Disclaimers: Don't own any part of Gundam Wing nor it's characters. Merely borrowing them for a little fun.
Warnings: Shounen-ai and nothing much besides that, I think. Heero's POV. Post anime.
Notes: I found this story hiding in my hard drive and decided to post it. I broke it up into 6 chapters because it was too freaking long to post it all at once. Hope you guys enjoy this little bit of mindless fluff from Tsu.
It was morning but this morning, unlike normal mornings, there was a solid clunk outside Heero Yuy's door. He was in the middle of his daily intake of caffeine when he heard that sound. Just a few years back, something so out of the ordinary for him, something so non routine would give rise to his handgun snapping out of its sheath and trained on the door to await further movement of the enemy. Perhaps years of peace had dulled his senses, or endless efforts from his friends had 'humanised' the Perfect Soldier somewhat. Whatever the case, Heero merely looked up in surprise, put down his mug and walked to the door.
However, he was ever cautious and peered through the peephole. Seeing nothing out of the ordinary, he pulled the heavy oak door open. A brief scene flashed into his mind of an old TV series he once saw. It involved a man's apartment, a ginger tabby and a newspaper that had tomorrow's news in it. Heero swore to himself if there was a cat sitting outside his door, he would bring it to Chinatown, where he heard cat was a delicacy. Alright, since Wufei might actually run him through with his katana for insulting his culture, he would settle for hauling the kitty to the pound… to have it put to sleep. So maybe his 'getting rid of what stands in your way' tendencies have not completely disappeared, if not curbed.
Shaking his head at the fanciful ideas he looked at the empty hallway in confusion. Ducking his head out further, he looked up and down the silent but brightly lit hallway that led to his apartment. He let out a small sound of confusion and was about to shut his door when his eyes fell on a rolled up newspaper lying at his feet. He frowned. He didn't receive newspapers, he normally read all the news he needed to know about off the Preventors' network. Commander Une kept her agents well informed on global as well as local news.
"Hmm," he murmured, bending over to pick up the rolled up Daily Times. On it was an attached paper that read 2C. His confusion cleared. It was for the apartment above him. How the newspaper delivery boy made such a mistake he had no idea, but he guessed incompetence came in many forms.
With newspaper in hand, he debated if he should drop it off at the letterboxes downstairs or to go one floor up. 2C had been empty for a long time; the building owner was very picky about who rented the apartments. Heero himself would have needed to go through background checks if not for Quatre Winner's intervention. Not that background checks on him would come up with anything. All Preventor field agents' information was highly classified. The building owner reminded Heero of a spy movie buff. But the building was nice, and close enough to his office, so he could care less if the owner slaughtered goats and practiced the dark arts. What a person did in the privacy of his own home was his affair.
Heero hefted the newspaper in his hand and decided to go downstairs. He had heard the new tenant at the apartment above him created a lot of excitement upon moving in one month ago. He had been away on assignment and missed the furore. He blamed Quatre for this new found nosiness. The blond had always tried to get him interested in the lives of the people around him, break him from his mould created by Dr J and Quatre had succeeded to a point. However, being nosy enough to try and spy on the new neighbour by using a lame excuse of returning a missing morning paper was way beyond that point.
He snagged his coat and locked his door. He had the newspaper in hand as he walked downstairs. He made it a habit not to use the elevator for one flight of stairs. Peace made a person soft and he made sure he wasn't too soft. As he passed the letter boxes, he jammed the rolled up Daily Times into the slot and went to work.
While Commander Une had ceased to be a schizophrenic mental facility escapee, she still had some odd rules about being on time. Better be early than to risk the 'Lady' wearing braids again.
Braids, for some reason, that word sent a thrill of something through Heero, even though, in a technical sense, Commander Une's were considered buns, but braids sound waaaaay better than a word that brings to mind the rear end of someone. But, braids invariably brought his mind back to a rather loudmouthed, uncouth American former Gundam pilot who was able to sometimes tear his concentration to shreds with no more than a blink of an eye.
Putting his Preventor-issue vehicle into drive, Heero wondered yet again where Duo Maxwell had disappeared to. Most of them had remained on Earth, where both he and Wufei had joined the Preventors. There wasn't even any surprise in that. Heero was still too mired in having a mission and a duty to live for, while Wufei was still sunk up to his waist in justice and honour. Both needed a purpose to remain sane and whole past the war and the Preventors seemed to give it to them. But joining the Preventors also gave Heero more than a purpose in life, it gave him an opportunity to be normal. Not surprisingly, by fates or Commander Une's twisted sense of humour, he and Wufei were paired off as partners. Initially, Heero had found this rather uncomfortable. He wasn't as close to the Chinese man as he was to say either Duo or Trowa. But two years of working together, he had come to value Wufei as close friend. This wasn't to say he wouldn't imagine a long tail of chestnut guarding his back during the more dangerous of missions. Duo Maxwell was and will always be his first friend.
He drove without thinking; the route to Preventors' headquarters was already permanently etched into his mind. He could honestly drive there with his eyes closed. He slide into an empty parking space and carefully ensured his vehicle was secured. This was a far cry when he initially set up a movement sensor three feet in all directions from the car and anyone that passed by would set it off. It was then Dr Sally Po had dropped Quatre Winner on him. Project Humanise Heero was not altogether a success but neither was it a failure. Heero was still that anal retentive soldier but he was also partially more human now. So technically he was the Slightly Less Than Perfect Soldier.
"Yuy," his partner greeted, slapping him on the shoulder. "What has you staring off into space like that?"
A rare smile reserved only for his closest friends curved Heero's lips. "Just thinking about… things."
"Oh?" Wufei quirked an eyebrow as they rode the elevator up to the fifteenth floor.
"Hey, Chang," Heero began suddenly, pulling his chair from his desk and sinking into it. "Have you heard from Duo lately?"
Wufei stilled, staring at Heero curiously. "Why the sudden question? I've never heard you ask about him for the last half year."
Heero flinched at the slight accusation in Wufei's voice. It was true he hadn't really thought much of Duo during the past year and a half. It wasn't that he was completely cold or anything but he had tried very hard to forget about the long haired American that had captured his attention during the war. Duo was someone that ripped away all Heero's training and instilled beliefs. In other words, Duo was a danger to the mission. There were many things the Perfect Soldier could tackle but emotions weren't one of them. What made it worse was Duo attracted his attention like a bee was drawn to honey. He was the complete antithesis of Heero. Loud where he was silent. Unpredictable where he was disciplined. Funny where he was serious. But, Duo was different than anyone he had ever met. Heero somehow saw a kindred spirit within him. He saw the pain of being brought up as a weapon of destruction caused a young boy to be jaded and closed off from the rest of the world.
Despite Duo's outgoing attitude, Heero saw the smiles and the jokes as the same as his stoic expression. Masks to block people out. Sure he was cruel to Duo during the war, that boy was halfway through ripping down all his defences, he had to do something. He couldn't let anyone see the lonely lost boy beneath the person who set his own bones. When the war was finally over and he was ready to face his own emotions, Duo Maxwell left.
He had left with Hilde and went back to L2. Heero knew Duo must still resent him for giving him that sucker punch. But it was to protect him, Heero didn't want the smiling American hurt and there was no way to come out and say it. Then Duo had left with no way to contact him. It just seemed to Heero that Duo was trying to cut himself off from anything that had remotely to do with him. And that hurt.
Withdrawing more securely back into his shell, Heero made an effort to forget about charismatic American that could have been someone important in his life. Almost eight months after that, he received his first e-mail from Duo. He hated his heart from skipping a beat, until he noticed that it was sent out to the rest of his friends. It was a friendly mail telling them he was still alive and currently 'living in sin' with Hilde up on L2. The whole living in sin might be a joke, but Heero decided to take it literally, thus, closing that door permanently. So far, except for the lack of a partner part in his life, he was doing well.
That was why he didn't know what possessed him to ask about Duo that morning. He didn't even know what made him think of the braided teen. Off and on, odd things would spark his memory of the fun loving boy.
Heero shrugged. "Just wondering."
Wufei stared at him, and Heero felt himself wilting under that almost knowing look. Just as quick as it came, that look disappeared under a nonchalant shrug of the Chinese's shoulders. "Well, he's still on L2. Doing something for Quatre apparently."
That got Heero's attention. "Excuse me?"
"Oh, you didn't know?" Wufei switched on his computer and picked up a case file that needed some cleaning up in terms of paperwork.
Heero shook his head mutely. Why was he always the last one to know these things?
"Well, Quatre was thinking of setting up an orphanage on the colonies and Duo jumped on that idea."
"He's… not with…" Heero wondered why it was so hard to say the words. He was never once to mince words, especially not with an old friend like Wufei.
"Hilde?" Wufei finished for him, an odd glint coming into his obsidian eyes. "Well, they still meet up occasionally."
Heero felt his face fall.
"I hear her boyfriend really likes him."
Heero's head jerked up. "Wh… what?"
Wufei quirked a small smile. "I didn't know you were hard of hearing. I said…"
"I know what you said," Heero cut him off abruptly. "Hilde has another boyfriend?"
"Another? As far as I know, this is her first, or at least what Duo tells us."
An urgent phone call for Wufei cut the conversation short and Heero was left staring at his friend doing a rather noteworthy impression of a goldfish. For the rest of the day, the usually sharp Heero was left floundering around, his mind trying to digest the fact that Hilde and Duo were never together. But then, why did he leave? Was it something Heero did? Who could he ask for all this?
Needless to say, he didn't get much done in terms of work. Of course, he had Duo's e-mail but pride stopped him from making the first move and actually coming out to ask Duo about it. It reminded him too much of a little boy asking his mother if she loved him. No, that just wouldn't do. He fell into bed that night, his mind full of confusion and hoped tomorrow was a better day.
The next morning was bright and sunny but Heero's mood was anything but. He rolled out of bed with a growl of annoyance at the happy sunlight streaming into his bedroom and cursed himself for not shutting the blinds the night before. His night had not been particularly restful. He had spent most of it thinking of the missing Gundam pilot from his past and what might have driven Duo to run like that. It was as if the year and a half didn't happen and Duo was back again, trying to rip his defences to shreds one more time. What was it about the American that makes Heero confused? He didn't even know why he had such a strong reaction to Duo after all this time.
He dragged himself to the shower, nearly screaming when icy cold water hit him. He had forgotten to switch on the heater again! This day was just getting worse and worse. He cut himself when shaving because his blade was dull and he forgot to buy new ones. It seemed that the fates were just having a huge laugh at his expense when he broke his mug and nearly slid on a small patch of water in the kitchen. Just when he finally settled at the kitchen with a hot mug of energy, there was that annoying thud against his door again.
"If that's the stupid paper again, I am going to rip it to shreds!" He growled, pushing himself away from the table and stalked to the door. He pulled the door open harder than he should, frustration taking a firm hand in his actions this morning.
Sure enough, in that brightly lit hallway sat a lonely rolled up edition of the Daily Times. It was right at his doorstep, next to his left feet. Feeling utterly peevish, he kicked the unoffending bit of paper and watched with some satisfaction it flying across the hallway and hitting the wall on the other side. He stood there for a while, watching and feeling absolutely foolish. He let out an annoyed sigh and walked over to the paper, sweeping it up. The 2C tag lay there mocking him.
"Don't they provide free education nowadays? Stupid people shouldn't breed," Heero growled, stalked back into his apartment. This had better stop. He was not a paper delivery boy after all. He grabbed a piece of paper and a pen. Sitting down at the table, he started scribbling down on it.
Please pay your newspaper deliveryman so he can get an education and therefore read. I do not relish delivering your newspaper for you every morning. Keep your papers to yourself and stop disrupting other people's life.
Heero sat back, exhaling with some satisfaction. He tucked the note to the rubber band holding the rather bedraggled newspaper secure. Grabbing his jacket, he walked out of the apartment, slamming the door harder than he needed to. On his way out, he jammed the paper into 2C's letter slot again, ripping the paper even worse.
"Stay there!" He said peevishly.