcliffe was from the same era and style as the Greenes and Roycroft, which names I recognized from my obsession with art glass and pottery. Then she got serious.

"Sorry Ian was being such an ass out there," she said as we sliced apples, oranges and bananas for a fruit salad.

I shrugged. "I was being an ass right back. So was Heero, which is unusual." I chuckled. "Y'know, I was being an ass because I was nervous and because Ian was being an ass to me. Heero was being an ass for the same reason Ian was."

"Which is?"

"He loves me. ... Heero does, that is." I ate the last piece of the apple I was slicing and picked up an orange and began peeling it. "And he's jealous. ... Both of them, I think. Which is silly. Ian's too tall for me."

She chuckled at my joke, which was funnier because we both knew it was true. "I've been thinking about what you said yesterday," she said, as a banana became neat disks dropping into the bowl. She finished and put her knife down, looking at me. "How do I... How do we..." She stopped, frustrated.

"Yeah. It isn't easy to put into words at first. How do you live together? That's basically it, ne?"

She nodded.

I shrugged. "Dunno. Sometimes I wonder how Heero and I live together
without killing each other."

"Thanks. That helps a lot," she snapped.

So I wasn't being fair. Shoot me. But I didn't have the answers. I knew what worked for Heero and me, and I knew it probably wouldn't work for her and Ian. The basic principle was the same, though. "Do you love him?"

She didn't answer.

"If he was hurt would you get help?"

"Of course."

"If he needed blood would you give him some of yours?"

"Yes."

"If his heart was failing...?"

She stared at me across the bowl of fruit, shocked. Then I saw her eyes get wide and she smiled softly. "Yes. I would."

"Merry Christmas." Actually, I was the one who'd gotten the gift, seeing that spark of understanding hit her face as she realized that she loved him that much -- and that they had a chance -- but I didn't think she would understand that. I blinked to keep back the happy tears and looked at the orange I was slicing to hide the emotions that were playing on my face. "Now you just have to figure out what to do with it." I finished the orange and picked up another apple.

"Why do I think that's the hard part?" she asked.

I shrugged. "Because it is." I went through the apple and a banana before she picked up an orange and began slicing again. "But it is possible."

The moment was broken by the sound of the kitchen door swinging open and a woman's lilting voice, "Did you need a hand, Hilde? ... Oh."

I tensed. Hilde smiled over my shoulder and flashed me an old hand sign we'd used when we were working the streets together during the war -- don't look so guilty.

I poured on all my innocence and charm and turned as the voice continued. "You must be Heero's friend Duo."

I smiled at the reversal. I was the reason Heero was here, not the other way around. "Yes ma'am."

She was late fifties, early sixties. Steel grey hair with fading flecks of black. About six inches taller than me. And that was all I really saw before she ignored my outstretched hand and went for a hug instead. Oh well. I can't help it if I'm so adorable that strange women want to glomp me at first sight.

"Duo, this is Ian's mother, Catharina O'Clare."

"Call me Katie, lad."

She wasn't exactly Irish. I was certain of that. In fact, there was more than a hint of Latin America in her face. I could only assume she'd picked up the soft accent from someone else. "Heero said you'd want to see the lamp and Sean and Ian Jr. are playing with his new tricycle, so I came to spell you."

Sean. Must be Mr. O'Clare. And why the Hell... "Why would Heero think I'd want to see a lamp?" And if you came to take over for me, you weren't surprised to find me in the kitchen with Hilde, so you were probably listening at the door. Never let it be said that I'm slow. Oh well, not only had our conversation been completely innocent, I'd been trying to help her son and daughter-in-law, so she couldn't really object.

"He said you'd told him all about Tiffany glass and would want to see--"

I didn't hear the rest of what she said. When I regained control of my jaw it was to say, "Where?", my voice cracking like a fourteen-year-old's.

Mrs. O'Clare -- Katie smiled and told me.

I followed the thread of her directions back down the hall, through the living room and family room. I slowed down long enough to wave at Mr. O'Clare and Ian Jr. before going up the stairs to Ian's studio, where I found it. Ian and Heero were standing over a book laid on an old drafting table. (Later Ian told us that for some projects, it was easier to start with pencil and paper than computer and CAD.) They looked up when I opened the door and I think one of them said something. I ignored them and walked over to the lamp.

I was a little disappointed. It was "only" one of the poppy designs. I am infatuated with the dragonfly lamps myself, but they're all long gone. I knelt before it on its low table anyway. The play of reds and greens as the light danced through the patterned glass, the flowing lines of lead -- it looked so real. I looked up under the shade and, after a minute's search, found the "LCT" signature in flowing script. I looked at the shade more closely, studying the glass, looking for the kinds of tiny imperfections I'd read about. It was either real or a good fake, in my not-so-expert opinion. I lowered my head so my eyes were even with the table and pulled out my flashlight to peer up under the base, looking for the hallmarks I'd seen often in books, but never in real life.

Suddenly, the lamp lifted six inches and tilted slightly, bottom toward me. I reached to grab it to keep it from falling, but someone -- Heero specifically -- was kneeling beside me and caught my arms before they had moved an inch.

Ian held the lamp so I could see the bottom. "It's real." He pointed to the marks on the bottom. "Or real enough that none of the experts I know can tell the difference. I just like the way it looks, but it's nice to think I've got one real piece."

I nodded as he set the lamp back down. "I just... I've only seen pictures. Thank you for showing me." One real piece? "What about all your furniture." I'd recognized the Stickley sofa and chairs in the living room.

Ian offered us both a hand up, which Heero accepted, so I did the same. No squishing my hand this time. "The real pieces are too expensive." I realized something had happened. For some reason, Ian seemed comfortable with me. And it wasn't just because of Heero's very public display of affection at the door. "Furniture doesn't survive as well because people use it and the day-to-day stress of humidity and temperature changes tend to tear it apart." I looked at Heero. Something he'd said or done in the last fifteen minutes had put Ian at ease.

"Sorry. I'm getting technical again." Ian smiled, misunderstanding my glance. "Anyway, all the furniture is reproduction or my own designs." Heero just gave me that faint, enigmatic smile of his and slipped a hand behind my back to grab my braid and tug on it playfully. "But the lamp is real Tiffany, I think. And there's an art glass panel in the dining room that I got out of an old house in Chicago that was being torn down. I don't think it's fake, whatever it is." I had a feeling I knew whose it was, and I was pretty sure he suspected too.

He looked at us standing together and seemed to relax even more.

I suddenly understood. I wasn't sure why -- I was sure Heero hanging on me had something to do with it, but that wasn't the whole story. For some reason, he'd decided I wasn't a threat. Not that I ever had been, but Ian hadn't been so sure of that before.

The doorbell rang. A few seconds later, the clock on the bookshelf chimed two.

"That will be Eduardo and Leslie and their kids," he said.

"Eduardo..." I asked.

Ian laughed. "Dad named me so Mom got to name my brother."

We walked into the family room where I was formally introduced to Sean -- as he insisted I call him -- and Ian Jr. Sean's accent was genuine, so I knew where Katie had picked hers up. Come to think of it, out on the sidewalk earlier, Heero hadn't just said the words that I might have said, he'd sounded a Hell of a lot like me when he said them. I wondered if my speech was becoming more Japanese-ified.

Eduardo and his family came in, so we did the introductions again -- Eduardo, who looked a lot like his brother, Leslie, his wife, and their sons Marc and Devin, sixteen and fourteen.

The boys had seen the "P" logos on our jackets when they came in. It took them all of two seconds to recognize us. That set off a torrent of questions, which Heero and I might have been happy to answer if they'd given us a chance.

"Marc and Devin!" She didn't shout, but Katie's voice had a resonance that commanded attention. Even Heero snapped to half-attention. The boys instantly fell silent. "There will be plenty of time to talk to Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Yuy after dinner, but dinner time it is."

"Yes Gran," they said as one then looked at us hopefully. I smiled and nodded and gave them a thumbs-up.

"Well, don't just stand there gawking." Katie snapped her fingers and headed back toward the dining room.

"One thing about Mom," Ian muttered, smiling, as we trailed after her. "Never be late for a meal."

--------------------

While everyone else started dishing up dinner, I borrowed Heero's palm computer, logged into the Preventers network and pulled up an image that matched the glass panel in the dining room -- a Wright window originally -- and showed it to Ian. Then I zoomed in on the imperfections in one of the pieces of the glass and matched it to the same piece in the panel. So he had another piece that was either real or a damn fine fake. Yeah, I'm not an expert, but I know the basic tricks. That and every book on art glass I've ever seen stashed in my personal file space.

When I turned around, I saw Hilde and Heero looking at each other, shaking their heads. Then I looked at Ian, who was grinning like an idiot, looking at the tiny bubbles in the glass that declared it real, and I thought, fuck them. Ian and I were having fun. Everyone should have fun on Christmas.

Dinner was excellent. I was glad we'd sprung for the expensive wine. Anything less would've been an injustice to Hilde's and Katie's cooking.

Damn. Now I sound like Wufei.

Anyway, we ate turkey and mashed potatoes and green beans and a vegetable casserole that was Katie's, as was the cranberry sauce, not from a can, and the corned beef and cabbage. Yeah, I know that isn't "normal" Christmas food, but it was Sean's favorite, a tradition in the O'Clare house, and damned good besides. There was also fruit salad, of course, and Lesile's sweet potato souffle had me begging for the recipe. And the frozen pies I'd helped Hilde pick out the night before.

I was feeling quite full as we sat around the table afterwards and chatted about life and work. Ian Jr. had recovered a half-dozen toys from beneath the Christmas tree and was playing around everyone's feet. Occasionally Hilde or Ian would rein him in, but on the whole he wasn't just a cute kid, he was well behaved.

At Marc and Devin's prompting, Heero and I told several of our more heroic sounding war stories. Neither of us considered them particularly heroic, but people seemed to enjoy hearing them, and the O'Clare family was no exception. Then Hilde started telling about the time Heero and I had first met, which we finally took over ourselves, and added the time we'd met at school after that.

"It's hard to believe you two are friends after that," Ian said.

We both smiled at that. "Sometimes the best relationships get off to a bad start." I did not flick a glance at Hilde as I said that, much as I wanted to.

"You can say that again," Sean said, and proceeded to tell us about some of the struggles he and Katie had gone through when they'd first been married. I found myself watching Heero and wondering if we'd make it forty years, which was a long time considering that about ten years ago I was pretty sure I wouldn't live to see twenty and didn't particularly care. Then I noticed Hilde nodding as Sean and Katie spoke, and I smiled.

It was 19:00 by the time we started to wind down. Everyone pitched in to clear the table, except Hilde. Ian Jr. had worn himself out playing and had fallen asleep on her lap an hour earlier. I passed Katie on my second trip back to the dining room. "This it the last," she said.

I decided to do a quick check anyway. Double-checking is one part of being a Gundam pilot that none of us has ever outgrown. As I reached the doorway, I froze. Ian Jr. was slouched sleeping on a chair and Ian and Hilde were standing on the other side of the table in each others arms. Hilde was saying, "... so I don't know exactly how to do it yet, but I'm going to figure it out." Then I heard Ian say softly, "I love you too and..."

Discretion overcame surprise and I took a quiet step back. I turned and, seeing Heero coming down the hall, put my finger to my lips for silence, then cat-footed toward the living room. Heero was grinning when he caught up with me. For Heero it was a grin anyway.

"I saw," he said. "Glad you came?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yes, Daddy Heero. I'm glad you made me come." I grinned hentai-ly. "Speaking of which..."

He played dumb for a few seconds, then lifted his hand and ran a finger along my ear and down my jaw. That always makes me tingle.

I closed my eyes and sighed, enjoying the touch. "Yeah. Exactly."

"I'll call a cab," he said, reaching for the phone in his pocket.

A question suddenly lit in my mind, but I waited for him to finish the call before asking, "How do you know so much about old furniture?" And another. "And what the Hell'd you say to Ian to make him cool down? You didn't 'omae o korosu' him or anything did you?"

He stared at me for a minute as if I'd just sprouted an extra head and begun babbling in Old Icelandic. Finally he said, "Koi no baka. All that old glass and pottery you were always showing me? I was listening, but I thought the furniture it was sitting on was more interesting. A lot of it is very Japanese." He shrugged. "As for Ian, he asked what I thought about you and Hilde and I told him I knew you'd been lovers in the past but wasn't worried about it. I explained 'shinyou shiteru' to him."

I'd known he trusted me, but he'd been listening to all my rambling? I grinned what felt like an incredibly goofy grin, even for me. "Damn you, Heero Yuy," I whispered. "I want to kiss you so bad, but I'm afraid I'll lose control and embarrass our hosts."

He smiled. "Aa. Kiss me when we get back to Hotel P."

We started in the taxi, but didn't do anything really embarrassing until we got back to our little condo and closed the door behind us.

--------------------

I could end it there, but I can't really. I don't want to forget why I needed to write this down in my journal.

I have to say that this Christmas was the best Christmas I can remember. In part that's because Christmas isn't that big of a deal in Japan, so we never did much when we were living there. Then, we were always traveling and there was always something that required our attention. Heero and I never really had time to notice Christmas.

But there's more to it that that. I realize I'm about to write something scandalous, but...

I hate Christmas.

Actually, it isn't Christmas, it's all the shit that people've built up around Christmas. The noise and the lights and all the places to go, events to attend, things you feel compelled to buy. The things that really have nothing to do with Christmas -- from either a "spirit of Christmas" or a "true meaning of Christmas" perspective.

I mean, it's supposed to be about stopping and really thinking about all the good things you have and being thankful for them and spending time with the people you love -- and being especially thankful for them.

But everyone seems to spend so much time focused on the distractions that they don't have time to think about the spirit or the true meaning -- the things that really matter. Christmas becomes just a busy time of running and doing and wearing themselves out and getting frustrated.

Hell, there's enough of that in my life already. Why do I need a special time of year for it?

But this Christmas... Well, it was good. Really good. We didn't spend the whole time alone together like we'd planned, but I'm glad I got a chance to talk to Hilde and see her and Ian start to get their lives straightened out. And the time we did spend alone together... Call me a sap, but I love it when Heero holds me and whispers my name and says, "Aishiteru." I am truly, head over heels thankful for him.

True gifts, true friends, true loves -- those are the things that really matter.

Those are the things worth celebrating.

And looking at what I have...? Kokoro-yuku n'da zo.

--------------

[1] aoi jiu / murasaki no hana / kokoro-yuku -- literally, "Blue welcome (beneficial) rain / Purple flowers / (to be) completely satisfied and contented". The concept is that combining the rain and the flowers produces perfect contentment for both. I trust the reader can see the inherent symbolism. (As for the "Imperfect Haiku"? Be patient. <g>)

[2] Kokoro-yuku n'da -- n'da is used as an emphasizer here, so something like, "Completely satisfied and contented indeed."

[3] shinai -- the negative form of suru ("to do") --> "don't" (i.e., "Don't do that, Heero.").

[4] kokoro-yuku n'da zo -- zo is a strong emphatic particle, so Duo is saying that he is overwhelmingly, without a doubt, kokoro-yuku (completely satisfied and contented).

---------

Hmm. Yes, Diana Ross is going back a ways. (How many of you were even alive in 1976? <evil grin> I was, but I was still in elementary school.) I like the song though. It aligns well with the primary questions the story asks the reader.

"Do You Know Where You're Going To"

Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know...?

Do you get
What you're hoping for?
When you look behind you
There's no open door.
What are you hoping for?
Do you know...?

Once we were standing still in time,
Chasing the fantasies
That filled our minds.
You knew how I loved you
But my spirit was free,
Laughin' at the questions
That you once asked of me.

Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you?
Where are you going to?
Do you know...?

Now looking back at all we've planned,
We let so many dreams
Just slip through our hands.
Why must we wait so long
Before we'll see,
How sad the answers
To those questions can be.

Do you know where you're going to?
Do you like the things that life is showing you
Where are you going to?
Do you know...?

Do you get
What you're hoping for
When you look behind you
There's no open door
What are you hoping for?
Do you know...?