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fic - x'mas AC198 part 18 [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - x'mas AC198 part 18 [haven]
Title:  X'mas AC198
Series:  Moments of Haven
Part:  18

X'mas AC198 Part XVIII
A Moment of Haven

Heero eyed the small bonfire in the middle of the clearing with a critical glance.  After it passed muster, he continued his journey, setting his burden down upon the picnic table near the firepit.  "I think you'll need these."

Duo tore his eyes away from the dancing flames long enough to take in the offering.  Pleased, he sidled up to his boyfriend's side.  "Ooh, yay, you always know what I want, baby."

"I think it was rather obvious in this case."  Heero's dry tone shifted to a frown.  "You're not wearing your jacket."

"There's fire, Heero," he pointed out with a small roll of his eyes.  "I'll be fine."

"Hm."  The neutral sound implied acknowledgment, but not agreement.

He caught sight of Relena smirking at him.  "Stop that."

"I'm not the only one," she responded in a smug, sing-song tone.

Heero ignored their byplay to straighten things out on the tabletop.  "I assumed you would need these skewers since they were next to the rest of the items.  Should I have left them soaking?"

"No, that's fine," Relena answered, moving from the fire to inspect the ingredients.  It looked like Heero brought everything they needed.  "I'm afraid I couldn't see any longer ones at the store, and I didn't feel like trying too hard to find anything better to use, but I'm guessing that none of you are scared of a little fire."

Duo snorted.  "Bring it on!"

Heero nudged him with an elbow.  "Who's the pyro, again?"

"I don't know what you're talking about.  Quatre started the fire."

From the other side of the fire, Quatre beamed.  "And isn't it a lovely little thing?"

Heero went with another bland response.  "Hm."

"I don't know why you're calling me the pyro," Duo pouted, flapping his hand in the direction of the two that had accompanied Heero outside.  "Wufei here was the guy torching stuff all the time, wasn't he?"

The pilot in question raised an eyebrow at him.  "Excuse me?  When was this?"

"Uh, napalm ring a bell?"

"I'm sure you did your own fair share of ignition."

Heero pulled the stack of ingredients farther from the heat.

"No, that's fine, Heero," Relena said.  "We'll be melting them anyway."

The promise of things to come brought Duo back to the discussion.  "So how does this work again?"

"Melted chocolate and a melted marshmallow between two graham crackers.  However you want to melt those two is up to you.  Typically, you toast your marshmallow on a skewer with the fire, and then hope it melts the chocolate when you put it all together."

"Doesn't the marshmallow start dripping or something?"

"No, it holds its shape pretty well.  Oh, just try it.  We've a whole bagful of them."  The market had been well-stocked with s'more-making in mind.

Duo opened the bag and pulled one out.  "People eat these things plain, don't they?"

"Sure.  They have mini-marshmallows, too.  You can put them in your hot chocolate, for instance."

"It's sticky," he announced with a grin, playing with his marshmallow.  He squished it lightly between his fingers and watched it reinflate.

Heero watched the proceedings from a different point of view.  "What is that made out of?"

Across the table, Wufei also watched the torture of the white puffball skeptically.  "Do you really want to know?"

"If I'm about to consume it?  Yes."

"Brave man," Trowa murmured.

Clearly, there was only one way to find out.  Heero picked up the bag of marshmallows and started to read the nutritional facts off the back.

"Stop that," Relena scolded him.

He didn't.  "Why?"

"You're taking all the fun out of it."

"Do you know how many calories--"

"No, and I don't want to know."  How often did she get to make s'mores, anyway?  Her figure could handle a one-time indulgence.  All in the name of nostalgia, of course.  That was a powerful force.

"The amount of sugar in--"

"Stop it.  Duo, make him stop."

Duo paused in the act of poking and prodding his marshmallow with a skewer.  "Why me?"

"He's yours, isn't he?"

"He's..."  The idea startled him, for some reason.  "Heero, are you mine?"

That succeeded in making Heero put the bag down slowly as he mulled it over.  'Yes' would mean ceding to Relena.  'No' was unacceptable.  "...I reserve the right not to answer that question at this time."

"Smart man," Trowa murmured.

Quatre had decided to take the lead, sneaking in while the others were occupied to skewer a marshmallow without difficulty.  Having installed himself back in his place at the fire, he felt the need to inquire into the next step.  "Is this thing supposed to be warmed, or toasted?"

Relena kept her glare on Heero for two more seconds before she took up her s'more leader duties once again.  "It's up to you, really.  Some people like burnt marshmallows."

"That can't be good for you," Heero noted.


"What?" he demanded, irritable now that his marshmallow had been impaled crookedly.  People couldn't just go around shouting his name like that.  "Hey, you can't make me take responsibility for him."

Heero perked up.  "Ooh, me, too, then, right?"

Relena looked blankly at him.  "What?"

"People always seem to want me to take responsibility for him, too.  If he gets out of it, I can get out of it, too, right?"

That didn't seem quite as fun to Duo, but he could be magnanimous once in a while.  Seemed only fair and balanced, he supposed.  "Yeah, 'cuz I really don't remember signing up for that."

Wufei made a wry sound.  "He's been your responsibility since we were put in that high school together."

"I definitely didn't sign up for that," Heero remarked.

"Maybe you should stop taking responsibility for him, then."

Quatre yelped.  "Graham cracker!  Graham cracker!"

Trowa calmly opened the box and pulled one out while Quatre was busily engaged with rotating his marshmallow around and around in an effort to prevent it from dropping off his stick.  Judging the situation, Trowa decided to be kind and crack it in half for him as well before handing it over.

He took it gratefully and plopped the gooey mess down, saving it from a fiery death.  "I thought you said these things hold their shape," he chided Relena sternly.

"They usually do," she answered, looking puzzled.  "In my experience, anyway.  How did you do that?"

"Uh... with expert skill!"

Duo took that as a challenge.  "Hm.  Well, let's see what kind of mad skills I've got.  What's taking you all so long to get started?"

Heero nudged an elbow into his ribs as he took his place to Duo's right.  "You can't say that to us when you started just two seconds ago."

"Why not?"

"How well do you think chocolate holds its shape?" Quatre mused, studying his s'more construction.  "Because I don't think the marshmallow is going to melt it on its own."

Trowa twirled his marshmallow masterfully.  "How well do you think you could stick a skewer through a block of chocolate?"

"It seems like a lot of chocolate, compared to the amount of marshmallow and graham cracker, don't you think?"

"How well do you think you could slice a block of chocolate in half?"

"You're knife-boy.  You tell me."

"Whoa," Duo said, almost touching his marshmallow to the flames in surprise as he looked down at Heero's hand on his hip.  "Someone's cuddly tonight."

Heero tightened the arm he had around Duo's waist briefly.  "Just treasuring what I have," he murmured into his ear, just loud enough for Duo to hear over the whisper of the fire.

"But, uh..."  Duo glanced over at Wufei.

Wufei returned his glance casually before sliding his focus over to Heero and tilted his head slightly.

Duo looked back and forth between the two of them before shrugging.  "Whatever.  Sorry, babe, gotta break for a cracker."  He smiled apologetically at Heero, handing Heero his skewer.  "Hold that for a sec?"

He let Duo slip out of his light hold and took the skewer.  "One for me, too."

"You got it."

Quatre hummed loudly in contemplation before licking off his finger.  "Gooey.  But good."

Relena crunched into hers daintily, which didn't work too well.  She ended up no cleaner than Quatre did.  "Mmmmm.  Would I lead you astray?"

"In or out of the Senate?"

Trowa polished his s'more off.  "Did I do something wrong?  I'm not licking my fingers."

Quatre jabbed his skewer in his direction before going in search of another marshmallow.  "Show off."

"Sweet," was Heero's pronouncement after a single bite.

Duo snorted.

"I feel the need for milk.  Anyone?"  With his mouth still full of s'more, Wufei raised his hand.  Duo seconded the motion.  "Six it is."

"You can't count, Yuy."

"Milk does a body good."  He moved toward the kitchen, and Wufei followed to assist.  Heero stopped before getting very far, though, and returned for a few seconds to slide his jacket off and set it down over Duo's shoulders before going back to his self-appointed task.

Duo stared at his retreating back before looking back at the others.  They each looked at him with varying degrees of amusement.  "What?" he said defensively, reflexively tugging at the corner of the jacket that was in danger of falling off his shoulder.

Each scrap of amusement increased by another degree, but no one was brave enough to comment aloud.

In a few minutes, Heero and Wufei returned bearing six cups of milk.  Duo had a prepared chastisement for his other half, but Heero handed him his cup of milk and efficiently moved away to offer Trowa his cup.

By the time Heero returned, Duo had lost the thread of his speech.  He settled for shrugging the jacket off and putting it back over Heero's shoulders, then sashaying away to arm himself with another marshmallow, and this time a graham cracker and chunk of chocolate as well.  When he got back to the fire, Heero put the jacket back on his shoulders.

Duo sighed dramatically.  "How many more times are we going to do this?"

Heero just suppressed a smile unsuccessfully and glided back to the table, out of reach.

"I'm not the only one," Relena sang again softly.

Duo glared at her and bided his time, toasting his marshmallow patiently as he waited for Heero to come back within range.  It was nicely browned and ready for some serious smooshing when he finally looked expectantly over his shoulder to find his errant partner sitting calmly on the edge of the tabletop, munching on a plain graham cracker.  He frowned, put his s'more together quickly, and went over to confront.  "You cheated."

Heero shrugged.  "I'm done."

"Just one?"

He just waved his graham cracker.

Well, he'd tried one, which was more than Duo might have expected, so he didn't push.  There were plenty of other battles to fight.  He held his s'more carefully between his teeth as he slipped the jacket off and tossed it into Heero's lap.

Heero made no move to put it on.

"Oh, great, now neither of us is going to put it on, is that it?  If you're not going to stand next to the fire, then you have to put it on."

There was some merit to the point.  He conceded and pulled it back on again.

"Ha."  Duo turned away in triumph to go back to the fire, but Heero snagged him by the shoulder first and pulled him into a behind-the-back embrace.  "Whoa.  Really cuddly, tonight.  You still denying your pyro-hood?"

"It's the company, not the fire," Heero said to him softly, running his eye over the others.  They had of course noticed their mini-drama, but no one seemed to mind.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves, actually.  "Now we're both wearing the jacket."

"Um.  Sort of."  Heero warmed his back, and the fire was still close enough to warm his front, so he couldn't really play the warmth angle anymore.  He inspected the others as well, and saw nothing that looked uncomfortable in their expressions.  And Heero was making him far too comfortable to feel uncomfortable, so... he gave up to the inevitable and nibbled on his s'more before it got cold.

An untracked number of s'mores later, and it was time to turn in for the night.  They stared at each other across the flames and tried to will someone else into taking responsibility for putting the fire out.

"Well, I can't do it," Relena announced.  "I couldn't possibly get my hands dirty."

Quatre made a doubtful sound.  "You get your hands dirty every day you're at work."

Wufei took pre-emptive action and volunteered to clean up the table.

Duo tugged at Heero's arm, which still rested complacently around his waist.  "How can I sneak away if you won't let go?"

Heero settled his chin more comfortably upon Duo's shoulder.

"Come on, cooperate with me."

Heero's hands moved up a little higher and reaffirmed their utter lack of desire to release him.

"Hmm."  A moment's thought yielded the obvious answer.  He hooked his arms under Heero's knees and hefted.

That sparked Heero's attention.  He shifted his grip automatically to compensate for the change in balance.  "Hey!"

"Ha!" Duo crowed in triumph as he carried Heero away on his back.

"No fair!" Quatre shouted after them.

Heero had something else to protest.  "Put me down."

"Nope!"  He hitched Heero a little bit higher.  "You're heavier than you look, babe."

He'd thought Duo had already learned that lesson.  "No one told you to pick me up.  Put me down."

"Not until we've made our getaway."

Heero looked over his shoulder at the others, then faced forward again, leaning over Duo's head to attempt face-to-face contact.  "No one's chasing us."

Duo turned them around to see for himself, just as Relena detached herself from the group and headed toward them.  "No one, huh?"  He got them facing the right direction and headed back for the door.

"The others are taking care of it," Heero responded, tapping his fingers against Duo's chest.  "Put me down."

"Nope.  Open the door for me, would you?"

Heero obediently opened the door, and took advantage of the movement to loosen Duo's hold on him a bit.  As Duo attempted to maneuver them carefully over the threshold, Heero reached up to the strong lintel over the door and held on.

"Whoa, what?" Duo exclaimed as Heero slid his legs out from his arms.  "Hey!"

Heero set himself back on the ground with a smirk.  "I said, put me down."

Duo studied him for a moment before striking quickly, attempting to get a grip on his partner again.  Relena hustled out of the way quickly as they tussled, gasping in surprise.

"Don't mind them," Quatre called out to her.  "They do this all the time."

She looked over to the fire, and then back again, and suddenly, Duo was being carried over Heero's shoulder.

"Hey!" he protested.  But then he found an advantage to the situation, winked at Relena, and slapped Heero's butt.

Heero swatted at Duo's butt in return and kept on moving.

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