Disclaimer: Gundam Wing and all characters belong to Bandai, Sunrise, Sotsu and peoples.

Warnings: angst, denial, my brand of humor, fluff and sap, eventual lemon

Kagi's notes: I sometimes refer to Quatre as Kat in the narrative, depending on whose POV it is -- apologies if anyone finds this confusing. And Heero sometimes thinks of Duo as Maxwell, and sometimes as 02 -- this is intentional. Poor guy, he's so confused! ^_^
Beta read by the fantabulous Loceheri -- thanks love! I'm a day late again, because I was out of town -- sorry. ^^; Big thank you to Triv, Fancy Figures, Shinigami Phoenix, DBZVelena, Moonraven, Nenya, Ashes, KittyKat0303, Jessica Jepson, Satanic Purple Onion, Lrigelbbub, Pilas, Whispers, and J'ohn for your comments and reviews, and to all my readers -- you make it all worth it. ^_^

~*~ indicates scene change and/or passage of time

Stealing Sweet Dreams
Chapter 3
by Kagemihari

Oddly enough, Heero slept well that night, in spite of the scent of lavender that colored his dreams. And with a faint feeling of unease, he realized the next day that he couldn't remember any of them. His dreams were usually colorful and vivid, the images of death and destruction easily recalled to his waking mind. They didn't intrude on his conscious thoughts often, but if a stray remark or image brought them to mind, his memory of them was sickeningly clear. Due to his training and his practical nature, he didn't allow himself to dwell on them, banishing them the moment they resurfaced -- but he was vaguely disturbed by this sudden inability to recall them at all.

He put shampoo on the supply list so that it would be sure to get picked up on the next run to the store, and promptly forgot about it. No use worrying about things you couldn't do anything about. It was a waste of time.

Unfortunately, the supply run wasn't scheduled to be made for several days yet. But it didn't matter. He would just keep using Maxwell's. He smirked to himself as he decided this; there was a certain satisfaction, a feeling of justice in giving Maxwell a taste of his own medicine. If it were anyone else he would feel that he had to ask... but he felt no particular guilt over not asking this time. The pilot of Deathscythe was always using his things without permission, and it grated on Heero's nerves.

They were his, the only personal possessions he truly owned, and the easy familiarity with which Maxwell appropriated them whenever he felt like it made Heero feel helplessly unsettled. As usual, such a feeling transmuted into anger before he really registered the initial reaction, and he would lash out at the cheerful thief in what might seem an overreaction -- but he hated it when the few things he did have control over were violated in such a careless fashion.

It was a familiarity, a liberty one might allow a close and trusted friend, and while 02 might consider him to be so, he could not say he returned the sentiment. That obvious difference in how they viewed each other unnerved him, to say the least. How could Maxwell let someone in so easily, be so ready to befriend him to that degree? He was himself still somewhat wary of his forced allies, and he couldn't help feeling angry when his personal space was threatened in such a way by someone he barely trusted and certainly didn't like.

Perhaps it was an unreasonable response, but Maxwell was annoying. He was confusing and frustrating and half the time Heero didn't know how the hell to react to him. It was a relief to have a single, clear-cut emotion to latch onto and let loose with. Anger was simple, easy, and familiar. Anger meant you were attacking instead of on the defensive.

Heero hated more than anything the defensive, guarded feeling that Maxwell often provoked in him. He was a soldier, a weapon, and defense was an alien concept for him. He was used to facing a threat and eliminating it without mercy; but the nebulous, elusive threat that 02 seemed to be was hard to qualify and impossible to pin down. How could you eliminate a threat if you didn't know what it was, exactly?

The more obvious, if simplistic offense of theft, while it was petty and did not deserve such an extreme response, was much easier to recognize and fight. It might be overwhelming and out of proportion, but the fights his anger invariably precipitated were almost soothing in their familiarity. Comfortable, in fact -- one of the few predictable things about Maxwell.

He would pick up something of Heero's, play with it, use it, or wear it, depending on what it was, then put it back; almost always in a different place. Heero would see him, yell at him, cuss him out and Maxwell would retaliate with that sharp tongue of his. Often, they came to physical blows, though they had yet to seriously injure each other. Maxwell's feelings about it usually seemed to be primarily confusion, irritation, and amusement. To his credit, he honestly didn't seem to think it was that big of a deal. Heero knew that the conflict was all his fault; Maxwell wasn't picking fights on purpose. There wouldn't be any fights if Heero didn't start them. But he couldn't seem to help releasing his anger and frustration that way once he had a semi-legitimate excuse.

He knew he shouldn't make so much out of something that wasn't all that important in the scheme of things. And maybe, all by itself, it wasn't. But there was so much about the other boy that just infuriated him, and this was simply one thing too many. He couldn't explain to Maxwell why it bothered him so much; he did have his pride. And Maxwell couldn't seem to understand why it would be a problem. He was very free with his things among those he considered friends, and he didn't see why anyone else should be different.

It was just one of many things that drove Heero crazy about him. So now he got a certain perverse pleasure out of this -- using something of Maxwell's without telling him. Poetic justice or some such. And it saved him the trouble and embarrassment of asking to use someone else's. A satisfactory solution all around. That settled, Heero put the whole affair out of his mind.


Meanwhile, Quatre had watched with some concern the general state of moodiness that Duo had settled into. After what he had taken to calling the 'one night stand '-- because it made Duo laugh -- his friend had been by turns breezily dismissive, irritable and more sharply sarcastic than usual about anything to do with Yuy. Sometimes he would sit brooding with a dark look on his face that worried Kat because it seemed so contrary to his usual carefree demeanor. When he tried to ask about it or probe for further details about that night, Duo made light of it all as he usually did, but Kat could tell it was bothering him more than he let on.

After the third time in as many weeks that Duo had come back from a mission with Yuy, still sporting his Shinigami grin and in a generally edgy and dangerous mood, Kat had decided not to let him get away with the brush off this time. Unfortunately, he still hadn't gotten very far.

"Duo," he had begun hesitantly. They were sitting on the steps of the back porch, having their usual letdown time. He was perched on the edge of the top step, both hands wrapped around the cup resting on his knees. Duo was sprawled on a lower step, leaning back against the railing, one knee propped up and the other leg stretched out in front of him. Quatre frowned down into his cup of tea, wondering how to ask this in a way that would get Duo to actually talk to him about it.

Duo gave him a sharp look, knowing from the tone of his voice that Kat was about to get serious. He didn't want to get serious. Humor was his defense and his coping mechanism, and although right now it was manifesting mostly as biting sarcasm, it was still more palatable than the bitter regret that would seep through if he let the mask drop.

He ignored the comment with merely a quick grin, keeping up a steady stream of chatter as he relayed the events of the day.

Kat sighed, knowing that Duo was well aware of his intention. He listened to him talk, noticing that most of the witty remarks and derision were at the expense of the OZ soldiers they had faced, not his partner. Duo might be upset with Yuy, but he was honest, taking his frustration out on a target that deserved it.

Actually, Kat suspected that Duo was more angry with himself than with Yuy. He knew that Duo was convinced that Yuy was a hopeless cause, and had pretty much given up on ever really becoming friendly with him, much less anything else. Most of the problem seemed to be the fact that Duo still wished it was otherwise, and was frustrated with himself for still wanting it.

. "You're not listening to me, are you?" Duo asked him, raising an eyebrow and grinning.

"I was listening," Kat answered mildly. "You haven't said anything yet."

Duo's smile hardened, and his eyes flashed. "Whatever you wanna hear is not something I'm gonna talk about, Kat. It's over and done with, forget it."

"You haven't," was the sober response.

Duo groaned theatrically, his head thudding back against the wooden railing. "And if you insist on talking about it, I won't, now will I?" Shit, this was exactly where he did not want this conversation to go.

Kat took a careful sip of his tea. "You mad at him?"

"Hell yes, I'm mad at him!" Duo scowled. Then the expression eased into a troubled frown. "No... yes... I don't know. I'm gettin' damn tired of trying to figure him out, Kat. He's great as a partner, awesome in fact, but as a roommate he sucks."

Kat opened his mouth, and Duo cut him off with a short, sharp laugh. "And before you say it, smartass, actually he doesn't, which is the problem." He took a drink of his coffee, then glared at the mug as if it had offended him.

Kat hid his smile. "I was going to say," he said reprovingly, "that we could make sure you don't room with him anymore. You want to call and request that you're not assigned with him anymore?"

"No!" Duo shot back, a little too quickly. He sighed, and reached up to set his coffee on the porch. "I like workin' with him, Kat -- hell, I love it. On a mission he's fantastic, we make an amazing team... it's just that it's all over as soon as we get back to base. He's smart and focused, and fast, and a damn good shot, and you know how he can fly that Gundam of his. He's not a bad guy, really -- believe it or not, he actually has a sense of humor."

Kat raised an eyebrow at this unlikely statement, and Duo chuckled. "Yeah, I know, it's hard to imagine, but every now and then he comes out with these dry comments that are funny as hell. And that little smirk of his is just sexy." He shook his head. "I just can't figure out why he shuts down like he does once we're Mission Accomplished, and he doesn't need me anymore."

That last came out rather bitter, and Kat winced. "Maybe he's not used to having guys his own age around," he suggested. "He might not know how to act in a social situation."

"Yeah, maybe." Duo didn't sound convinced. "Or maybe he just hates my guts. I don't notice him treating anyone else like they're the most annoying idiot on Earth or the colonies." He picked up his mug again and eyed it, swirling the liquid around the bottom in an absentminded fashion.

"You're the only one that goes out of his way to be friendly with him," Kat pointed out. "The rest of us aren't a threat to him."

Duo snorted. "It takes a pretty cold bastard to see a friend as a threat... tight-assed freak." Ahhh... bad choice of words. Yuy had a nice tight ass. Duo spent a lot of time watching that ass out of the corner of his eye. He rubbed his eyes, sighing heavily.

"I dunno, Kat, an' I don't care. He really dislikes me, and I don't know why. But it's his problem, not mine. I don't give a damn anymore." He finished off his coffee in a single gulp and set the mug down with /thunk/ of finality.

Kat had given him a skeptical look, though he didn't press the issue. Duo wasn't listening to him anyway. But he was not so sure that Yuy was as indifferent to Duo as he seemed. That had been about a week ago, and he was still trying to work up the courage to talk to Yuy about his side of it.

Now they had been sent on a separate mission, and he was going to be spending a lot of time with Yuy, who seemed to have relaxed somewhat now that Duo was not around. This was probably the best chance he was going to get. So now he was going to try to talk to him, although he had his doubts about getting anything out of that impenetrable facade. Duo seemed to be the only one who could get him to crack enough to get any kind of reaction out of him. But before he could open a conversation on the subject, something happened that rendered it fairly out of the question.


It had ended up being another four days before Heero got his shampoo replaced, immediately before he and Winner were sent out on a mission together. As part of getting ready for the mission, he had stocked up on rations, clothing, and personal items for the both of them, shampoo being one of the latter. Being cheap and practical, he had gotten something generic, not really caring what it was or what the hell it smelled like so long as it did the job.

He didn't have any objections to the assignment; Winner didn't bother him the way that Maxwell did. He was just glad that particular irritating pilot wasn't around to confuse him. He needed a break after the stress of the last few weeks, a chance to get himself centered again. A chance to get back to the way things used to be, when Maxwell had been a minor annoyance instead of a major one.

It hadn't occurred to him until the first night, that there had been a strange lack of nightmares during the last several days. When you have constant horrific nightmares and they suddenly stop, you thank the gods or your star or what the hell ever and you don't ask why. That night his nightmares had returned in full force, almost the worst they had ever been, and he had woken up in a panic trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

"Yuy! Yuy, wake up!" The voice held a sharp note of command -- Heero bolted awake, sweating, chest heaving, feeling disoriented as he forced the world around him to fall into place again.

Winnerwas standing near his bed, moving closer now that he saw Heero was awake. "Are you alright? You were having a nightmare." His pale blue eyes were wide with concern, but he kept his distance, unsure of how aware the other boy was even now.

Heero stared at him, slowing his breathing as he methodically pulled himself out of the clutches of the dream. He had nightmares all the time, and had for years. He had trained himself to deal with them, so that they rarely affected him to the point of being noticeable to anyone else. He had been living with them for so long now that he'd developed the ability to deal with them so that they didn't affect his performance. This... this loss of control, to the point where he was evidently crying out in his sleep... it was mortifying and mystifying and wholly unacceptable.

How, or why... or what could have caused such a drastic change? He shuddered hard, squeezing his eyes shut momentarily as he tried to erase the images and their effect on him. Hell... that had been a nightmare. He was used to those, right? They didn't usually interrupt his sleep, or that of his roommates. What the hell...?

He took a careful, calming breath, and his voice was steady as he replied, "I'm fine. It was just a dream, we all have them. Nothing to worry about."

Winner did not look convinced, but thankfully he did not question further. Heero breathed an inward sigh of relief as the young man nodded reluctantly and went back to his own bed. Dammit. This was not good...

Only then did it dawn on him that he had had no nightmares, had in fact hardly dreamed at all, for the last five days or so. It would be even later before he got any idea of why.


That mission was a tough one -- not because it was particularly difficult or taxing, but because Heero was plagued with nightmares every night, and to his bewilderment, he seemed to have completely lost his ability to deal with them. They woke him up, and they woke Winner up, much to Heero's dismay. And while the other pilot, upon receiving a fierce glare the second time this happened, had the decency to leave him alone to deal with them, neither of them was sleeping well because of it. It had Heero frustrated, angry, and a little bit frightened. He was supposed to have this under control, it was supposed to be something he had more or less conquered years ago, at least to a level where he could live with it.

Now, suddenly and inexplicably, his defenses and his control were shaken, nearly shattered, interfering with his ability to complete the mission. And that was most certainly not acceptable. He was having to rebuild the coping mechanisms he'd developed, and reassert his control over his mind and body, while at the same time keeping his performance at an adequate level.

It left him very off balance and slightly confused. Thank the gods that Maxwell wasn't here adding to it, or he would be stressed beyond the breaking point, most likely.

Slightly confused seemed to be the way that Maxwell affected him a lot lately, either directly or indirectly. He was always doing and saying things that were completely unpredictable, and Heero had no idea how to react to him most of the time. Thus, he ignored or avoided him whenever possible. He liked things to be clear, simple, and uncomplicated, to all of which Maxwell was the very antithesis. Avoidance seemed the easiest answer.

Heero didn't like things that weren't rational, weren't logical, and didn't make sense. He didn't like things that were unpredictable, and he hated getting conflicting results for no apparent reason. He didn't like impulse, didn't like rushing into things without getting all the information first. He didn't like any of those things.

Maxwell was all of them.

It made perfect sense, then, that Heero didn't like him -- of course. He was loud, obnoxious, he had to be a little bit crazy... maybe a lot crazy. The farther away from him Heero stayed, the better.

The thing he hated most about Maxwell was that not only was he impulsive and irrational, but he made Heero behave in ways that were impulsive and irrational as well. Every time they had a fight, it was about the most stupid things... nobody else could make him lose control of himself like that. It scared him to think that Maxwell could provoke such an intense reaction out of him so easily. It was dangerous. It could not be allowed.

Gradually, over the next week or so, he built up his resistance again, both to the nightmares and the dubious effects of 02's presence on his state of mind. But the incident had shaken him, and he was more determined than ever to ignore Maxwell as completely as possible. He would keep his focus. He didn't need that kind of complications in his life -- he had a war to fight.

on to chapter 4

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