The Little Things Arc
Part Ten: Little Notes
by D.C. Logan
There was a soft rustle of fabric and the sharp zing of a zipper, and Duo's eye cracked open in response. "Heero?" He had to roll over in bed and tamp down an unruly wrinkle in the covers to watch him move about the room. Heero had shifted his suitcase to vertical, draped his jacket over the handles, and was in the process of collecting personal items from the counter in the bathroom. Small rummaging sounds ensued, with a soft curse tucked in as something dropped to the floor and was reached for with a groan. He walked back to the dresser clutching a small assortment of necessities to his chest and ticking items off a mental checklist with a vacant statement on his face.
Duo smiled and let his head drop back to the pillow. Yes, Heero was leaving again... but God, what a night they'd had. It even topped the time they'd managed to land his briefs on the light fixture - and that had taken some doing. He felt relaxed and sated as he hadn't in days, and amenable enough towards Heero for his inventive ministrations last night that he'd let him leave without argument or protest. Well, this time anyway...
Heero looked over to the bed and gave a small smile at the rumpled and disheveled state of his partner. "Hmmmm," he walked over and braced his arms on either side of Duo, and reached in for a kiss that had more thanks to it than promise. And before Duo could reach up to deepen it, he'd broken off contact, grabbed his bags, and was gone. Well, Duo mused, it had been worth the thought, but he'd managed to catch him that way once and Heero had missed his flight... Guess he was playing it safe today.
Mmm, Coffee. Always a good idea, and a bona-fide necessity _this_ morning - shower first though. Minutes later, skin damp and hair dripping, Duo wandered into the kitchen in search of much-needed caffeine. He poured water into the carafe, moved his mug to the counter, and reached up for the canister of coffee. He dipped the measured scoop in as he did every morning - and met an unexpected resistance. What the hell? He tilted the opening to his eyes, and looked down. After digging around with the scoop to retrieve the piece of paper that had been dropped within, he shook off the grounds and unfolded it.
Heero's handwriting, well of course it was, no one else had access to their apartment, and _he_ certainly hadn't put it there... Yup, Heero's neat and precise printing all right, but it was the meaning behind the two simple sentences that rattled his mind. He read it over and over again while absently feeding grounds into the machine.
Five minutes later he was still re-reading his note as he poured coffee twice its normal strength and loaded with coffee grounds into the mug with the blue fish on it. A scant minute after that he grabbed a strainer out of the cabinet and filtered his beverage out of and then back into Heero's favorite mug. He used it whenever Heero was off colony, a small conceit that made him feel better. Besides which, Heero would never find out about that (or the way he walked into the closet at odd moments just to hold his clothes to his face and remember the way he smelled). Duo sighed, he had it bad, and he knew it.
He was still amazed after breaking his fast and skimming through the morning newsfeed. Skimming because their former lives continued to haunt them at odd times. After finding a notation under 'survived by' that listed a son, tragically killed in the New Edward's Base attack of AC195, they'd both been unusually quiet for days, and had skipped reading the obituary section after that. So his eyes read over the news, but his mind couldn't leave his note.
Yes, Heero had left him a message, a sweet one that he wouldn't have believed him capable of, and he'd taken the time to leave it in a unique place where he'd be sure to find it. His chest tightened with the unexpected happiness it brought. He went to get dressed, carrying his second cup of coffee and his precious gift along with him.
He found the second note rolled up in a pair of socks; the third had been folded three times and inserted into the cylinder of fish food; the fourth, well the fourth had been there for a week at least, that was apparent; the ink color was different, and the paper cream instead of white.
How long had Heero been seeding the apartment with his little notes? Why had he started? When? And then, unbidden, the memory came back to him - of bemoaning the fact that Heero's travels were taking him off colony for longer periods of time - and that he was missed. There was a moment then, when Heero had looked thoughtful, but he'd shrugged off the question Duo had thrown at him. Yes, it must have started then - two weeks ago. When he got this assignment and had told Duo about leaving for a week and a day. It _must_ have been then.
Later that morning, when sorting through his paperwork, Duo was brought up sharp against a personal quandary; to search or not to search? He gave the thought careful consideration, and elected to let the notes turn up over the course of his absence, and to let the small surprises - gifts from Heero's heart and hands - find their way into his daily pattern of life. And to relish the joy and excitement that came hand in hand with each unexpected discovery.
The fifth turned up on page 23, in a book Heero had recommended but that Duo hadn't found the time to read as yet. The sixth was in the blue egg carton in the refrigeration unit.
In a small way, it was almost as if Heero were there with him. He'd been getting better at taking advantage of the unexpected moments that presented themselves in their daily lives, a taste of a different food offered, a good line repeated from a book, something seen that needed to be shared. The notes he'd left were a lot like that, and they eased the separation between them, and they were appreciated.
On the way back from his errands that day, Duo bought a small metal box at the store on the corner, and carefully tucked his unfolded, smoothed over, and many-times-read notes into his new box in the order he'd discovered them. These... these he would keep.
One month later, after a night short on sleep but long on loving, Heero stood on the shuttle platform as he'd done so many times over the past months. With his hands held deep in his pockets, he remembered the way Duo had looked, warm and tousled in the blankets. Leaving him this morning had been very difficult, very difficult indeed. If he thought about it, he could still feel the warmth of his body under his own, but if he thought about it - he'd find himself turning around and walking back to Duo instead of doing the job he'd contracted to do - but the temptation was strong and took a measure of control to contain. Yeah, he had it bad, and he knew it.
He reached into his upper pocket and pulled his itinerary from it with reluctance, three days to schedule security for a meeting of colony directors. He sighed deep and long. As he drew the paper from his pocket, a smaller piece, already neatly folded, dropped to the pavement at his feet. His heart jumped as he reached down and drew the paper up and unfolded it. In Duo's loose scrawl was a note to him, tucked into a place where he'd be sure to find it during his travels.
He smiled, true and wide; Duo had found a way for Heero to take Duo with him; the same way he'd found to leave a part of himself home for his partner. Little notes to bring together two lives that didn't always manage to connect. And they were working. He smiled and turned around on the platform - Duo was waiting, warm and alive, and he was going home to him. The conference security could wait one day more.