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fic - close quarters [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - close quarters [haven]
Title:  Close Quarters
Series:  Moments of Haven
Summary:  Despite the possibly misleading title, this one is just them talking a little, about close quarters, holiday seasons, and impracticality.

Close Quarters
A Moment of Haven

Duo waited for them to get out of the parking lot and back onto neutral ground before speaking his mind.  "You've got that look in your eye."

"Which look in my eye?" Heero responded obediently.

"You're looking forward to this, aren't you?"

"...I'm not not looking forward to this."  The answer was typically cautious of him.

Duo snorted derisively.  "Oh, just admit it, you big baby."

It wasn't unusual in recent days for him to be called 'baby', but this was a slightly different context than what he was accustomed to.  "But I'm not."

"You're nitpicking again."  That was a nicer term than 'being anal'.  Besides, 'anal' was starting to acquire all sorts of new connotations for the both of them.

"I'm trying to be precise."

That deserved an eyeroll just as much as any other of his statements.  "You want to do this."

"Not as much as you want to do this."

For all that Heero was quite often a very straightforward fellow, sometimes he was just evasive as all hell.  "That's because I'm going to be governmentally sanctioned while I blow shit up.  But that doesn't mean that you can't want to do this, too."

He hadn't meant to imply anything of the sort.  "I just... I like *doing* things.  You know how I am."

"Yeah..."  Boy, did he ever.  Duo sighed.  "Do you..."  He paused for a moment to fiddle with the cuff of his uniform jacket.  "...ever think about getting back in the game?"

"I think about it."  Heero thought about everything, it seemed.  "But I always come to same conclusion."

And what that was was obvious, given their current lifestyle.  "So combat training..."

Heero took advantage of a red light to shake his head and glance over towards the passenger seat.  "Not nearly the same thing.  I don't mind jumping in on a case by case basis.  If they need me, I'll be there.  I just don't want to do it on a daily basis.  I don't want that to be my life anymore."  His eyes noted the jogger deciding to dash down the crosswalk in front of them, despite the solid red hand warning the pedestrian of the light's imminent change.  "...Do you?"

Duo shrugged automatically, prepared to give an evasive answer when he realized that it was merely the truth.  "I dunno."

"If you do..."  The light turned green again, and he used the distraction of acceleration to avoid completing the offer.

"I know," Duo answered uncomfortably, shifting his gaze out the window next to him.  His take on things wasn't too far from Heero's.  He liked 'doing' things.  But he didn't know if a job with the Preventers would really mean that.  He wondered if doing things within the structure of an organization would cramp his style and dampen his desire to do things.  "Heh, man, but that would mean we'd actually have to read the rulebook."

Besides a few required courses in the basics, that was pretty much the biggest thing keeping them from being cleared for field duty.  Their psychological profiles had been clean for years now, but neither one of them had been interested in taking the final steps to full induction.  "We're already familiar with the major regulations."

Handling of evidence, sure.  But what about all the nitty-gritties on the conditions governing use of force?  Or worse, harassment in the workplace?  Now there was a minefield he didn't even want to consider, no matter that he didn't think he'd be harassing anybody.  There were some people that thought just being in the same room as a Gundam pilot constituted a 'hostile work environment', and wouldn't that just be pathetic, being sued into a fall from what little grace they had?  "Am I the only one that's amused by the fact that they want us to teach re-accreditation seminars?  I mean, isn't that a little ironic, considering our lack of credentials?"

"That doesn't make us any less qualified.  They have civilian instructors for some of the courses as well."

Duo sighed again.  "I dunno.  They technically gave us a choice in whether we wanted to do the seminars or not, but I get the feeling that it'll get written up in our files if we refuse.  But geez, I dunno what kind of guys are going to be there.  It's just going to be annoying if we have to spend two weeks proving to the idiots that we're qualified to teach them a thing or two."

The last time they'd seen that building on the corner, it had still been in construction.  Now it was a bank, open for business.  Either the progress on the building was outstanding, or they needed to come by this way more often.  And they'd get quite a few chances to with these seminars.  "They're not raw recruits, Duo.  These are re-accreditation seminars.  That means they've been cleared to at least level two in the field."

"Oh, easy for you to say," Duo huffed jokingly, crossing his arms over his chest.  "They've got you pegged for a mid to advanced level class."

And wouldn't that make things more difficult for Heero?  Those agents would likely be older and crustier.  "I wouldn't trust their assessment of the skills of their agents.  I believe that their standards will be quite different from my own."

Duo laughed.  "Yeah, I'm sure you've got a thing or two to show them."

"I trust you'll do just as well in your own course."

"Yeah..."  He pondered the subject matter for a while.  "I guess I could have some fun teaching them how to detect traps the hard way."

"They are active field agents," Heero reminded him dryly.  "Try not to damage them permanently."

"Me?  I'm not the one that's going to be working with close quarters combat."

"You don't think explosives might be potentially more damaging?"

"I know what I'm doing with explosives.  I got that under control.  CQC, and you're asking them to spar against each other.  Who knows what kind of damage they can do to each other?  Besides, they said they were thinking of specifically recommending my seminar to some of the lower level guys that don't have as much experience.  But I doubt that any greenie's gonna take CQC when they don't have to.  You're gonna get the guys going for higher clearance, or the guys that've already got it and just want a review or an easy pass."

Duo knew full well that even the lower level agents assigned to the course would be those that showed a lot of promise.  Both of the proposed seminars were classified as specialized training.  It was only their duty to make sure that their students came out of the courses a better agent.  "I have no intentions of making the course an easy pass for anyone."

Of course.  Duo would have to make sure he got to sit in on a seminar or two if Heero was going to go teaching them a thing or two the hard way as well.  "And what about you, Heero?  I know good CQC's not really supposed to be high impact, but..."

He flexed the fingers of his left hand around the steering wheel.  Some of the damage he had taken had lasting effects, but there weren't any more surprises.  He had them catalogued in his mind, and knew how to deal with them.  "I'm not worried about that.  I might be using some muscles that haven't gotten a good workout lately, but it shouldn't be punishing.  I do wonder, though..."


"How it'll feel."

"It's... been a while, hasn't it?"

"Aa."  He didn't think he'd gone soft, but certainly, he had a different perspective on life than he used to.  Would such a perspective hold up in the field?  How quickly would it all come back to him?  "I'm sure I haven't forgotten any of it; it's all muscle memory, after all.  But still... it's been a while."

Duo wasn't sure he wanted Heero going back to that.  It was just a seminar, just a few weeks, and after that time was up, they'd sink back into the happy, worry-free days of their new-found domesticity.  It'd be okay, no big deal, just paying the bills.  And yet... maybe there was just some instinct in him that resisted breaking cover without sufficient cause.  "You have lots of other skills you can bring to the table, you know.  I'm sure you could find plenty of other seminars you could teach, ones that will save other people's lives just as much."

"I know.  But if they asked me to do this, then they must think that this is the course that needs to be offered."  The Preventers organized quite a few seminars at different local headquarters all around the world, and while most agents chose to enroll in seminars near their own bases, it wasn't always the case that they could take what they wanted to take close to home.  The local brass had let on that a number of non-local agents would be interested in their two courses.

"I can switch with you," Duo put forth.  "You know just as much about traps and bombs and stuff as I do, and I'm certainly no slouch when it comes to a little hand to hand..."

Heero shook his head.  "I don't think your style would fit with them.  It's too freeform, too much your own style.  These will be men and women that have gone through strict training.  It would take them too long to adapt to your way."

"But maybe that'd be good, yeah?  Some guys need to learn how to think outside the box.  Besides, wouldn't it be good for them to learn how to fight against someone like me?"

"That just means I'll invite you in for a session or two to demonstrate to them that the bad guys don't always play by the rules.  And I'll be happy to do a little demonstrating as well.  I've learned a thing or two from sparring against you, too, Maxwell."  He had learned many a thing about Duo's approach, from sparring and otherwise... but many of those things, he'd keep to himself.

Duo hmmmed and let the matter drop for now, having gotten the insight he wanted.  They had a couple of weeks to think before they had to commit to the courses, after all, and then they'd have a couple of months to prepare their course materials.  There was no need for the entire issue to be resolved that very night.  "Maybe we should give those Elevation guys a call or something, if we're that interested in 'doing' things."

The consulting firm that Quatre had referred them to two years ago had given them a useful, conveniently intermittent outlet for their restless tendencies, but it had been a while since they had heard anything from the group.  "If they haven't given us a call lately, perhaps there's a reason for it."

Of all the times to get passive again.  Heero was an oddly dizzying exercise in inconsistency, at times.  "That's because they were getting bought out, or merging with someone, or whatever it was.  Corporate shakedown.  Maybe our contact just got lost in the shuffle.  If you don't want to be too confrontational about it or whatever, we can just, I dunno, send them a Christmas card or something.  That'd fit into next month.  That doesn't have to mean anything."

"Hm.  That sounds like a good plan."  While Heero generally frowned upon the boundless commercialism of the season, he had found in the past that the hustle and out-of-the-blue generosity could be useful for masking certain transactions.  But he wasn't an assassin needing crowds to hide his clean escape anymore, nor an assassin trying to deliver packages that would at any other time of year be suspicious.  "Hm.  I wonder if Quatre is going to arrange something again this year."

"Yeah, I think he was hinting at it."

"I'm glad."

"Yeah, it'll be good to see the guys again.  And maybe 'Lena, if she can pull it.  Still owe her, after all."  Never let it be said that Duo didn't know how to hold a grudge, in jest or otherwise.

"...I was thinking a little more selfishly, actually," Heero confessed quietly.  It was a little odd to be thinking of the holidays at all.  It was still November, and though Heero didn't believe in procrastinating, there was a logical limit to how early the front end of a season could be pushed.  "It's enough that Suzuhara-san has us hanging up lights for her every year.  As much as I think of our house as our house -- our 'home' -- I think it'd be a little strange hanging up lights of our own.  Being out of town gives us a good reason not to."

"Still no Christmas spirit, huh?"

Heero smiled with only a little apology, and even that was more for his lack of repentance than for his lack of spirit.  "Not really."

"Yeah, I guess I'm not so into it, either."  There had been a few years when Duo had been in an environment fit for celebration, but the years when he hadn't outweighed them.  The holidays had been for the people with time and money to burn.  To a person scraping together everything he needed to get off his miserable colony, the holidays only meant more or fewer opportunities, depending on one's occupation.

"I'm willing to mark the end of the year as a significant time," Heero offered, not wanting to brush the season off entirely.  "Important things did happen around that time.  But it has nothing to do with trees and lights and presents."

Duo chuckled.  "Man, it's a good thing we're all five of us low-key about the holidays, otherwise gift-giving could get awkward."

"I hear gift certificates are the way to go."

He made a face.  "Those lack thought."  Not that he hadn't just proposed not buying anything at all, but if he tried, he could twist the giftlessness around into having a deep and thoughtful message behind it, so it didn't bother him much.

Heero countered with his usual argument.  "They're practical."

Well, Duo couldn't argue that, but maybe that wasn't the point.  "Half the good part of getting gifts is that they're not always practical.  Sometimes, getting a gift that's not practical is the only way you'll ever get that something, being that you'd never get it yourself.  It being impractical and all."

Heero hummed contemplatively.  "I suppose."  He stopped for another moment of thought.  "Are you trying to tell me something, Duo?"

He snorted.  "No.  I'm just sayin', s'all.  So don't go bending over backwards to do something impractical."

A snicker had to steal its way through him when he tried to figure out what Heero would consider impractical.

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