Honor and Duty
It turned out Hilde had prepared a late dinner for us - the microwave-prepared sort. There was no way for her to know just when we'd get here, after all. After the tubes and solids on the shuttle, it tasted great. I made sure to compliment her. Told her it was way better than the food she usually made. She huffed a little at that, but didn't lose the lopsided smile. I'd get payback later - we are good at exchanging such tiny insults - keeps the friendship alive.
As we ate, we talked about the job I'd offered Heero, made some lax attempts at catching up... Well, Hilde and I talked, at least. Heero seemed more content stabbing at his meal with his fork, acting a bit distant and deep in thought. I knew him better than that; he was listening intently - and at the same time acting aloof to avoid questions in his direction.
I had a feeling there was something he didn't want to share with us just yet. Couldn't for the life of me guess what, though.
He did remember to compliment Hilde on her cooking, though - and thank her for her hospitality, even if I had forced it on her. Yeah, he actually said that last bit. Like I said, Heero's a straight shooter. It was all good, though - Hilde laughed at it. Or my reddening ears. Not sure.
We finished the meal. I put my plate at the bench, and was about to go to the living room when Hilde called me back.
"And just where do you think you're going?"
I halted, baffled. "I was going to start clearing out the guest bedroom, and-"
She shook her head.
Slight smile, another headshake. She pointed her thumb to the bench. "Your turn to do the dishes, Duo. Get going."
I groaned, more for show than anything else. Given that I had been gone for days, it was probably my turn to do a lot of things at the house. I had to give her that much, at least.
Heero was the one who pointed out the obvious. "What about the dishwasher?" he asked, pointing at the contraption tucked under the bench.
"It broke down," I explained as I poured water in the sink and fumbled in the cupboard below for the soap.
Hilde snickered. "Yeah, and I'm waiting for mister Fix-It there to do the same and hire a repairman - or buy a new machine."
I snorted dismissively at her. Just you wait - I'll get it working again, one of these days.
"Maybe I could help?" Heero offered, a little too eagerly.
I grunted, and began putting the dishes in the soapy water. "No offense, pal - but if I couldn't fix it, I don't see how you would be able to."
He huffed at that. "I took apart Deathscythe and retrofitted the parts with Wing once. I think I can handle a simple household appliance."
I shrugged, tried to be indifferent and reached for the brush. "Fine, give it your best shot." Heero didn't know what he was getting into, after all. That thing was the dishwasher from hell.
"Not tonight, though," Hilde cut in. She reached for the towels at the end of the bench, tossed one to Heero and winked at him.
Heero nodded in return. Even with his neck facing me, I could almost see the smirk on his face. Made a lopsided grin of my own, shaking my head in resignation.
As I finished cleaning the first plate and handed it to Heero, she excused herself, saying she was going to look for extra blankets for the couch and start clearing out the guestroom. It'd take a while to remove all the junk we'd stored there, after all.
And I didn't intend to sleep on the couch indefinitely.
I handed Heero another plate. Our hands met. That alone was enough to cause his cheeks to shade. He snapped the plate away, slightly bothered.
I sighed. Yeah, I was still good for my promise to take the couch instead of him. I knew he'd object.
I prayed Hilde wouldn't make us compromise.