Finding Love In Fortune Cookies: Casting Fortune
by D.C. Logan
It was shortly after supper on the last day of the week when Heero pulled the red box from the shelf. After clearing the dishes from the table, dowsing the candle, changing the light to the one that switched on, and moving the trash bin closer to his chair as custom dictated, he set the box on the kitchen table along with his favorite mug and a small pot of tea.
He wasn't sure exactly when this had turned from dessert into ritual, but he'd been approaching the process with a near religious fervor over the past month or so. The past six days had been the best so far--and, for the first time, he'd allowed himself a tiny gleam of hope. It was so unlike him, a fact which he recognized with derision, but he allowed that he was changing in ways he had never really expected to.
This was his private time; this was the method he'd chosen to explore his thoughts, and Trowa (who smiled rarely) would die laughing if he knew. Heero fetched his diary from the locked drawer of his desk and his favorite pen from the same, took a detour to put the phone on hold, and returned to the kitchen to settle comfortably into his chair.
He took a careful sip of hot tea from the edge of his mug and started, opening the book to the latest page of entries and turning back six pages to read this week's notes.
Monday's wisdom seemed to circle around his knowledge of self--or at least that's what he had determined after long and careful thought.
**YOU WILL BE BLESSED WITH LONGEVITY.** That made sense--at least in one way. He was in good physical condition. He'd had extensive training and supplemental strength and stamina thanks in part to Dr.J. He'd successfully survived the battles and wars over the past few years and it stood to reason that he'd live a long and fulfilling life. It was the question of how he was going to spend it that had turned his dessert from a treat into an instrument of divination.
**YOU ARE NEVER BITTER, DECEPTIVE, OR PETTY.** He skimmed over his notes. 'Petty' had been crossed out and he felt pretty good about that one. Deceptive had been underlined and a question mark followed the word. Heero pondered that for a moment, and discarded the idea that he had intentionally been deceptive. During the war, yes--but that had been part of his mission. And after the war? Well, if he was being completely honest with himself--and that was the point of this exercise after all--well... He felt his thoughts drift off in the usual direction, and when he found himself absently focused on a location somewhere in middle distance, he racked in his attention to the open log before him and continued.
**YOU HAVE A CURIOUS SMILE AND A MYSTERIOUS NATURE.** Well, it was certainly nice to know that he had assets other than his body and training to fall back on. He hoped (and that in itself was a foreign thought), that it would be enough. There were days when he felt he had so little to offer...
He interpreted Tuesday's advice as a warning.
**PROSPERITY MAKES FRIENDS, AND ADVERSITY TRIES THEM.** Well, those few he considered friends had risen and survived adversity with him, so they had already been tried and passed the tests history had leveled at all of them. The bonds between them were stronger for the experiences they had undergone. If he and prosperity could make friends, could he also enhance and make better or expand existing friendships? Especially one... Which led him inexorably to the next line:
**GUARD YOURSELF AGAINST EVIL TEMPTATIONS.** Right. It was a little too late for that really, and had been for a long while now. Heero wasn't at all sure that the intention he had in mind would be considered 'evil,' but since he didn't know how or if it would ever be favorably received, he'd hedged his bet on the side of caution for the moment.
**THINK OF THE DANGER WHILE THINGS ARE GOING SMOOTHLY.** Oh yeah, that was the other part of his problem. Things were going rather well at the moment. Okay, really well. He'd been seeing more of Duo both at and outside of Preventers and he had no desire to lose the relationship he already had on the random chance that Duo returned his feelings. There, he'd said it out loud to his mug of tea and nothing untoward had happened. He paused briefly to mark the moment in his mind and resolutely moved on to Wednesday. That had been the day that had made him question his sanity in following this method of divination. Three tiny scraps of paper had led to a swarm of emotional exploration. This first had been refreshingly straightforward:
**YOU WILL SOON MEET THE PERSON YOU ADMIRE.** That had been true enough. Duo had caught the latest round of illness that was coursing through the Preventers staff, and had been sent home to recover. Heero had volunteered to drop by and make sure that Duo was resting as prescribed and not out roaming about the colony. Remembering the state of Duo's pantry the last time he'd visited, he stopped en route to pick up some basic supplies, and had arrived to find the patient duly entrenched on his monstrosity of a sofa--coffee in hand, book on lap, and acting irritable and self-pitying at the same time. Heero found it an endearing combination, and the surprising rise of protectiveness he found within him was startling in its intensity. He'd ignored both Duo and his feelings and entered the kitchen to matter-of-factly deposit the groceries in the respective bins and cabinets. Right--he could have been blind, deaf, or dead more than a month and he still wouldn't have been able to ignore the man on the sofa. Duo had glared at him as he'd reentered the room, but dissolved into a fit of hacking coughs that had upset his coffee when he tried to speak.
**DO NOT MISTAKE TEMPTATION FOR OPPORTUNITY.** No, he hadn't, but not for lack of wanting. Part of him, the part that stood separate and rationalized his every move and action, advised extreme caution. A newer part, the one that had been growing steadily in influence over the past long months, advised throwing that caution aside and plunging recklessly ahead--wherever that path would lead. The rational side was still in command, but part of him was starting to trust the other voice within him as well. It might just be a simple matter of biding his time and waiting for that ever-so-promising opportunity to arise.
**DON'T PASS UP A ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME OFFER.** He was holding on to that one, for that had been the core of his dilemma--spelled out in front of him in words too plain to misinterpret and too direct to ignore. He'd tucked the original slip between the pages, and this he'd held between his fingers on every occasion he'd had to review the notes in his book. He found he had no resistance to this particular urge and fingered the worn slip of paper, flattening and pressing it against the surface of the table. It looked more ominous laying there by itself without the surrounding words to balance and temper its message. He slipped it back into its place and moved on.
He took a moment to sip his tea, and noted that it was cold. Too consumed by his task, he set the mug aside and continued to Thursday's three entries. Things were looking optimistic for once.
**YOU WILL TAKE A CHANCE ON SOMETHING IN THE NEAR FUTURE.**
Okay. If he placed any weight in this process, and he was beginning to think it might not be such a bad idea to do so after all, then this was a promising statement. He had a pretty good idea what the 'something' was--it was the 'near future' part that he was having some difficulty with at the moment. Just how near was near?
**RELY ON YOUR OWN GOOD JUDGMENT TO LEAD YOU TO SUCCESS.** Great. Since when had his judgment proven itself infallible? And what were the odds of it leading him to any degree of success? This was too important for him to trust his own sense of right, wrong, and timing--but he couldn't think of anyone he could go to for help. Not really. Of the two people he could possibly trust to aid him, one was the object of his internal conflict, and the other... well... Trowa had his own problems to cope with at the moment.
**IF YOUR DESIRES ARE NOT EXTRAVAGANT, THEY WILL BE GRANTED.** Every time he read that line, he sighed deeply, turned a grateful face to the ceiling and gave thanks to whoever or whatever influenced the insertion of his little pieces of paper into the cookies.
Hmm... on to Friday then. Right. Friday.
**A JOURNEY MUST BEGIN WITH A SINGLE STEP.** Uh huh, one foot in front of the other, each step moving him closer to his goal. It was so easy to see it on paper, to feel that it was a necessary action for him to take. It was something else entirely to take his future in his hands and place it within the care of another. He wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, but the mere thought of giving over that much of himself to another scared the hell out of him. And Gundam pilots, of a necessity, feared less than other men. But this made his knees weak to think of it--and if he didn't feel awkward enough...
**DON'T BE AFRAID TO TAKE THAT BIG STEP.** Great. A perfect follow-up to the first note of the day. What were the odds really? Sure, he could approach Duo and lay out all his fragile dreams in front of him, but he sincerely doubted that the feelings would be returned. Duo treated him as a friend, or worse yet, a kind of honorary brother. Yes he was afraid, very afraid. Afraid that he would take the action. Afraid that he would fail.
And then, as a token saving grace, his third cookie revealed a note of optimism... **THINGS ARE TURNING FOR THE BRIGHT SIDE.** So, there was some hope buried under all of this theory after all.
Saturday had passed in a odd assortment of chores and errands, but had ended most satisfactorily as well. All three fortunes gave him further hope that he was heading down the right path--finally.
**MAY LIFE THROW YOU A PLEASANT CURVE.** Now didn't that sound like a positive outcome was in the stars for him? He remembered smiling when he read that one for the first time, and then thinking that it was pitiful the way he couldn't seem to hold two thoughts in his head unless one of them was centered on Duo. Obsessed? Him? He suspected that there was something seriously wrong with his brain function on most days now.
**YOUR SKILL WILL ACCOMPLISH WHAT THE FORCE OF MANY CANNOT.** Oh, well, he dearly hoped that the skills the fortune-cookie gods were referring to were the same ones he had in mind. He had all sorts of skills; Dr. J had been most helpful in providing research materials of all kinds of wondrous variety. Oh yes indeed, he had skills. Here's to seeing what he was capable of accomplishing with them. He remembered toasting an absent Dr. J with his tepid tea.
And for the final note of the day, well, you couldn't ask for more than... **AN UNEXPECTED EVENT WILL BRING YOU RICHES.** Right, so he was going to have to watch out for some sort of unexpected event. Did Duo getting sick count? He'd never taken ill that Heero had known about--injured, yes, but sick? Was that unexpected?
That was where his thoughts had stalled under the heavy weight of the week's fortunes. He was poised to make a decision one way or the other. Today would pass the final vote...
And now he was down to his last three selections for the week. He closed his diary, set it to the side, and reached for the red box he'd moved to the table long minutes ago. He rattled it experimentally; there was a rustling response from the interior. He unfolded the end of the box and shook the contents out onto the surface of the table. Three cellophane-wrapped cookies rested in front of him: fortune cookies, chocolate ones, with wonderful, life-changing fortunes. He smiled to himself, selected one at random, and shifted the remaining number to the side. This one he opened by gently pulling the corners of the wrapper in opposite directions, releasing the cookie from within. The bittersweet tang of the chocolate hit him like a gentle drug, and he picked up the cookie and deftly snapped it in half--slowly pulling the halves aside so as to not damage the fragile note within. He popped the empty side into his mouth and crunched gratefully while separating the note from the remaining half of his snack. He ignored the print on the note, instead looking at the two remaining cookies--trying to decide which would be next; the order was important. He ate the second half of his cookie, carefully crunching and swallowing before turning his attention to his 19th fortune.
**MANY SUCCESSES WILL ACCOMPANY YOU THIS YEAR.** Oh. He thought about it for a minute and smiled broadly after deciding that he liked that idea and all the possibilities that it represented. Oh yes, he'd hold the fortune cookie gods accountable for that one all right.
He turned to the second cookie, again separating the two halves from the fortune with due care, and consumed the entire cookie before chancing a glance at the fortune from within. Where he'd come up with this part of his ritual he didn't remember--but he'd adhered to it for every fortune in his growing collection. Like a bomb squad captain with his framework of ritual actions to perform before working on a device, Heero treated his fortune telling time with equal amounts of deliberate action and faith. It worked for him, no one would ever find out, and it was something he kept private and safe just for the care and feeding of his soul and the delicate hopes that grew within. No one else need ever know--this was his.
He looked at the next fortune. Oh, that was depressing. He looked at the words with a nagging sense of dismay: **KEEP TRUE TO THE DREAMS OF YOUR YOUTH.**
Well, how was he supposed to accomplish that? He stared at the slip, feeling lost and not a little bit daunted. He tried, paused, and tried again, but any hopes he'd harbored before the war and his training slipped from the edges of his memory when he went searching for them. Did now count as his youth as well? He decided that it did, and immediately felt better and moved on to his last bit of fortune...
**YOU WILL SOON TAKE A PLEASANT AND SUCCESSFUL TRIP.** Well, he could always pay Duo a visit and see how he was feeling today...
That is, if he truly believed...