Title: Everyday is
Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Pairings: 3x4, 5+S, H+OC, 6x9, 2+?
Warnings: Sap, and just a touch of angst
Archive: Lev's Lair Mizuno's Little Gundam Wing Page On Valentines' Day, Heero and Duo dropped me a note to tell me that they're giving me ownership of the whole GW gang. And then I woke up and nearly cried when I found out that was just a dream. So no, I don't own the GW gang in any way. I do own this fic though.
Note: This fic is set two years after the war.
Duo yawned, and tried to rub the fatigue from his eyes. It simply wouldn't do if he were to fall asleep while making his breakfast. If anything, he had no intention of abusing his stomach by starving it. Quickly, he scooped up his eggs from the frying pan and served it on a clean plate, along with some toast and a mug of coffee.
As he ate, Duo pouted. He had prepared too much food… again. As much as he would have liked to eat them all, he was already gaining too much weight. He would have to throw away the extra slice of toast and egg. Duo pouted deeper at that thought; years of living on the streets had taught him to never waste anything edible. Peering at the phone, he vaguely wondered if he could call Hirde over to have breakfast with him. It was just too boring eating alone.
Then his eyes settled on the pin up calendar next to the phone. There, on the page, was February 14 circled with a thick red marker. Duo sighed. He couldn't call Hirde today; she probably didn't have the time to be bothered with him anyway. Most likely, she was already shooting out of her apartment on a hot date with her boyfriend. Looking at the red circle again, he smiled as he remembered how his friend had drawn it just almost two months ago. They had an on-off relationship then, and Hirde had hoped that Valentines' Day would help them pick up the pace. However, it wasn't too long after that that they finally decided to call it quits and remain as friends.
Steven's appearance probably had something to do with that.
But Duo wasn't mad at them. He knew it was coming, one way or another. Hirde deserved someone better than someone who couldn't give her what she needed. And he was glad that he still had Hirde's friendship.
It was most unfortunate that Valentines' Day fell on a Saturday though; he didn't have to go to work, and he had nothing to do at home. Worst of all, he couldn't hang out with his friends since they were all, by some miracle or fate, all attached.
Then his phone decided to disturb his solitude with a loud shrill. Duo blinked. Who would be calling him on Valentines' Day? Hopefully, it wasn't that blonde harpy he had met a few nights ago at that bar. He would have to remember to stop getting so smashed at drinking and give someone his phone number.
"Hello? Duo speaking."
"Duo, this is Hirde."
"Hirde? Why are you calling? Aren't you supposed to be on a date with Steven?" he asked, pulling up a chair.
"I am. Well, 'supposed to be' if he were on time. Can you believe he's let me wait for him for close to an hour already? And when I called him, he told me to wait a little longer!"
Duo winced. "Should I be afraid to ask him to define 'a little longer'?"
"Yes!" Hirde all but shouted into the phone, and Duo quickly pulled the receiver away from his ear. He pressed it to his ear again tentatively when he was quite sure Hirde had calmed down.
"Oh, Duo… why didn't you agree to come along with me? At least, there'll be someone waiting with me now. And we'd all have fun; I just know it. Steven would love it too! After all, we're going to a theme park in the afternoon!"
"Hirde… this is your first Valentines' with Steven. You can't expect me to be around and play gooseberry, can you? I'm sure he's just caught in the traffic…" –or something, I mentally add- "He'll be with you soon."
She sighed into the phone. "I hope so. But… are you gonna be alright? We'd love to have you with us, you know?"
"I'll be fine," Duo laughed. "I'm a big kid already!"
Before he could say more, he heard a gasp coming from Hirde's end.
"Oh Duo, you won't believe it. Steven's coming my way, with a whole bunch of balloons in his right hand and the biggest bouquet of roses in his left!"
Duo smirked; that was probably why the guy was late for their date. With a curt goodbye, he quickly hung up, knowing that Hirde was going to enjoy herself now.
But his smirk turned into a pout when he remembered that his fridge was nearly empty. He would have to go out and shop for some groceries.
Balancing the weight of the paper bag in his arms and the weight of a few other bags in his other, Duo ambled through the streets. Maybe it had been a bad idea to try and buy everything at one go when his car was at the garage for repairs. And surely, he had bought too much food like he always did. Billy, the boy working at the local grocery store, always asked him if he had an appetite equal to two people.
Duo blew his bangs away from his eyes.
He had to get home quickly; it was getting hard to stand all that gaudy red and pink decors the shops had put up for Valentines' Day. Who in the world dictated that red and pink were the must-have colours for Valentines' Day anyway? Maybe it was Relena.
As he struggled with his bags, he noticed the number of couples walking the streets was just amazing. And they (mostly the girls, actually) were all carrying bunches of flowers that ranged from roses to lilies and boxes of chocolate or some other nice little gifts their significant others had given them. And, God save him, most of the gifts and presents were wrapped in pink or red paper.
He looked down at his arms, and he decided that brown was a much more fashionable colour.
Duo flipped through the channels, frowning when he saw nothing of interest. He was just resigning himself to watch the Valentines' Special movie when his vid phone signaled that he had a call. Quickly, he pressed a button to answer, and the screen came to live with Trowa's face.
"Trowa? What are you calling for? Aren't you supposed to be in bed with Quatre?" Duo teased good-naturedly. It was a well-known secret that the happy couple was especially touchy-feely with each other. As it was, Trowa looked rather sleep mussed and Duo had a pretty good idea what he had been doing before calling.
The auburn haired man grinned. "Quatre thought that it would be better for us to go out and celebrate Valentines' Day instead. Anyway, we're asking you to join us. We're going to have lunch at the new bistro in town and then catch a movie. We're not sure what we want to do after that though. You have any idea?"
Duo raised an eyebrow. What was with his friends anyway?
"You could go back home or go to a hotel and… you know," he trailed off with a wicked smirk. "I'm not going with you two, so I guess you can well…" he finished with a gesture.
"You're not coming?"
"Of course not. What makes you think I want to barge into your private time? And…" Duo cocked his head, and added, "Quatre must have put you up to this. Tell him to stop worrying about me. I'll be fine."
Following Trowa and Quatre on their date was one of the most stupid things one could do, and he had proven it once when he tried, not too many months ago. For once, he felt like he was on stealth mode even when he wasn't trying. He didn't need to. The loving couple almost acted like he wasn't around. It wasn't their fault honestly. They were just so in love they couldn't see anyone else. And the way they acted around each other was so sappily sweet Duo had to take off in the middle of another of their make out sessions.
After a long debate (well, it wasn't too long since Trowa wasn't really interested in having someone tag along on his romantic date), Duo finally put down the phone. Quatre was such a worrywart. So what if he had to spend Valentines' Day alone? It was nothing. Really. After all, Valentines' Day was just a commercial event that cajoled every couple into spending too much money on roses, chocolates and other sweet stuff and exerted pressure on singletons to find someone to spend it with.
And it wasn't the first time he was alone on V-day.
It was probably the females who created the tradition of celebrating love. They were just all so adamant about celebrating it with flowers and sweet nothings. At least, the woman he knew of were all of that kind. Hirde had already proven it that morning when Steven brought all that stuff along for his date; Duo wondered if that had burned a hole in his wallet. And even the good-doctor-turned-preventer Sally was apparently the same.
For the whole week just before the big day, Sally kept dropping hints on what she wanted. Blue roses (red is just too cliché, she said), some chocolate (just a little; it's fattening), and maybe just dancing and partying (and it would be nice if I could just go to a party and dance the night away!). Oh, there were too many hints too count, and poor Wufei had to be around to pick up as many as he could. Those he did not pick up on, Duo and the other told him directly. It was almost funny to see the proud Chinese man taking notes on what she wanted and asking someone if it truly could be done and not give him cavities. He'd probably already made an appointment with a dentist.
Duo sniggered at the thought of Wufei muttering curses as he followed Sally around and the blue roses and chocolate in his hands.
Still, Sally was just so lucky Wufei decided to play along. The last time he tried to drop hints that he wanted to go for a nice dinner, Quatre had picked up on it instead of some single guy who wanted him. He shrugged at his own luck, and then turned off the television set.
Peering at the clock, he decided that it was time to go to the hospital for a visit.
"So how's the babe?" Duo asked nonchalantly, or as nonchalantly as he could manage. He had no intention of letting his friends see just how excited he was to see the new born. It was the first time he had friends becoming parents, and the first time he got to see his friends' first born. He couldn't remember the last time he had been this excited.
"Perfectly handsome," Zechs stated proudly.
"Just like his father," his wife added gently, and Zechs smirked even more. He slid into the chair beside Noin's bed, taking her hand into his in a comforting gesture. It almost made Duo jealous.
"Heh, not another sickeningly sweet couple," he teased, cringing as though he had bitten into something too sugary for his teeth. Zechs merely pulled Noin closer to him and gave Duo a mock glare.
"Poor kid, having to spend his first V-day in hospital and his parents are just too stuck together to see him," he sighed dramatically. He always did love to be dramatic in front of Zechs because the man would play along; it was one of the reasons why they had become such good friends after the war, working together in the Preventers. But the main reason was because of the mission from hell exactly a year ago. Une had sent both of them to infiltrate an organization, and a traitor had caused them to blow their covers. If it weren't for a stroke of luck, this V-day would have been their first death anniversary.
Noin laughed. "We just asked the nurse to bring him over here so you could see him. Maybe after you see him, he won't be such a poor kid?"
As if on cue, the doors to the ward opened and a nurse wheeled in the little cot and the bundle that was Zechs and Noin's joy. Duo stared at the infant struggling to sleep despite Zechs picking him up, not bothering to stifle a yawn that was coming out of his little mouth. When Noin tried to run a finger down his cheek, the baby swiped at the intrusion, almost annoyed. She tried again, and he let out a little protest that made him even more endearing.
Duo gazed at the scene before him with an unwavering glance, and if he could, he would preserve it. It was just too beautiful for words. Vaguely, he wondered if he would ever have his own. A scene like this: someone to share his life with, and his own child. It was magically enchanting; the way happiness overshadowed the signs of weariness on Noin's face and how Zechs seemed to glow in his son's presence.
Just then, a familiar voice rang out from the little television set that hung down from the ceiling. They peered up, and saw Relena on screen. She ambled to the middle of a podium, surveying the gathering crowd as she did, and started to speak. Behind her, nearby, was Heero, suitably dressed up as her personal bodyguard.
Zechs smiled at his sister. Holding up the baby, he spoke to him softly, "See her? That's Relena, your aunt. She's busy right now, so she can't visit us. But she's already filled up your room back at home with a lot of toys and clothes. When we get home, we'll have give Aunt Relena a phone call to thank you."
"Make that a vid call. I'm sure Relena wants to see Damian," Noin added with a smile of her own.
Duo could not tear his eyes away from the television screen. But he couldn't hear Relena's words. He could only see the speech, the people listening intently and the group of bodyguards constantly communicating with each other through their headphones and walkie-talkies. What he was staring at though, he had no idea.
Vaguely, he heard Relena wishing everyone a happy Valentines' Day.
He flipped through the album, looking at the numerous photos he had accumulating over the years staring back at his face. There were pictures of his friends with him, laughing and smiling along at the camera. For a while, Duo felt as though he could still remember how he had felt before the camera; the joy and happiness that permeated his mind and soaked his being seemed as though it had been preserved onto the pictures.
He turned the pages.
Back then, when he had first started slotting the photos into albums neatly, he had done so in chronological order. And now, he was at the section that contained pictures taken during the war. There was one where he had snuck up on Wufei and snapped the photo. Duo snickered as he remembered how indignant the Chinese man had been, nearly sputtering when he discovered that Duo had managed to creep up on him. He had to run away then, or risk Wufei destroying the entire roll of film. Luckily, they had bumped into Quatre, and with a bit of diplomatic skills, convinced the two to take a photo together. Of course, the photo was slightly blurred because the second Quatre snapped it, Wufei had promptly tried to strangle Duo with his braid. It was a playful gesture; something neither Quatre nor Duo had counted on. In the end, all three of them took one together.
And then there was one he took with Trowa, right after they had made fun of each other's hair. Wufei had taken that one for them, and it was clear, despite the fact that he kept sniggering at the ribbon on Trowa's bangs.
There was also one of Heero typing away at his beloved laptop, seemingly unaware of the shutter's click. The picture beside it was taken weeks later, and by that time, Heero was facing the camera.
Duo flipped on.
He smiled nostalgically at the first photo of Quatre and Trowa together. And many others soon came, right after the two had finally confessed their feelings for the other.
And there were a few where Heero and Duo had taken together, back at a school where they were holing up. There on the facing page, were a few others that had Heero and Relena together.
Duo continued turning the pages until he reached the section of photos taken after the war, and just before the Eve's War. There were more pictures now: Quatre and Trowa talking, Wufei glaring at Sally whilst she sniggered, the Sweepers, Heero and Relena together, and Hirde hugging him from his side.
He took the next album and opened it.
The photos here were taken mostly after the Eve's wars, when they had mostly joined the Preventers with the exception of Heero.
Numerous photos filled up the pages; Zechs and Noin's wedding, Quatre and Trowa's engagement party, Wufei and Sally holding hands, Hirde and Steven laughing together at something… And instead of photos, Duo had some newspaper clippings of Heero and Relena attending various functions together. There were no pictures of himself.
And there hadn't been in a long while.
He didn't like seeing his smiles on photos anymore.
Silently, Duo closed the album and settled them on his table. When had all his friends gotten attached? And when had he been left behind, alone?
He picked up his calendar. There was a circle around February 14, but it wasn't the red one Hirde had drawn on the calendar in his kitchen. He had drawn it some time ago with a blue pen. But he had no idea why he had done it then. Perhaps he had hoped that someone would ask him out on a date for two, or perhaps he had drawn it to remind himself that he was still single. Sighing, Duo uncapped a tube of liquid paper and drew another circle over the blue one.
Suddenly, the calendar looked a lot better.
Duo woke up suddenly in the middle of the night, wondering what had disturbed his sleep. Another press of the doorbell answered his question, and he yawned. Sleepily, he glanced at the clock and the neon green numbers told him that it was 12.15am in the morning. Finally. It was February 15 already.
The doorbell rang again, and Duo groggily slipped on a robe and stumbled to the door. When he peered through the peek hole though, he was nearly shocked to full awareness.
Quickly, he opened the door.
As he had seen earlier, the Japanese man was standing rigidly before him, lips tightly pursed and brows drawn together. On the ground beside him, was a duffle bag that looked worse for wear. Duo recognized that bag; it was the same one Heero had carried throughout the war.
Duo blinked, but he stepped aside to allow his friend entry. Once they were both settled down on the couch in the living room and warmed up with some coffee, Duo decided it was time to get some answers.
"Why are you here all of a sudden, Heero? And what about Relena? Don't you have to guard her? Didn't she just give a speech? How did you manage to get over here so fast?"
Heero was silent for a while, looking down at his locked fingers.
"I've quit. The job just… didn't seem suitable for me anymore. I've already handed the reins to someone I trust. That speech Relena just gave was my last job with her," he replied simply, as though he were talking about the weather.
Duo waited for more. But when there was none, he pressed on.
"But why? Why would you leave Relena? What is she going to do without you?" he asked; he had long been prepared to add pictures of Heero and Relena's wedding to his albums.
Heero frowned, scrunching up his brows in a way that reminded Duo of a child instead of the experienced soldier that he was. It was extremely endearing, and one of the many expressions that Duo had always wanted to have a photo of but never managed.
"She's going to continue with her career with a new bodyguard."
"That's not what I'm saying! What I mean is… Aren't you two together? As a couple?"
For a while, Heero just stared at him. It was unnerving. Then he chuckled, and at that moment, looked a lot more confident than when he had first stepped into the apartment.
"Relena's right. You did think that," Heero murmured.
"What? What did she get right?"
But Heero didn't answer him. Instead, he dug into his duffle bag and fished out a nicely wrapped up box. Handing it to Duo, he said, "This is for you. I bought it a year ago, but I didn't quite dare give it to you."
That admission confused Duo to no end. It didn't make sense at all. But he unwrapped the present anyway.
"It's a watch?" he asked when he had finally opened the box.
The Japanese man nodded, and wordlessly held up his left wrist, baring the sleeve.
"It came in a pair," he said, caressing his own watch carefully. "I thought it would look nice on me… and you." When Duo didn't say anything, he continued, "I was going to give it to you a year ago, but then I heard about your mission with Zechs and how you had gotten hurt. I went to visit you in the hospital, but I didn't know what to tell you. I didn't know how to face you."
Duo frowned, looking at his friend intently. He could barely recall the days he had spent on the sterile hospital bed, soaking in the nauseating smell of medication and listening to the constant beeping of the electrocardiograph. But he did remember hearing Heero's voice through the thick fog in his mind, though no one told him that Heero had visited.
"I should have joined the Preventers with you. If I did, I might have been able to go on that mission with you and protect you. Instead, I ran away to Relena because I thought that was my duty. I thought she needed my protection" – he shook his head – "but I was wrong. She only needed someone to protect her; she didn't need me."
Heero gazed fixedly into his eyes then, and Duo felt a shiver crawl up his spine. But it wasn't the sad shiver that struck him whenever he flipped through his photo albums.
"She doesn't need me," he repeated, "but I need you. It took me a year to understand that, to understand what I felt when I saw you lying on that hospital bed and why I always seem to gravitate towards you. I'm here now, Duo, to ask you for another chance. Give me the opportunity to love you."
Duo felt something click into place. Maybe this was why his friends always seemed to be so worried for him? Maybe they knew that he missed Heero desperately even when he wasn't sure of that himself? And maybe this was what was missing from his life; the reason why he tried to pretend that Valentines' Day didn't affect him when it reminded just how lonely he was?
Before he could say anything, he felt Heero gently taking the watch from his hands and winding it. When he handed it back, the time was back to 11.45pm, February 14.
"Happy Valentines' Day, Duo. Won't you accept me?" Heero's voice was a little shaky, but his stance remained confident.
Feeling lightheaded for the first time in a long while, Duo wound the watch back to the correct time, much to Heero's disappointment. But his words brought back hope.
"Valentine's Day is cheesy. I don't need it," Duo said adamantly. "I like February 15. It's quieter, more normal and people place fewer expectations on it. As long as you're here with me, everyday is a celebration" – he leaned into Heero's open arms – " of love and romance."
As Heero pressed their lips together for the first time, Duo felt the sadness of flipping through his photo albums wash away. Instead, he knew there would be excitement and elation to do so, because from now on, February 15, there would be photos of him and Heero together.
Sorceress Fantasia @ 11th February 2004