DISCLAIMER: The boys belong to Bandai/Sotsu/Sunrise, honest.

WARNINGS:AU/Modern life. 1x2, 3x4, mention of 5+R, 6x9, and very brief mention of HowardxOFC

NOTES: Everyone is a whole lot more OOC than I like. Please excuse the writing skills. They're more than a bit rusty after a few years of non-use. The initial draft of this was completed May 2006 for the Moments of Rapture "Mission Fic" Contest and posted unbetaed and unedited. If you read that version and have an emotional attachment to it, it is still available [ here ]

(Revised June/July 2006 and posted here in in other archives.)

SUMMARY: Heero adopts a stray dog and gains insight into his own life in the process of doing so.

The Babe Magnet
Chapter Eight
by D.C. Logan

It had been a busy day so far for both Tallgeese and Trowa. Three HBC, a pyo that the owner had been convinced had "just been a bit off really" that he'd struggled with for hours that might pull through against all odds, and a bloat case that had had him up on the table with both arms up to the elbows in the rib cage of a great dane, where he and Zechs had done all that was humanly possible and done everything by the book, and the dog still hadn't survived. Zechs was still quietly comforting the mourning owner in surgery two. Trowa had quietly excused himself and wandered out to the reception area for a much welcomed breather. The look on Quatre's face slowed him down though, dropping his steps to a near standstill as he headed across the room. "What is it?"

"You're not going to believe the call I just had."

"Try me."

"You'd better sit down first."

"Are you serious?"


Trowa dragged the surgical cap from his head, releasing his bangs in a cascade across his face again for a brief moment before he swept them back with his hand. He leaned back and slowly stretched overwrought back muscles, stressed from standing in surgery for hours too long before dropping onto one of the waiting area benches. "Okay, I'm sitting now. What is it?"

Quatre gave him a sympathetic look. "I know an amateur massage therapist who works for good rates."

Trowa tilted his head and looked over at Quatre with interest. " Just how good are we talking about here?"

"A commute to and from work and a hot breakfast? Interim activities other than massage at the sole discretion of the massagee."

"Massagee?" That earned Quatre the smile he'd worked for. "You're on." Trowa grunted and shifted to stretch out his shoulders, doing what he could to ease the tension. "So what's so dire that I had to sit to hear it? Or was that just your way to get me off of my feet for a few minutes?"

"I just took a call from a lady two states away while you were in surgery. She's missing a seven-month old black and tan female borzoi puppy that escaped her handler at a regional specialty show held at the county fairgrounds a couple weeks ago. She's been calling every clinic and shelter in a six county radius. She had the correct coat pattern, markings..." Quatre frowned, "everything."

Trowa slumped in his chair in fatigued surrender. Never challenge the power of worse; his day had just become irreparably more fucked. Hell... he was going to have to call and break the news to Heero. Little Girl had a home after all. "Shit."

Quatre nodded. From where he was sitting, that pretty much summed up the situation in a nutshell.


It wasn't until Heero woke up much later than his alarm that morning that he noticed that his answering machine message light was blinking. Hell, when did that happen? Okay, not that it mattered after the long night they'd had. He gave another fond look at Duo, tangled in the blankets, his hand trailing over the mattress edge and wound in Little Girl's fur. He pushed the bedroom door shut with a determined click and went to investigate the demand of the blinking red light, hoping like hell that Treize didn't need him at the office for an emergency meeting. He just wasn't up for emergencies at the moment.

He took Little Girl for her morning walk, and then took care to turn down the volume on the machine before hitting the play button, not wishing to risk disturbing Duo's hard-won rest.

"Heero?" He knew automatically by the low tone and the hesitation in Trowa's voice that the news would not be welcome. "It's about Little Girl. Give me a call when you get this message, okay? Quatre took a call at the clinic last night, and it looks like her owner finally managed to track her down. I haven't spoken with the lady yet, but according to Quatre, all of the facts and the physical description she gave Quatre are a dead-on match. So, anyway, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news. Call me."

He played the message a second time through, just to make sure he'd heard it correctly. After all this time, what were the odds? Not in his favor, apparently. Fuck. He trudged back to the bedroom to wake Duo.

He couldn't bring himself to disturb his rest though. Especially after the rough night he'd had, and after the early morning hours shifting restlessly within the circle of his arms before drifting into restless sleep. Heero stood at the edge of the mattress, looking down at his future, at the man he wanted to grow old next to, to hold near for the rest of his life, and he felt not the slightest twinge of fear or regret over his decision. He'd never felt so sure of anything in his life. Little Girl left her self-appointed post by Duo's side and looked questioningly up at Heero. He ruffled her ears. "Not giving up on you either, Sweetheart. You're family too, like it or not."

He eased back into bed, patted the mattress in invitation for the dog, drew Duo close to his chest and gained comfort from the warm exhale of breath against his neck, and thought about where his decisions were leading him. There was something rather wonderful about waking up to the warmth of his lean presence pressing in along every line of his body, following every curve, and the comforting weight of Duo resting on the mattress next to him.

Just the thought of him leaving, offering to leave like that, caused an involuntary tightening of his arms. Little Girl wasn't getting away that easily either; maybe they could negotiate for visitation rights or something. Maybe if her owner lived close enough they could work out some sort of joint custody arrangement, he wasn't certain how it worked with animals. Maybe Duo would know.

He blinked. Then smiled at the realization. He'd put Duo first. Not Trowa, Not Wufei. Not his friend he'd known most of his life, not his co-worker he'd known since his college years. Duo. Heero pulled him closer into the circle of his arms, and smiled when Duo not only didn't wake up, but simply nestled closer and took another deep inhale before his breathing eased once more into regularity. He cuddled. Heero decided that he liked that about him. He fingered the end of his braid and wondered when the moment would arrive when he'd finally see it unraveled... a whole lifetime of little things to explore about each other.

He couldn't wait to begin.

He'd thought similar thoughts about Little Girl not so long ago. It was so difficult now, to remember what it was like before she'd come into his life. He shivered, once, at the tremendous fear of losing her, at the realization that he'd already invested an enormous amount of love and affection and emotional energy into his relationship with her in a very short period of time, and that the thought of losing her was crushing him.

He didn't realize that Duo's eyes were open and watching him until after he found that he was gripping the blankets with unnecessary force and gritting his teeth against the threat he couldn't voice.

Duo reached up and traced Heero's features, his fingers feather light. "Sorry I bawled all over you. I haven't done that since I was about six, so if it helps, I don't make a habit of it. Not mad, are you?"

Little Girl, her sleep disturbed by the voices, climbed higher up on the bed between them and dropped heavily on their legs.

"No. I got some bad news while you were asleep."

"What's wrong?"

"Trowa called and left a message on the machine. Someone called the clinic and said they were missing a dog that fit Little Girl's description. Trowa seems to think it's a legitimate claim." Heero hugged Duo close, not feeling insecure, oddly enough, but simply feeling a desire to have Duo closer to make talking about the subject of giving her up easier to bear. "He asked me to call him back once I got his message."

"Have you?"

"I wanted to talk about it with you first."

Duo smiled at him, an expression improved by the extreme close range. "I'm getting the distinct impression that you're going to be better at this relationship thing than I am." He reached over and kissed Heero on the tip of his nose. "At least at the beginning." He eyed the bedside clock and gave him a gentle push. "Go call Trowa and see what he has to say. She's squirming for a reason, so I'll go take her for a quick walk and meet you in the middle for the debrief."

Heero managed a slight chuckle. "Done." He reached over and picked up the phone extension and dialed a familiar number from memory. The reaction at the other end of the line wasn't quite what he was expecting for nine A.M. on a Tuesday morning though...

"Heero? Is that you?"

"What's wrong, Trowa? You sound... odd."

"Long day, and night, and very early morning. Followed by about three hours of sleep." Trowa groaned somewhere midway between pain and pleasure. "Did you get my message?"

"Yes. Um... If this is a bad time..."

There was the sound of another soft stuttering moan immediately followed by a sharply indrawn breath. "Yes. No. Um... Quatre's working a few kinks out in my back."

"Of course he is," whispered Heero under his breath.

"What was that?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing at all." He was pretty sure he could hear Quatre laughing softly in the background. "You sure you don't want me to just call back later?"

"No. Yes. Um."



"We covered that exact territory a few seconds ago. I'm going to assume that you're distracted with other things at the moment and hang up the phone now, okay?"

Trowa was gasping. Heero was trying to not think too much about what Quatre might be doing to him on the other end of the phone line. Unfortunately, Heero's own imagination had been providing a nonstop list of ideas of things he'd like to do with Duo, so he had an endless supply at hand.

Trowa's voice fell back into its normal range, softer than usual though. "Heero? Little Girl's owner is going to be... at the clinic tonight at... seven, ah, P.M. Can you arrange to be there?"

"Tonight? Do I need to bring her with me?"

There was a long sigh over the line. "Sorry, Heero. Yes."

"Okay, We'll be there. See you tonight. Good bye, Trowa. Quatre. Don't do anything I wouldn't do."

"That certainly leaves the field wide open."


The two of them spent the day with her, figuring that, if it was going to be their last one, they wanted it to be as memorable a one as they could make it. After rushed explanations to Duo's Uncle Howard, and a second round of explanations to Heero's boss, they played with her in the house over breakfast, teasing her with her extensive collection of toys while Heero took pictures to remember her by. For lunch they took her back to the scene of their first date together, where she would be able to accompany them. Heero bought her a cheeseburger of her own, no fries, and a side order of the steamed veggies, since she seemed to enjoy them so much when she'd stolen them off of his plate the last time they where there..

Duo, who normally had a comment or two about how Heero was spoiling her rotten, had no words to contribute.

They spent the afternoon at the dog park on the bench under the shade tree. Few other dogs came by in the middle of the weekday afternoon, but Little Girl wandered around the large fenced field, alternately curling up next to Heero and Duo's feet and napping, or chasing after the squirrels that unwisely crossed the fenced area in search of nuts and other food sources.

They ended their too short day in one of the private consultation rooms at the Tallgeese clinic.

Heero folded and re-folded the leash in his hands. "I hate waiting."

"Me too." Duo reached out and touched the edge of his shoe to Heero's. "Gotcha."

"Gotcha back.

"Yeah. You do."

Heero smiled and nudged his foot back, finding small comfort in the childhood game.

Duo winked back at him. "Did Trowa say anything else?"

"Only that he wanted to have her owner meet us here since it was neutral ground, so to speak, and so that he and Zechs could explain some of Little Girl's medical follow-up stuff to her."

Duo stroked the puppy's side as she leaned heavily against him. "I wonder what her real name is."

There was a disruption and voices on the other side of the door. Little Girl walked to the end of her leash and stood whining at the door, sniffing loudly at the crack between the door and the frame. "I guess we're about to find out."

The door opened, and Little Girl, cast notwithstanding, attempted to launch herself at the person in the doorway.

"Well, she obviously recognizes you." Heero's last hope dissolved as the woman entered the room and Little Girl practically climbed, cast and all, into her arms.

She ruffled the dog's coat happily and made a fuss over her before standing and offering her hand, first to Heero, then to Duo. "I'm Barbara, and you'd be the ones who've been taking such good care of my Kitty, yes?"

"Kitty?" Both Heero and Duo's heads swiveled towards the largish dog, the one who in no way resembled a cat, kitty, kitten, or a feline of any description. Obviously the woman had some major screws loose.

Trowa chuckled and closed the door behind him as he entered the room and stated definitively: "Kitty."

She danced around at the sound of her name, obviously well familiarized with it. "Kitty?" Heero tried it himself to see how it felt on his lips, and she bounded to his side and collapsed at his feet, obviously deciding that that was where she belonged. Heero smiled; one small point for him. Even though she technically wasn't his any longer, that small victory felt very good.

There was a brisk knock at the door and Zechs entered, films of Little Girl's... no, Kitty's, hind leg and shoulder in his hand. "Good evening. I'm Dr. Merquise, the senior orthopedist on staff. Dr. Barton asked that I stop in for a moment between my appointments in order to explain to you some of the procedures we went through in working on Kitty's shoulder and pinning together her hock and..." He looked around the room curiously and extended his hand to the one person he didn't recognize. "Is this a good time?"

She stood as well. "Thank you, doctor, but Dr. Barton has already covered the details of her medical history in some detail with me over the phone, though I'll admit I'm curious to see her x-rays."

Duo watched in amazement as the gray-toned images were illuminated, and gave a low whistle in response. "She got more hardware in her than my toolbox."

The puppy in question moved towards Duo at his whistle, trying without success to crawl into his lap. "Silly Girl. Kitty. Um..."

Barbara looked at Trowa and Zechs and Duo in turn and coughed slightly. "I'd like a moment to speak with Mr. Yuy privately please? If that is okay with everyone?"

Zechs collected the x-rays and excused himself at once. Trowa waited for a moment more. "Heero?"

"It's okay. I'd like Duo to stay though, alright?"

She smiled at them both. "That's quite alright." She sat back in her uncomfortable plastic chair as Trowa excused himself from the room.

Duo tried, but seeing how Heero was hurting, he couldn't bring himself to hold the question back. "So, what happened? Why did it take you so long to call?"

Barbara sat in one of the plastic seats, folding her purse strap back and forth in her hands as she put words to thoughts, turning to address Duo directly. "Kitty was away from home for the first time, with a professional handler that a friend recommended, and she got loose from him at the show grounds, ran off, and apparently covered a lot of territory before your Heero saw her get hit by a car and brought her here for her surgery.

"Since she covered so much ground between the show grounds and this town, since the handler wasn't from this region, and since I'm not from here, we didn't do a very good job canvassing the area and trying to advertise to find her." Kitty, anxious for attention, nudged at Heero's hands until he began stroking her sides. Barbara smiled and continued. "She was just over six months old, had just started her show career and had been sent out for her national specialty, and she hadn't been microchipped or tattooed yet. Since she escaped from ringside at a dog show, she didn't have any of her regular identification tags on her, which is why we lost track of her so quickly.

"Your friend Dr. Barton speaks well of you and the home you could provide for her. I understand that, if the situation allowed, you wished to keep Kitty and give her a permanent home. Is that true?"

Duo looked at Heero with a look of dawning hope.

"After speaking with Dr. Barton, his professional opinion is that the odds of her recovering well enough to continue her show career aren't very likely, as she will always favor that hind leg at least a little. In light of the circumstances, since Heero obviously wants to keep her and has invested a fair amount in her medical costs, so long as he is willing to agree to spay her, and to sign a contract agreeing to send her back to me should circumstances ever prevent him from keeping her, I'd be willing to allow him to keep her. Is that agreeable to you? Or should I say, agreeable to both of you?" She watched for their reaction before continuing. "Her official name is Celestine's Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, but her call name, or the name she answers to, is 'Kitty'."

Neither Heero nor Duo seemed to be able to formulate a response. "If you need some time consider that, I can give you some privacy. I know that can be..."

That snapped Heero out of his daze. "No, no! What do we sign? Where?"

She pulled a sheet of paper from her purse and handed it to Heero to read over. "This is a simple adoption contract. It basically lists the same terms I just stated."

Heero glanced at the contract briefly before handing it to Duo for review, waiting for his hesitant grin and nod to tell him that it was real, that he was going to be able to keep his dog. That they were going to be able to keep her.

The paperwork to make the adoption process official moved quickly after that. Trowa and Zechs were called back into the room in order to witness and sign the contract under Duo and Heero's signatures, and Heero's new puppy was microchipped to provide her with a permanent means of identification while her breeder waited and listed herself as the third contact with the microchip registration agency. After exchanging contact information and congratulating them both on their new puppy and wishing Heero and Duo her best, Barbara gave Kitty a big kiss on the end of her nose and drove off, leaving Heero, Duo, and the dog sitting in the examination room together, still not quite believing their good fortune.

Trowa leaned against the door to the examination room once the breeder left, staring at the tired threesome. "Well Heero, it looks like you're got yourself a dog after all."

Heero, still not quite over the shock, prepared mentally and emotionally for one eventuality only to have it reversed, could only nod tiredly.

Duo pulled himself to his feet and motioned for Heero to do the same. "C'mon. Time to get her home. And you."

"It has been a long day. And night." Heero unfolded the leash in his hands and reached over to clip the snap to her collar.

Trowa nodded in agreement. "Amen to that. Go home. I'll call you tomorrow to see how you're all doing."

Heero nodded. "Will do."

"And Heero?"

Trowa watched as the three of them paused by the door--his best friend with his new boyfriend and his new dog, all together as a modern-day family unit: such a Kodak moment, and no camera at hand. Damn. "Now you'll need to have a puppy shower for your new addition."

Heero groaned softly. "Oh, hell no."

The clinic door closed to the sound of Duo's laughter.


"So you've decided to call her Kitty, huh?" Duo watched as she danced around him on her toes, her toenails clicking slightly on the kitchen tile, her cast hampering her movement only slightly in her endless quest for a possible treat.

"She seems to respond well to it, and it's shorter to call out than 'Little Girl,'" Heero replied.

Duo dangled replacement identification tags in front of Heero's face with a chiming jingle. "Yeah, I thought you might be thinking somewhere along those lines."

"Did you then..." Heero read the name on the shiny new ID tags before he reached over and exchanged one pot for another. He then checked the cabinet for another utensil while Duo boosted himself up to his customary perch on the counter in order to watch Heero cook.

"Mmm hmm... Only the best for your girlfriend."

"Were you also thinking about dinner?"

Duo leaned back against the corner cabinet. "You did promise me something along those lines, yes. Besides, I think I like watching you cook, there's something so indecently sexual about you and sharp knives and spices in the same room."

"If you want to eat food, you'd better stop there." Heero threatened him with the spatula.

"What? Not up to your usual multitasking skills?"

Heero offered him a calculating look. "What, exactly, are you proposing?"

Duo used the advantage of his height to try and peer over at the stovetop. "That would depend on what you are cooking."

He exchanged the spatula for a wooden spoon. "Dinner. What are you wrangling for?"

"Dessert." Duo added a wink and bit of a leer for good measure.

"You mean that?"

"Um hmm. I Do." Duo shifted into a more comfortable position on the counter and continued, "You know, we never did get around to finishing that conversation we started the other day..."

Heero leaned against the stove. "The one about history?"

"Yeah, that's the one."

"So, just how serious was this relationship with your college roommate, the one that upset your parents so much?" Heero was hesitant to bring up the subject again, given how much it had upset Duo last time, but he was curious about how much experience Duo had against his own inexperience in sexual matters both hetero- and homosexual.

Duo shrugged. "We fooled around. Kissing and touching mostly. Enough for me to realize that contact with a guy, any guy, far surpassed anything I'd ever tried with women."

Heero set the spoon aside and reached over to touch Duo. Sensing that the moment was important, he pushed him back against the cabinets and leaned against him, breathed in the same air. "And?"

"It felt good at the time, but it didn't mean anything." He pushed back against Heero, arranged his legs to straddle Heero's more comfortably and settled closer against his body. "After all, I managed fine without sex until now, didn't I? Until you?"

Heero reached out and took Duo's face, framed it within his hands, studied his eyes for the truth within them. "I love you, you know that, don't you?"

Duo's eyes crinkled at the corners. "I think I'm starting to believe you."

Heero kissed him slowly, thoroughly, pushing as much faith into the contact as he could manage. "More where that came from."

"Promise me?"

"With all my heart."

"Then I suppose I can wait until after dinner."

Heero looked back at the pot on the stovetop. "Damn. I was afraid you would say something like that."

"Well, we could try fooling around on the sofa, but last time I even thought about doing that, your dog started to get in the way." Duo touched Heero's lip thoughtfully with his thumb. "Just my luck, I go out and find myself the world's hottest guy, and he already has this incredibly protective girlfriend living with him." He looked down at Kitty. "Yeah, you. You're a pushy broad, you know that?"

She looked up and slowly waved her tail back and forth, completely unimpressed.

Heero fought to maintain his composure, but his sense of humor got the better of him, and he pitched forward onto Duo's chest, spluttering with laughter.

"He's a graceful guy, too." Duo added as an afterthought. He waited for Heero's breathing to return to normal before asking, more seriously, "So how about you?"

"What? History? You're kidding right. I'm a glorified hacker; my way with women is notorious. I haven't been beyond a second date, okay, maybe one second date, since college."

"No guys at all, huh?"

"Not until you."

"Well, Uncle Howard always did say that I was special."

Heero snickered and checked on his meal preparations. "So, only the one guy in college?"

Duo dropped down from the counter to investigate dinner more thoroughly. "Yeah. Just the roommate from hell who dropped me for the wrestler with the Camaro."

"A Camaro?"

"No worries, I'm a Mustang man all the way." He paused. "I did mention that I have a Mustang of my own, right?"

Heero spun around, surprised. "You didn't, no." Then a smile lit his face. "So we're going to need a bigger garage?"

Duo laughed. "Spoken like a true aficionado."

Heero hesitated, then continued with the previous conversation, "So, as far as the sex thing goes, we're going to be uh, working our way through all of this together?"

"Looks that way, right?" Duo leaned back against the counter, confident and at ease.

"Yeah, it does."

"You gonna be having any problems with that?"

Heero tilted his head, considering the question fully. "You know, if we ever have any real problems, we can always go to Trowa for advice. But he'd never let us live it down. So, probably not."

"Do you think he has any idea how inexperienced we are at this?"

Heero gave a light laugh. "Probably."

"Do you think he'll ever let on that he knows?"

"Hopefully not."

"Let's keep it that way."

"All right."

"Ready to move over to the sofa for a while?"

"I am if you are."

"You think dinner will survive?"

Heero looked at the pots on the stove, then back at Duo before clicking off the oven and the heating elements and pushing Duo towards the living room. "We can order take-out later. Dominos delivers. We can go door to door and take up an emergency food collection from the neighbors..."

Duo laughed and tripped ahead of him. "Definitely my kind of guy--has his priorities in the right order and everything."

Heero dived for the couch. "Yeah? I've got your priority one right here." He pointed to his upper lip and waited to see what Duo would do next.

Duo moved in. "Okay, I like priority one. Is there a priority two on tonight's schedule?"

Heero laughed and pointed to his lower lip. "After that, it's all up to you."

"Roger that, soldier."

Heero bit back a groan. "I never should have mentioned the military communications devices that Motorola loaned us to play with..."

"Are you sure this is okay with you? I mean, I thought you said that you liked..."

"Yeah, this is better than okay. I like that." Heero moved in, touching Duo's arm from elbow to fingertips, taking Duo's hand and placing it on his chest. "And this." Duo started exploring, mapping the textures above and below the oxford shirt, finding the areas that made Heero gasp and then inhale sharply before Duo seized Heero's lower lip between his teeth and tugged hard.

Heero groaned, deep in his throat and leaned back along the length of the sofa, inviting greater access. Duo leaned forward, licking downward to the corner of Heero's mouth, as his hand reached forward, pinching and tugging at a nipple that was suddenly taut. It was like turning on a switch. Suddenly Heero was pulling Duo to him, wrapping his arms around his chest and thrusting his erection frantically against the swell of Duo's own in his jeans, the sofa suddenly seeming much too narrow. "God, so close..." Heero gripped the base of Duo's braid in his fist, attempting to control a hot mouth that was threatening to slide down his neck.

Heero looked up just in time to see a large black and tan dog launching herself for the entangled pair, and just managed to yell, "Holy Fuck! Kitty! NO!"

Their evening of romance ended much more abruptly, and more painfully, than either of them anticipated.


The next morning when Trowa saw Heero and Duo trying to sneak into the 7-11 to pick up early morning breakfast supplies, his first reaction was an out-and-out double take at the damage. His second was a private snicker. He approached them in the checkout lane, resisted the urge to issue medical advice, and instead offered politely: "When you do it properly, it's not supposed to leave marks like that, guys."

Heero considered phoning in sick once he looked in the mirror and saw the damage to his face. If he hadn't had a follow-up meeting scheduled with his boss, he would have been sorely tempted. He'd never felt the urge to wear make-up before. He hoped never to have the feeling again. After their meeting had concluded, Treize took Heero aside and mentioned, confidentially of course, that he'd be happy to pay for partner counseling, in the interest of affirmative action and all. Heero fumed quietly at his desk for an hour before finding the humor in the situation and calling Duo to tell him about it.

Heero shrugged, took the number Trowa had given him that morning, and made an appointment to sign up for dog obedience classes instead.


It was a few weeks later that the official "welcome Kitty to the family" party was held. Considering the number of chew toys and stuffed animals lavished upon the guest of honor, she seemed less than impressed with the formalities. "So she's finally all yours, huh? It's official and everything? You got the registration papers back from the AKC and you have ownership?"

Heero fielded Trowa's question, but his eyes were tracking Duo as he moved across the room, setting out the latest set of Heero's Kitty pictures. "Well, technically we have dual ownership. We decided to do that in case something should ever happen to one of us. So she belongs jointly to her breeder and to me, yes."

Trowa gave him a puzzled look. "Not Duo?"

"No. He said he wanted me to be sure first. That I could always add him to her registration later if we felt that it was important, but that it didn't matter much to him, that being involved in me finding and keeping her was the important part."

"Personally, I think you finding him was the important part." Trowa tapped the neck of his beer bottle lightly against Heero's in a private toast.

"So where's this dog of yours, Heero?" Relena looked around the room. "I think I'm the only one here who hasn't met her in person yet."

Heero looked around. "She should be around here someplace. She was right here a second ago."

Duo rolled his eyes, set his beer aside, and started pretending to look under books and behind the pictures on the walls, while Heero called out, "Here Kitty, Kitty Kitty," in an entreating, high-pitched voice.

Trowa shook his head. "On the walls, Duo?"

He nodded. "You wouldn't believe some of the places she's turned up."

"I might."

Wufei entered the living room, a fresh six pack in hand. "Hey, did you realize that someone left the front door open?"

Heero's face fell. "Oh hell..." And he ran for the front yard, the rest of his friends following behind him. All save one.

Wufei stood in the entranceway, appalled at the scene they were making: five rational adults in various stages of panic, trying to locate a single dog. Heero and Duo seemed to be the worst off, searching through their neighbor's shrubs and calling, "Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!"

A helpful neighbor called out to Heero through her kitchen window. "Did you lose your cat?"

"No, a large black and tan dog." Heero held his hand at his waist. "About this tall. Have you seen her?"

"You were calling for a cat," she said, obviously distrusting both him and his claim to sanity.

"Her name is Kitty. Honest."

To his right, a few yards over, Duo was doing his best not to snicker as he called out to her. Wufei, overhearing the neighbor as well, sat on Heero's front steps and laughed.

Heero turned and glared at him. "You know, you could help."

"I am, she could come back to the house, in which case, I'll shut the door behind..." There was a rattle of a trash bin lid, and a flash of black and tan fur before she burst across the neighbor's yard and into Duo's arms, completely bowling him over and knocking him to the ground in a perfect flying tackle.

Quatre climbed back up the front steps and stood in the doorway of Heero's house behind Wufei. "Well, that's that then. I suppose we won't be needing my car in order to search the neighborhood for her after all."

Heero looked shocked and pleased all at once as he walked over to where Duo was getting plastered with puppy kisses. "You found her."

"More like she found me. And it looks like she knows her name alright."

"Oh, Heero?"

Heero groaned, softly enough that only Duo could hear, and replied. "Yes, Wufei?"

"You know Heero, the way everything worked out for you, it looks like you wound up with more of a stud finder than a babe magnet."

Heero gave up and collapsed to the ground with Duo and Kitty. You just couldn't argue with the truth when it smacked you in the face like that. Not when she'd found him a perfect match like Duo.

on to chapter nine

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