Pairings: 1x2x1, 3x4x3
Warnings; yaoi, citrus of all kinds, some angst, a little more mundane than the last part , but important plot stuff.
Rating: NC17 at parts

Summary: Picks up where Endless Waltz left off. Peace has finally come to the Earth and the colonies, and the Gundams have been destroyed along with all mobile suits and weapons of war. After a year apart, Heero and Duo try to settle down, and figure out civilian life and each other. Quatre is finally able to make peace with his past mistakes and steps up to claim his place as Winner heir. The end of the war leaves Trowa nameless and reeling, and with Quatre so absorbed in business, Trowa's wanderlust sets in.

AC 197
Part 3
by Granate

Two ex-Gundam pilots sat on the floor of their new kitchen and ate Chinese take out as they awaited the delivery truck. They had forgotten about chairs and a tables, even silverware, but it didn't matter. The apartment was theirs and they were together.

Heero had grown up with chopsticks, and had finished ten minutes ago. He watched with great amusement as Duo struggled with his dinner. The spectacle was quite entertaining, and it was amusing to see Duo eat so slowly for once instead of inhaling his food.

"We are getting forks first thing tomorrow!" Duo grumbled, losing another noodle. He sorely wished he had gotten sticky rice instead of slippery lo mein.

Heero smirked. "Oh, come on, koi, you are good with your fingers, you should be a natural at this." Duo glared at him. He only used 'koi' when he was teasing. It was better than baka. Luckily, that nickname hadn't stuck. But, it was nice to hear Heero making a joke, and Duo couldn't let it pass.

"That's enough out of the peanut gallery over there," he retorted, "Or Mr. Chop-Sticks-Pro will find himself sleeping on the couch tonight."

"We do not have a couch," Heero reminded him smugly.

Duo was readying a blistering retort, only to be interrupted by the doorbell. Heero jumped up to get it and Duo cleared the food out of the way, quickly tipping the small white box up and shoveling the little that was left into his mouth when Heero wasn't looking.

Heero helped the moving men get the enormous mattress and matching box spring into the bedroom, followed by the headboard and frame. They had just left when he heard the toilet flush and Duo emerge from the bathroom. Heero frowned at him.

"Is this where you've been for the last fifteen minutes?" he asked.

"Yeah," Duo winked, ignoring his accusatory tone, "Checking the plumbing!" Heero watched him saunter into the bedroom. It wasn't like Duo to avoid work, despite what Heero had originally thought of him. Duo had been acting a little strangely all day. When they were out buying the thing, and now…

"Well, let's set this sucker up!" Duo called from inside the room, pulling Heero from his thoughts. He opened the tool kit they had gotten from what was now Hilde's house. They had stopped there for a few essentials before getting dinner. She had readily agreed to bring the rest of Duo's stuff over in her car the next day. Luckily, she had reminded them to buy sheets and blankets too. Hilde had laughed at the two ex-Gundam pilots, so utterly clueless about how to live a normal life. Duo had to admit, it did feel strange to be choosing the color of a set of sheets and a matching blanket with the Gundam pilot who had destroyed the Libra and blasted Mariemaia out of hiding, but maybe life was going to be different now…

It did not take long for the two mechanically-inclined boys to set up the frame and heave the mattresses onto it. That done, they covered it with their new purchases, and realized that something was missing.

"Duo, we forgot pillows," Heero sighed, holding an empty pillowcase.

"Well, I don't know what you're going to do, but I have my pillow right here!" Duo laughed, putting a hand on Heero's chest.

"We could go get yours from Hilde's," Heero suggested.

"No way," Duo said, "She'd have way too much fun making fun of us! How about this," Duo said suggestively, "We tire each other out breaking in our new mattress and then we won't notice there's no pillows."

A challenging smirk flashed across Heero's face, "I don't know, think you're up to such a difficult mission?" he asked.

"Ha! Anytime you are!" Duo answered, an equally competitive gleam in his eyes. Taking Duo's shirt by the seam, Heero yanked it off, tossing it across the room. A green tank top quickly joined the shirt.

"Mmmm," Duo purred appreciatively, running his fingers over the hard golden skin of Heero's bare chest, "Mission accepted!"

* * * * * *

Duo awoke the next morning feeling very warm. He found himself wrapped in Heero's arms, the both of them nestled under a soft blanket and lying on a very comfortable bed. It didn't look like the lack of pillows ended up being such a problem after all - they both had their heads resting on Heero's outstretched arm.

He sighed and rolled over to face his lover. "Mission accomplished," he whispered, admiring his sleeping lover. It wasn't often that he woke up before Heero did. It thrilled Duo to know that this beauty before him was reserved for him alone. No one else got to see Heero this way, his features relaxed and peaceful, not bound up in a serious expression of concentration or in a hard glare. This intimacy was one of the many things he would have given anything for in the last year without Heero. He tried to imprint the image on his mind to remember it forever, just in case...

Feeling his stomach turning angrily in emptiness, he kissed Heero gently on the lips. The Japanese boy's eyes slowly flickered open and then shut again as he returned the kiss.

Duo broke away as his stomach growled. "I think breakfast is in first order this morning," he smiled.

"Hmmm," Heero disagreed, "I wouldn't say first…" he hinted, pushing his hips against Duo's. Forty-five minutes and a shower later, they were out the door, first to get breakfast, then to buy furniture.


Heero unlocked his door, balancing the large box on his other arm. He had walked to the near-by electronics store while Duo waited for the kitchen table and chairs they'd bought to be delivered. Their other possessions now included pillows, a couch, a coffee table, dishes, and western-style flatware including forks. Heero kicked the door shut behind him and set the box down to discover Duo and a woman talking in the kitchen.

"There he is!" Duo exclaimed when he saw Heero, "Anne Grady, this is Heero Yuy, my roommate."

'Roommate?' Heero thought before greeting the woman and shaking her hand.

"It's nice to finally have met you both, but I really should be going!" she said, "Enjoy the pie, hope to see you tomorrow!"

"Was it something I said?" Heero asked, cocking an eyebrow as the woman retreated from their apartment.

Duo shrugged, "She wanted to stay and meet you, I said you'd be home soon. I think she really did have to somewhere to go. She brought us pie though!"

Heero brought his box into the kitchen and set it on the table next to a pile of large sheets of drafting paper.

"What are you working on?" he asked, opening his box.

"First and foremost, a decent water containment and treatment facility for this colony," Duo answered, scanning his plan, "This place has had shitty water availability since I can remember. It's had some improvements since the peace last year, but nobody pays enough attention to these out-of-the-way places, you know? I've been working on this one for a while, it's gonna be good and I'm hoping it'll help a lot of colonies. The Hydro-Sanitation Department of this colony has already approved what I have so far."

Heero just nodded thoughtfully as he started emptying the box. It made sense to him now why Duo had insisted on living here. It was his home after all, and the work he could provide would help the unstable economy as well. Plus, the L2 cluster was crawling with some of the best engineers and mechanics in space. The Sweeper Group Duo had worked with before the wars had all come from here.

"Oh, no, not TWO to compete with!" Duo moaned when he saw the two laptops and other various electronics Heero pulled out of the box.

"One is for you," Heero said, not looking up from his new acquisitions.

"Really?" Duo asked.

"Hn," Heero confirmed with a nod, "I'm programming you some engineering and mathematical modeling suites. Plus ample hard drive space, wireless universal net, latest processor, statistical programs… whatever else you want. I take requests," he said with a flash of a smile. He knew Duo could have done it all himself, but he wanted to help where he could. Duo was taking on a momentous project.

"Requests, huh?" Duo grinned. How about a desktop picture of him buck naked? I wonder if he'd… nahhhh "What's all the other stuff?" Duo asked

"Com-links I'm making for Relena's security team," Heero told him.

"You know," Duo said carefully, "You've been flashing a lot of money around lately…" Heero always knew how to get what he wanted. Fortunately, he seemed to have switched tactics from pointing guns at peoples' heads to waving money in their faces. Cash up front for the apartment, extra fees for immediate delivery on furniture, now all the electronic equipment?

Heero checked his smile, "I received a rather… large signing bonus. And I asked for the first paycheck in advance." And he was pleased to note he hadn't even used half of it yet. Relena was eager for him to sign on.

Duo laughed. Heero certainly DID know how to get what he wanted.

"Besides, I consider it part of my job to be informed on the latest technology," Heero finished. He was anxious to fashion himself a new computer. His old one had been docked in Wing Zero, and had fried along with the suit.

"Of course you do," Duo grinned.

"How are your finances with Quatre?" Heero asked, snapping several memory chips into place on Duo's laptop before closing the compartment.

"All clear! He puts the money into a bank here, and I'm the only one authorized to take it out. Isn't that trusting of him? Not even he can get to that money! He's being so cool about this!" Duo said.

"He believes in you, Duo," Heero told him, "He knows that you know what is best for the project."

"Guess so. He's coming to visit sometime in the next two weeks."

"Trowa coming too?" Heero asked. He'd like not too lose touch with everyone like he had last time. Although last time, he'd done it on purpose.

Duo frowned. "He didn't say… That'd be nice though." He watched Heero work for a few minutes. "Oh, hey," Duo suddenly remembered, "We're invited to a building-wide New Year's Eve party tomorrow night!"

"Hn?" Heero threw a quick glance at Duo.

"Wanna go?" Duo asked hopefully, "Just for a little while? Just to meet everyone? To confirm that we're normal everyday teenagers? Not a mobile suit salvage engineer and the head of the Vice Foreign Minister's Security team. Nope, not the good 'ole boys over in B7!"

Heero threw Duo another look that told him exactly how Heero would rather be celebrating.

Duo laughed, "We can come home and have our OWN party afterwards, ok? We don't have to stay long!"

"Ok," Heero agreed.

"Duo, are you coming to bed yet?" Heero asked, exiting the bathroom. Duo was still at the kitchen table, drafting the water system.

"Almost done, gotta take care of a glitch," Duo responded, not looking up, "Quatre wants to make sure my designs are all copyrighted and patented before I start. I gotta get this one in tomorrow so we can start on it right away. Go 'head, I'll be there in a few."

He kept drawing and completely missed the twisted smile that curled Heero's lips. "Duo," Heero said, casually walking over, "What was it you used to do when I ignored you?"

At this, Duo looked up and saw his lover advancing, "Seriously Heero, this'll only take a minute." If he was REALLY going to do what Duo used to do, there would be no ignoring it.

"Heero…" Duo said in a warning tone, as he went back to his drawing.

Heero smirked. Pay back time. Oh, he was really going to enjoy this. He slunk around behind the long-haired boy, and whispered in his ear, "I recall now… you used to do this…" Heero ran the very tip of his tongue along the rim of Duo's ear. "And this," he continued, nibbling the tender earlobe.

Duo bit his lip and kept working. Two could play at this game. If Heero was going to play his role, he would play Heero's.

Heero knelt next to the chair to intensify his efforts. He kissed and sucked down Duo's neck, moaning softly, and letting his breath graze Duo's skin. However, the American was doing an excellent Heero impression, and Heero wondered how the usually-sensitive boy was pulling it off. His hand wandered lightly down Duo's T-shirt and then crept under it and over his stomach. He felt the muscles quiver, but the pencil kept scratching.

"Am I going to have to resort to… drastic measures?" Heero whispered lustily into Duo's ear as he brushed a nipple. He licked Duo's ear and teasingly pinched the hard nub. Duo exhaled loudly, but kept writing. Heero smirked. He knew exactly what was going on. If Duo was really doing an accurate impression of him, he'd have a pretty nice erection started by now, but doing fairly good job of pretending like he didn't.

"You leave me no choice…" Heero sighed, crawling under the table. He pushed Duo's knees apart, and found what he was hoping for. He lovingly stroked it through Duo's jeans. It leapt at his encouragement, yet he could still hear Duo scribbling above him. Unwilling to be ignored, he used his teeth to undo the button and slowly lower the zipper. He pulled Duo's fly away and rubbed the firm bulge through his black boxers, feeling it harden further. With his other hand, he ran a finger over the denim fabric still covering Duo's balls. Heero smiled as Duo visibly jolted. He reached into the opening in the front of Duo's underwear and took him firmly in hand. Duo sighed, but continued writing.

Heero pulled the fabric away roughly, cursing the clothing that kept him from touching his love. What he really wanted was Duo sprawled out naked on their new bed. He made a mental note to burn all of Duo's clothes the following day. He eased Duo through the slit in the fabric with minimal difficulty, and stroked the smooth, heated skin. He smiled, partially at himself for how much he enjoyed playing with Duo, just touching him. He leaned closer and ran the tip of his nose up the rigid shaft, teasing Duo with his closeness, then kissed the head when he reached it.

"Heero…" Duo whispered.

Encouraged, Heero traced circles around the head with his tongue, and then blew air softly across it, making Duo gasp.

"Mmmm… Duo…" Heero answered right before taking the tip in his mouth. He sucked lightly and stroked with his tongue. He knew what his mouth must feel like to Duo, having just brushed his teeth. He noticed Duo gripping the edge of the desk as he took more of the shaft between his minty lips. He knew Duo must be having a difficult time not thrusting into his mouth, and the truth was Heero wanted him to. Heero suddenly thought what a stupid game this was and decided to end it. Briefly taking his mouth off of Duo's cock, he pushed the chair back away from the table.

"Yeeaaahhhh…" Duo moaned, leaning back in the chair and scooting his hips forward as Heero knelt in front of him once again. Now Heero took all of Duo that he could, and sucked slowly up and down, drawing satisfied moans from his lover.

"Oooh Heero…" Duo gasped, head thrown back, "Your mouth…"

Heero felt fingers twisting through his hair and Duo's hips slowly start to rock in the chair. Heero liked this. Duo was never rough on his mouth (or with any part of him for that matter) and Heero relished it as a sign that Duo's body had given over to him completely.

He moaned around Duo's shaft, his lips vibrating, and was rewarded with his name being called in Duo's thick, rapt voice. Resolute now to bring Duo to climax, Heero sped up, and Duo kept with him, their tempo perfect.

"Heero….uhhhnnnngg… oh yeaaaaahhh… god, you're so goo- AH!… yessssss" Duo's cries increased with their pace, and his fingers clutched at Heero's hair. Heero held the base firmly with one hand and concentrated on the head. He was perfect at everything he did, he made sure of it, especially anything involving pleasing Duo. Duo came, arching back in the chair and crying out his name. Heero swallowed every drop Duo offered to him and slowed his mouth until his lover's body went limp.

Heero chuckled and tucked Duo back into his pants, since it seemed all Duo was capable of now was grinning at him stupidly and blinking at him through half-lidded eyes.

"You're amazing, you know that?" Duo murmured, his hand gliding across Heero's cheek and down his chest as the Japanese boy stood. Heero kissed his forehead and suddenly Duo's eyes flew open.

"Oh my god!" he exclaimed. Duo stood up abruptly and moved to the table. "Christ, why didn't I think of that before!" he continued, scratching madly at the draft with the pencil once again. Smirking, Heero pushed the chair up behind Duo and headed for the bedroom.

Not much later, Duo stretched his arms over his head and sauntered through the doorway to their bedroom. He stopped in his tracks to admire what he found. Heero was lying naked on his back, legs and arms spread in a relaxed position. His eyes were closed and lips parted slightly, and he was completely erect.

Duo just shook his head slowly and started to take his clothes off. Fuck, Heero was just something else. He looked at his lover again, and this time the other man's eyes opened slowly.

"Gonna tell me what you're thinking?" Duo asked. He was always encouraging his lover to be more specific about his wants and desires. Sure that he would like it, he wanted to hear all about it.

"No," Heero smirked, "I'll let you wonder for a while… All done out there?"

"Yup," Duo said, approaching the bed, "It's all done. And completely brilliant, if I do say so my self. Your form of inspiration is partially to thank, so I gave it a very special model designation."

"What's that?" Heero asked, placing a palm on his own stomach. Duo followed the movement with hungry eyes.

"Unit HMBJ," he answered, "It stands for Heero's Magnificent Blow Job"

That got a low laugh out of Heero. And a smile. A gorgeous, real smile.

"Mmmmm glad to be of service…" Heero purred.

Duo grinned and knelt down next to him on the bed. He gave Heero a deep, wet kiss.

"Now tell me what you were thinking in here by yourself…" he growled with lust.

"I was thinking of… all the ways you could thank me," Heero murmured back, eyes shut.

"Funny, that's what I was thinking too," Duo smiled, putting his hand over the one resting on Heero's stomach. "Where would you like me to start?" he asked, nibbling Heero's earlobe.

It was New Year's Eve day and Heero was quite annoyed that no stores were open. He and Duo still needed a lot of stuff for the apartment.

"Heero, it's a holiday!" Duo explained again.

Heero didn't respond, just screwed the second hard drive into place on his laptop. He had finished Duo's that morning and quickly started in on his own. He was anxious to get in touch with Bartlett. There was a big political conference coming up the weekend after New Year's, and he was sure Relena would be going. Meaning, he would be too, especially now that it was all over the news.

"We're still going to the party tonight, right?" Duo asked.

"Party? Oh, right," Heero remembered, "Yes, I suppose we are."

Duo nodded. He was looking forward to meeting everyone, but in truth, he was a little nervous about being at the party with Heero. Heero was never at his best in a group setting, Duo knew he hated parties. They wouldn't know anyone, so it'd be natural that they stick together… but how much was too much? He didn't want to seem overly attached. He still wasn't sure if Heero wanted them to hide their relationship or not. He wasn't big on advertising himself, but he wondered what Heero wanted. And how much was too little? He hoped Heero was not going to be as testy as he used to be when Duo socialized with other people. There had been some rough times when they'd gone to school together, a pattern he'd like not to repeat.

"It's a pot-luck, whatever that means," Duo continued. Heero shrugged. He didn't know what that meant either. "Do you think we should bring some food?" Duo asked.

At this, Heero looked up and cocked an eyebrow at him. "Baka, you are not thinking of cooking, are you?" Heero asked.

Duo grinned. "No way! But you're a decent cook, as I recall. Edible anyway," Duo said hopefully.

"That is because *I* can follow directions," Heero said dryly. He thought about things he could make, but they didn't really have that much food in the apartment yet because they still lacked decent pots and pans. They'd been eating out for nearly every meal. "Duo, I'm no party expert, but somehow, I doubt rice will be a big hit," Heero continued, "I don't think we have the ingredients for much more than that."

"Oh yeah," Duo said, resting his chin in his palm. "I dunno, maybe we've got an unopened bag of chips or something around here."

"I highly doubt that," Heero said, unsuccessfully stifling a sarcastic smile. Duo whacked him on the shoulder and got up to search their sparse cupboards.

"So, should we have cover stories?" Duo asked, tying his boots. "Well, I guess I can just tell people I'm a mechanic, but what are you going to tell people it is that you do?"

Heero thought a minute. What would take him to Earth frequently? "Sales, perhaps?" he ventured.

Duo laughed, "Yeah right! I really can't imagine you as a successful salesperson, love, sorry!" Instead, he imagined Heero pointing a gun with deadly accuracy between some hapless customer's eyes and having money thrown at him by frantic patrons. He laughed again.

"What is so funny about that?" Heero asked, crossing his arms, and leaning on the doorframe.

"Nothing, it's just not convincing," Duo chuckled, standing upright again. Heero nodded. "How about… photography? You could be a photojournalist," Duo suggested.

Heero didn't look persuaded. "I've only taken surveillance photos before, and what if someone asks me to take their kid's senior high school pictures or something. Could get messy."

"Yeah," Duo agreed as he locked the door behind them. He was still feeling a little nervous about how this was going to go.

"How about I fix computers?" Heero finally thought.

"Perfect," Duo grinned as they got on the elevator.

"Hey, Heero," he said suddenly after some silence, "You gonna be ok tonight if we get separated?"

Heero looked over at his long-haired lover. Duo's eyes were gentle-looking and honest, no trace of accusation or reproach. "I'll be ok," he promised, nodding slightly. Duo thought he looked fairly confidant in that statement. It still amazed Duo sometimes the ways in which Heero was starting to change. Or was trying to anyway. He understood that it took Heero as much focus and concentration to act normal as it did to accomplish any mission he set for himself

"I remember you once saying that the key to getting along with people is to get to get them to talk about themselves," Heero continued unexpectedly, "As I recall, you said they'll either think you're a good listener or a brilliant conversationalist."

Duo laughed. He had been completely drunk when he'd said that. It was before they were lovers, barely even friends. He'd stumbled back into their shared dorm room after a party, WAY past curfew and inebriated, neither of which Heero approved of. Heero had tried to get on his case, but Duo remembered not really caring and blabbing on at the other pilot anyway. He hadn't even thought Heero had been listening, just typing away at his laptop. "I can't believe you remember that!" Duo chuckled.

"You'd be surprised," Heero replied evasively. He had never been able to successfully ignore the American. He'd only pretended to all that time. Duo had that strange effect on him, even then.

They rang the bell of Mrs. Ashby's apartment, and she answered the door after only a few seconds.

"Heero and Duo!" she exclaimed, "Come on in and let me introduce you!" She opened the door wide. The apartment was bright and buzzing with people. Upbeat jazz played on the stereo and people laughed and mingled. "Oh, good you didn't bring any food! There's WAY too much already!"

The landlady seemed more chipper than usual, and Duo chuckled to himself at the thought that she might be tipsy. He glanced at Heero, who was looking around the room. It looked as if he were doing a visual scan for bugs or explosive devices and securing an escape route in case of emergency. This made Duo laugh again. He hoped some things about Heero never changed.

"Everybody!" Mrs. Ashby called above the guests' chatting, "I'd like introduce Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell, the new residents of B7."

Heero recognized the dark-haired woman who approached them as Anne Grady, who had given them the pie. Duo chatted with her for a moment, and then she took the pair to meet a few more neighbors. Heero let Duo handle most of the pleasantries. He just concentrated on looking pleasant, and not like an ex-Gundam pilot.

"I've got a daughter, Elsie, around here somewhere," Anne told them, "The kids always sneak off, they're probably in Jared's room, that's Mrs. Ashby's son."

The woman then led them to a closed door in the hallway. "The kids are all in here," she said, opening the door. Two girls sat on the bed looking at magazines, and three boys around the computer. They all looked up when the door opened.

"Kids, this is Heero Yuy and Duo Maxwell, they now live down in B7," Anne told them. "This is my daughter Elsie," she continued. The younger girl nodded quietly, she looked to Duo to be about 12 or 13. She had her mother's straight dark hair, which was cropped at her chin. "And Cameron," the older girl said 'Hey', "And Jared at the computer, David in the baseball cap, and the youngest is Todd."

"So, will you boys be going to the local high school?" Anne returned her attention to the two boys in the doorway. They looked at each other. It hadn't really occurred to either of them, but it was the natural assumption.

"No," Duo said, "We both work. I'm a mechanic and Heero works with computers."

"Computers?" Anne looked at Heero, "I'll have to introduce you to Ted McFadden, he's a programmer. Lives in A3 I believe."

Heero just simply nodded.

"You guys ever play basketball on the courts outside?" Duo asked the kids.

"Yeah, when the weather's nice," [1] David said.

"Come get us next time you do," Duo said, flashing a smile.

"You're on," said Jared. He didn't quite know what to make of the two other boys. They didn't look much older then him and Cameron, but they didn't go to school, they worked instead. He figured maybe they'd been in the war. He knew some kids whose families had been killed, and they went to fight or even work in OZ's mobile doll factories. And he knew kids who just left their families and school to be soldiers in White Fang or with Mariemaia. He didn't know one person who hadn't lost somebody in the wars. He found himself wondering about the two new guys.

"Oh, you should meet Mrs. Kanzaki, she lives downstairs from you," Anne said, closing the door and leading them away. Heero was already getting a little weary of this, but he followed Duo. "She has her hearing aid in tonight, but she's mostly deaf otherwise." With the corner of his eye, Heero caught Duo winking at him.

They found Mrs. Kanzaki sitting on the couch in the living room.

"Mrs. Kanzaki, these are your new upstairs neighbors," Anne told her, "Duo Maxwell and Heero Yuy."

"Heero Yuy?" the old woman asked. She looked at the two of them, and then began to speak to Heero in Japanese, which he answered without a second thought. Anne looked at Duo, surprised.

"He's fluent," Duo told her. Duo excused himself to get some food, and talked to a few other people. When he made it to living room again, Heero was sitting on the couch next to the woman, looking fairly engaged in what she was saying. Duo decided to find someone else to talk to.

When Mrs. Kanzaki fell asleep[2], Heero got up to find Duo. He wandered into the kitchen and found Duo with his head and shoulders in the oven and several people standing around.

"Duo?" he asked.

"The Ashbys' oven isn't working, so I'm taking a look," Duo's voice echoed in the oven without even looking to see who it was. He knew the voice well.

Heero cleared his throat. "Uh, what about that other party we have to go to tonight?" he asked as casually as he could.

"Oh, you can't leave yet, it's almost midnight!" Mrs. Ashby exclaimed.

"There we go! Found it!" Duo called from inside the oven. "Your electric starter wasn't connecting to the coils, just need a pliers." He stuck a hand out of the oven, and someone handed him a pliers

Duo replaced the back panel and backed out of the oven. "Did you want to go to that party now, Heero?" he asked as he washed his hands at the sink.

Heero looked at the clock. "Well, it is almost midnight and we wouldn't make it to the other party in time anyway, so why don't we stay," he said.

"Good plan," Duo grinned.

Mrs. Ashby went about getting everyone champagne, turned on the TV, and woke Mrs. Kanzaki. The five teenagers came out of Jared's room for the celebration. At midnight, they made a toast.

"To prosperity for the coming year!" someone called out.

"And to peace, and those who believe in it!" someone else suggested.

"Here here!" everyone agreed heartily and drank. Then they all began to sing a song that neither Heero nor Duo knew[3]. They looked at each other cluelessly. Duo was just glad that the colony citizens were still so peace-minded.

Shortly after, Heero offered to help Mrs. Kanzaki back to her apartment, and then he and Duo would be on their way. They said their good-byes and helped the elderly woman to the elevator.

"She's an interesting lady," Heero said, once they'd gotten her safely into her apartment, "She's a physicist from Old Japan on Earth, but moved here when she married an engineer."

"Oh yeah?" asked Duo, pushing the button for their floor.

"And she thought my name was very interesting," Heero recalled, "She could tell I was a soldier, and you too. She thinks I am some sort of embodiment of the original Heero Yuy. And then she called me a Samurai. I think she is a bit senile."

Duo laughed.

"Know what else I think?" Heero leered at Duo, "I think Mrs. Grady has a 'thing' for you."

"What?" Duo laughed, "Mrs. Grady? No way! You always think everyone has a 'thing' for me!"

"Everyone always does have a 'thing' for you!" Heero countered, still good-natured. Going to school with his lover had been a nightmare in his more insecure days. "I guess we'll just have to keep a tally of how many appliances she calls you to fix after tonight," he continued to tease, straight-faced.

Duo just laughed. It made Heero happy to see Duo so jovial. Duo turned to him, eyes shining.

"You know, Heero, it's supposed to be good luck to have a kiss at midnight on New Years," he told the other boy.

"Is that so?" Heero asked. "Well, I do not believe in folk customs or superstition," he informed his partner.

"Well, I do," Duo said, leaning Heero into the wall of the elevator and capturing his lips. Heero returned the kiss hungrily and Duo was reminded of how insistent Heero could be when they hadn't been able to be together in a while. Even a little while.

"How do you want to celebrate?" Duo asked devilishly.

Heero pulled Duo's hips tight against his and rocked into them to illustrate what he was about to say. "By screwing you stupid," he answered, looking Duo straight in the eyes.

Duo laughed, "That's how you want to celebrate everything!"

"Now you get the idea," Heero replied, nipping at Duo's neck.

[1] I really have NO idea how space colonies work. Human biology and genetics is one thing, but this eludes me completely. I'm assuming that most colonies still have weather and seasons (or at least warm/cool cycles). To allow people to breathe, they'd have to have created a false atmosphere inside the colony (with the gases in correct amount) and then it could possibly behave much like the atmosphere of Earth, given they have lakes for water to evaporate from and form clouds. Or I suppose they could be controlling the weather. I don't know. They evidently have artificial night and day cycles as well.

[2] I'm thinking she's like my ancient Sicilian grandmother. The woman has talent - she fell asleep at 'Jurassic Park' and 'Air Force One'.

[3] I don't know that damn song either, but I'm sure it'll still be around after 100s of years!

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