There it was, that sound again. Heero's eyes opened and he peered at the bedside clock. Just after midnight, the same as before. He listened for another minute before slipping from underneath the blankets, bare feet silent on the thickly padded carpet. Rising, he was silent a moment longer, checking the noise. From the kitchen or the backroom, he suspected and crept out of his room into the hallway.
Duo's door was shut. Probably sleeping. the thought was fleeting as he hugged the walls, listening step by cautious step. His roommate's work hours had been tough in recent weeks, and Heero rarely had the chance to see him. His own hours weren't the best, but at least he slept normal hours these days.
Outside the kitchen door, the sound continued, a steady rasp and slide. Heero paused, trying to identify what could be making the noise, and discarded each thought as it came to him. The phenomena had begun a little over a week prior, though not every night. The first night, Heero had dismissed it as something Duo had been doing. The second, he was certain Duo hadn't been home but by the time he'd realized this, the noise had stopped. The last time, he met Duo in the hallway, and his roommate denied hearing anything, joked that Heero had dreamed the whole thing.
He wasn't wrong; it hadn't been a dream. Raising a hand, Heero pushed softly on the swinging door, opening it a crack to peek through. Duo was at the counter, an arm moved in a steady rhythm. Another push on the door, and Heero stepped inside the kitchen quietly; Duo hadn't heard him as yet.
It was wood. A short block of what looked like cedar in one hand, and his – Heero's – specially imported vegetable shredder in Duo's other hand. Up the metal and down, the block peeled itself against the grater in even shreds. A small pile lay on the countertop, next to a porous bag Heero knew well. The bag he'd picked up a few months ago on one of those impromptu shopping trips he took with Duo. It'd contained a woodsy potpouri, heavy with a fresh cut cedar scent.
"That's not what a grater is used for," he said softly. Duo's hands tightened, and stopped; the only physical signs of surprise.
"I know." Duo gave one more swipe and set the block away. He had yet to face Heero, and continued at his task. "But it's the only way to get these chips the way they're supposed to be." The fragrant cedar was scooped into his hand and tucked into the cloth bag.
"Why?" Heero asked softly, noting Duo hadn't changed out of uniform.
Duo finished his clean up before turning and handing the bag to Heero. "You like the smell."