Late Night Dessert
Opening the door to the bakery, Heero paused on the threshold. Cinnamon, nutmeg and warm apple smells greeted him before the woman behind the counter did. He pulled the door closed behind him, and stomped the last of late snowfall off his boots. The place was well heated, even close to the door; his cheeks stung with the thawing feeling from being out in the cold too long, and he touched one briefly. He hung his coat on the rack that had seen it often and his hand strayed to the still damp brown leather hanging next to his; he knew it well.
The café side of the store was near deserted with one lone patron at the counter sipping coffee and reading the newspaper, while another sat in the last booth. Heero's lips twitched into the slightest of smiles, recognizing the bent head. He nodded at the cashier in passing, his footsteps quiet on the worn tile. A hand touched the back of the vinyl covered booth and he waited a moment watching his friend before slipping into the empty seat.
"Have you ordered yet?" he asked, reaching for the menu.
"Nah, just got here a couple of minutes ago." Duo's head remained bent, reading the magazine opened before him. "'Sides, Jackie wouldn't let me order before you got here."
Heero replaced the laminated cardboard. His eyes flicked from the top of Duo's head to the magazine page. "Still thinking about buying that stereo system?"
"Yeah," Duo replied, closing the magazine and looking up. "Hey Jackie."
"Hey yourself, Duo." The waitress set their water glasses on the table and turned to Heero. "So, what'll it be today?"
"Apple with a scoop of vanilla." Heero frowned as Duo supplied his order. The man only grinned, adding, "and Pu-erh tea."
"The usual," Jackie laughed, writing on her pad. "Got it."
"I was actually thinking of having cinnamon spice instead." Heero's eyes glinted. "But since you've already written the Pu-erh..." Duo grunted softly.
"And you, mister can-never-make-up-his-mind? What'll you have?"
"Hey, I know what I want," Duo protested.
"Not usually," Heero commented, pulling Duo's magazine closer. Listening with half an ear as Duo hesitated about which flavor to order, he flipped to the page that had held Duo's interest. With Jackie's departure, he continued to read as he asked, "Have you found a roommate yet?"
"No." The reply was short, and Heero glanced up to see Duo looking out the window. Heero noticed he'd slipped the paper ring from his napkin wrapped flatware and was twisting it around his finger. "They're all a bunch of crackpots." Duo turned away from the window catching his eye. "Aren't there any normal people left out there?"
Heero scanned his face for a moment, his eyes flicked down to the paper ring and back. "There are, when you look for them." He held Duo's gaze for a breath, and then tapped the opened page. "You're still looking for one of these? I thought you bought one already."
Duo shook his head, his brows puckered slightly. "Not yet. I've the cash for one of the components, but not all, and what's the sense in that?" Heero nodded and watched as the paper split, ripping in half. "'Sides, if I don't get a roommate soon, I'll need the money."
"If it's money..." Heero started to say and stopped when Jackie appeared, a tray balanced on one shoulder.
Duo was scowling in his direction but gave the woman a smile when she sat his dessert in front of him. Heero nodded his thanks, and moved the small stainless steel pot to the side. He forked a bite of pie, and held it at eye-level. Top crust flaky, golden and with just a hint of sugar sprinkled on top. The foundation, not too thick yet solid to hold the filling. On a logical level, he knew the chemical reaction that worked together to fuse the apples with the gel-like syrup. But it still fascinated him. His tongue swiped the syrupy mix, ready to drop. And its flavor, almost perfection.
The tines between his lips, Heero's gaze went to Duo. The man had taken back his magazine and, as Heero watched him, Duo's eyes never left the page, even as he ate. Heero poured his tea and looked out the window. Spring had officially began the week before, yet it still snowed. He drank from his cup and thought about the upcoming shift rotation. He'd have to remind Duo it would be breakfast instead of late night dessert.
Adjusting his sight, he caught his reflection and smiled slightly, cup held to his lips. The tiniest shift in vision, and he could see Duo's mirror image, and the rest of the bakery behind him. Jackie was leaning on the back counter, talking to her other customer. He could see the baker through the open window between the kitchen and the store. Heero drank from his cup again and narrowed his focus.
"How was work?"
"Good," Duo mumbled around a bite of pie. "Orders are coming faster than we can deliver them, though. Howard thinks he's got a handle on a couple guys that can pilot." Heero turned his head and found Duo looking at him. "Sure you want to stick it out where you're at? We could use you."
Heero nodded slowly. "I like what I do." He thought for a moment that Duo's eyes had changed color and he dropped his gaze. "You're the pilot. I'm the controller." He gave a shake of his head. "I don't think running packages back and forth between the colonies is something I'd like to do long term. Communication control, I can see leading to other things."
"I like working with you though." Heero almost smiled at his tone. "It isn't the same with the other guys."
"Maybe someday you will." Reaching out, his finger landed on one of the pieces to the system Duo had been eyeing. "I could get this component." He raised his eyes. "And you the other."
Blinking, Duo frowned down at the part Heero's finger indicated. "Yeah, but how's that supposed to get me..." The expression cleared from Duo's face and Heero waited as his mouth opened and closed.
"Pieces that belong together, should be together," his comment was low.
"Yeah." Duo's finger brushed his. "I'll send the order in the morning then. Think a week should do it?" Heero decided Duo's eyes hadn't changed color, but the tightness around them had relaxed.
"A week will be enough time." He raised his cup in salute, and hid the growing smile behind its rim.
"You going to finish that?" Duo's fork tapped the edge of his plate.
"Yes," he answered. Moving the plate to the middle of the table, he added, "but I'm willing to share."