Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respective copyright owners, like Sunrise/Sotsu/Bandai. Plot, if you can call it that, belongs to me.

Pairing: 1+2
Warning: [PG] Shounen ai. Heero POV

A Moment of Perfection
by Ponderosa
Chapter 3

The following morning, Duo put me in charge of organizing our trip to Earth. It didn't take much preparation. I RSVP'd, bought us transport tickets, and made arrangements to see a tailor in the time it took for him to cook breakfast.

"Done already?" Duo arched an eyebrow and scraped equal amounts of scrambled eggs onto a pair of light blue plates. One of them had a tiny chip along the edge and they were of slightly different hue that told me he'd probably bought them on separate occasions.

"Basically. Do you have any suggestions for a gift?"

"Ask Hilde," he said. "She's good at that sort of thing."

Hilde. Before Mariemaia, when Duo and I had shared an apartment briefly, I'd met her several times and she stayed with us for two weeks on a holiday; even so, she and I had hardly ever spoken.

"Want salsa for your eggs?" Duo craned his neck over his shoulder.

I shook my head. "No thanks."

He dropped a plate full of eggs and potatoes in front of me and I returned the smile that my breakfast beamed up at me.

I stabbed my fork at the bare spot in the center of the plate and asked, "Where's the nose?"

"Sorry, nose not included."

"I'm terribly disappointed."

Duo chuckled and pulled a carton of juice out of the fridge. I heard it slosh as he set it down on the counter, then he leaned over my shoulder and grabbed the fork out of my hand.

"Can't have my guest disappointed," he said. The warm rush of his breath near my cheek smelled like toothpaste and he reached around me with his free hand to twist my plate around.

I had the urge to turn my head and kiss his neck, but he was already standing up again. I mourned the loss of his closeness while I celebrated the facelift my breakfast had obtained at his hands.

After we had eaten, Duo walked with me to the yard and Hilde met us halfway through the scrap that rose like metal dunes on either side of the driveway. She was waving a few pieces of paper in her hand and looked upset.

"Duo! Mr. Sherwood is threatening to cancel his contract!" she exclaimed, then glanced at me quickly and her face crinkled into a cute smile. "Oh, hi Heero. Long time no see."

"What's the problem?" Duo asked.

Hilde's expression went serious again. "His last two orders got lost somehow and if he hadn't called, this latest one would've also. I just don't know what to do." She puffed out her cheeks and blew a burst of air upwards.

Duo gave me a calculating look. I knew what was churning behind his eyes and I offered to take a look at their filing system before he had to ask.

His face split into a broad smile and he threw an arm around my neck, "Great! You can ask Hilde about gifts while you're at it."

"For Relena?" Hilde asked.


"I know just the thing! Come on," she smiled and dragged me towards the office.

"See ya tonight," Duo called out and I looked over my shoulder just in time to catch his thumbs up.


Fixing the Scrapyard's filing system took longer than it should have. I ended up working on it well into the afternoon. The entire network was rather shoddily set up and I knew for a fact that Duo could program well enough to make something that ran more effectively.

"Oh you know Duo," Hilde said with a soft bubbling laugh. "He has more fun digging through the scrap than selling it."

"What about you?" I asked. A girl who had enough skill to lift the technical readouts for the Libra could probably do better than the half-assed job I was busy fixing.

Hilde didn't answer immediately and I pinched the set of wires I was untangling to look over at her.


"Oh sorry," she smiled at me. It looked forced and I wondered if I should press the matter.

"Do you enjoy working here, selling scrap?" I asked. That hadn't been my original question, but it was likely that was she thought I'd meant.

"In all honesty?"

I nodded and her eyes flickered to the door momentarily as if she expected someone to burst in and hear her confession.

"I hate it," said Hilde. "I really, really hate it."

"Then why are you still here?" I returned to my task, so as not to make her uncomfortable by staring at her.

"I was part of this from the beginning," she said slowly. "I wanted to help Duo... Actually, as long as I'm being truthful, I was head over heels in love with the goofball when I agreed to help him set this place up."

Hilde tossed her pen into the cup on her desk and leaned back in her chair. "It's a little embarrassing to think about how I used to hang around waiting for him to notice me, when the whole time he was in love with you."

I dropped the wires I'd just sorted out.

"Oh God. You knew didn't you? I didn't just out Duo in the worst possible way, did I?"

"You didn't. I knew," I half lied and picked up the wiring again.

I knew he liked men. I had found out fairly early on during the time when we were living together. The spaceport was shut down for security reasons and I had returned home instead of sleeping there to catch a flight the next day. I stepped out of the elevator and found Duo getting hot and heavy with another guy in the hallway. I had been too irritated with my experience at the spaceport to spare the energy to feel shocked.

He had practically jumped out of his own skin when I cleared my throat and asked if they were planning to go inside anytime soon, or if I should just squeeze past them and leave them in the hall. He'd stammered that they'd been planning to go in and I asked for an introduction, same as I did when he brought a girl home. After that, there were a few other guys sprinkled in with the wide range of girls that paraded in and out of his life.

However, getting back to the situation at hand, what I hadn't known was that Duo had ever been in love with me.

He'd made a few overtures, but at the time, I hadn't paid any attention to the sexual side of a body that I never felt comfortable in and his flirting always came with a bit of teasing. I suppose, the humor helped soften the inevitable rejection on my part.

Hilde had gone back to explaining to me why she was still here and as far as I could tell, it was simply because she felt she couldn't leave.

I finished sorting the wires again and plugged them in before I swiveled around and focused on Hilde. "Duo would understand if you tell him you want to move on to other things."

"I can't tell him, not when he needs me this badly."

"A rat will be able to operate the system by the time I'm done setting it up," I said.

"It's not the system that's the real problem," Hilde sighed wearily and ran a hand through her closely cropped hair. "Before the war was over, Duo would just blow up a few suits, tow the scrap back and we'd sell it. Then, when we started this place up again, there was still a good amount of debris in the surrounding space. By now, most of that's been picked clean and the larger companies have bought salvage rights to any large pockets left."

"What about Duo's art? He had a gallery showing, doesn't that bring any money in?"

"He's only being doing it for a short while. Maybe with the 'Vice Foreign Minister' commissioning that monster he's working on, interest will pick up, but that still doesn't solve our problem here; besides, it just wouldn't be fair for him to need to pump all his personal earnings in this place to keep it afloat." Hilde trailed off for a moment. "If only he'd stop refusing to trade off his notoriety and just publicize that he's a former pilot."

All of us weren't particularly proud of what we did as pilots. There was as much, if not more, pain as there was pride in our pasts. Out of all of us though, Duo seemed the most adamant about not taking favours, even going so far as to actually wade through the significant paperwork needed to secure a salvage permit around one of the Winner owned satellites instead of just calling up Quatre. I suspected that accepting a commission from Relena was perilously close to the edge of his ethical boundaries. It was odd how those boundaries shifted, given that I'd seen him steal everything from apples to cargo ships. There was little use in my trying to puzzle that out; Duo was an odd bundle of contradictions. One simply learned to accept it.

"Almost done?" Hilde came over and hovered near my elbow. I glanced at my chrono; it was later than I thought.

"I can finish after I get back from the tailor's tomorrow."

"Want me to drive you? We can go shopping for Relena and get that taken care of too."

"I'd like that."


The following evening, I discovered that Duo hadn't lost the habit of leaning against my shoulder when we sat and watched TV. Only now, I noticed every rustle of his shirt or warm surge of breath on my arm.

"Your shoulder is all sharp edges," Duo complained and shifted for the fifth time in two minutes.

"I guess you need to start feeding me more to fatten me up so my shoulder is more comfortable for you," I said and jostled my shoulder.

"Hah! You eat more than I do!" he exclaimed and dug his fingers into my side to tickle me. It took everything I had to keep from bursting out laughing. He didn't give up until I squirmed.

"Find a pillow," I said. When he didn't move, I grabbed one from the far side of couch and whapped him with it.

Duo did a slow motion melodramatic fall backwards, then hugged it to his chest before twisting around to lay his head in my lap. He looked up at me through his mass of chestnut bangs and said with a hint of insolence, "Found a better one."

The rest of the week went fairly quickly. I spent my time trying to make myself useful. After I helped Hilde reorganize the file network, I decided to stick around with her in the office during the mornings. We brainstormed about possible solutions to their financial problems and got to know her a bit better. Duo had often talked about her and made me almost feel as if she had been a friend of mine, but now I could happily label her that in all certainty.

In the afternoons, I helped Duo put the final touches on his hollowed out Leo memorial. It was delicious torture. When I was with him, there were moments where he set my skin on fire with an accidental touch or made me feel dizzy just by looking at me. Then there were the moments when he stood a certain way, or said something that made me want to grab him then and there and seal his mouth with mine.

Knowing that he had been in love with me at some point gave me a skewed perspective on everything. I wasn't sure if he was sending signals and trying to hint that he hadn't given up on me after all this time, or if he'd past that point and thought of me as nothing but a friend. He flirted with Hilde the same way he flirted with me and from both of their individual statements on their relationship, there was no seriousness behind it.

That they each felt the need to make sure I knew they were only friends could've been telling me something; but, until I sprouted a romantic backbone and was able to outright ask Duo, I decided to happily endure each little engagement that was just as unexpected, just as thrilling, and just as bewildering as the one before it.


When we were getting ready to leave for the spaceport, Duo was eyeing me as he trotted down the stairs behind me. He carried my bag along with his own as I had the task of safeguarding Relena's present.

"You alright?" he asked.

"Just a little tired," I said and yawned right on cue. My makeshift bed on the couch was comfortable enough, but taking into consideration the longhaired devil in the loft directly above me who insisted on trying to keep me up as late as possible, by laying there telling little jokes and stories to see how long it took before I broke down and laughed, I got very little rest each night.

"Going to sleep during the flight?" he asked, slinging his bag into the back of his convertible and dropping into the driver's seat.


"Guess I should've brought something to read," he said and tapped a beat along the top of the windshield while I attempted to find a safe spot for Relena's gift.

"You could always see if they'll let you pilot the thing," I said and chuckled at the grin that crept across his face. I gave up trying to find a spot for the gift and got into the passenger seat, wedging it firmly between my feet.

"Think they'd let me fly?" he asked as we tore down the street at three times the posted limit.

"I hope not," I said.

"Hey! I haven't gotten rusty," he replied, sticking out his lower lip in a mock pout.

"Exactly," I said, and leaned my head back. I made myself comfortable in the low bucket seat and stretched out as much as I could. I let my left hand rest on the shoulder of Duo's seat and playfully tugged a stray wisp of his hair. "If you were flying, we'd get there so fast I wouldn't get a proper nap."

Duo laughed and floored it.

I smiled and closed my eyes as the wind tore at my hair. His braid eventually wormed its way free from where it had been pinned and trailed behind like a living thing. I let go of Duo's seat and wrapped my hand around where it began at the base of his neck. I slid my hand down its length and pulled it back into the front of the car. I didn't let go, if I had, I told myself, it would've whipped back again. Secure in my excuse, I twisted the end around my fist and eventually found myself systematically brushing my thumb across its feathery tip.

After a few minutes, Duo looked over at me, but my eyes were more than half closed. I think he assumed I'd fallen asleep. He looked oddly serious and stared at me for a few seconds until the road claimed his attention again.

I couldn't decide if I wanted to know what he was thinking and I couldn't quash the fluttery feeling of hope and nervousness that staked a claim in my chest.

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