The Little Things Arc
Part Thirteen: Shattered
by D.C. Logan
Duo felt his gut clench and he tilted his face automatically upwards, closed his eyes, and said a silent prayer to his gods that he hadn't done what he'd just done; and a fervent wish to roll back time to the moment before it happened. He looked down, his gods weren't listening to him, but then again, they'd ignored him in the past as well.
The mug was a shatter of white against the flooring; he could barely make out the tail of the blue fish--the fragments were that small. He groaned in reaction and sympathy with the pieces--and knew his mind would feel the same when he imagined the moment he'd have to tell Heero that he'd destroyed one of his favorite things... Well, that didn't really bear considering at the moment.
He'd had his morning coffee, two cups as per his custom. In a much practiced routine, he'd then washed the mug carefully and dried it by hand, and had moved to slide it into its customary space in the cabinet when the unthinkable had happened--he'd fumble-fingered it to the floor.
He groaned, re-living the moment.
Well, looking at the pieces wasn't going to get him anywhere. He fetched a metal sheet from a neighboring cabinet and carefully shifted the remnants from floor to transfer device with shock-nimble fingers. He carried the tray to the table and eyed his project ruefully. It was too badly shattered for use as a mug again, but maybe, if he could repair enough of it, he could take it to the local shops and find a replacement for it--with Heero none the wiser for his mistake. With some luck and a lot of walking, he just might be able to accomplish the near impossible. Heero was due back in two days--which meant he'd have to work fast.
Two hours spent with fragments, adhesive, and his frantically scrambling mind did no favors for his relative degree of sanity. It also didn't do much for the mug, which stood in crooked splendor on the table--together but apart, broken but oddly whole. Or for his thumb, which was as yet bleeding through the bandage he'd hastily wrapped around it. Looking at the mug again gave him an idea, and he grabbed the adhesive one more time and applied it liberally to his cut. It burned like hell, but stopped the bleeding.
A walk through all of the local shops only resulted in a lot of head shaking and negative answers. Further excursions from the regional stops on the shuttle line didn't turn up anything promising either. He finally came to the conclusion that he'd have to buy a replacement, and confess the rest of it anyway. This was not turning into a good week for his sanity.
The ceramic artist had been willing, but unable to come up with a duplicate mug under such short notice. So Duo had been forced to duplicate his rounds of most of the shops he'd visited the day before in search of a potential interim candidate. It didn't help matters when Duo abruptly realized that he didn't have a clue what it was about the mug that Heero liked. Was it the fish decorating it?, the shape?, the size? Heero had mentioned all of those traits at least once--but which one took precedence? The shopkeepers had been more than helpful--maybe a little too helpful he thought as he carried his multiple bags back home...
He was just aligning the last mug on the kitchen table when he heard the jingle of keys against the lock. Heero was home, at long last and far too soon.
"Duo? I'm back"
"In the kitchen..."
Duo heard the muffled noises of luggage and briefcase being set on the floor, and the sweep of fabric as Heero draped his travel coat over them. He braced himself mentally and physically as the footsteps approached the kitchen. Heero stopped at the threshold, eyes traveling from Duo's troubled expression to the table next to him, and then back to Duo's face, which looked hesitant.
Instead of answering his question, Duo handed him the repaired mug by way of explanation. Heero accepted it and turned it around in his hands as Duo told him all about using it while he was away on his travels, of the morning he'd broken it, of his careful repair and long travels to find a replacement.
"And then I realized that I didn't know what it was that you liked about it. I mean, well, I found one with a blue fish on it--it's a different shape though..." He lifted one of the number of mugs displayed on the table for Heero's judgment. "And this one's the same shape, but it's got green leaves on it... Um, this one here is from the same factory--but they don't do fish any more--just flowers..."
Duo ran out of words as Heero picked up each mug in turn, examined it, and put it back in its place. He stood, looking at the half dozen or so mugs on the table with an appraising eye while Duo looked on nervously. Heero didn't seem upset though, just curious about why Duo was asking for forgiveness over such a small thing.
Duo shifted nervously in place, not wanting to do anything that would shift the fragile silence between them. But his growing sense of anxiety won out after Heero had finished his study of the new candidates, "So what was it? I mean, why did you like that one best?"
Heero paused to consider his reply, "Because you gave it to me--no other reason."
Duo looked at the table, at the assortment of mugs he'd purchased, and looked back at Heero with a growing smile. And they both began to chuckle, and then laugh with the realization that Heero now had six mugs that fit that particular criterion.
It turned out to be a good week after all...