Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'Obstacles'
Pairing: 1+2(+1)
Rating: R
1113 words
Warnings: Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Duo POV

AN: Part #52 of the 'Road to Recovery' microseries. Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #110- 'temptation'/'Fire', and challenge #111 - 'school'/'Heero'. Thus, double length (yes, am again cheating to catch up).

by kebzero

I hate sleepless nights.

That night turned out like that.

It wasn't just that the events of the day kept churning in my mind, but also the fact my bedroom was the one closest to the living room. Now, usually, it's all good to have Trowa over for company... but we've grown used to having Quatre nearby whenever he visits.

See, it doesn't happen often, but sometimes, Trowa works up a hell of a snore. He tends to deny it, even when we face him with recordings. Quatre says he has tricks to make it stop, but every time I ask him about them, he turns a fair shade of pink, closes up and changes the topic.

I wasn't in the best of moods, come morning. They all picked up on it and steered clear of me during breakfast. Heero looked relieved when I decided to follow Trowa to the spaceport. He said he'd give the dishwasher another go. I told him he was crazy. He just gave me this confident smirk, as if this was the day he'd succeed.


That trip ended up unnerving me even more, though. After Hilde had left us for some errands, and just before he boarded, Trowa cocked his head, smiled at me and told me "You should pay Heero more attention."

Before I could come up with a reply other than a weary scowl, the hatch was already closing behind him.

I couldn't shake the feeling he knew.

Maybe Heero had told him something. Or had we - he - been that obvious?

I wasn't sure what I wished for. After all that time of being chased after, it felt sorta weird to have him give up... if that's what he'd done.

It didn't sit well with me. As I walked back home, I got to thinking how bad that was. If Heero was ready to give up on me, that would prove he wasn't as tenacious as I previously believed - not regarding me, and perhaps not regarding-

I didn't want to finish that thought. It was tough to think of Heero as vulnerable. Most days, you'd think he was made of gundanium alloy.

Truth is, he's good at putting on fronts, just like me.

I'd almost decided to confront Heero by the time I entered the yard, but halfway to the house, something gave me pause. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of the crate from the auction. I still hadn't had time to check the contents.

We'd used the front door this morning, but Hilde was sure to notice it when she got back. It wasn't as if I could really hide the box indefinitely, either. I decided now was as good a time as any to have a look. Besides, it'd keep me from facing my fears a while longer.

I grabbed a crowbar and wrought the lid off with a loud crack. I took a quick look around, but nobody seemed to have noticed. Good.

It didn't take me long to sift through the top layer of the contents, figuring out what it was - a decedent estate; the last remnants of a lifetime. It was the typical pile of miscellaneous stuff they couldn't hawk easily - a couple small pieces of broken or battered furniture, all sorts of decorative knickknacks, chipped dishes, ugly vases, bright yellow newspapers, books with thoroughly broken spines, ripped magazines, piles of old paperwork and opened letters... To be honest, pretty much the sort of junk I'd expected to see when I bid. I started going deeper, hoping to find something of value that the auctioneers hadn't noticed. It didn't happen often, but it did happen. One person's junk was another man's treasure. It was all in knowing what would be a treasure to the right people.

My heart sank quickly - I nearly reached the bottom before I found anything close to promising. The small pile of yellowed, crispy paper didn't seem like much. The envelopes weren't exactly fresh - but age can sometimes be a good thing. I figured the stamps were worth a look, even if they probably weren't in mint condition, postage stamp and all.

Eyeing the date stamped on the first envelope, I gave a high-to-low whistle. More than sixty years back. Still, even then sending letters was a fairly outdated mode of communication. I know you're not supposed to read others' mail, but could you blame me for being curious?

Thought so.

As if the assorted chunks of junk hadn't cued me in, the letters confirmed this was the final pieces of some old geezer's life. The letters were full of descriptions, flowery prose, small stories - pretty old-fashioned courting letters, when you came down to it.

I read some of it, but all the one-sided, emotional stuff made me queasy. Across time, I saw someone else who were having a hard time convincing their favored significant other, someone being an underachiever in the school of life.

The truth is, I didn't want to read how the story went.

I tossed the letter aside and gathered up the envelopes. I'd have to get the stamps checked out.

My mind wandered to something Heero had asked me a while back, and what I'd eventually answered him.

What would kissing him be like?

Despite everything, the thought festered. I wanted to know.

But I didn't want to admit what it probably meant. I wasn't gay. Heero was my best friend, sure - but that was it. I wasn't thinking about him and me in-

I gritted my teeth, slammed a fist against the crate.

A distant crash brought me out of my misery. It came from the house.

Putting the envelopes aside for later, I shuffled up the gravel path, kicking pebbles while damning them all for their meddling, cursing them for being right - sorta.

I made my way into the kitchen - and sure enough, there was the dishwasher, scattered all over the kitchen floor with tools all around. Heero sat at one of the kitchen chairs, looking suitably disgruntled. I keep telling him that machine is the devil.

He got to his feet when he saw me, but didn't quite meet my eyes. I figured it was because he'd failed again. Heero doesn't tolerate failures, especially if they are his own.

I took a step closer. "Heero..."

"Hm...?" he muttered, glaring at the sink.

Only two left. "Look, this doesn't mean anything, okay? Don't get any funny ideas. I just have to know."

He looked like he'd ask me something, but I never let him.

Instead, I kissed him smack on the mouth, hard.


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