The Little Things Arc
Part Eighteen: Unsigned Cards
by D.C. Logan
"Eggs, shampoo, bread, tea, hmmm... those crackers you like,
what else?" Duo looked up from his shopping list, mentally
tagging the 'still need to finds' and swiveling his head,
and then his body, in search of his partner. Only an empty
supermarket aisle stretched in front of him. "What the...?"
Ah hell, Heero must have wandered off in search of
Duo picked up the plastic basket (Heero's providence--which
he'd abandoned) and ran a basic reconnaissance pattern down
the long back aisle of the market, scanning each row in
turn for his errant mate. He worked his way past
refrigerated and frozen; past cereal, bread, and baking;
and made it through most of packaging and paper before he
found him, looking at...
"Our anniversary is coming up next month--two years."
Duo looked over Heero's shoulder at the assortment of
sentimental notes in their little bins on the wall,
politely interested, but not really all that curious.
Heero returned a rejected selection back to its slot and
pulled another for inspection. "I thought a card would be
Duo shrugged. "Forget it--they're a waste of money. Better
to put the expense into a gift or a meal out instead." Duo,
the matter settled in his mind, reviewed the list against
the contents of his basket. "We still need, um, light
bulbs, and uh," he counted down the items before finishing
with, "and apples."
"I sort of like them actually."
Duo turned to look at him, dumbfounded. Heero Yuy, man of
'keep nothing sentimental--discard all non-essential items'
was *serious* about this?
"Heero, who wants to spend money on something that you look
at once for a few seconds and then toss? How many things in
your life do you do that to? It's like picking up a fast
food meal, looking at it for a second or two, saying
'that's nice' and then pitching it into the trash."
Heero looked thoughtful. "How about we buy them and recycle
He was really serious about this. Duo set down the basket
and faced him, puzzled, "Okay, explain."
"How about we buy each other cards for holidays and
birthdays, but instead of signing them, we can just assume
that they're signed and read them, enjoy them, and then
pass them along to someone else or use them again the
Persuasive. He was damn persuasive...and if this meant
something to him... "Okay. We can do that."
Heero returned his current card candidate to the rack and
picked up the shopping basket.
They slowly established a new pattern--at each significant
milestone or event in their lives, they exchanged unsigned
cards: Christmas, Valentine's Day, birthdays, and
anniversaries. Duo started to enjoy the new pattern; Heero
received his cards with honest thanks. After a few weeks
had passed, Duo forwarded his cards along to other friends
for their holidays; considering that the gift was in the
choosing and giving, not the retaining. But after enough
time had passed to reveal a pattern, Duo noticed that Heero
never re-used the cards that Duo had given him. He asked
his partner about the missing cards--where they were sent,
who they were given to, but Heero didn't answer, and Duo
went on with his life without questioning him further.
After a while, the unanswered question ceased to bother
him, and his curiosity over the cards slipped from his
"Heero? Where's that titanium crowbar Trowa gave us for our
tenth anniversary?" Though given as a practical gift,
they'd never actually used it for its intended purpose.
Instead it had moved from household to household with them,
making it easily the most traveled and least used tool in
"Bedroom closet... in the back under the boxes of stuff we
moved from the spare room that weekend Koti stayed with
Despite the hassle of boxing and shifting the contents over
to the closet, they'd been wise to move all of it. Koti had
a real intrinsic need to explore everything he could get
his hands on and to dismantle all of it as he
explored--nothing had been safe from his clever little
hands. While most of it had been reparable, not all of the
delicate little parts could be found to restore all of the
"Christmas decorations, books from that astrophysics
class... boy, that was a mistake. What else is hiding in
here?" Duo shifted boxes systematically, checking labels as
he dug deeper into the darkness. "Why is the stuff I need
always at the bottom of the stack..." More shifting.
"What's this?" The box was smaller than the others,
unlabeled, and the contents shifted when he twisted it
experimentally. Moreover, he didn't recognize it as 'his'
or 'theirs'--which meant that it had to be something that
Heero had packed and was hanging onto. He shifted back onto
his heels, rattled the box once more for good measure
(Heero sometimes kept dangerous things lying around in the
most innocuous places), and pried open the lid. Carefully.
Expecting... something... anything other than...
Cards. Lots of cards. All unsigned. Duo let out an
involuntary low whistle of appreciation. Leave it to Heero
to do something with this degree of thoroughness. He
flipped through the cards just long enough to determine
that they'd been sorted into chronological order and banded
into years. Fourteen of them. It was a moderate-sized box,
and Duo ran a fingertip across the ridges of
different-sized cards before carefully fitting the lid back
over its precious contents and setting the box carefully
aside. Strangely, while he knew empirically that the small
things meant so much to his lifetime partner, it was still
startling to come face to face with the ample evidence to
support that fact.
Yes, the small things they exchanged between them meant a
lot to Heero, though he didn't always admit it.
Duo retrieved the crowbar from the back of the closet and
put the boxes back into their proper places, resettling the
card box with extra care and a fond pat. It was so like
Heero to keep them all this time and not say a word, and
just another reason why he loved the man so very much.
Duo reshuffled a few boxes around it to camouflage any
evidence that the box had been tampered with, and levered
himself up from the floor, using the crowbar as an
And made a private pledge to buy Heero another card in the
near future. Traditions were important-- even the ones
they'd invented on their own-- even the ones maintained in