disclaimers: not mine

pairings: none - quatre, duo (friendship)
word count: 591
warnings: mild angst

author's note: this is part of the From Boys to Soldiers to Men arc.

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
by Merith

It was raining, and after a week of it, Quatre thought he might be getting used to always being wet. On a bit of high ground, he was sitting hunched over with his rain poncho draped about him. He was trying to decide if it would be worth the effort to change his socks now for the less damp pair hanging down inside his shirt from his armpits, or maybe wait until it was his watch.

"Hey," Duo said softly, his mud splattered boots just inside Quatre's line of sight. Quatre angled his head slightly, only enough to make out more of Duo without letting the rain in. "I've got second watch." He was already pushing mud away with the toe of his boot at Quatre's back.

Quatre only nodded, knowing Duo probably knew already that he did as well. Duo was sitting at his back, now, leaning against him. Quatre closed his eyes, and leaned back enough to support Duo in return. He could feel Duo shifting around and heard the telltale sound of a can opening. He was smiling suddenly, despite the gray of the day. The only time he was able to see Duo anymore, was when the man wanted to eat.

The temperature wasn't anywhere near cold, but the warm presence of Duo at his back was soothing. Sunlight was beginning to fade, and the sounds of the impromptu camp couldn't be heard over the rain. Quatre's rifle laid in diagonal across his lap, and he hugged it closer, his eyelids began to droop shut again. Duo was nearly finished eating, the slight scraping sound of tin on tin almost as soothing and familiar as the rain.

"You remember when we snuck into that cotillion? The one my sister's friend was having?" Quatre's voice was soft, barely audible above the rain.

Duo was nodding. "Yeah, I remember."

He smiled thinking of how mad Iria had been; how they had outran the older boys across the club's lawns and disappeared through the woods. "You had the band play Chubby Checker."

Duo was chuckling now; his shoulders were shaking against Quatre's. "Hey, what's a dance without a little twist?"

Quatre laughed with him, remembering the skinny, little kid Duo had been, in sneakers and dungarees, and the sleeves of his tee shirt rolled up like James Dean. Duo had grabbed the hand of some girl, and she danced with him, the skirt of her dress swishing and swirling.

"That was the first time I ever had champagne." Duo nudged Quatre's shoulder with his own. "And shrimp." He made a gagging noise. "Last time I'll ever have shrimp too."

"It was the cocktail sauce," Quatre told him, still smiling slightly at the old argument.

"Yeah, well whatever. I'm never eating the shit again."

It had been a warm spring night and he and Duo were barely thirteen; too young to attend but old enough to want to be interested. Hanging out with Duo that night, Quatre had mentioned Iria's friend and the crush he had on her. It hadn't taken Duo much to convince Quatre into riding their bikes the five miles to the other side of town, and peeking through the windows didn't seem quite enough after coming all that way. The highlight of the night had been when MaryJo Kinsley told him he was "just too cute" and kissed him on the cheek.

"Hey Quatre."

Quatre snorted and jerked upright. "Yeah?"

"When we get back, remind me to apologize to your sister for throwing up on her dress."


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