One Night, Just Like Every Other


"Death before dishonor!" Heero declared.

Duo nodded muzzily. "Uh-huh. Sure, Hee-chan." He yawned. "Death before dishonor… Nothing before coffee," he mumbled, taking a sip of Shinigami-strength brew from his cup, a spark of renewed awareness lighting his eyes at the infusion of caffeine.

Scowling at his lover, Heero said, "I am trying to work the bugs out of the speech I have to give at the next Preventer meeting, Duo. I'm debating Relena Peacecraft; I need all the practice I can get if I don't want her to verbally walk all over me."

"And I am trying to stay awake so I can listen to you rehearse, like a good lover," Duo replied, annoyance clear in his tired voice. "But it's three in the morning, and we have to be up in four hours for our next mission. I need at least some sleep, Heero." He gave his lover a look of affectionate exasperation. "So do you, for that matter."

Sighing, Heero flopped back down in his chair at Quatre's kitchen table. "You're right, Duo, I know, it's just… I don't want to mess up," he said, the late hour and his ease in Duo's presence combining to make his anxiety visible to the other for a brief moment.

"You won't, Heero," Duo said reassuringly, one hand creeping across the table to engulf Heero's own square palm in its slender embrace. "And it doesn't matter how much practice you get, you know. These meetings never go the way you plan them. It'll still end up in a yelling free-for-all with no one able to get a word in edgewise. You might as well save your breath now, 'cause you'll need it later."

Heero nodded in defeat and squeezed the hand in his own tightly. "And I'll end up winging it, my prepared speech forgotten in the ruckus and chaos that every Preventer meeting ends up as."

"Exactly!" Duo said, a spark of his normal enthusiasm making itself known in his voice before he yawned again.

Heero smiled, that spare, wry grin – more a flash of storm-bright eyes than any motion of lips – gracing his face, the one he only wore where Duo was involved. "C'mon, sleepyhead. Time for bed," he said tenderly, pulling Duo up from his chair by their entwined hands. Plucking Duo's coffee cup out of his hand, he set it in the sink, knowing that by the time anyone got around to doing the dishes the dregs of coffee in the bottom would have hardened to a granite-like sludge and would take hours of soaking and scrubbing to remove.

But then, that was what Quatre had servants for.

Wiggling his chestnut brows playfully, Duo joked, "I don't think I have enough energy for anything too acrobatic, Hee-chan, but if you're willing to do all the work, I suppose I could stay awake long enough."

Heero rolled his eyes and manhandled his lover into their shared room, placing him carefully on the large bed.

Giving another jaw-cracking yawn, Duo said, "You gonna tuck me in, too, Hee-chan?" He gave his lover a soft smile as he settled back against the fluffy pillows.

"If you're good, I'll even give you a goodnight kiss," Heero agreed dryly, untucking soft blue cotton sheets and shoving Duo underneath them.

"Oh, I can be good," Duo said, giving him a sultry smile. His effect of coyness was ruined, however, by yet another yawn he let loose.

"I know you can, you braided baka," Heero said affectionately, removing his shirt and folding it before laying it on a nearby chair. Raising the covers long enough to duck underneath them, he spooned up behind his lover, one arm coming around to clasp Duo's hand in his own. He kissed scarred knuckles and brushed another feather-light caress across Duo's upturned lips before saying, "But let's wait until we're both awake enoughto enjoy it."

"All right, Hee-chan," Duo agreed tiredly, before turning back onto his side and falling silent. A soft snore soon reached his ears, and Heero knew his lover had finally succumbed to sleep.

Now that he knew it was safe to do so, held securely in Heero's strong arms.

"Love you too, Duo," Heero whispered in hushed sincerity against one shell-shaped ear. He smiled once before nuzzling into braided chestnut and letting himself drift off to dreams.

Pleasant ones, with any luck, inspired by the angel he held tightly in his arms.

Just like every other night of his life.


THE END