Needs and Wants
"Quatre, will you hurry up and pick something?" Trowa said, poking his lover in the side as the blond rejected yet another coat and placed it back on the rack.
"I'm trying, love, but none of these are working for me," Quatre replied as he and Trowa moved deeper into the racks of coats.
Duo sighed and leaned again a table covered in folded, button-down shirts and tried not to look bored. Heero leaned in to finger one of the shirts. "How long do you think it will take him to pick something out?" he asked Duo, nodding his head in their friends' direction.
"Knowing His Royal Highness? Until he finds the Perfect Coat, leather as smooth as a baby's ass and price tag that would feed a small country," Duo said, rolling his eyes.
"Yeah, yeah. I'm sorry." Duo sighed and let his gaze wander. "Think I'm going to just look around while the love birds haggle over color."
"Why don't you get a new coat?" Heero asked, reaching over to straighten the collar on his lover's threadbare jacket. "That's way too thin and the temperature's supposed to drop into the teens tomorrow."
Duo just shrugged off Heero's hand. "Nah. Don't need one. I'll be fine in this. I did with less when I was living on L2." He pushed himself away from the table. "Let me know if Quatre ever makes a decision. I'll be over there."
Heero watched as Duo walked toward the far end of the store, stopping now and then to look at something, but not lingering. He frowned. Duo wasn't acting like himself. Usually, he was the one begging to go out when they'd been cooped up in a safehouse for more than a day or two. But when Quatre had suggested they come to the mall so he could purchase a new winter coat, Duo hadn't wanted to come along. He'd wanted to stay home, but Heero knew Duo was bored and had asked Duo to keep him company while Quatre shopped. Duo had reluctantly agreed. And now Heero was wondering if he'd done the right thing.
He looked for his friends. Trowa was holding Quatre's old coat while the blond tried on a different one. He could see Quatre shaking his head, as Trowa turned to a different rack. Deciding his friends were going to be a while, he decided to catch up with Duo. Maybe he could find out why Duo seemed so down.
He found Duo in the sock department. Why the department store need a whole department for socks, he didn't know. He didn't see the need for all the different styles and types of socks that were available. White cotton. Simple. Practical. That's all one really needed.
He spotted Duo standing over a bin marked as clearance items. Duo was oddly still, and he had a peculiar expression on his face. He watched as Duo reached down and pick something out of the pin, though he couldn't see what it was. He was surprised, however, when, after glancing furtively around, Duo slipped whatever it was in his hand into his jacket.
Heero moved toward Duo, to ask him what he was doing, when he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head to see Trowa standing behind him.
"Quatre's finally decided. We can go home now."
"All right. I'll get Duo," he replied, as Trowa headed off toward the registers where Quatre was in line.
Heero wound his way through the maze of racks, catching Duo's eye and beckoning him over.
"Quat finally done?" Duo asked.
"Trowa says so."
"Great. I'm starving and there's some macaroni at the house with my name on it," Duo replied, grabbing Heero's arm and tugging him in the direction of the registers.
Heero let himself be pulled along, still puzzled over what Duo had done. He wanted to ask him about it, but was afraid Duo would get mad and cause a scene, and they did not need to be drawing attention to themselves which people would remember. He decided to hold his tongue and talk to Duo about it when they got back to the house.
Quatre finished his purchase and the four of them left the mall, walking briskly to the old, beat up truck that was serving as their transportation. Heero shivered as they walked, watching his breath pillow out in front of him. The sky was gray and it was spitting snow. He'd be grateful to get back to their warm safe house. Grateful still to get Duo out of the cold. The thin jacket he wore was *not* adequate protection from the elements, despite Duo's claims. He could tell Duo was trying to hide how cold he was. He didn't know why his lover was too stubborn to buy a warmer coat. Perhaps he'd have to talk about that, too. He slipped his arm around Duo, drawing him close. Duo gave him a warm look and snuggled into Heero's arm.
If Duo wouldn't look after his own health, he'd have to do it for him.
The drive back to the house was uneventful. Duo and Quatre talked non-stop, with Trowa interjecting occasionally. Heero kept his arm around Duo, and Duo didn't seem to mind.
They fixed a quick meal, Duo eating his macaroni with zeal, then played a few card games before Heero decided to drag Duo to their bedroom.
Duo grinned at him as Heero shut the door behind him, throwing himself onto their bed. "A little eager to get up here tonight, weren't we?" he said, stretching his arms above his head. "I take it you don't have sleep in mind...?"
Heero sat down next to his lover and took his hand. "Duo, what did you take from the store?"
Duo pulled his hand away and sat up. "What... what do you mean?"
"I saw you put something in your jacket. What was it?"
Duo looked away. "I don't know what you're talk--"
His lover sighed and slumped his shoulders. "I'm sorry. It was a risk, but... I wanted them."
Duo squirmed where he sat. "You'll think they're stupid."
Heero moved closer. "Just show me."
Duo reached over to the rickety night stand and pulled the drawer open. He reached in and brought out a little package, wrapped in plastic, and handed it to Heero.
Heero blinked at what he held in his hand. "You stole a pair of socks?"
Duo flushed and turned his head. "Yeah."
Heero opened the package and pulled them out. They were perhaps the ugliest pair of socks he'd ever seen. They were long, meant to come up to the just below the knee, and had red and white stripes. He tried to imagine Duo in them and tried not to laugh.
Duo glared at him and stuck out his tongue. "Make fun if you want, but... I used to have a pair that looked just like those. It was one of the first things Sister Helen ever gave to me. She apologized about the stripes, but they were a donation and we couldn't afford to be picky. But... they were warm and she thought they looked cute."
Heero's urge to laugh died, and he took Duo's hand. "I'm sorry. They are... interesting socks..."
Duo laughed. "They're butt-ugly. But I just... wanted to have them. As a reminder."
"I can understand that." Heero picked up the plastic packaging. "What I don't understand is why you stole them? They were marked down to three dollars..."
Duo went completely still. Heero could feel him trembling. "I... didn't have three dollars," Duo said softly, staring intently at the socks in his hand.
"You didn't..." And suddenly Heero understood. Why Duo always wanted to go places that didn't cost to get in. Why Duo went "shopping" for food by himself and always came back with small, almost random items... like microwave cups of macaroni... small enough to slip into a pocket or jacket. Why Duo didn't have a new winter coat...
Heero dropped the plastic and pulled Duo into a tight embrace. "I'm sorry. I didn't know your controller hadn't provided... How have you managed all this time?"
"I lived on the streets for a long time, Heero. I've learned a few tricks," Duo said, curling into Heero's embrace. "I survive."
Heero kissed the top of his head. "You won't have to worry anymore, love. I'll give you access to my account."
"No. Don't argue. I've plenty. More than enough for two."
"Heero, I don't want charity..."
"It's not charity!" Heero pulled away from him to look him in the eyes. "I love you, Duo. What's mine is yours. My heart is yours. My body... why not everything else?"
Duo looked down at their entwined hands. "I... don't want you to feel obligated..."
"It's not an obligation!" He reached up to lift Duo's chin. "Just think of it as another aspect of our lives that we share."
"Are you sure?" Duo asked meekly, though Heero could see the hope in his eyes. He wondered how Duo could have managed all this time, without the security of even knowing where his next meal would come from.
"Yes." He leaned in and kissed Duo forcefully. "A thousand times yes. I'll set you up tonight. And tomorrow, we'll go shopping for a new coat for *you*."
"Heero... I don't know what to say."
"Just say thank you and I love you."
Duo laughed. "Thank you and I love you."
"I do have one request, though," Heero said, leaning back on the bed.
Duo grinned at him. "What's that?"
"Model the socks for me?"
His lover groaned. "You'll just laugh. They look ridiculous."
Heero smiled. "I won't be laughing. I want you to model the socks for me... and nothing else."
A slow, sultry smile spread across Duo's face. "I think I can manage that request."
Later, they both agreed that while the socks did look silly on Duo's feet, they were a lot of fun to peel off and leave lying in a heap on the floor.