I dropped my spoon.
Hospital food tastes bad, plain and simple. Don't let anyone ever tell you differently. You'd think I had learned not to be so damn picky about it, but no. Nearly all of the food is soft or mashed, too. I'd give a lot for a raw carrot or fresh apple to chew on. Dinner isn't supposed to be eaten through a straw - not unless you're in zero-g; then those plastic packages with straws come in handy.
Of course, there is one fairly okay part of the meal - desserts. I say fairly, 'cause they always make some mistake or other with it, or turn what could have been delicious into a tasteless mush. Today was no different. Sure, it was ice-cream - but it was pure vanilla; absolutely no condiments. I considered bribing my quiet, grouchy pal standing by the window to fetch me some chocolate sauce or something, anything to spice up the bland treat - but he was brooding on something or other, looking outside and generally avoiding glancing my way while I ate dinner.
Still, it was ice-cream; something to be enjoyed - and I did. Then he said it, and the spoon just... fell back down into the bowl in my lap with a soft splash and some clattering.
I couldn't believe what I had just heard. No, it certainly wasn't a bad thing, but my mind was more than willing to jump to conclusions on those few words, especially given who they came from. It was unreal - I gaped at him. I couldn't think of any reply; not a witty thing to joke it away, not an acceptance, not a serious retort nor a cautious quest for affirmation of my imaginative interpretation of those few, simple words.
There was no way he meant it like I thought he did. He couldn't. Why would he?
I must have sat there looking like an absolute fool for several minutes. He cocked his head slightly, took a step closer. When I still didn't respond, he sat down at the side of my bed. "Are you okay, Duo?"
I wasn't, really. I was feeling all gooey inside - much like what the bowl of ice-cream in my lap was rapidly becoming.
Heero pointed at the bowl. "Aren't you going to eat that?"
That would have been a perfect time for a lewd joke, but my mind wasn't quite there. It was preoccupied enough with stuttering out a question. "Could - could you run that by me again?"
He snorted softly, smirked just a little. "Aren't you going to eat your ice-cream before it melts?"
"Huh?" I cleverly replied. Brain catching up, I shook my head. "Not that. That - that other part." I gulped, praying he didn't notice - especially if I got it wrong.
When his smirk mellowed into a faint smile, and his cheeks warmed with soft pink, I knew I hadn't. And then he said it again. "I like you."