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fic - x'mas AC198 part 16 [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - x'mas AC198 part 16 [haven]
Title:  X'mas AC198
Series:  Moments of Haven
Part:  16

X'mas AC198 Part XVI
A Moment of Haven

Wufei cleared his throat delicately.  "Your turn, Yuy."

Heero's attention slid back to the board in front of him, having wandered off into the open air around them.  It was a nice day to be outdoors.  Even if they were spending it on a veranda and not out in the wild.  "Ah."

He studied his opponent with mild curiosity, turning the pieces around in his head like the sides of a puzzle cube, each twist bringing the tiles closer to their proper orientation within the mosaic.  "You and Maxwell used to play chess, back in the day, did you not?"

"Yes, we did," Heero answered, his eyes not straying from the board.  From another man, the words might have been uttered distractedly.  "But that was more because Duo had something to prove, at least in the beginning."

"Do you still play?"

"Now and again.  Duo only plays speed chess, though.  Either that, or he'll do something else while he's waiting for you to take your turn, which... can be distracting."  Heero looked up long enough to flash him a faint shadow of a smile.  "Or... somewhat offensive.  Depending on what he's doing."

Wufei fingered a captured pawn, considering his own probable reaction.  Once upon a time, he would have called it an insult for his opponent to ignore him so blatantly, disrespectfully.  These days, he would likely just consider it another Maxwell oddity, and leave it at that.  He had learned that life went much more smoothly, once Maxwell's personal quirks were separated from his deliberate nettling.  Yuy had taught him that, what seemed like years ago.  "Who usually wins?"

"It goes back and forth.  We don't really play often enough to keep track."  It was a pleasant enough lie.  They pretended that it was the truth, but in all honesty, there was nothing wrong with either of their memories, and they were both just a wee bit competitive at times.  "When he agrees to play, it's usually pretty obvious he's just humoring you.  He -can- play, but it's not really how he prefers to spend his time."

A pawn slid forward, and Wufei considered his response.  "Are you two staying on base this time?"

"No, there isn't any reason to.  The classes only take a couple of hours.  We'll loiter for a little bit.  I'll probably take advantage of the pool, which means Duo will find something else to amuse himself with, probably the gym.  Maybe toss a ball around.  Do some things around the city.  We can always drop by the home improvement warehouses to prep our next project.  And that should leave us with sufficient time to go back home and actually work on a project or two."  Things were getting done around the house, slowly but surely, but for some reason, talking about and planning it seemed almost as enjoyable as putting their plans into action.

"Your classes go on at the same time?"

"More or less."  They'd been given a choice, which had been rather pleasant.  It would have been annoying to have their day split awkwardly.  "There's an hour of overlap.  Mine starts first, then his.  They're supposed to be the same length, but his may take longer just because of its nature.  Setup, prep time, and such."

Hm, yes, while Yuy's course could be successfully taught within the confines of a single room, Maxwell's class was more likely to involve mock field work.  Wufei was suddenly grateful that their seminars were not going to be taught where he was stationed.  "He has a curriculum all planned out?"

"Well, he's given the matter some thought.  And while he may not have something that you or I might consider a complete agenda, I'm sure he knows what he's doing."  Duo had put together enough of an outline to please their bosses, but he probably had little intention of sticking to the 'plan'.

That seemed somewhat dangerous to Wufei.  "Are you sure you won't be getting any unexpected surprises?"

"I'm not the one taking his class," Heero answered dryly.  "But since he's giving them lessons in... how to be like him, I'd expect at least a few surprises."

Wufei winced, and not entirely in jest.  "A world with more Maxwells?  Just what we don't need."

"Here, here."

He raised his brow at Yuy skeptically.

Heero shrugged unapologetically.  "I'm perfectly fine with the one I already have, thank you, and I'm not one of those people that believes that more is always better."  Especially when it was something special.  Things stopped being special when they were commonplace.  "And you know how they say that sometimes, we dislike the people that are most like ourselves.  I could see Duo getting annoyed by other Duos.  But I'm sure not one of his students will measure up to him."

Wufei moved one of his pieces thoughtfully.  He would have thought that Maxwell would like the company of someone that could banter and play with him, but then again, he already had the company of someone matching that description, and that someone couldn't be any less like a Maxwell.  Perhaps there was something to Heero's assessment.  "I... hope the right people are signed up to his class."

"'Right'?"  Heero found something oddly amusing about that.

"It will probably take a particular brand of student to appreciate what Maxwell has to teach, and how he will teach it," he clarified diplomatically.

"Too true."  Heero smiled ruefully.  "Honestly, I don't think I would.  I might learn a lot in the end, but I probably wouldn't look back on the experience with much fondness.  If I were just his student, that is.  If I weren't a good friend of his."

"You can say what you mean, Yuy."  Their relationship was out in the open now, and there was no harm in speaking of it with good taste.

"I am a good friend of his," Heero repeated simply.  "My familiarity with him in that sense is what would allow me to enjoy his class."

He thought for a moment, and then nodded in a way that would have been approving, had he been in a position to render such a judgment upon another.  "Do you think, perhaps, you would become a good friend of his after taking the class?"

Heero considered the matter, giving the question more attention than the array of pieces on the chessboard between them.  "If you mean 'because' of the class... no, probably not.  I might come away with a grudging respect for him, but good friendship?  Only if something out of the ordinary happened.  Or... if Duo decided he wanted to make a friend of me.  He does what he sets out to do."

"You don't find it surprising at all, then, how Quatre could be so baffled by the two of you."

He laughed softly.  It wasn't just Quatre; he just happened to be the only one expressing it.  "Not at all.  Don't think I'm not baffled about it, too, sometimes.  What a strange pair we must seem."  He accepted it so naturally only by virtue of being accustomed to things considered out of the ordinary by the general populace.  But that didn't mean he didn't stop and wonder about those things every once in a while.

"You said it yourself.  It's odd that you two became friends at all."

"It's the truth.  For whatever reasons, the powers that be decided that you would not have a roommate when they placed us in that school.  But when you have two very twitchy people shut into a small room together for a good number of hours every day, you learn to get along.  One way or another.  Duo thought I was out of my mind, I thought he was out of his mind, and we each came to the conclusion that we really ought not to provoke the crazy person on the other side of the room."

That seemed consistent with what Wufei remembered of their interaction, at least in the early days.  "I don't think that's how most relationships start."

"Well, if you want to get technical, our relationship actually started when we met on a dock and he shot me.  Twice.  I think that's an even more unusual way to start a relationship."

For most people.  For this particular group of people, though, they'd fought against each other at some point, even if they had been in their Gundams at the time.  Heero had had the misfortune of a face-to-face encounter.  Either way, they considered it nothing more than something that had happened while on the job, water under the bridge, no hard feelings.  "I suppose it would be stranger still for one of us to have started a relationship in the usual way."

"Do you think we could?  I don't know where you stand on the matter, but for me, my perception of standard human behavior was warped enough by the way I lived that I had never truly considered having a romantic relationship until this thing with Duo came up.  It was like something that people of our bent just didn't do.  In fact, it was our neighbor that had to suggest it to us, quite to our surprise."  The memory brought a wry tilt to his lips.  "I don't think it would even occur to me to 'like' a person, ask that person out on a date.  But maybe that's just me."

"I doubt it," Wufei replied, his thoughts a little distant.  "Duo... he did 'go out' with a girl or two at that school, didn't he?  But I don't seem to remember it quite as 'dating'."

"Usually it was the girl that asked him.  Maybe they thought of it as a date.  And maybe he even tried to think of it as a date.  But I doubt that's what it was."  His nonchalant shrug indicated how completely trivial he considered the matter.  They'd been growing pains, nothing more.

"Then the two of you become even more baffling, don't you think?"

"Absolutely."  And without a trace of repentance, too.  "But that was the beginning.  That was in that artificial environment they put us in.  That was when we were still unwinding from the war.  It wasn't really until after that that we became good friends."

That hadn't quite been Wufei's impression.  He remembered the two of them being close.  But maybe that wasn't the same as being friends.  He would save the contemplation of the term and where the fuzzy lines lay for another time, he told himself, though perhaps he was avoiding it.  It would inevitably result in an examination of all of his personal relationships, and it was possible that the answers at the end of that thought exercise would not be pleasing.  "Then why did you two decide to move in together?"

"Habit, maybe."  It was a somewhat flippant answer, but still all too comprehendible.  It had been a turbulent time, despite the cessation of open hostilities throughout the world.  "A touch of familiarity, someone to watch our back.  It was somewhat on the spur of the moment.  We were both considering the same options, and it didn't make sense to go out of our way to separate."

Wufei didn't believe in fate, in things 'meant to be'.  But he did believe that sometimes, one person's path could be inextricably twined with another.  How that path was walked was open to the possibilities, but walked it would be.  Fighting it led only to pointless conflict.

Heero finally selected his next move in their game and moved his piece accordingly.  "I'm glad things happened this way," he said without preamble.  "This last week, I mean.  I've had a lot of interesting thoughts from the various discussions I've had or heard about our relationship."

Maybe that was behind the unexpected frankness Heero wielded on a topic Wufei had thought would be guarded jealously.  "Surely everyone here has had interesting thoughts, based on the number of discussions there have been on the topic."

"And you, Wufei?" Heero asked, his visual attention elsewhere to provide a cushion of privacy and freedom in which to divine an answer.

He'd managed to stay out of most of the conversations, not feigning a disinterest in the details of someone else's love life, but that hadn't been all there was to it.  "I've had interesting thoughts as well," he admitted in a soft exhalation.  "I've found myself thinking about things I haven't thought about for a long time."


The gentle prompt coaxed him into an unplanned answer.  "Treasure what you have, Heero.  Treasure what you have."

Electric blue eyes blinked at him with a deep, measuring air before erupting into a smile.  "I think I shall, Wufei.  I think I shall."

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