The Black Box
by Dev-Aki Basaa
He set the small box down on the stack of papers
before me. It smeared the still fresh ink from my
scribbled assignment notes. For a moment, I cared.
Une would probably make some comment about the sloppy
condition of my records and I was sick of that speech.
But I got over it fast. It was far more pressing
that Heero had delivered this item and was now
leaving. I grabbed the box and swiveled in my seat,
holding it out and calling him back before he could
disappear into the maze of hallways that made up
"What's this?" I asked. A snarky voice in my head
answered the lame question for me. A box, stupid.
The box fit easily in my palm - black textured
cardboard with a shiny finish. The box itself
appealed to me. Could he just be giving me some box?
Heero had paused at the door but didn't turn around
right away. After a deep sigh and shrug of his
shoulders, he turned and leaned against the threshold.
He was wearing his Prevernter's jacket over a white
t-shirt. Regulation said the shirt was supposed to be
a button-down with collar, but Heero tended to forget
He shrugged again before he answered. "A box," he
You know, that snarky voice in my head did rather
sound like Heero.
"Obviously," I answered, drawling out the word with a
heavy dose of sarcasm. "But why? Is there a story
behind it? Is there a reason?"
Heero just looked at me for a long moment and I swear
he was laughing at me with his eyes, though the hard
line of his mouth betrayed nothing.
"I suppose you're going to have to just open it and
And then he was gone. Slippery little bastard. I
stared down at the box in my hand. It shone like the
gloss on a new car, glared by the bright lights of my
basement office. I turned back around, facing my desk
and set the box down. There was no wrapping or tape
so I simply lifted the lid.
There nestled in a pristine white pillow, most of it
tucked out of sight, was the most glittering and
delicate gold chain I'd ever seen.
Even shinier than the one I'd just lost on our last
It took me a minute to realize I'd even said his name
I was out of my seat in a flash, box in hand. I think
he'd turned right when he left. Was he heading back
to his office? To his car? To someone else's office?
I had to find him.
Duo looked down, scanning the alley ground, but knew
better than to really expect to see a glint of gold at
his feet. It had to have broken during the scuffle 5
blocks ago. Dammit.
"What's wrong?" Heero asked. He stood at the alleyway
entrance, gun raised as he glanced around the corner
and down the street they'd just deserted.
Duo continued to pat himself down. He thought maybe
it had caught in his clothes or his hair. He
holstered his gun to free his other hand and search
even more vigorously.
"It's my chain," he answered. "I lost it."
"Is it important?" Heero sounded irritated with Duo's
"Yes," Duo said, then he paused and amended with a
soft, "no," He slowed his tactile search, though his
gaze still focused on and explored the ground around
"Which is it?" Heero still sounded irritated.
"It's not that big of a deal, really," Duo said as he
crouched and poked around the cuff of his boots. "I
lost the cross that used to hang on it back during the
wars, anyway - that was more important. A gift. The
chain I'd gotten just to be able to wear the cross.
Only, after I'd lost that, it became the only thing I
had left of that gift."
Heero didn't say anything. He glanced over his
shoulder at Duo before returning to his watch down the
Duo fingered through his hair a little, shoved his
hands in his pockets and came up empty both times. By
the time Heero announced that they were clear and
ready to go, he'd pretty much stopped searching
altogether. The chain was lost.
He sighed, straightened his jacket and glanced up to
nod back at Heero. "Yeah, let's go."
Heero nodded back
They were almost to the steps of HQ when Heero nudged
him with his elbow. Duo looked up, just then
realizing how moody and silent he was being. It was
just a cheap chain that didn't really have any meaning
to it. He was being silly.
Heero cocked his head to one side.
"Sorry about your chain," he said.
Duo smiled and shrugged.
"Thanks," was all he said. They parted ways once they
passed through the foyer - Duo heading towards his
basement office; Heero towards his office on the
The obvious place to stop first would be Heero's
office. I was at first elated to find his door open
because he never vacated the place without shutting
the door. He even had the overhead lights on and not
just his desk lamp. However, he wasn't there. I even
called his name, as if he might be hiding behind one
of his spindly chairs or something. How absurd. Did
I think he'd just materialize?
I took a step further into his office, contemplating
waiting for his return. With his door left open, it
seemed promising. Heero was nothing if not
consistent. He couldn't be far.
That's when I noticed the other small shiny black box.
It was sitting on his desktop, settled beside a few
file folders and the philosophy book Wufei had loaned
him. This box had my name attached to it, written in
Heero's neat script on a scrap of yellow paper.
I set the other box down next to its twin and tugged
at the yellow note, pulling the tape up off the glossy
cardboard finish. I lifted the lid very slowly.
Another perfectly white pillow; another glittering
trinket of gold.
Only this time, it was a delicate cross.
"Do you like them?"
He practically caused me to jump out of my skin. I
whirled around and felt my braid slap against my right
arm before settling into a swing across my back.
I hesitated for a moment, at a loss of what to say.
Any gesture like this is overwhelming. However, to
have it come from Heero...
"They're beautiful," I told him. "I love them both.
But..." I hesitated again, I didn't want to sound
ungrateful, but this was highly unexpected. I spread
my palms. "What prompted this?"
Heero just shrugged. "You should always smile." His
brow quirked a little. "Even if it's just that
somewhat creepy smile you get during assignments."
Then his expression softened a little more than his
usual countenance. "You stopped smiling as much when
you lost the chain. I wanted to make you smile
I think my jaw made a smacking noise when it hit the
floor. I shook off the gapping fish face I was surely
wearing and tried to say something that wouldn't make
me sound like an idiot.
"Shit, Heero." I didn't start out all that well.
"That's... that's the nicest thing I think you've ever
said to me."
Heero frowned. "Really? Hn." He looked down then
and seemed to think about that. He had the most
determined expression on his face when he glanced back
up. "We should talk more often then."
I liked the sound of that. I liked the sound of that
a lot. We'd been partnered on and off for a long time
- especially if you included the wars. I considered
him my friend almost by default. I'd be lying if I
said I didn't wonder about more sometimes.
"You want to get a cup of coffee?" I don't let
opportunities pass me by.
Heero smiled then. Sure it was just a little smirk
for some, but for Heero it was wide and wonderful.
"Okay," he answered and reached out and grabbed the
doorknob. He nodded for me to proceed him out the
door. I grabbed the boxes and headed into the hall.
Heero shut off his overhead lights and locked the door
behind us. Guess he was done for the day.
As we walked back down to the basement and the HQ
cafeteria, he nudged me with his elbow again, as he
had at the end of that mission when I'd lost the
I smiled at him and somehow knew that I'd be smiling
for him for a very long time to come.