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fic - x'mas AC198 part 19 [haven] - the turnip patch
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turnippatch
turnippatch
fic - x'mas AC198 part 19 [haven]
Title:  X'mas AC198
Series:  Moments of Haven
Part:  19



X'mas AC198 Part XIX
A Moment of Haven


The door behind her opened, closed, and then soft footsteps traced a path to her side.  She half expected to hear a lecture from him on standing outside in the open all by herself, or for not turning to confront her unknown visitor, but all she got instead was an amiable sigh of contentment as Heero settled next to her, forearms resting on the balcony's rail.  They stayed like that for a minute, enjoying the crisp, outdoors air in companionable silence, when a shout rang out beneath them.

"Ha!  I found just the thing!"  Duo ran beneath them, passing them before sliding to a halt to look up to their second story perch.  He waved.  "Hey!"

Heero wiggled his fingers as counter-greeting.

"Wanna watch?  Me and Trowa are finally gonna settle this."

"Settle what?" he asked dutifully.

"Who's got the better aim!"

His fingers drummed the rail once in deliberation.  "I thought you couldn't find the dart board."

"Yeah, so we're gonna make do."  Duo grinned, showing off his burden of napkin rings.  "Quatre's setting up some sticks or something now.  He's our impartial judge."

"Are you sure Wufei wouldn't be a better choice?"

"What, you mean you think Quatre's on Trowa's side?"  His incredulity was too obvious to be sincere.

"I think Quatre might decide to serve his own purposes."

Duo urged him on with a jerk of his head in the direction of the battle ground.  "Well, come on then, watch and root for me and balance things out."

There was a lopsided tilt to Heero's lips.  "I'll pass, thanks."

"What?"  Duo did a full-body pout, just to make sure they would be able to see it from the second story.  "You're gonna leave me high and dry?"

"I'll be with you in spirit."  The answer was dry as a desert.

"Bah.  Who needs you, anyway?  You gonna at least wish me luck?"

Heero blew a lazy kiss to him.  "Satisfied?"

Duo mimed catching it and tapped it against his cheek with a wink.  "It'll have to do.  But if I win, you don't get a share of the spoils."

Heero just wiggled his fingers again.  After Duo left, he sighed.  "Oh, boy."

Relena let out a light fall of laughter.  So much for his brilliant plan of hiding the dart board.  "Who do you think will win?"

"A ring toss?  On to 'sticks or something'?"  The contest obviously didn't match up to Heero's standards of excellence.  "I think that's too unreliable a game to call."

She didn't remember him being this conservative in earlier years, but maybe she was mistaking those reservations for something they were not.  He had calculated the odds and made his decision, a decision decisive as always, despite it being not a decision at all.  It fit her impression of him, she supposed, though she had to admit that many of her early impressions of the young man standing beside her now had been somewhat off the mark.  She wondered if or how Heero's impression of her had changed over the years.  "The others mentioned you going up against Quatre in something.  And Quatre won, I hear?"

He cleared his throat to conceal his amusement.  "You could say that."

"What were you playing?"

"Chess."

She'd learned how to play from her adoptive father.  Sometimes, when he hadn't had so much work to do onboard the shuttles, they would play a game to pass some time.  She hadn't played since he'd died.  Maybe it was time to take it up again.  Though not against these five.  Their skills were surely far more advanced than her own.  "A gentlemanly pursuit."

Cough.  "Yes."

"So why does everyone snicker when they make reference to it?"

He glanced sidelong at her.  "Do they?"

"Yes."  She didn't understand it at all.  Could it be that Heero had lost that badly to Quatre?  She couldn't believe that.  "I think they also tend to snicker whenever they mention... oatmeal?"

Heero made another suspicious sound.  "Is that so."

He was obviously hiding something.  "Did I miss out on all the good stuff?"  She sighed dramatically as she leaned onto the rail again, surveying the woods around them.  It still felt as if she'd only just gotten here.  "Next year, I'm definitely going to try and get together with you all sooner."

"I think you were better off not being here."

Yes, well, Heero had strange opinions about some things, and he was not to be trusted.  "I even missed the two of you kissing on the couch.  *Definitely* going to try and get there sooner next time."

"I doubt that will help."  Heero learned his lessons quickly.  There would likely be no further slip-ups.

She propped her chin up with her hand.  "You two are no fun at all."

He turned toward her and gave her a serious look.  "Relena.  Why do you want to catch the two of us kissing so badly?"

Relena spluttered a little at first, blushing, before she got her answer back under control.  Her expression was tamed into an open smile.  "Oh, I'm just teasing you two.  Don't look at me like that.  It's not as if I'm going to sneak into your room at night with a camera."

There would be hell to pay if she did.  "Teasing?"

"Teasing," she repeated firmly.  "You're happy, Heero.  Duo's happy.  I'm happy.  We're all happy, and I think that's just fine."

"And... seeing us kiss would make you more happy?"

"Oh, stop it."  She nudged her elbow in his direction.  "I don't mean anything by it.  It's... it's just a hobby, I guess.  And the two of you are so adorable together."

"Adorable?"

And tease-able, too.  She didn't have any other friends that she could tease that way right now.  "And you... you... you set a good example, I think.  Or rather... you're proof.  Proof that... these things can happen."

"Things?"

"Oh, never mind."  She could never tell whether or not he was being deliberately obtuse.  Could Duo read his mind, or was the frustration of conversation outweighed by Heero's other qualities?  "I don't suppose we'll ever get some sort of party out of you."

"Party?"

"Yes, you know, like a... like a wedding party."

"Wedding?"

"Must you keep repeating everything that I say?  You're madly in love, and committed to each other, and people have gotten married for far less."  For better or for worse.  "Granted, we're young, but we're also decisive people, and, well... it would just be fun."

"Duo would be appalled."

At last, an original answer.  And naturally, it was about Duo.  "And you aren't?"

He shrugged.  "I'm less than appalled.  I'm..."  His silence dragged on for quite a while.  "I don't see the point."

That shouldn't have been surprising.  "Well, I suppose there's no point that *you* would agree to."

"It doesn't really matter to me if there's a point only to you.  Or do all women have these notions?" he asked warily, no doubt considering the other women in his life.

Hm, there was an idea.  Things could get interesting if their neighbor Suzuhara-san got it into her head that the two of them ought to make their union official.  She reminded herself to try not to plant the idea herself.  Duo probably would be appalled, and as a good friend, she refused to do something so deliberately that she knew would annoy him.  "Most people have these notions.  Women just have different notions about these notions."

"Weddings are ridiculously elaborate rituals these days, from what I've heard."

Where in the world was he getting his information on weddings, she wondered.  She imagined Duo would be equally appalled if an issue of 'Modern Bride' showed up on their coffee table one day, but further thought reminded her that there were marriages in the media all the time.  Why, just last month, Senator Bronson had gotten married.  Pictures of the state wedding had been in the news.  She sighed.  "I always wanted one of those, you know.  Not 'ridiculously' elaborate, but... sufficiently elaborate.  It was supposed to be the happiest day of a young lady's life.  The ceremony should reflect that.  Recently, though... I hear it said that people threw such huge parties just so they'd have something to celebrate during the years of war and turmoil."

"So by fighting for peace, we've really been fighting against large weddings."

She rolled her eyes.  "No one said that was the only reason people threw parties.  Don't you think it's just nice to share your love with your closest friends and family?"

"How would a wedding facilitate that?"

An immediate answer eluded her as she realized that pretty much all of their closest friends and family had been present here when they had decided to 'share their love' with the others.  Impromptu though it was.  "Well... it just would.  Like a... a public, formal declaration of your love for each other."

"...Which would be necessary... why?"

"Oh, you're impossible!"

"I'm also not a woman.  Don't expect me to understand these feminine things of yours."

"But you understand love, Heero.  You seem to understand it very well.  Don't you just... just feel it inside of you?  Like it's too much for you to hold all in yourself, like you want to share it with the world?"

She tried to hold down a flush when he looked at her, well aware that she had never personally experienced that sort of feeling.  She hoped she would one day, but until then, she just hoped that Heero would be polite enough not to mention her deficiency in this arena.  "Why would I need a wedding for that?"

Though his answer had been prompt, sparing her the agony of suspense, it was just as frustrating as the rest of his answers had been. "Well, you seem to think you know everything.  Do you have a better idea?"



Duo held his tongue lightly between his teeth as he tossed the ring up and down in his hand, carefully measuring its balance while studying the configuration of sticks in front of him.  The construction was of dubious stability, but the dirt around here was dry and hard, and it had thus far managed to survive their little contest.  He chose the target he thought had the best angle, wondering if perhaps he couldn't also manage to knock askew the stick with the second best angle while he was at it.

He took aim and fired just as a loud shout rang out loudly in the chill air, muted just enough by distance to take the edge off of it.  "I love Duo Maxwell~!"

The ring clattered against the second-best stick, caught, and threaded the hole with enough juice to knock the whole stick over.  It took out another one on its way down.  Not the first best one, though.  Damn.

Slowly, Duo turned his head in the direction of the disturbance.  "What.  The hell.  Was that?"

Trowa declined to comment.  Quatre, on the other hand, was all ready to comment, only he couldn't seem to suppress his laughs long enough to get his words out coherently.

After the shock finally wore off, Duo blinked and shrugged.  "Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."



Relena pressed her fingers to her lips to keep from giggling madly.  Sound emerged anyway, bouncing off of the coolly smug countenance of one Heero Yuy.  "Something like that could work, I thought," he said casually.

She was still trying to put a lid on her astonished delight when a second shout split the otherwise normal afternoon.  "Love you, too, Schnookums~!"

Her laughter redoubled its efforts to escape, and finally she had to let it, especially in light of the faintly surprised look on Heero's face.  She hugged his arm tightly and used him as a crutch until she got herself back under control.  "So," she said, a grin breaking out.  "Does that mean you're pretty much married now?"

Heero blinked, then answered her calmly enough.  "No, I think Duo just declared his love for this 'schnookums' character.  I think I'm jealous."

She started laughing again.





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