Stealing Sweet Dreams
Heero wasn't sure what woke him. He lay still for a moment, listening, but there was no sound. His first thought was Maxwell; but in that case, shouldn't there be more noise? And his internal time sense told him that it was early; much earlier, in fact, than Maxwell preferred to get up when he had a choice. But there was something…he sensed light on his eyelids, and realized that at least the sun had risen.
Still, the feeling of something not right persisted. Gradually it occurred to him that the light lavender scent of Maxwell's shampoo was very strong, much stronger than usual. He bolted upright at the thought, suddenly afraid that 02 was again sharing a bed with him. But no, that didn't make sense…with a wrenching feeling of disorientation, he realized that he was not in his own bed, that he had in fact fallen asleep fully clothed on that of the other pilot.
Last night came rushing back in a bunch of mixed emotions, starting with an irrational fear and ending with extreme annoyance, tinged with anger. Dammit! Maxwell had been late.
Heero had been waiting for him, sitting on his bed late at night. He hadn't gone on to his own bed to sleep. Because Maxwell hadn't come back.
Heero did a quick check of the room -- no sign of Maxwell or his things. He still wasn't back. Bloody hell.
At some point during the night, Heero must have slept, falling over in his sleep to lay on the pillow. Thus, the strong scent of lavender. He'd fallen asleep and slept deeply right through until morning -- very early morning, but not so much earlier than he usually awoke. Nothing had disturbed his sleep; not a sound, not Maxwell's return or lack thereof, and not a single dream.
Not a single dream.
He scrambled up and off the bed, a feeling almost of dread taking hold of him. He hadn't had any nightmares. The last time he'd slept without dreaming, he hadn't thought about it until afterwards.... when his nightmares had returned worse than ever. They had been bad enough to break through his control, seemingly regardless of his years of conditioning. This time... he might, probably would have the same reaction. Tonight would probably be hellish.
Damn, damn... what was going on here? His mind and body had never refused to obey his commands and slipped his training in such a way before. For no apparent reason, suddenly he couldn't predict his own behavior and responses, and it was, as Maxwell would say, creeping him out.
A stray thought crossed his mind, which he dismissed almost immediately, noting that he was again sleeping on a pillow that smelled of lavender. The same as last time, when his own had been damp from freshly washed hair... washed using Maxwell's lavender shampoo. But no! That was ridiculous. Of course, that had nothing to do with it. Merely a coincidence. Heero shook his head, and crossed to the window, as if it might be able to tell him where his partner was.
What had the idiot gone and done? Gotten himself captured? The mission was probably a dead loss. And there was no way Heero was going looking for him. Shit. He stared blankly for a minute at the cold cup of coffee sitting on the desk.
Nothing to do but wait and see if he could get any news of a prisoner or some other mishap off the nets. With a sigh, he turned back to face the neat and tidy room. Might as well change clothes and get ready for the day; it was almost the time he normally got up anyway.
Several hours later, after having spent most of the early morning trying to hack further into the base's computers to find any record of his partner, he got up to stretch a bit.
His mind returned to the puzzle of last night with a lingering sense of dread. No nightmares was a good thing... except that it meant they would be back with a vengeance later on. Grimacing, he wondered how many free nights he would get this time.
It seemed as if he could still smell Maxwell's shampoo in the air. Jesus. He shook his head sharply; that had nothing to do with anything.
He paced the room from the window to the door several times, and was just about to take his seat again, when a movement outside the window caught his eye. What the hell?
Down below in front of the school gates sat a police car. Out of the backseat came a slight, black clad figure who waved impishly at the officers as he climbed out.
"Take care, kid!" One of the officers who had brought him home waved at him as Duo headed toward the school's gates.
He waved back, grinning, and shut the gate with a clank behind him. Then he sighed, standing there looking up at the second floor where their room was. He made a face. Damn, Yuy was going to have his head for this. Well, he'd gotten caught, but he hadn't gotten captured, exactly, and that was something. He doubted Yuy would be greatly appreciative of the difference. Shaking his head, he started resolutely up the walk, whistling.
When he got to the room, he was almost not surprised when the door flew open as he was reaching for the knob. His irate partner stood on the other side, yanking him into the room and hissing angrily, "Where have you been?"
"Checking out the base," Duo answered nonchalantly, trying to act as if nothing had gone wrong. Not an easy thing, when he was on the receiving end of a glare that could melt stone, probably.
Yuy's hand twitched, as if he were restraining the urge to shake him. "And the police? How did they get involved? Do you have any idea how much attention you've drawn with this fiasco? You were supposed to be back last night! What did you do?" Yuy kept his voice down -- he had to, since there were other students in all the surrounding rooms, but his tone was infused with sharp accusation and shaking with fury.
"Hey, man, take it easy," Duo said soothingly, a little nervous about his partner's volatile state, although he was completely unsurprised by the reaction. "Hardly anyone's up at this hour anyway." Except crazy ass bastards who always got up way too freaking early, even when they didn't have to. "Nothing happened, Yuy. I got a little sleepy while I was waitin' for it to get dark, and I guess after dark there's an extra search patrol with dogs outside the base. They found me up a tree, wanted to know who I was, what was I doing, where was I from." He shrugged. "I just told 'em I was playin' hooky from school today and fell asleep. They took me to the police station as a truant or somesuch. That's all."
"That's plenty," Yuy snarled at him. "What the hell do you mean, you fell asleep? On a surveillance mission?" In a tree? "Are you insane?"
Apparently so, given this stupid crush on the asshole that he couldn't seem to get over. Okay, so he hadn't fallen asleep, not exactly. Telling Yuy he'd been daydreaming -- never mind what he'd been dreaming about -- was even less of a good idea. Falling asleep was close enough. It wasn't stretching the truth, much.
He shrugged again in answer to all the questions, and pushed past Yuy to drop his gear on the floor beside his bed. Noting absently that things were not as he had left them, he assumed Yuy had been cleaning up after him again. The man was a neat freak, frowning in disapproval every time Duo left clothes or books or anything on the floor.
"Maxwell! I'm talking to you!"
"Yeah, yeah, I hear you. Look, I been out all night; d'you mind if I shower and get somethin' to eat before you give me the third degree here? You can kick my ass about this later." Sitting on the edge of his bed, he kicked off his boots and started peeling off his socks without waiting for an answer.
Yuy was still scowling at him, opened his mouth probably to harass him some more, then closed it again. "I want a full report," he growled. Stalking over to the desk, he grabbed a cup that had been sitting to one side and thrust it at Duo.
Duo stared at him in surprise and some suspicion. "What's this?"
"Coffee." The tone was flat, hard, no explanation forthcoming. Brows still drew together in a fierce line over steely blue eyes that flashed a warning, and Duo decided not to question further. Coffee he would accept from his worst enemy.
"Thanks, man," he replied with real appreciation. Taking the cup, a little warily, he sipped at it. Stone cold, but it had been good coffee at some point in time. Several gulps of coffee later, he was heading for the shower with a change of clothing.
"Alright, Yuy, I'm here, what do you need first?"
Maxwell stood by the desk, still toweling his hair dry but apparently ready to face the music. Heero glanced at him, and raised an eyebrow. "I don't want to talk to you until you're decent," he stated flatly.
Maxwell stared at him, then looked down at himself. He was wearing jeans, although still barefoot and he had yet to find a shirt; but he wasn't running around in a towel or anything. "I am decent, Yuy, what's your problem? Do you want my report or not?"
Heero looked pointedly at the loose, damp hair, tumbling down over his bare chest as he rubbed his head with the towel. "Finish with that and get it out of the way, first," he said coldly. "I have no interest in sitting here and watching you mess with it." Like he would want to watch the man brush it and remake that fucking braid while Heero was trying to concentrate on getting a proper report out of him.
A fleeting expression of something Heero couldn't read crossed Maxwell's face before his obnoxious smile covered it up. "Yeah, yeah, okay, I'll go braid it quick." To Heero's relief, he disappeared back to the bathroom to do so. He turned back to the file he'd been working on, ignoring the lingering scent of freshly washed hair.
Five minutes later, Maxwell reappeared, still shirtless but with his hair neatly braided. The braid hung over his shoulder, trailing down his naked torso practically to his waist. He sat down on the edge of his bed with his cup of coffee in his hands. Heero surmised that he must have gone and gotten a refill; the way he'd been drinking it down, there was no way he hadn't finished the first lot by now.
He watched as Maxwell took a long drink from the mug in his hands, then sighed in satisfaction. Tilting his head, which caused his braid to sway in that slightly hypnotic way and brush his lap, he gave Heero a cocky look. Heero frowned in annoyance.
"02 reporting, sir!" the Deathscythe pilot informed him mockingly. Smartass.
Heero turned in his chair, resting an elbow on the back of it, and gave him a short, clipped nod. "I trust you at least managed to complete your mission before you fell asleep?" he asked doubfutlly.
Maxwell looked injured. "Of course! Why d'you think I fell asleep in the first place?" Without waiting for Heero to speculate or make a sarcastic comment, he continued, "I got all the info, don't worry. Then I was bored out of my freaking mind waiting for it to get dark," he said disgustedly. "Stuck up a tree with nothing to do -- you'd fall asleep too!"
Heero stiffened, glaring at him, incensed by the implication that he would ever be so lax in discipline while on a mission, no matter how bored he got. Like hell!
Maxwell seemed to think better of his assertion also, as he hastily amended, "Nah, you probably wouldn't." He sounded personally affronted by this. "Any normal person would. Just my luck to get partnered with the one soldier who's so perfect it's insane. Do you ever think about anything but the mission, Yuy?" He scowled moodily at his cup of coffee.
Sighing in irritation, Heero prompted him, ignoring the stupid question. "So, what did you find?"
He listened patiently as Maxwell gave his report finally, relieved to hear that he had indeed gotten all the necessary information. The mission could go forward as planned. He did his best to ignore the way Maxwell's braid swung with his animated gestures. When he finished his coffee, he set the mug aside and flipped the braid behind him, revealing even more of his lean, muscled body, and leaned forward to rest his elbows on his knees. Heero firmly squelched the faintly disturbing feeling that gave him the irrational urge to tell him to put a damn shirt on already.
Determinedly, he focused on putting the information to use, altering his mission plan accordingly as Maxwell gave him the specifics of the base's defenses.
Kat met them at the door when they rejoined the others several days later. They were a day behind the schedule, as their mission had apparently taken longer than planned, and he'd been concerned at the delay. His worried look eased into a welcoming smile as he saw that neither of them was injured in any way.
Although unhurt, they both looked tired and frustrated; he could see the signs of strain in their faces and tense posture. He guessed Duo would be wanting to vent, and surpressed his wry amusement. With the brief greetings out of the way, he pointed them in the direction of their rooms, and went to make sure there was hot coffee for Duo when he finished putting his gear away.
For his part, Duo was grateful to find himself with a different roommate, noting the signs of one of the beds having been used and a few scattered personal possessions as he entered the room. Evidently the other occupant was Trowa. He sighed with relief as he slung his duffle onto the other bed. He planned on avoiding Yuy as much as possible for several days now. God, the man got on his nerves!
He kicked off his boots, leaving them on the floor, then dropped his socks on top of them. Wriggling his bare toes, he grinned in satisfaction. Much better. Briefly, he contemplated unpacking immediately and maybe taking a shower, but decided against it. He could do that later. He needed coffee, now.
Kat was waiting for him in the hall with a steaming mug, and Duo took it readily, flashing him a grin of thanks. He lifted the mug to his nose, breathing in an appreciative sniff of the fragrant aroma before taking a gulp of the hot black liquid. "Ahh, yeah," he sighed contentedly, "that's better. Nobody makes coffee like you do, Kat."
Kat looked amused. "I didn't make it, Duo; I think Trowa did."
"Well, thank God for Trowa then," Duo retorted.
"I should think so," Kat replied, with a meaningful glance at the room Duo had just left.
"Yeah," Duo agreed fervently. "No kidding. I don't want to see Yuy up close and personal for a week now!"
Kat raised an eyebrow at the vehemence of his response. Something must have happened on this mission to make the two of them even more uncomfortable with each other. He wished he could read Yuy better; he was nearly certain that Duo's attraction to the Wing pilot was not one-sided, but not certain enough to do anything about it. "This house is pretty big," he told Duo calmly. "You shouldn't have any trouble avoiding him, considering what a loner he is."
He led the way toward the small library where they could talk in peace. Duo followed him, muttering complaints about Yuy's anti-social tendencies as he did so. Kat wondered if two such different people could make a relationship work if they did get together. But there was no denying they made a good team. Perhaps their differences would balance each other out -- but he had a feeling any relationship between them would be a tempestuous one.
In the softly lit library Kat settled into a comfy armchair, watching in amusement as Duo made a beeline for the windowseat. Duo curled up there with one leg bent under him, and held his coffee in both hands as if to warm them. Staring out the window, he didn't speak immediately, seemingly admiring the view, or perhaps simply gathering his thoughts; it was dark outside. Then with a sigh he turned to Kat, saying, "So, I guess you're wondering what happened."
"I was a bit worried, yes," Kat admitted.
Duo bit his lip, not sure where to start. He would prefer not to tell Kat exactly what had happened. "Well," he began, "the base was supposed to be pretty small, so we figured it would be pretty easy, right?"
Kat nodded; that was why he was surprised they had run into trouble. He could sense, though, that whatever had gone wrong on this mission, both pilots felt that Duo was somehow at fault.
"It was small. Not much in the way of defenses, either. I got recon duty, so I was going on a quick mission to check out the base before we hit it. It was easy. Way too easy, I guess." He made a face, and took a drink of his coffee. Kat waited patiently for him to finish.
Duo leaned back, resting his head against the window frame. His eyes were fixed on some invisible spot above him on the frame of the opposite side of the window. It was polished wood, in rather good condition, but hardly interesting.
"You missed something?" Kat prompted finally. He didn't think that was it; Duo wasn't prone to overconfidence, but everyone made mistakes.
"No," came the chagrined reply, "I didn't miss a thing. I found out everything I had to know in about half a day." Now his hesitation seemed to have worn off, and his words tumbled out as he gave vent to his frustration. "I was sitting stuck up in a damn tree near the base, because it was the best spot to see from. I could see the entire base, but I didn't have to worry about being seen -- it was one of those trees with big thick canopies, broad leaves, you know? No worries. Like I said, only took me half a day... but I had to wait until after dark to sneak off without being seen. I was stuck up there sitting on my ass on a goddamn tree branch all afternoon with absolutely fucking nothing to do! I was bored out of my mind. I started trying to plan the mission on my own for god's sake, just to keep my brain occupied."
Kat nodded and murmured sympathetically, hiding his smile. The picture of a very bored Duo stranded in a tree until night fell was just too amusing, but he didn't think Duo was ready to share the humor yet. He was still too mad at himself about the fuck up, whatever it had been.
"I mean, god... I was watching freaking squirrels and counting bloody leaves before the afternoon was over, it was that bad. It just seemed to go on forever and ever... I've never seen the sun move that slow in my life. I was soooo bored, I thought night was never going to come."
Duo was now scowling disgustedly at his cup of coffee, which hadn't done anything. Well, it had probably gotten cold. Kat wondered when that became an offense which incurred the wrath of Shinigami. "So what did you do?" he asked.
"I didn't do anything," Duo shot back. "I--" he faltered as his face colored, then muttered, "I fell asleep."
Kat blinked. He asked dubiously, "You fell asleep? In a tree? Are you insane?"
Duo growled, "No!" His glare could have been a thermal weapon, it was so fierce. "Jeez, what is it with you and Yuy? I was bored, okay?" he said defensively. "It makes me sleepy. Anyway, I would have been fine, but the guard made a patrol outside the base, after dark. They were using dogs, and apparently their dogs are smarter than they are." Duo smirked.
"They found me and woke me up, and I had to do some fast talking to keep from figuring out what I was doing there. I didn't even get captured, really, they just turned me over to the police as a runaway. But it made me late; I didn't get back to the school until the next day, and of course Yuy got his panties in a bunch over it."
Kat frowned. That made sense, but... his eyes narrowed as he studied his friend. It didn't quite account for the degree of frustration and anger with himself Duo had been exhibiting since they had arrived. There was something else...
"And then?" he asked, wondering if Duo just hadn't gotten to the real problem yet, or if he was really hiding it. He never lied, but he was very good at strategic omission.
Duo shrugged. "Then he kicked my ass -- not literally, but I thought he was going to glare a hole through me -- and we postponed the mission for a day, which just about killed him, I think. Took out the base eventually, which was as easy as we thought it would be, and here we are."
Kat eyed him for a minute, sure now that he was leaving something out. Fell asleep, huh? he thought, remembering the blush on Duo's face when he'd said it. "Mmm..." he answered, a noncommittal sound.
"What?" Duo asked, sounding defensive again. "We were only a day behind, no harm done."
"You just... fell asleep, hm? This is what you told Yuy? Stretched out on tree branch, how many feet off the ground, near an enemy base... and you fell asleep?" Kat raised an eyebrow, waiting.
Duo's face flushed again to the roots of his hair, and he scowled fiercely. Shit. Hadn't he said Kat was too perceptive for his own good? He muttered something unintelligible.
"I'm sorry, what was that?" Kat asked innocently, hiding a smile. So, he'd been right. This should be good.
"I said," Duo growled, louder, "not exactly, okay?"
Kat gave him a look of polite disbelief. "How do you 'not exactly' fall asleep?"
Duo looked uncomfortable, and shifted his gaze to his coffee cup again. "I was sort of, you know, daydreaming. Not sleeping exactly. Just... out of it."
Aha. Daydreaming, eh? So...."Daydreaming?" Unable to hide his grin, Kat prodded, "About what, precisely?"
Duo shot him a dirty look, and didn't bother to answer.
Kat snickered. "You know," he said musingly, "if you worked a desk job or something and got caught fantasizing at work like that, you could get fired. Especially if it caused that kind of delay... you'd be screwed. Mentally and figuratively, of course."
"Kat!" Duo sputtered and choked on a drink of his coffee. "I was not..." he stopped. That was pretty much it, alright.
"Yes? You weren't what?" Kat's eyes were dancing with mischief, and Duo gave him a half-hearted glare.
"Don't pretend," he retorted, "that you don't spend just as much time thinking about Trowa, as I..." and he trailed off, muttering. He didn't really want to go into specifics right there.
Kat smirked. "At least I'm not as obvious about it. You practically drool when he walks into the room."
"I do NOT!" Duo exclaimed, incensed and slightly worried. He glanced around, as if suddenly aware that someone might have heard, or seen, evidence of his fascination.
"Well," Kat amended, "not quite... but you watch him. I don't think he's noticed," he reassured his friend.
Duo studied him seriously for a moment. "Kat," he said warningly, "if you ever say anything to him or anyone else, I will kill you. AND," he added menacingly, "I'll use your Gundam for spare parts afterwards."
A glint of amusement shone in Kat's blue eyes, but he nodded and replied soothingly, "Don't worry, I won't say a word."
The suspicious glare held for a moment longer, as if making sure the warning stuck, and then Duo sighed and slumped back against the window frame. "God, this is so stupid. He's such an asshole... who cares if he's hot and sexy? He's a jerk!" He turned his head and banged it against one of cool glass panes of the window. "He's a fucking jerk, and he's not attractive at all! At least, he shouldn't be," he finished moodily.
Kat couldn't help it; he laughed. "You've got it bad, Maxwell," he teased.
"Don't I know it," Duo groaned, getting to his feet. He grinned wryly. "At least I get a break here for a little while... thanks for putting me in a different room."
Kat tilted his head to look up at him, brushing his blonde hair out of his eyes. "That was Trowa's doing, actually. He said it was bad for the team having you guys fighting all the time."
Duo's eyes widened in surprise, then a rather shamefaced grin quirked the corner of his mouth. "Yeah, he did say that, didn't he?" He shook his head. "I suppose I should thank him, then..." He waved his empty coffee cup in a vague sort of salute as he turned to leave the room. "I'm gonna go take a shower and crash, I guess... g'night!"
"See you tomorrow," Kat answered, watching affectionately as Duo padded out of the room, nearly silent on his bare feet. His rumpled braid hung down behind him, gently swaying as he disappeared into the hall. Kat sighed and shook his head. If he was a little more sure of Yuy's feelings, he would just lock them both in a bloody room somewhere until they came to their senses.
He wondered if Duo had similar thoughts about him and Trowa. Probably not, he decided. After all, like he'd said, he wasn't as obvious about his feelings as Duo was. Maybe that was the problem. He pondered that for several minutes, before getting up and turning out the lights.
Outside, the moon hung just above the treetops, shining in and leaving a silvery patch of light on the floor. Kat moved so he wasn't standing in it, and watched the shadows ripple as some light clouds drifted across the night sky. It was an oddly peaceful sight, and he stood for a moment, letting it soak in. Then he turned and headed off to bed, his steps almost as silent as Duo'