Trowa put aside another processed report, glad to get rid of it. Lately, Lady Une appeared to assign all the more iffy Preventer cases to him. Trowa wasn't sure why - but assumed it had something to do with how one of Duo's recent pranks against her had ended up pointing the blame in his direction.
His revenge was still to be put in motion. Quatre had advised him against retaliating. Heero had all but threatened him to forget it. Wufei had offered him a bribe if he would just drop the matter and create a semblance of peace at the office - at least until Duo's next big practical joke.
When Duo approached his desk, looking entirely too cheeky, Trowa feared it was close at hand - and worse, that he might be the target.
Duo put his hands at the ledge of the desk, and lifted himself to sit on the edge. He looked over his shoulder at Trowa. "So, today's the day, huh?"
"Oh, you know - the big occasion."
Trowa's expression remained blank, entirely confused. Mentally, he readied his defences. "What occasion?"
"What do you mean, what occasion?" Duo chuckled. "Quit messing with me, Trowa - you wouldn't forget an anniversary, would ya?"
Whatever game Duo was playing, Trowa wanted no part in it. He frowned, growing a little impatient with Duo's questions. "I have no clue whatsoever what you're talking about, Duo. What anniversary?"
Duo's face fell a little in surprise. "You saying you don't remember? You mean you forgot?"
Trowa was about to snap off another retort when Heero entered the room. He deposited three files in Trowa's in-box. "What are you two arguing about?"
Mirth restored, Duo got off the desk and planted a quick kiss on Heero's cheek. "Hi, 'ro. Trowa here forgot the anniversary."
Heero snuck an arm around Duo's waist, preventing a mockery of an escape attempt. "What anniversary?"
To this, Trowa could only sigh. He rubbed his temples with one hand and prayed the mild irritation wouldn't grow into a headache. "Okay, Duo - once more, from the top."
Duo glanced from Trowa to Heero - whom nodded in agreement - and back to Trowa again. "Look, all I know is, earlier I saw Quatre fussing about down in the motor pool, mumbling something about an anniversary. I figured the two of you had some kind of special day today, or-"
Nobody had heard him approach - except all of them. Out of politeness, none of them reacted, however. They were all proud of their capabilities at stealth movement. Unfortunately, they were also adept at noticing the same.
Regardless, nobody acknowledged Wufei leaning against the door frame, arms folded, until he spoke up. "Sounds like the husband forgot their wedding day."
Trowa glared in Wufei's direction.
Duo snickered. "Are you suggesting they tied the knot without even telling us, 'fei?"
A frown; more of all too familiar annoyance than outright anger. "Quit calling me that."
Impish grin. "What, fey?"
Wufei shifted his stance to an attack posture and put some effort into the scowl now. "I swear, one more time, and I'll-"
"You'll what?" Duo egged him on, wrestled free from Heero's lax hold and took a step closer. Wufei matched the move.
Heero chose that moment to intervene, extending his arms to hold them both at arm's reach. He had more practice doing that than he cared for. "Children, please..."
They both glared at him now. Well, at least they weren't about to get into a fistfight. Heero was tempted to let them - but this wasn't the time nor place. Surely, that would come along soon enough.
"I suggest we help Trowa remember, instead of arguing." Feeling how both Wufei and Duo relaxed, he faced the desk again. "Trowa, which anniversary do you think it could be? Your first date?"
Trowa shook his head. "No, that's April 17th. January 10th, if you mean a real date. We had a good dinner when we first met, and I like to think of that as our first date - but we didn't have something officially called a date until long after we'd-" He cut himself short, feeling the three pairs of eyes on him. His cheeks warmed up. "Made peace," he ended oh-so gracefully.
Duo struggled not to laugh, but achieved it. Heero's arms wrapped around his waist again, from behind this time. Lips touched the back of his neck. Laughter was forgotten; something closer to a soft whimper replaced it. "What about the first time you-" Duo rolled his hips, pushing them back against Heero a few times. "Made peace?"
Wufei made a lopsided smirk, snorted, and leant up against the wall.
Trowa was significantly bothered by now, but did his best to hide his embarrassment. Giving Duo an inch would only result in him going for the mile. "No, that's not it, either. That was April 18th. Or 17th. It all depends on definitions of when the night ends and the day begins, really. That, and of what... peace is."
Heero put his chin on Duo's shoulder, face not quite giving away his amusement. "Well, I'm sure you both got a good night's rest out of it."
Trowa didn't respond, but grew a lopsided smirk to go with his flushed cheeks.
"What about your first big fight?" Wufei offered.
Duo glanced at him. "Don't be silly, Wufei. You really think those two lovebirds would ever get into a-"
All three of them stared at Trowa again, and for a few moments, silence filled the room. "That was... when he attacked us with Wing Zero," Heero commented.
Trowa nodded. "I know. That was sort of our first big argument - but other than that incident, I suppose the first fight would be... the fourth of November."
Duo briefly looked to the ceiling, thinking. He shook his head. "Nah, can't remember anything about that date - tell us."
Shrug. "Not much to tell. It was just after we'd gathered on Peacemillion. Quatre and I had a disagreement over some modifications to Sandrock. I overstepped my boundaries."
Heero grunted, loosening his hold on Duo a little. "Doesn't sound like a fight worth remembering to me."
Trowa's eyes steeled over. "We barely talked for the next three weeks. Took another two before he let me as much as touch him."
Following that, Duo had a brief problem breathing, as a pair of strong arms momentarily tensed around his waist. "I can see your point," he hissed out with what little breath he had left. Heero settled for a normal hug again, much to Duo's relief.
"I suppose you could call the quarrel we had about whether or not Dorothy was a good person at the core a fight too... That was the third of January."
The room fell quiet again.
"What about something smaller?" Duo offered. "I'm assuming that your first kiss came along with your first date and... peacemaking - but what about the first time at the movies together, or-"
Trowa shook his head, doing his best to not get lost in rather pleasant memories. "I remember those dates too. First movie, first time we had two straws and one glass for a milkshake, first time we shared-"
Duo waved him off. "Okay, okay, I get the idea. So, nothing like that, either."
Sigh. "Probably not."
Wufei pushed away from the wall. He preferred to meditate when he had to think. His second choice was pacing - and right now, it seemed the most practical. "Fine... Now, we know today isn't the birthday of any of us - how about other people in Quatre's life?"
Trowa shook his head. "I don't think so."
Curt nod. "The date doesn't relate to any big events during the war, either. It isn't a major holiday - none that I know of, anyway."
"Nor I," Heero stated. "It doesn't seem to match any of your firsts, and unless the two of you have eloped, and-"
Duo snickered as he wiggled out of Heero's back hug and into a mutual side embrace, instead. "That's good, I suppose - wouldn't want to find out I had missed out on two bachelor parties."
Trowa gave a lopsided smile. "At any rate - it's none of those days today. I try very hard to remember the days that matter to him - and especially to us - it's the only way I can occasionally surprise him, and not the other way around."
Heero gave a slight nod. "I'm surprised at how many small moments the two of you share and apparently celebrate, Trowa."
"Me too," Duo agreed.
"And me," Wufei copied.
Soft smile. "I'm not saying that we are actually celebrating all of those - but the small moments tend to stick with me, whether they're good or bad. Quatre has a way of making every moment together - and sometimes apart - worth recalling."
Duo's grin grew much too wide. "Aaaaw... You're such a sap, Tro'."
Trowa gave a snort, then curved his smile to a smirk. "As if the two of you aren't..."
Duo quickly turned his head to give Heero a peck on the cheek. "Damn right!" He sighed. "I can't help but wonder what the heck Quatre was mumbling about, though... It sounded like something important to me - a big date."
Trowa shrugged, and got to his feet. "None that I know of, though." Sigh. "I'll go find out."
Duo nodded in agreement.
"Alone," Trowa amended.
Chuckle. "Of course. Quat is probably still at the motor pool. He wanted to give a quick check-up on the number three sedan. He said it's been acting up lately."
For a moment, Trowa considered whether or not Duo was making a joke at his expense. He decided against - for now. "Fine, thanks - and do not eavesdrop. If you do, I'll kill you." Then he slipped out the door.
"Quit stealing my lines," he heard someone call after him - but nobody followed.
Trowa found Quatre working on a car, leaning in over the opened hood, fidgeting with one mechanism or another. Quatre's light blue coveralls had several smudges already, and by the scatterings on the nearby floor, Trowa surmised the car had already been put through an oil change - possibly more. A brown leather toolkit lay unrolled next to the car.
For a moment, Trowa merely stood there, content with watching Quatre's backside, patiently waiting for the blonde to finish fitting in a new car battery. He knew he didn't have to say anything. Surely, Quatre had already been alerted by his footsteps, no matter how soft he'd attempted to make them. The motor pool had much better acoustics than most rooms.
Without abandoning his task at jamming the battery into place, Quatre asked "Who's there?"
Quatre looked over his shoulder, offering a warm smile. "Oh, hi, Trowa. Could you give me the number three wrench?"
Trowa glanced over at the rolled-out toolset and went for the one Quatre had requested. He handed the small wrench to Quatre.
Quatre quickly fastened the battery cables, and gave a quick, content sigh. "There, that ought to do it." He dropped the hood down, put the wrench aside and wiped his hands on the front of his coveralls.
"Is there something you think I should know about?"
Quatre looked perplexed. "Like what?"
Trowa bit softly on the inside of his cheek, finally deciding to go with the direct path. "About today."
Bafflement flashed across Quatre's face. "Trowa, I don't quite follow..."
Sigh. "Well, Duo mentioned he heard you talking about an anniversary earlier - but I can't for the life of me remember which, and I thought I had all of them pinned down by now, and-"
Halfway through his rant, Quatre had broken out in a big smile. Now, he was laughing softly. "Oh, that. No, it isn't a date I would expect you to remember - or know about, for that matter." He closed the distance between them and dropped a quick kiss on Trowa's cheek. "Thank you for your concern, though. It is sweet of you." He bent down to roll up the toolkit, securing the belt strap around it.
Trowa hesitated, but curiosity got the better of him. "Quatre?"
"Just what day is it?"
Again, Quatre smiled at him. "Well... If you really want to know..." soft sigh. "Today it's four years since we finished building Sandrock. In a way, it's like a long lost friend's birthday." He stared blankly ahead of himself, reminiscing. "Can't tell you how happy I was when we finished building him - operating the suit for the first time was so different from working with the simulators, but still... it was as if I knew Sandrock, from the inside out."
Mild chuckle. "I suppose you did - you helped build him, after all." Trowa stepped closer and embraced Quatre from behind, minding the messier stains at his front. "Sandrock was your baby... You're allowed to feel a little sad." He touched his lips to the ridge of Quatre's ear.
Quatre put his arms on the ones holding him. "Yeah..." He paused, soothed by Trowa's slight rocking motion. "Don't you ever miss Heavyarms?"
Trowa didn't answer at first, trying to think of a way to say how he felt about the mobile suits without hurting Quatre's feelings. If anyone ever thought him silent, it was only around Quatre - only because of that slight fear, constantly there to create doubts. "Yes..." he finally whispered, before continuing. "But I could never think of it as more than a mobile suit. It was a machine, nothing more."
Quatre shook his head. "I disagree. I think the rest of the guys would, too..." Sullen smile. "Heavyarms probably had a hedgehog personality - he was certainly equipped for keeping the enemy at bay from a distance..."
Kiss to earlobe, lips then softly tugging the same. "Now you're mocking me."
He tightened his hold on Quatre just a little, and rested his chin on Quatre's shoulder. "I don't miss Heavyarms that much, though. I have you instead. Nothing can beat that trade."
Quatre tilted his head, glanced at him from the corner of his eye. "Oh yeah?"
There was the slightest gleam of mischief in Quatre's eye. "What about compared to... me, on your bed, wearing nothing but thin, red gift wrap streamer and a nametag addressed to you?"
Trowa chuckled softly, tugged on a smile and kissed Quatre on the cheek. "I'd say... happy birthday, Sandrock."
...and it was.