momentary lapse of reason
All five of the Gundam pilots had managed to survive the war relatively unscathed.
If one were to be completely honest, I'm certain that one could discern that some benefits had been reaped from their experiences.
It wasn't too difficult to see, the most obvious being the deep friendship they had sustained over the past 4 years.
The fact that they remained working together and living under one roof surprised even them at times.
But their lives were not without trial, no ones ever are.
"Duo, if you don't hurry up we're leaving without you." Quatre called up the stairs. "He does this almost every morning." the small blonde noted with annoyance.
Three pairs of eyes rolled up into their respective heads, though no comments were offered in return.
This was Duo...they all knew the deal.
Several minutes later, Duo came flying down the stairs, briefcase in hand, still working his arms into the sleeves of his Preventer's jacket.
"Gomen...again." he grinned, making his way past the others, stepping outside onto the front porch.
The five settled into the black late model Jeep and Quatre backed it out of the driveway.
Hair still unbound, Duo fumbled with it in the back seat, elbowing Heero in the process. "Sorry, Heero." he offered, shifting closer to the door, continuing to braid his damp hair.
"Why don't you take a shower at night?" Heero asked.
He asked Duo the same question every day as if somehow expecting his answer to change.
"It helps to wake me up if I take a shower in the morning." Duo replied, noting the echo as Wufei mocked his standard A.M. response.
Duo moved forward and looked past Heero to where Wufei sat. "Someone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?"
"At least I got up on time." Wufei replied, not even looking at Duo "One of these mornings we're going to really leave without you, Maxwell."
Duo settled back into his seat "Yeah, yeah, same shit, different day."
"It's very inconsiderate of you to make us all wait, Duo." Trowa commented from the front seat.
"Hn." Heero snorted.
"Could everybody just lighten up a bit here?" Duo asked, "Next time I'm late, you can leave without me. Okay?"
Greeted with only silence, Duo finished braiding his hair, tied the end off and threw the rope over his shoulder.
The elevator carried Heero and Duo in silence to their 12th floor office in the main building of the huge complex.
Noting the clock on the far wall, Heero booted his computer and turned toward Duo. "We're 10 minutes late."
Not meeting with what he was sure was one of Heero's more famous, though now less lethal glares, Duo sighed and sat at his desk, flicking the switch to power up his computer as well.
For the past few years, the two former pilots had been working together at Preventer's Headquarters. It seemed a logical progression. Despite the painfully obvious personality clashes, they remained a highly efficient team.
Heero's vast knowledge of computers and Duo's precision stealth capabilities during the war had, several years later, secured them the prestigious positions they currently held.
The top floor of the Preventer's Building was where all confidential operations of the huge intelligence organization took place. There were only a handful of spacious offices on it, each housing a pair of highly trained and skilled young agents.
Despite the significance of their job, it was relatively stress free environment and the two spent the good portion of their working hours monitoring Earth and the Colonies for signs of unrest or disturbances. When the need arose, it was Duo who was sent out into the field to investigate any questionable activities they uncovered, more serious matters requiring Heero's assistance as well.
Tasks such as those were fortunately few and far between, Earth and the colonies having settled nicely into the peace the five young boys had risked their lives to achieve.
All in all, the arrangement suited them both quite well, though they still struggled with the same daily clashes that had haunted them throughout their partnership during the war.
They were just two *very* different people, different backgrounds, different ideas on how they chose to live their lives.
Heero had relaxed quite a bit over the past few years, but by Duo's standards, he was still anal, still strove to be a perfectionist and in Duo's opinion still took things way too seriously.
And while Duo had matured considerably, he remained quite talkative and full of energy.
There was also another unresolved issue that remained from AC 196.
Duo Maxwell still harbored romantic feelings for his long-time partner.
The feelings Duo had for Heero had diminished from the obsessive adoration he once held for the young cobalt-eyed pilot, but they were still prominent and despite his conscious efforts to squelch them, Heero remained in the forefront in his thoughts.
Duo had never taken a lover, which surprised the former ex-pilots. Only Quatre and Trowa knew the situation, Duo having turned to them for advice and an occasional shoulder to cry on during the past several years.
Heero was just Heero. He claimed to live life by his emotions, but Duo noted that wasn't saying much about his co-worker, as Heero appeared to still be in denial that he even possessed human emotions.
Now, as in the past, Duo rarely let Heero's caustic words affect him, at least not outwardly. He remained steadfast in his unwillingness to give Heero the perverse satisfaction of pissing him off; something that his cobalt eyed partner seemed to more than delight in.
The one thing the two young men had in common was their stubbornness; it was unrelenting, the two rarely giving in to one another.
Most disagreements they had were likely to end in a stalemate, Heero usually throwing out an insult regarding Duo's intelligence or lack thereof, the braided young man never dignifying him with a response.
Heero looked over at his long-time partner.
//Why do I torment him so ?//
The answer came, but Heero chose to bury it, his actions typical when it came to things that involved Duo.
Heero had an inkling, okay; it was more than an inkling that Duo had an interest in him that went far beyond their current platonic relationship. What he didn't understand was his reluctance to accept it and deal with it.
//Old habits die hard.//
Heero had been intrigued by Duo from the moment they'd met. At first, the strange fascination with his fellow Gundam pilot was nothing more than morbid curiosity, something akin to the phenomenon of road kill. You knew that looking at it would nauseate you, yet you are were unable to turn your eyes away.
The more time he spent in the company of the Deathscythe pilot, the more Heero realized that there was more to Duo Maxwell than met the eye.
Loud mouthed and jester-like in nature on the surface, Heero regarded the self-proclaimed God of Death with caution. His cheerful facade may have fooled the others, but Heero was able to see beyond it, silently accessing the young Shinigami, finding him more like himself in that regard than Heero cared to admit.
Several months had gone by before he acknowledged that his interest in the young man was more than casual. There was something about him that Heero could not put his finger on. Something about the young boy that called out to him...... even in his dreams.
The sensations that Duo roused within him were unique. Not only had he never felt them before, but they were something that his extensive training under Doctor J hadn't dealt with. Whatever it was he felt for his partner kept his mind occupied with thoughts of him, sometimes to the point of total distraction, his inability to focus on anything but Duo frustrating him no end.
And so the thoughts were pushed to the back burner where they were kept out of sight, but in no way out of mind. There would hopefully be an after war for them. A time when he could allow the amethyst eyed boy and not the war to hold his full attention and in return give him his, but when that moment came, there was always something else standing in the way of him revealing his feelings to Duo.
The fact that young pilot did not return his emotions was never an issue.
Duo had made his desires for the cobalt-eyed boy known from the very start, at first just small innuendoes, eventually blatant flirting and teasing. Heero enjoyed the attention, amazed at times that someone like Duo could find him attractive in both a physical and mental way.
But there was no doubting it, Duo had made very sure of that and Heero had every intention of claiming his prize.
After the war......
After they found a place to live.....
After they had found jobs......
The adage that good things come to those who wait failed to hold water for Heero.
In the time that Heero had waited for his 'life to fall into place', he had succeeded in damaging his relationship with Duo to the point that he could no longer bring himself to tell Duo that he cared for him.
It was also at this point that Heero noticed that Duo no longer seemed to show any interest in him. It was a painful reality, but Heero had, by his own admission, pushed the boy too far away to ever hope of regaining whatever level of love and trust Duo once had for him.
Heero was curt with his fellow agent, often times his demeanor downright rude, belittling Duo for seemingly no reason. And now, as in the past, his methods failed to discharge his emotions.
Duo still intrigued him; he was Heero's polar opposite.
Heero closed his eyes momentarily, opening them to find Duo looking at him.
"Everything okay, Heero?" Duo asked, his instincts regarding Heero's emotions always on target.
//He reads me like a book.//
"Hai." Heero replied, pulling his eyes away from Duo.
//How can he feel anything for me when I treat him like I do ?//
Heero succumbed to a small part of his enormous guilt regarding his braided friend. "Want to go out for lunch today?"
Duo smiled, "Sounds great." looking at his partner only briefly before continuing his work.
Heero nodded before focusing his attention back to his work, more than slightly distracted by his thoughts of Duo.
Their typical lunch hour came and went and Duo's stomach growled. "Heero? I'm starved. You ready to take a break?"
Heero shut his open programs, looking at his partner. "Yeah, let's go." he smiled, noting how Duo's eyes lit up being on the receiving end of his rare smile.
Eating out was a pleasant break from their standard bag lunch and as was par for the course, there was little conversation exchanged during the meal. Duo nonetheless attempted to draw his friend into some type of discussion.
"Everything has been really quiet lately, eh, Heero? Duo commented, his partner only nodding slightly to acknowledge his comment.
"Things keep up like this and we could find ourselves out of a job." Duo smiled, continuing his lunch.
"Those who monitor and gather electronic information will always be necessary and since we do it well..." Heero replied, "I think our jobs are relatively safe."
:: A compliment ::
The two finished lunch and the rest of the workday continued on in its standard silence, Duo occasionally singing loudly to some tune his small headset provided before becoming aware of it and blushing profusely.
4:00 signaled the end of their shift and Duo stood to stretch. While he had never given much thought to his career, this desk job didn't exactly suit him, it did nothing to help release his pent up nervous energy.
"One more day." Duo smiled toward Heero, the two clearing their desks.
There weren't many personal effects left around the large room, as surveillance was a 24-hour a day task, their desks soon to be occupied by a new pair of agents.
"Any plans for the weekend, Heero?" Duo asked, more out of politeness than anything else. Then there was Duo's need for human interaction. Having Heero as a partner less then fulfilled Duo's daily requirements, but he never gave up trying.
"Nothing special." he replied, "You?"
"Gonna finish working on my bike. Last of the parts should be here on Saturday." he smiled.
Heero zipped his bag and looked up at Duo. "You spend a lot of time working on that thing."
"Yeah, well it keeps me busy." Duo smiled as the two exited the office. "And out of trouble."