"You're being childish."
Barely audible huff, evasive and sour look.
"He's already said he's sorry - several times."
Still no answer.
"Goddammit... He was only trying to fix it, Hilde! He didn't mean to-"
Her eyes locked on me and fired. "I know it was an accident - but that doesn't mean I'm not pissed about it! He used duct tape, for crying out loud! Who in their right mind uses duct tape to fix a broken vase?!"
Not for the first time that evening, I rolled my eyes. "Heero already explained-"
"He ran out of superglue. Fine, I can accept that - but why didn't he just go buy another tube instead?"
"He said the crystal fractured into too many tiny pieces - there was no way he could get it completely watertight again without-"
She gritted her teeth and growled. I shut up. She took a slow, deep breath. "Look," she started, voice far calmer. "I know he meant well, but... that vase..."
"What about it?"
Her expression turned a cross of disappointment, frustration and surprise. "You don't remember?"
Mine matched the latter somewhat. "Remember what?"
The former took over hers, and she gave the far wall a soft glare. "You really don't, do you..."
Again, I opted to keep my mouth shut. Heaven knows I'm good at blowing things when I open it.
"You got it for me - at the flea market last year. You'd caught me looking at it the first day, and went back to buy it for me the day after, as a late birthday gift."
"Oh..." I started, covering up with a sheepish grin, itching a spot at my right wrist.
She glared at me, then mellowed over. "Think he can put that back together with a swab of tape?"
To that, I had no good answer. Instead, I opted for an escape, wanting to wait until she'd cooled her head a bit more. "Well - I don't know. I'll go ask him."
Before she could protest - or toss a cushion at the back of my head - I fled the living room for the hallway.
Only to enter Heero's room.
He was sitting at his workdesk, glancing at the mended vase occasionally, but mostly focusing on the small glass bottle his fingers lazily played with. I didn't notice the latter until I leaned in against the workdesk. A faint glance of acknowledgement, another soft slosh. I sighed. "You know... I really hate it when you bring that thing out..."
I barely heard the grunt.
The vase caught my eye again. It hadn't been worth much - the crystal looked cheap, and the thing was already chipped in several places when I bought it. Hilde had liked it, though - and that was all that had mattered.
Now, the parts of the engraved paisley pattern still visible had been given a silvery backdrop and new sets of chips. Globs of dried superglue plugged the larger gaps. To prove a point, Heero had filled it to the brim with water and stuck the daisies back in.
They didn't look in much better shape than the vase. Perhaps the adhesives were tainting the water.
Heero has always been a fan of functionality over aesthetics - inherent value over looks. The patchwork on the desk was a testament to that - as was the pie he'd served for dessert the other night. The main course had been the casserole I'd made the day before, only reheated. I had hoped never to see it again the first time. I'd been greatly disappointed.
I hadn't been in a particularly good mood when he put another pan on the table, smiling nervously. I'd been about to ask what the heck the unidentifiable mush in the pan was when Hilde kicked me in the shin. She knows me too well, having received more than one wisecrack of mine over unsuccessful dinners she made.
I could take a hint, and took a generous helping. It wasn't until the first mouthful I realized it actually was apple pie. It certainly looked worse than it tasted - and after a scoop of my own casserole, the pie was heaven for my tastebuds.
Under Hilde's discrete glare, I even remembered to compliment the chef.
My shin was grateful Heero's consequent smile was to Hilde's satisfaction. I admit, I was jealous of Heero right then. Hilde is quick to take care of those she cares for - and she'd obviously grown to like Heero since I brought him back.
And now, something completely stupid appeared to threaten their friendship. A small part of me wondered if I shouldn't exploit this to escape their inevitable tag-teaming of me. I'm glad I chose differently. Heero had knocked the vase over by accident, and he'd attempted to fix the damage immediately - if by somewhat unorthodox means. He had gotten the vase to 'work' again, if nothing else. He'd meant well.
"Is she still mad?" he finally spoke.
"Less than before," I told him. "She'll get over it. It's just a vase."
His hands stopped, fingers closed around the bottle cap. "To us, maybe. It must have meant a lot to her."
"Yeah..." I breathed out. "I'll go talk to her again. Don't worry, she'll have forgotten this tomorrow. She's not the sort to carry a grudge." I grinned. "I'm still alive, right?"
He rewarded me with the inklings of a lopsided smile, but kept his eyes trained at the bottle.
I pursed my lips as I pushed away from the workdesk. "And I have now."
"Have what?" he turned to ask as I was halfway to the door.
A curious expression is better than a depressed one any day. I grinned back. "Your question. That's my answer."
I let it sink in a bit, glad to finally see him smile. I was relieved he understood, sparing me the discomfort of spelling it out. I was even happier to see him glance at the bottle one more time before pocketing it.
It didn't prevent me from feeling mighty uncomfortable as I returned to the living room, expecting a couch cushion in the face.
While I didn't get that, her fierce glare more than made up for it. I opted for the single chair rather than the free couch seat next to her. "I can buy you a new one..."
"It wouldn't be the same," she said with all the petulance of a child.
"I know... but nobody can put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, not even Heero." Grin. "All we can do is mourn the loss and wrap the body in long strips of linen."
She flagged a brow at first, but I got my smile. "Idiot," she mumbled.
Nod. "That's me. Come to think of it - I can probably hawk that vase at the next flea market as some fancy art decor stuff. 'Made by a starving artist', or something like that. There's bound to be a rich sucker out there ready to buy both the story and the vase."
A soft chuckle. Progress. Then she lashed out to give my shoulder a soft punch, face growing serious again. "How is he?"
I snorted. "After how you yelled him out over that piece of crap, how do you think?"
A meek "Oh..." She suddenly focused on my right hand resting on my knee, causing me to look also. "What's up with you?"
She nodded towards my knee. "You're tapping your fingers. You only do that when you're feeling skittish. What did you and Heero talk about?"
The bad thing about living with someone is that eventually, they pick up all your little quirks and habits, occasionally enough to know you better than yourself. Hilde was a quick learner, and sometimes I hated her for it. "Nothing special," I said, my left hand digits soon mirroring the rhythm of the right.
Thankfully, she knew better than to push for a straight answer. Her slight smirk told me she drew her own conclusions - which probably wouldn't be too far off the mark. She stood up. "I'd better go talk to him - patch things up again."
I nodded in agreement. "He's really sorry, you know."
"I know... I'm sorry too - for getting so riled up about this."
"Tell him, not me."
Smile. "I plan to." She leaned in and hugged me, didn't let go until I slapped both palms against my knees. Then she was off to see Heero.
I thought of the makeshift vase again, started a chuckle. It ended with my face in my hands, in close to a sob.
I hated that damn bottle. I had to give him something to hold on to instead of that.
I'd told him the truth earlier. Sure, I'd thought about it, after he'd planted the idea in my head. I never specified what I'd thought about it, though. In the end, I suppose a kiss is just a kiss. Lips are the same on both genders, so why should kissing a guy be any different from making out with a girl?
But I knew all too well what would be different from any other kiss I'd given, received or shared up until that point.
I'd be kissing Heero.
And that made all the difference.