Duo stared into the wide blue eyes of his best friend in complete shock. He just couldn't believe his ears.
"Not even once?" Quatre rolled his eyes, a slight pink coming to his cheeks.
"No, it's not that big of a deal though, is it?" He seemed to focus a little bit more on the tea on the table in front of him and ran a hand through his blond hair, grumbling a little in his embarrassment. Duo folded his arms on the cafe's table as he leaned forward, tilting his head slightly.
"So what did you do then? I mean- everybody's got something- You guys had all that money, I mean surely you went to some fancy business party or-" Quatre let out a frustrated sigh.
"No, Duo, my family never celebrated Christmas." Duo blinked, sitting back in his seat, really, truly, surprised. All week he'd asked all the ex-pilots what their Christmas plans had been, and not a single one had ever celebrated Christmas before. Heero and Trowa had been to a couple of parties, but never stayed long. It was always some great distraction for them to bust in to an office or hack some computer somplace. Wu Fei had always been too busy, and never really like the cold anyway.
"Why?" The word blurted out of his mouth before he could think it, and Quatre shrugged.
"My Father was very traditional, so when they had a business party to attend with any sort of holiday theme, he kept us at home." Quatre shrugged. "Since I don't really affilate with any religions I really haven't done anything. I've been too busy with the company anyway, even if I wanted to." As Quatre sipped his tea, Duo crossed his arms and knitted his brows. Quatre shot him a look that was a mix of suspicion and curiosity.
"You're biting your lip again. What are you thinking?" Duo scrunched up his facelike a small child who'd been caught doing something he shouldn't, and Quatre found himself chuckling. Duo waved his hand dismissively, but it didn't stop Quatre from noticing the small blush the crept up to Duo's face. He never could stand it when people laughed at him, or read him so easily as Quatre could, but if the blond was to be honest with himself, Duo had always been so obvious.
"I just can't understand. I mean no little brother of mine should go without Christmas!" Duo spouted, and Quatre let a smile form on his lips as he prepared himself for another of Duo's rants. "I mean Heero never does anything- I mean I get it, the guys practically void of cheer. I don't exactly see Heero shiny wide eyed at christmas lights- he'd probably get lost in the dazzle and want to go hide in a dark corner and brood. And Trowa- well you know Trowa. Trowa would probably think it's just another Monday. He probably will go work at the circus and care for the animals, he wouldn't even give it another thought. I don't think he knows when Christmas even is."
"Well they do decorate for the big Christmas show, so he probably knows it's Christmas, Duo." Quatre flagged down a waitress for their bill.
"Yeah, but like...the day." Duo drew a box with his finger on the table to emphasize the exactness of it while his other hand reached for his wallet. "And Fei? Yeah. No."
"Well, you know Wu Fei doesn't like crowds and parties." Quatre smiled and thanked the waitress as she returned while Duo pulled out his share of the bill for their weekly lunch and set his wallet on the table while he searched for his phone, pulling more things from his pockets and dumping the on the table in his search.
"Yeah, but I mean he doesn't even put up a tree-oh, there's that stupid thing..." He grumbled, sliding the black hair ties on his wrist so he wouldn't lose them in his pockets again.
"What are you expecting, not everyone celebrates Christmas."
"Yeah, but lots do, what are the chances out of the five of us, only I celebrate Christmas?" Quatre let out a soft sigh, watching the pile of random items accumulate on the table. There were a few crumpled receipts and some change mixed with random small bolts and what looked like watch batteries.
"What are you looking for?" Quatre asked, eyeing the random pocket knife and paper clips the boy pulled out next that looked dangerously close to falling off the table.
"My phone- My friggen phone, I thought I had it right here." He pulled a couple of lighters and a pocket size band-aid dispenser from his button up shirt pocket and Quatre rolled his eyes.
"You gave it to me to charge it, you left it in the car."
"Oh. Heh." He smiled sheepishly as he started to put his things away just as scattered as they'd come out. "Thanks, Cat." The waitress returned and Quatre handed her the money, insisting she keep the change, and helped Duo pick up his things. In the pile of pocket junk was a swiss knife Quatre hadn't even seen come out of his pockets, and smiled at the elegant loopy engraving of Duo's name on the handle.
"You still have this old thing?" Duo grinned.
"Yeah, got me out of a lot of tight places at the garage. Besides, you bought it for my birthday, I'm not just going to chuck it because it's old. Plus nobody can take it, It's got my name right on it. Not like my lighters." He grumbled something about going through lighters like water and double checked the table for anything he may have missed and slid out of his chair. Quatre checked his watch as he stood, then glanced at the table for anything Duo may have missed.
"Well, I'll drop you off at work, then I have to get back to the office."
"Sounds good to me. Hey, we still on for next week?"
"Same place same time." Quatre grinned while the pair made their way to the car.
That night, Duo flopped face down on his couch in his small apartment livingroom, kicking off his steel toe boots and groaning. Lots of people had been at the garage getting their cars ready for the ice and snow, and with the weather man saying there was an upcoming snow storm, today seemed even more busy. He swore to himself he'd shoot that damn weather man if he got the chance, pushing himself up and wincing at the pain in his lower back, yanking off his red scarf and tugging his coat off, leaving them a heap on the floor, grumbling as he undid the buttoning on his flannel shirt. Finally somewhat comfortable in a black tanktop and ragged jeans, he leaned foreward and shuffled the various papers and magazines on his coffee table to find the tv remote. He flicked through a couple of channels before settling in on some old Christmas classic singing something about an island of misfit toys. He let out a tired yawn and set his feet to rest on the table, glancing at his dark kitchen and debating if he had the energy to even eat, much less cook. He stretched a little and settled into his couch a little better and decided against the idea entirely. He settled for watching the little cartoon on the television. It wasn't long before he found his mind wandering, and his eyes made their way to his tree in the corner. The lights were off, and while the decorations were simple and a little sparse, he couldn't help but smile. He had fond memories bubbling up in his chest of previous years' Christmas. He didn't like to think of the orphanage he had spent a part of his childhood in, or his time in the streets, but there was something about Christmas that made him remember things. He looked forward to Christmas, not just for people's charity and the higher chance of him getting food and maybe a warm place to sleep, but his memories of the church. He liked singing in the choir. He could almost smell the incense and could remember Father Maxwell's low humming voice as he spoke the sermon. He chuckled to himself as he rubbed his thigh. He could definitly remember his legs hurting from all the standing he'd had to do. He remembered Sister Helen leading the Gloria, she had an amazing voice. It lit up the church more than the candles and the lights could ever dream to. He could still remember some of the words.
He found himself thinking of his friends and wondering what they did on Christmas. Where would their warm feeling come from? Did they ever get to feel the magic Christmas brought? Then again, since he spent Christmas alone, he hadn't gotten the full effect of Christmas in a while. He did like to spend time at the local Catholic Church for Mass, but he always stayed towards the back and never was able to stay for whole time. His memories always got to him first. Something about being in a room so packed with stangers made him feel more alone than being by himself in his apartment ever could. He leaned over the side of the couch and pulled out his laptop, zipping to his email. He saw a familiar name on his instant messanger and grinned. Of course Heero would be online. He typed up a quick message asking his Christmas plans, and the reply was simple.
"Who works on fuckin' CHRISTMAS?" Duo threw his head back and groaned in frustration. He didn't bother dignifying Heero's reply with his own, he just slammed the laptop shut and put it beside him, crossing his arms and knitting his brows in deep thought, and he wasn't quite sure at what point he'd fallen asleep.
Quatre was beaming behind his desk when Trowa walked in, jumping out of his seat and meeting him half way with a warm hug that the taller man met with an always cautious and gentle arm around his shoulders.
"Oh Trowa, it's been so long since I last saw you! How have you been?" Quatre was practically bouncing and jittering in his excitement.
"Busy." Trowa let out a very tired sigh, the stoic mask he presented to the world slowly melting away in the presence of his best friend. "They have a full house for the Yule Time show." Quatre nodded.
"I'd imagine! Wow, I'm so happy for you all- come sit, sit!" Quatre waved to a chair cheerfully and grabbed his own chair, wheeling it around to sit beside Trowa.
"Duo asked two or three times now what my plans for Christmas are." Trowa mumbled as he sat down, and Quatre nodded, a hint of annoyance in his eyes.
"You know how he is- it's this way every year. Same with Easter-"
"He doesn't usually keep asking though." Trowa cut him off, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair. "Duo's always...excitable? Energetic?" As Trowa mulled over which words to use, he shook his head and continued. "But not this...persistant." Quatre just shrugged.
"I think this is the first time it's come to him that he's the only one who celebrates Christmas. I don't think he means anything by it, I think he's just trying to work it out, in his own...weird...'Duo' way."
"Last I spoke with Heero, he'd asked him four times what he was doing for Christmas."
"Maybe he's just hoping someone's plans will change." Quatre offered.
"Doesn't he always get too wrapped up in Christmas with Hilde and the Salvage yard?" Quatre thought about it a moment.
"Ah, come to think of it, The Salvage yard shut down and Duo works at a garage now, and they close for Christmas. Hilde moved out last month too, she got married." Trowa vaguely remembered getting a wedding invitation in the mail and pushed the thought aside.
"So..." Trowa thought for a moment. "What is he doing for Christmas?" Quatre was taken aback, leaning back in his chair and frowning. He'd never even thought to ask. Every year had been the same, he never really put thought to how much change Duo had been in.
"You know he's not even in the house anymore, he got an apartment in town." Quatre rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "I remember he sold off a lot of his things and was pretty upset over his decorations. I haven't been to his new place yet, we've been so busy here I hardly have the time to meet him for lunch once a week." A kind of sadness hollowed out in his chest as a cold lump dropped down his throat. "Oh." He nodded slowly, piecing things together. "I've been so busy, I never really think about what's going on with him these days." He felt a little embarrassed and a little ashamed, and it showed clearly enough for Trowa to frown.
"We're all busy this time of year." Trowa's words didn't ease any of Quatre's guilt. Duo always acted like his protective older brother, even if they were the same age, going so far as to show up in his office unannounced sometimes if he'd not heard from the blond in a while. He always made an effort to keep in contact with the others too, but something seemed to always happen where Duo got cast to the way side and he never complained. He didn't even remember the last time he'd asked Duo how he was doing, and when he thought about it, Duo had been more forgetful and clumsy since Hilde had moved out. Duo could be scatterbrained, and he had to admit he had found Duo to be a bit of a bother lately, having to mother over him and his stuff, especially the last couple of weeks. Trowa sighed and it pulled Quatre from his thoughts.
"You know..." Quatre laughed nervously. "I guess I really haven't paid much attention to him, really. I... guess I've been too busy."
"I figured you must have been wrapped up. You never replied to my letter." Quatre felt heat beam up to his cheeks. He'd gotten Trowa's letter, but had been too busy lately to even open it. Trowa followed his eyes to the desk. "It's in the drawers isn't it?" Quatre nodded, ashamed.
"I meant to- I really did but I-" Trowa shrugged and Quatre bit his lip, fidgeting in his chair. He'd always been the one in the know, always been the one who knew how everyone was doing or how they felt, but somehow he'd gotten himself so wrapped up in his own work seemingly everyone else was forgotten. "I've been a little wrapped up." He admitted quietly. "Not the best of friends, am I?"
"Not your fault, Quatre. We all get busy. No one is mad at you." Trowa assured him in his usual smooth tone, and while he found some ease in it, he couldn't help but be mad at himself. It'd been months since he'd even spoken to Heero, and he'd been in the same building at least four times to deliver something. He didn't even know how to get ahold of Wu Fei. Trowa's strong hand ruffled his hair and he chuckled, turning Quatre's face pink. "No one is mad at you. Don't beat yourself up." Trowa's lips had a slight upword curve, probably the smallest smile but the most sincere. Quatre grinned at him.
"Right." He let out a sigh, and straightened himself up. "So how have you been? Where have you been?"
The visit went well, and Quatre promised himself that he'd pay more attention to the people he cared about.