After two years away, I looked forward to being transferred to the Headquarters branch of the Preventers. In the remote regions requiring my attention, rarely did the chance come to visit with my friends, my companions from the war. This would change now, with Heero and Duo stationed at HQ, and Trowa and Quatre constant presences.
What I hadn’t counted on were the ...changes in my most stalwart allies.
Lunchtime in the cafeteria highlighted their abnormal behavior.
The first lunch I spent with Heero and Duo, I didn’t respond well. I’d known the two had developed a relationship, therefore, at first, hadn’t paid heed to the shared plate, and Heero’s unusual actions. Duo, as his wont, kept a steady flow of conversation, updating me on our friends and the current political situation.
Heero spent several minutes dividing, smoothing, and cutting his meal. I watched in incredulous fascination at the precision of Heero’s work. The first bite, he took, only to rearrange the remaining food to cover the gap.
Near the end of the lunch hour, I noticed Heero’s other odd behavior. I’d been too engrossed in listening to Duo, my own lunch, or watching Heero compartmentalize his, I’d missed that Heero had been feeding Duo. After every one of his bites, he’d pick up another and offer it to his partner. Duo would close his eyes and wait for the food to be placed in his mouth. Each time it did, he’d become rigid, taunt as a bow string. After a few moments would pass, he’d chew and swallow.
Finally I could stand no more. “I would think the two of you would have better manners than to play around. It’s a stupid joke you’ve come up with and not the least bit funny. I would appreciate you stopping it.”
Two pairs of blue eyes locked on me, one in astonishment, the other, anger.
His hands trembled on the tabletop; Heero placed one of his over it. Cold fury I’d last seen fighting mobile dolls froze me to my seat. “If I could stop, I would.” Duo stood. “If the way I eat bothers you, then please excuse me.”
He’d taken no more than a half dozen steps before Heero called out, “Duo, wait.” Assured his partner had halted in his tracks, he turned back. Eyes older than I’d remembered regarded me. “He was poisoned a year ago. He trusts no one, and suspects everything he eats.” His gaze returned to the most jovial of us all before he added softly, “What he used to enjoy, now frightens him. And he hates being afraid.” He stood, lifting his tray. “Now if you’ll excuse me.”
Numb, I could only watch as Heero slung an arm over Duo’s shoulders, giving him a slight squeeze before they both disappeared down the hall. Staring at my plate, I shuffled what I’d left into a pile trying to imagine what it’d feel like to fear that which is necessary for life.
I couldn’t do it.