Disclaimers: (sigh) Don't own any part of them--just enjoy watching what they do from time to time.

Warnings: After the war, mention of established 1x2x1.

Summary: Yet another quiet little exploration of the relationship between Heero and Duo. Number eighteen in a very loosely connected set.

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 something.

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...

"Cards, Heero?"

"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 nice."

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 them then?"

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 following year."

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 mind.


"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 their collection.

"Bedroom closet... in the back under the boxes of stuff we moved from the spare room that weekend Koti stayed with us."

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 items.

"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 impromptu crutch...

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 secret.


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