Pairing: Heero/Duo, Rating: PG-13, Warning: AU, POV, BL, sap, minor language, Word count: 2112
Note: Written for Clare's month of fic and fandom amongst friends, this bit of fluff has no deeper meaning than to possibly make someone smile and feel good for a minute or two.
The first time it happened, I wasn't sure what to make of it, and not to be cliché, it started off on a morning like most of my mornings. Which means, I was running on the late side; hit the snooze on the alarm one time too many; lingered over the morning run; enjoyed the fresh brewed cup of coffee a little too long. It all added up to me rushing the shower routine.
No way could I have missed it, being smack dab in the middle of the bathroom mirror. Hell, it was more like all over the mirror. I'd stepped from the shower to grab the spare bottle of shampoo, the mirror fogged over, and there it was. I gave it about ten seconds before ducking back under the spray to finish washing my hair. But when I got out, I gave it several minutes I didn't have.
It was some long-assed mathematical equation full of ones and twos and zeroes (a new computer language?), written in the condensation on the damned mirror. There was only one person who could have written it, and I guess there's a first time for everything, but Jesus, in all the years I'd lived with the guy, this was a first. Not my first, not by a long shot, but Heero did not indulge in the frivolous.
Though, giving it more thought while I dressed, Heero had been working on a very intense research project recently. A project that had been growing even more intense over the past couple of months. And when I said intense, 'Obsession' wasn't a word limited to being a men's fragrance in high-end department stores. As in, so focused on test output and variance readings at the dinner table, the man wouldn't have known if I'd substituted the mashed potatoes for a scoop of warmed up mud. And no, I didn't.
That single-minded drive of Heero's wasn't new, and after living with the guy for nearly eight years (counting the college dorm years), I was more than used to his little… idiosyncrasies. First, it was his concentrated double degree, then his thesis, and two years ago, his grad studies. Now it was all about the research.
Don't get me wrong. Heero was not a total dweeb. A…nerd, maybe, but a pretty god-damned cool nerd. Complete with glasses and (sometimes) a pocket protector. A science nerd, a mathematical genius, and a dyed-in-the-wool space nut – that's my Heero.
Heh… I fervently wished.
Anyway, back to that first morning. I stood there contemplating what Heero was trying to figure out for nearly fifteen minutes, and that made me late for my first class of the morning. And before you snicker, thinking me still a wet-behind-the-ears college punk, I'll have you know, I'm a card carrying member of the faculty club. Got my degree in phys ed, and started teaching at this sweet little university about three years ago.
I had more tenure than Heero.
But, Heero got away with teaching two classes to my five. He even had a couple of TAs and a research assistant. I still thought I got the better deal. I only had to pound basic physical conditioning, general health studies, and a first aid/CPR course every other quarter into a hundred or so skulls, twenty-some at a time. And I got to be outside, and wear exercise gear. No tie for this boy.
Only, if Heero's research does what I knew it would, he'd have the chance to write his own ticket and go wherever in the hell he wanted to go. Fame, fortune, fame…future.
So, Heero was so obsessed with his latest project, he'd taken to writing on any surface. The fact it was the bathroom mirror didn't faze me; I did, after all, my best …uh… inspirational work, shall we say, in the shower. And just who were we to judge what the man fantasizes about while rubbing sudsy lather over his lightly bronzed skin, with a chest that might sport a dozen hairs, and… oh. Right. Heero's fantasy, not mine.
By the time I'd gotten home that night, I'd forgotten about it, and Heero never said a word. Life went on, and after a couple of days, the need to bring it up faded.
Why, you might be thinking, was I doing my own obsessing over something so trivial? Well, like I said in my clichéd beginning, it was the start. And, you know, it wasn't like I'd never indulged in a little mirror writing. Some stupid saying or a wacky face. Once, it was even the number to a girl I wanted to ask out on a date. So, condensation art was nothing new. But Heero artwork, was.
It happened the second time about two weeks or so after the first. This one, I couldn't believe, and stood in bemused wonder until it nearly faded. A pair of… bunnies! stared back at me. Bunnies! Complex equations were one thing, but bunnies? I swore I saw a nose twitch. One's ear drooped over in a cute way. But… Come on! This was Heero we're talking about. I'd bet real money cute wasn't in his yearly vocabulary use.
Other than kept me amused for most of the morning, that bit of whimsy had me dismissing a class early, and jogging over to the main campus to catch Heero just before lunch. I had to make sure… things were alright.
And just as I thought he'd be, he was neck-deep in some weird, sci-fi looking piece of equipment, complete with safety goggles and thin mitts to handle the thing. Standing behind the blast barrier, I had a sudden, gut-wrench pull that made me wish I'd followed Heero in whatever he'd studied. Not only did whatever it was look pretty damn cool, but I had that eviscerated feeling of being left behind, left out of the fun.
Heero noticed me, and held up two fingers. I took to mean two minutes and not 'peace out' like the majority of my students flashed me. There was a handy empty section of wall I leaned up against, and indulged an obsession of my own – Heero watching. Of course, that obsession had to be done undercover of other sorts of activity – like waiting to go to lunch with the man, or spotting him while he lifted weights, or waffling between amusement and unease when he'd try to eat and concentrate on some damn report or other. With that last one there, I'd console myself with the fact that he was at least eating.
Don't laugh. There was a time when he often forgot he hadn't eaten. It's that single-minded focus, more than absentmindedness. He was driven to get the job done until it was done, forsaking everything else. And like I said, he wasn't absentminded; he paid his bills, always remembered the important things, never forgot a birthday, and did his share of the household duties. But there were times when he had to be pulled outside what he was doing. Pushed into something social, or out for a run. And there were stretches of time I made sure he ate dinner, made these little stops to take him out to lunch, stuff like that.
So it was in this bastard mix of emotion I walked cross the quad to the cafeteria, Heero in step beside me. We talked of nothing serious, just everyday sort of things: students, classes, home shit, junk mail. I could not bring myself to ask him about his little piece of artwork on the bathroom mirror. Heero was Heero, as steadily calm and pragmatic as ever.
For about five seconds, I wondered if long-eared rabbits had anything to do with what he was researching.
The rest of the week passed with no additions to the mirror, no odd behavior from Heero's quarter. At least, nothing unusually odd. I let myself relax a bit, stopped coming over to take him to lunch every day, stopped adding things to the dinner menu to make it healthier, more balanced, and stopped trying to figure out just why the hell he'd drawn a pair of rabbits.
So, I guess it wouldn't surprise you I was greeted with another Heero original the following week? This time, it was an elephant. Standing sideways, with his head turned to look at me, his trunk curled up just a bit at the end.
Bunnies and elephants. Heero was either spending way too much time watching Animal Planet, or he wanted me to say something.
I did him one better. Instead of wiping the glass clear, I added another elephant, giving him a set of tusks and a wink. I grinned my way through half the day, and couldn't stop the smirk when I 'dropped by' Heero's lab for lunch. He didn't ask, just cocked a questioning brow, and merely snorted when smirk became smug. Heero was never one to indulge me a tease.
To confess, I was like a kid the night before Christmas, wondering if Heero would see the addition, wondering if he'd add to it. I wanted to skip my run the next morning, just to see immediately after what Heero's reaction would be. Only, it was during my run time that Heero took his shower, dressed, and set the coffee to brew for me. And, usually if he didn't have an early morning scheduled, he'd make me breakfast, something light to munch between cups of coffee. I guess you would have to say, we sort of looked after each other.
You know those realization things—epiphanies? Yeah, I had one that morning. Heero 'n me, we'd gotten comfortable together, fitting into each other's bumps and grooves, and overlooking the rough patches. Eight years of sharing the same space would either drive a wedge deep, or fill the gaps with a glue that held, but stretched and ensconced when needed.
That nearly had me stumbling to a stop.
Heero was gone when I jogged across our lawn and up to the front door. He usually was, but sometimes I managed to finish my run before he leaves. Ignoring the minute twinge of disappointment, I forced myself to follow my morning routine. Coffee, breakfast, strip, and shower. No one would know I waited outside the shower curtain while the steam built up, and the mirror fogged over.
Again, not to be cliché, but Jesus, my heart stopped. He'd seen it, all right. Added to it. And… and I could not wrap my head around what my eyes were telling it.
The elephants had been altered slightly. The one he'd drawn, he'd uncurled the trunk, and stretched it out to the elephant I'd added. And mine? He'd twined the trunks together. To top it off, a… heart floated in the air above those trunks.
Either I was stroking out somewhere on the side of the road during a run, or Heero… well, shit. Did he? Maybe?
Lesson plans for all my morning classes were tossed, and free study reigned. I barely had the brain power for basic function; higher learning was not happening. I did manage to make it to my cramped little office after the last morning class. No way I'd make it through a 'normal' lunch with Heero after that… message?
It could have been five minutes later, or fifty, but I was roused from the stupor I dropped into, by a concentrated knock on the door. It opened before I could say anything, and Heero stepped through. He started to speak, but frowned slightly at me instead, his head even tilting to the side. I opened my mouth to say something, but the ability abandoned me, and I ended up gawping like a fish. Heero's expression cleared, and his mouth twitched into what I recognized as his happy smile.
He opened my door once again, hand still on the knob, and jerked his head toward the hallway. I was able to rise and managed to walk to him without my knees giving out on me. Not a word passed between us as he closed my door behind us, and we trudged across campus to the cafeteria. But, I found I'd started smiling after a dozen or so feet, and when I looked, Heero was too.
And who the hell cares if someone was watching when Heero's hand found mine, his fingers curling around the sides in a comfortable hold. Because, you know, my own hand was curling itself about Heero's too, and I wouldn't have been too damned surprised if a cartoon heart popped into existence above our heads.
Yeah, so we're clichéd in rather a non-clichéd way.