The Little Things Arc
Part Six: Eating Alone
by D.C. Logan
Duo flipped idly through the pages of his current reading material while waiting for the micro to ding. He hated eating alone; it seemed so pointless somehow. Eating was supposed to be a social event, and you needed to be with someone for it to be remembered. All these meals alone just slid into a pool of forgotten nights—and there had been more of them than usual lately. Heero's consulting business was a growing success, and his bodyguard assignments were filling in any gaps left in his schedule. Which didn't mean a whole lot to Duo, except that he was seeing less and less of the man who was supposed to be his partner.
He missed the sex, sure. But he also missed his lumpy warm presence in their bed, the sound of his weird slippers shuffling down the hall at night, and even his strange ideas of what constituted 'good' entertainment. Eating out alone just wasn't the same as it used to be months ago. He used to sit back and watch all the people in the restaurant, enjoying the sensation of being part of a crowd without any of the social obligations—borrowing family. Now he just brought a book along, sat quietly by himself, and wondered bleakly when it had all changed for him. And after a long series of solitary meals, he determined that it was all Heero's fault. And he decided to take him to task over it as soon as he came home again. Whenever that was.
The micro made its dinging noise, and he obligingly got up to pull the pre-made, pre-packaged, uniformly sized and flavored whatever-it-was from the unit. It didn't look at all appetizing in its little segmented plastic tray, but if he bothered to transfer it to a real plate, that would mean one more dish to wash.
When Heero was home they ate off plates, with steel cutlery, sitting at the table with napkins and a vase with a flower in it like civilized people. When he wasn't around, Duo usually ate like this, or standing in front of the sink while eating directly out of whatever pot dinner had been cooked in. It just seemed pointless to go through all the motions of a sit-down supper when it was just him and his thoughts in the kitchen. Eating vertical rubbed all the shiny pleasures off of consuming a meal, and turned it into a simple processing of protein and calories, but that was fine by him.
Heero off colony didn't do much for his recreational activities either. Oh, he could get on the link and talk with Quatre, but Quatre had been busy as well. Duo still managed to do a fair bit of reading, but that wasn't the same either. He missed Heero's answers to the continuous string of nonsequiturs he reeled off when reading science and space topics. And needed his opinion around to counterbalance whatever argument he decided to toss into the air between them. And he missed the genuine shock he occasionally triggered in Heero's eyes when he dropped a tidbit about one of his clients—something previously unknown and accessible only to a skilled link hack.
There was just no denying it. Without Heero around, he felt like less of a person. Not that he could put a finger on any one thing that seemed to make the difference. It was just that living with and loving Heero somehow took the best of what happened in his life and made it better, and took the worst and made it bearable. And there was no getting around it. He missed him. Not just a little bit either, but whole huge empty gray realms of missing.
He picked up his fork and looked up at the ceiling, imagining the field of stars beyond, and sent out a brief, heartfelt wish, "Heero, come home soon, okay?" And he turned to his plastic meal and his book once again, having done all that was in his power to do at the moment to bring his partner home.