Wishes, Hopes and Dreams
The line moved slowly, seeming to crawl an inch at a time. Duo shifted from one leg to the other, pulling the slip of paper from his jeans pocket and once again reading the instructions. Wondering what Quatre had sent this year, he sighed and shoved it back. A hand brushed his arm, and he knew without looking who it was; Heero had finally found a parking spot.
"Why is it always banks and post offices that have the longest - and slowest - lines in the world!" he groused with a glance over his shoulder.
There was a soft snort behind him. "You said the same thing Thursday about the grocers." A hand landed on the small of his back, pushing him gently forward. "I believe it's queuing in general that you dislike."
"Got that right." Duo slipped his coat off, making sure his gloves were still in the pocket. It was too hot in the room despite its large size and he resigned himself to carting it for the duration. His eyes scanned the line again, noting they were roughly ten positions back, but there were only two windows currently open. At the rate it was going, his business wouldn't be taken care of before the office closed.
Strands of holiday music added to the low din, Duo could hear bells and a rich male voice singing of city sidewalks and snow. He glanced out the window to assure himself it hadn't become a winter wonderland in the past ten minutes, though it was cold enough. Two days before the holiday, and other than a light dusting a couple weeks previously, there was no sign of it. A white Christmas would be nice, he thought, leaning back just enough to touch Heero. A shoulder brushed against his, contact made.
Christmas time had always hit him harder than any other. Not even twenty, and he'd yet to experience a 'happy holiday'. Duo turned slightly, catching a glimpse of Heero out of the corner of his eye. He wasn't the only one to have missed the joy of the season. It was their fourth Christmas together, if the two spent recovering from injuries received out of the wars counted. But then, they hadn't really been together then.
The line moved forward, and a well-dressed, older man passed down the row waiting for their turn at the window. Duo watched as the man clutched a small parcel in his hand, his eyes shone with a heightened gleam. Though he tried to see the return address on the package, Duo wasn't able and he wondered for the moment what it could contain to excite the man. His head turned and he couldn't stop from watching him exit the building. Most likely a gift from a family member, he thought. Gloves? The box seemed small enough. A book. He gave his head the barest nod and then snorted. Probably a porno video.
"What?" Heero leaned forward to ask, their faces inches apart.
"Nothing," Duo answered, quelling the impulse to lick his nose. Though he didn't care for public displays, Heero being so close was pretty tempting. He settled for a grin and a quick raise of a brow.
Heero closed his eyes and shook his head, getting the message. The smile tugging at his lips belied his exasperation.
Another step forward, and Duo leaned his back against a column. He shot a glance at Heero; the man had pulled out a dog-eared paperback he'd been reading at home and seemed content. Rolling his eyes, Duo looked over the plastic enclosed poster on the wall opposite advertising commemorative memorabilia. As if he wanted a set of stamps depicting the mobile suits of yesteryear. The rules and regulations on interstellar shipping was more interesting. He resisted the urge to pull out the postal notice once more.
The smell crept slowly through the air about him, and his nose twitched. He looked to Heero. Seeing him still involved in his book, Duo knew he hadn't noticed. Tentatively, Duo leaned sideways, closer to the one in front and gave a light sniff. He backed away quickly, almost bumping into Heero in his haste. On the surface, the lady appeared well-scrubbed. He wondered if it would be considered harassment if he suggested she change deodorants.
They were fourth in line when a young girl caught his eye. She'd come bouncing in, her bright red coat and jaunty purple hat and scarf a vibrant splash of color in the drab room. A woman followed the skipping figure, and Duo assumed she was the mother. An envelop clutched in her hand, the girl hadn't stopped chattering. She tugged her mother's hand, drawing her farther into the post office and coming to a stop at a counter. The woman lifted the girl, and after dropping her envelop in a gayly colored box, she set her feet back on the floor again. In all, they were in an out in less two minutes.
Duo's eyes narrowed, making out the inscription on the red and green wrapped container festooned with paper candy canes and gold tinsel. - Santa's Mailbox. Duo blinked, and a soft smile appeared. He hadn't thought of Ol' St Nick in years, despite the surge of his presence over the past month. He studied the box, and realized it'd been made by one of the postal employees. Idly he wondered how many kids still mailed their wishes. A snippet of O Holy Night sounded from overhead, and he felt an odd pang as though he'd lost something he never had. Turning from the box, he spotted Heero watching him.
"Any good?" Duo asked, jerking his chin at the book he held.
Heero's eyes didn't leave Duo's face. He nodded slowly, marking his spot and putting the paperback in his jacket pocket. "We're almost there," he stated quietly. "What were you looking at?"
Shuffling ahead another spot, he nodded to the box on the counter. "Santa's Mailbox." He grinned at Heero's glare. "You do know who that is, don't you?" he teased.
"Idiot," Heero chided softly, an expression of annoyance flickered and was gone. "I wonder where the mail goes?"
"What the fu..." Duo cast a look around quickly. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before telling him, "The North Pole! Where do ya think?"
Heero was frowning now. "That's illogical. While there is a North Pole, governments around the world are not going to waste time and energy shipping tons of mail to an imaginary figure."
"You're kidding me, right?" Duo cried out, his voice loud. "This is Santa Claus we're talking about here! Of course they're going to ship 'em to the guy!" Several heads turned, and Duo ducked.
Frowning, Heero's voice was a near whisper, "Since you're the expert, what happens to the mail once it gets there?"
Duo tilted his head to where it nearly rested on Heero's shoulder. "The elves take and sort the letters and stuff." At Heero's incredulous look, he added, "It's their job. Besides making the toys, that is."
"Next," a tired voice called out. Heero propelled Duo to the right window, and twin sets of postal notices were laid on the counter. The clerk looked the slips over, announced she'd return shortly and disappeared.
"Alright, now tell me why civilized nations would waste resources better spent on worthwhile endeavors?"
"But, it is!" Duo said, his voice raised once more. Seeing the curious looks from the next window over, he leaned closer to Heero. "Without wishes, there is no hope. Without something to believe in, there are no dreams."
Heero stared at his lover for several long minutes. His expression softened and he smiled. The reappearance of the postal clerk drew his attention and he held back from commenting. He signed his name on the indicated line, and waited for Duo to finish. The clerk handed a small box to him, and a larger one to Duo.
Walking past the line of folks waiting, Duo put on his coat and pulled out his gloves before taking back his box from Heero. As they exited through the doors, he looked for Quatre's familiar writing. He frowned seeing the unknown block print with his name and address. There was no return address and the postmark was smudged. He stopped just as they stepped from the curb, his hand plucking Heero's package from his pocket.
"Shit," he whispered.
Heero had turned when Duo stopped. Hearing his soft curse, he snatched the small box back, trying to determine what had him disquieted. He spotted it right away and raised his eyes to Duo's. "Is this a joke?" he asked dangerously.
Duo was already shaking his head. "No, not from me." He held out his own package, showing its postmark. They stared at one another in silence. "Let's go. It's getting cold," Duo said finally.
Walking across the parking lot, Heero raised his face to the sky. A flake fluttered softly, landing on his cheek and he blinked. "I don't know anyone from that far north," he said at last.
His gloved hand slipped into Heero's bare one; Duo bumped against his shoulder. "Neither do I." He looked up, and seeing the flakes begin their descent in earnest, he added, "But I can dream, can't I?"
Heero put their clasped hands in his pocket without answering. Without wishes, there is no hope. Without something to believe in, there are no dreams. He squeezed the hand in his and agreed.