Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

This is a sequel to 'Crumb'
Pairing: 1+2(+1)
Rating: R
Contents/Warnings: Shounen Ai, Alcohol abuse, some angst, Heero POV
Word count: 500

AN: Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #32 - 'contract'. Part #9 of the 'Road to Recovery' micro-series. Another pretty much 'bleh' segment of this thingie... I'll try to make something better next week, promise. After this one, I hope to be able to write more like one-shot segments that can stand more or less alone (yeah, fat chance of that happening...).

Rules of the Game
by kebzero

The first task for any mission is to work out all the parameters - The battlefield, your opposition, the weapons at your disposal. Then you plan, as best you can. Of course, you must allow for some improvisation, as no plan survives contact with the enemy. The 'opposition' was clear enough. The 'weapons' in this case would be anything I could find, anything I could use to nudge at Duo's feelings.

What I really had to learn were the limits of the battlefield. "You'll only kick me out if I start drinking again, right...?"

Duo took the cautious question with no alarm whatsoever. "That's the general idea..." Half a smile. "That, and helping you not drink anything stronger than coffee in the first place."

I nodded, kept my face plain. "And that is the only thing that would get me kicked out?"

He gave me a puzzled look, then stared out into space, and sighed. "Look, you're my friend, Heero. I invited you, didn't I? So, no - I'm not going to kick you out while you're off the bottle - unless you really get on my nerves, for some reason." He grinned it away as a joke. "I'm fairly sure you'll have trouble with Hilde long before me, though."

I smiled a little at that, before probing enemy territory again. "Are you sure...?"

His voice grew stern, but he kept looking dead ahead, through the plasteel windows. "My word is as good as any written statement, Heero. I never lie - you ought to know that by now."

I slowly nodded, and mumbled "I know... but you like to twist the truth, or omit it when convenient..."

Duo heard it. I had meant him to. He glared at me, but made no comment.

"So, while I'm under your roof, I'm to stay away from alcohol. That's fine - but what about you?"

From the look of his face, he knew I didn't mean 'will you stay away from alcohol too?'. He almost scowled at me. "Just what are you getting at?"


I really didn't have to say more. He understood. And sighed. And looked generally uncomfortable - but not angry. "Look, I don't expect you to change how you feel - to be perfectly honest, I'm kinda flattered, but... Well, I don't feel the same, okay? So, I'll leave all of that up to you. I won't stop you from... flirting, or whatever you're planning - 'cause the only one you'll end up hurting is yourself. I'd prefer if that didn't happen, though."

I had a hunch something like that was coming, but it still stung.

Duo noticed. "I'm sorry, but it's the truth. Better that you get it up front."

Hesitantly, I nodded. At least I had a small hope of trying to subvert him, without him getting fed up with me and showing me the door. One of us was certainly going to have a change of heart - and it wasn't going to be me.


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