When I got back, he was sitting with his back to the counter, as if expecting his stomach to give him another round. I gave him two aspirin and one of the beer cans. Yeah, I know; you're not supposed to mix drugs and alcohol - but in this case, I think giving him a glass of the tap water would have been a much greater risk. He accepted both, popped the pills in his mouth and washed them down. "Thanks."
I sat down next to him. "You're welcome..."
We grew silent. He took small swigs of his can, I merely twirled mine around in my hands. I don't know how long I'd done that before Heero noticed, and put a hand over mine to stop me. I shot him a glance, he glared in return, and with nimble fingers, he popped my can. "Drink," he offered, despite how he almost made it sound like an order.
I took a gulp, though. The trip had made me thirsty - the junk they serve on the shuttles isn't worth a damn. Another few quiet moments passed. "Heero?"
"You're still coming with me, right?"
There was the dimmest flash of alarm in his eyes. "You're having second thoughts?"
"Hell no!" I rebuked. "I want you to come, I just thought-"
"I want to, Duo. I need... help."
I nodded. "And you're gonna get it, trust me."
"It won't be easy."
I nodded towards his half-empty can. "That one's gonna be your last one for a long while - hopefully forever."
He took another slow swig. "I know..." Sigh. "Sorry I attacked you earlier."
I tugged on a smile. "S'okay, you never got that far."
Solitary chuckle. "Yeah..."
Another pause. "I almost feel like I don't know you anymore, Heero. You've changed."
He rolled his eyes. "Perhaps... but I also turned honest. I still feel the same as I always have - only, now I accept it." He shot me a glance, and I could swear he even tried to give me a wink.
Had to have been my imagination, given all the little things that had happened. I sighed. "Well, anyway - I guess I'll get to know you all over again - since you're still coming with me."
At that, he gave a lopsided smile, and nodded eagerly.
"And no more drinking."
His face grew sincere, and he nodded again, albeit with less enthusiasm. Then he was back to a soft smile.
It was starting to creep me out a bit, and made me aggressive. "Why were you looking for happiness at the bottom of a bottle, anyway?"
He snorted and looked away. "Not happiness," he snarled. "Comfort, perhaps - and a way to forget."
He hesitated, before looking at my beer can. "You."
That left me somewhat dumbstruck, so he pushed on.
"It didn't help. I couldn't forget you, Duo. All this time, and all it took was-" he bit down the words. "I don't want to forget, anyway - I only want your l-"
At this point, I must have looked panic-stricken, 'cause he cut himself off instantly at my expression. It was still too raw, too new - if I understood him right.
"Friendship," he moderated himself, and looked away.
So much for clearing up that second matter. I decided to leave it for later. The most important thing was decided, after all. I flashed him a grin and put my hand on his shoulder. "You have it, pal. You've always had it. Now, drink up - we're leaving."
I couldn't decide whether to be happy or scared over the big, genuine smile he gave me at that.