Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

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

AN: Part #44 of the 'Road to Recovery' microseries. Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #102 - 'uniform'.

Force of Habit
by kebzero

As I pushed the backyard gate open, I got another reminder to grease the hinges. Tomorrow, for sure.

Wufei and I finally stowed the crate away, conveniently out of view behind one of the larger junk piles. I would need time to give Hilde the good news. It had only cost about half the budget, after all.

I entertained the thought of checking out the contents before letting her know anything at all - and maybe cover it up, if my gamble had been a bad one.

It struck me that bad habits are remarkably easy to adopt - and tough to shake. Despite everything, I couldn't help admire Heero for his iron will.

Wufei was studying the backyard by the time I pushed the box out of my mind. "The place looks a bit more organized than the last time I saw it." He turned to face me. "I presume Yuy has been helping you out?"

"Yeah..." I drawled, grinning. "We kinda offered him a job. He took it."

Wufei's brows drew half an inch closer. "If he came to you looking for work, I think I might have a better offer than this." His eyes practically drilled into my skull. "That goes for you too."

I rolled my eyes, bored with this inevitable and predictable argument. No visit of Wufei's would be complete without it. "Would you stop already? I've told Lady Une 'no' a dozen times already!"

He ventured half a smirk. "And not always so politely."

That it was true didn't stop me from glaring back.

"Look, can you really blame her? We're still short on qualified staff." He looked away for a second, seemingly thinking something through. "Duo, at least let me ask Yuy. Lady Une would have wanted me to, I'm sure of it."

I gritted my teeth. It's always like this when he wants something of me. 'Duo' was for use, 'Maxwell' for abuse. That's his usage of my name in a nutshell. "You're dead set on forcing Heero into a Preventer uniform, huh? Fine, I won't stop you from asking, it's his choice to make - but promise me you'll at least wait until you've said hi before ranting about the retirement package, the medical benefits and the great dental plan, okay?" I sucked half a breath. "And I'm pretty sure he'll say no thanks, anyway."

"Oh? Why?"

I was this close to saying because of me, but reason caught up with me just in time. "You've heard about the pledge he gave. No more killing. I doubt he'd like to be put in a position where he might have to again."

Wufei shrugged it off casually. "I didn't say he would have to be a field operative."

"Same difference," I countered. "Remember the trip he took after recovering from the aftermath of New Edwards? If he was in an advisory position or on a code-cracking team, he'd still find a way to blame himself if the mission was botched, or someone got hurt - or killed."

I swear, I felt a cool breeze pass in the pause that followed.

"You learn from your mistakes," Wufei answered at length, not quite meeting my eyes.

"And sometimes, you go straight back and make new and bigger ones..." I muttered back. I wasn't sure if he heard me or not. "Okay, the crate stays. Let's go find Hilde and Heero." I flashed him a grin. "And more importantly, dinner."


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