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fic - x'mas AC198 part 21 [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - x'mas AC198 part 21 [haven]
Title:  X'mas AC198
Series:  Moments of Haven
Part:  21

X'mas AC198 Part XXI
A Moment of Haven

"But the time doesn't mean anything."  Heero kept his tone reasonable, but mostly in the manner of someone who wasn't quite certain why he was bothering to engage in this discussion since it was quite obvious that he wasn't going to win.

Duo merrily proceeded to prove him correct.  "Yes, it does.  Midnight is midnight."

"Midnight by one clock may be a few minutes before or after midnight by another."  Time zones were just time slices arbitrarily created for man's convenience, too.  'Midnight' had nothing to do with the peak position of the moon, or any other natural phenomenon that would nail the exact current time down to a particular point.

As expected, Duo rolled his eyes.  "Then let's calibrate all of the clocks in the house, okay?  Geez."

"But the midnight by all of the clocks in this house may be a few minutes before or after--"

"Do not even finish that sentence!"  Duo backed up his reprimand with a few pokes of his finger at Heero's chest.  "Okay, it's logically inconsistent, but it's symbolic!  Symbolism means things, you know."

"Then we could just say that it's midnight now and be done with it."  What was the point behind symbolism if a person was already well aware of the message behind it?

"No way!  Tradition says, the rest of the year will go the way your year was going around midnight tonight, and we are not going to spend the rest of the year arguing."

An interesting, if ultimately moot, tradition.  "We aren't arguing."

"Disagreeing, then."

"We aren't even disagreeing, really."

Now that was a little too hairsplitting, even for Yuy.  "I'm not agreeing with your opinion, and you're not agreeing with mine.  I fail to see how that's not disagreeing."

Well, it was 'disagreeing' technically, but the spirit of the matter was something else entirely.  Heero thought it was important to understand that.  "We're discussing a philosophical point.  It's only natural that you take one side of the debate, and I take the other."

Duo turned that point around in his head for one and a half seconds before finding the weak spot.  "Aha!  So you admit you're just being ornery!"

Heero admitted to nothing.  "I'm just engaging in intelligent conversation with you."  Funny how that was an inclination of only recent years.  Time passed in a much more interesting manner when he shared his thoughts with others.  "Well, semi-intelligent conversation, anyway."

"Which part of the semi- is mine?"

Now that was just Duo leaving himself wide open to attack.  Surely Duo wouldn't do such a thing without deliberation and forethought.  Heero obliged.  "Do you really want to know?"

The pout had just a little too much of a tilt to mask amusement.  The retort had been expected, but Duo had wanted to hear it anyway.  The philosophical debate on midnight's merits would never go anywhere.  "Remind me why I keep you around again?"

Heero lifted an eyebrow at him.  "Now?  In front of all these people?"

Indeed.  The way Relena perked up at the suggestion was unnerving.  Duo slid an inconspicuous step away from her.  "You said you didn't have a problem with PDAs."

"We've both been against PDAs on demand since we got here."  The abbreviated term rolled off his tongue easily, though not without deliberation.  It was useful, but amusing that there needed to be such a convenient phrase to cover what he would never have considered a year before.

"On demand by these people," Duo answered, waving his hand at their audience.  "I get to demand whatever I want."

"I don't recall that being a part of my contract."

"Guess you shouldn't have signed before you read it through, then."

Quatre leaned over to Relena.  "Think I could take them home with me?  They're such great entertainment."

"If anyone gets to take them home, it's me," she answered haughtily.  "I think I have prior claim on them."

As if Duo would let that sort of thing slide.  "Hey, if anyone's got a claim on Heero, it's me."  He paused significantly, realized that a certain person next to him was obviously not going to get the hint, then nudged said person in the ribs.  "Hey."

Heero blinked, processing the prompt.  He was still caught up being a bit nonplussed as to how to respond to Duo's last volley.  His imagination wasn't as good as Duo's was, when it came to non-existent things.  "Oh.  And if anyone has a claim on Duo, it's me."

That was quite alright with Relena.  For her, it was far easier to argue the previous statement.  "I saw Heero first."

Duo didn't necessarily enjoy being reminded of it, either.  "Yeah, well... well, I shot him first."

True, but was that legitimate grounds for claim?  If so, she had something at least as good.  "He threatened to kill me first."

Heero exercised some forethought and realized that things could get ugly from here.  He decided to try and cut things off early.  "If you're going to be this way about things, then technically, Zechs saw me first."

Duo's expression twisted into something that appropriately reflected the bad taste that assertion left with him.  "Eww!"

"I'm just saying."

"Ugh."  It didn't matter how much Heero was 'just saying'.  Duo didn't want to imagine that Zechs anywhere near his Heero.  He'd make Heero pay for that later.  "Anyway.  So there.  You didn't see him first.  Ha."

Quatre was not impressed by the strength of Duo's words.  "You argue like a five-year-old, Duo."

He jerked a thumb in Heero's direction.  "Blame my better half."

"'Other' half," Heero corrected.

"I'm trying to give you some credit, dear."  He patted Heero on shoulder patronizingly.  "Don't argue."

There were some things that Heero was willing to let him get away with.  Alright, a lot of things.  This was not one of them.  "One-half must be equal to one-half.  Reflexity can't bend for your convenience.  Therefore one half cannot be better than the other."

"God, you're hot when you're nerdy."

"You follow me through all my bouts of alleged nerdiness."

"Yeah, but I have the good taste not to say anything of the sort."

"Schnookums?" Trowa said suddenly.

That was a bit strange.  Perhaps Duo hadn't heard correctly.  "Excuse me?"

Trowa turned a bland face to him.  "You don't really call him that, do you?"

"Of course not."  The mere thought of it made him sick.  That was loads and loads worse than accidentally calling Heero 'babe' all the time.  At least that one he could blame on regional dialect, or something along those lines.  'Schnookums' was inexcusable.  "I don't call him 'dear', either, unless he's being an ass and deserves it."

"I was just trying to give you some credit," Heero said mildly.  He didn't like things, even casual things, that implied inequity where there was none.

Duo resorted to another pat on the shoulder, this one firmer than the last.  "You're being an ass again, dear."

"Do you have pet names for each other?" Quatre asked curiously.

"Of course not."  He shoved all thoughts of babes and tea cups to the side.

"I bet you two call each other the most adorable things," Relena cooed.

This recurring theme was going to get old really soon.  "We do not."

Once again, Heero stepped between the two of them.  "He just called me an ass.  You think that's adorable?"

Quatre grinned.  "It's pretty standard for something you like to be used as a pet name, isn't it?  No sense in a pet name being about what you don't like."

Duo frowned.  "You think I like asses?"

"Well, you two have turned out gay, haven't you?"

It dawned on him just what kind of ass Quatre was talking about.  "Oh.  My.  God.  Did you get into the liquor cabinet again, Quatre?"

Of all the people, Trowa laughed.

Only the briefest flash of annoyance flittered over Quatre's expression before he went back on the attack.  "What, you don't like Heero's ass?"

"Quatre, there are ladies present!"

"Don't worry, I'm sure she likes Heero's ass, too."

"Quatre."  In sharp contrast to the bantering tone being employed just seconds before, Heero's voice now went to stern.

Duo shook his head sadly.  "Uh-oh, now you've gone and made him angry."

Relena turned a defiant eye on Heero.

"Uh-oh, now you've gone and made her angry."

Wufei sighed, glad that he hadn't decided to get out of his seat to join the others for this exchange.  "Thank goodness it's not midnight yet.  I don't know what I'd do if I had to spend the rest of the year talking about Yuy's ass."

"Agreed," Heero answered quite firmly.  "Can we change the subject now?"

"Nope."  Quatre's bright smile, and more particularly, its edge, was directed more at Duo than Heero.  "I don't think we've even started extolling its virtues, yet."

Heero looked at him, made another resolution to make sure he called Quatre more often in this new year to make sure the guy wasn't burning out, then headed for the relative safety of Wufei's corner.

"I think you're in for some trouble this year," Wufei advised him sagely.  Left on his own, Duo was attempting to respect Heero's wishes, but Quatre was making it dificult for him.

Heero shook his head.  "It's not midnight yet.  By this clock, anyway."  He pointed with his chin at the large TV display in the room.  It was set to a broadcast of a large new year's countdown, but the commentary was muted.  "I should be safe for a little while yet."

"I don't think I've heard of this midnight tradition before."

"I have," Trowa volunteered, drifting in closer to them.  "I'm not sure where it comes from, though."

"Maybe it's an L2 thing," Heero mused.  "How detailed is it supposed to get, I wonder.  A person obviously can't spend the entire next year suspended in a single moment.  So just mood, perhaps?  Being surrounded by friends?"

"Like most traditions, it is probably whatever is most convenient for you."

Heero grunted irritably.  He didn't like such amorphous things.  "If that were the case, then it would be convenient for it to be about a minute to midnight right now."

"I thought you didn't want to spend the new year listening to people talk about your ass?"

"But if there were only one minute left, Duo would surely notice.  I believe he wanted to be kissing me at midnight, and I believe he would gladly interrupt such an enlightened conversation just to do so."

"We can adjust the clocks in the house, but not the clock on the screen."  Trowa pointed at the television set.  "Sorry."

"We could just turn the TV off," Wufei suggested.

Quatre abruptly let loose a loud comment from his side of the room.  "Wait, what?!"

Duo started away from him, a hint of chagrin and annoyance tinging his expression.  "Geez, Quatre, what the hell?"

"You two haven't had sex yet?"

Heero blinked.

Duo buried his hand in his face, but recovered quickly enough.  "Yeah, so?"

Quatre looked at him, at Heero, and back again.  "You little tease!  You're supposed to be serious with each other."

"What the hell has that got to do with us having sex?"  He held his hands up defensively.  "Hey, it's not my fault you jumped to conclusions, man.  It's not like I ever lied about it anything.  Sorry if you were wrong."

"This has nothing to do with me being wrong, and everything to do with you pretending that you have the moral authority to tell me that I need to get laid."

"I didn't say I was recommending it based on personal experience!"

Heero noticed the strange look Trowa was leveling at him.  He shifted uncomfortably.  "What?"

Wufei answered for him, defending him indirectly.  "Don't tell me you too have fallen prey to this madness over their relationship details, Barton."

The look became distinctly thoughtful before returning to its usual blandness.  "Hm.  Interesting."

Heero was about to inquire further when his attention was caught by another loud protest of innocence by Duo.  He sighed, crossed the room, and tugged Duo away from Quatre.  It was definitely time to put that conversation to an end.

Wufei held up a hand when Heero returned with his burden in tow.  "No.  This..."  His hand flipped in the other direction to point to the chair in which he rested.  "...is an island of sanity.  That..."  His finger indicated Duo.  "...has no place here.  Shoo."

There were plenty of other seats, so Heero didn't argue the point.  He dragged Duo over to the empty side of the sofa and plunked him down.

Duo found a throw blanket conveniently nearby and pulled it over his head.  "Argh."

"Hiding will get you nowhere," Heero murmured, throwing a protective look at Quatre, who shrugged cheerfully and whispered something to Relena.  "How did that come up?"

Duo slid a few centimeters lower in his seat.  "I may have muttered something about 'not letting him know how that goes'..."

"Ah."  Well, no matter.  He had no concerns about the pacing of their relationship, and the information that had come out was, while private, not about anything they had actually done, so he had little problem with it.  He chose to sit in silence and contemplate the motivations behind one assumption or the other.

"It's almost midnight," Quatre announced blithely.  "Dangit, we need to get the cider."

"I'll help," Relena volunteered, following him to the kitchen where they had left it ready.  Once they had left the room, she tsked.  "That was a little unnecessary, don't you think, Quatre?"

"Unnecessary?  Sure.  But he still doesn't have any right to tell me that I need to get laid, then.  Or you."

She exhaled audibly.  "And here I was, only thinking that it's sweet of them to wait."

"Duo didn't have the look about him of someone that had chosen to wait."

"He didn't look like someone that's annoyed by the wait, either."  They reached the kitchen and gathered up the cups and bottles they had taken out earlier.  "He's probably just annoyed that you have something new to use against him."

"My ammo is your ammo."

She didn't think in terms nearly so military.  "Well, I think it's sweet."

Quatre led the way back to the central room.  "I bet they don't think it's sweet.  They're guys."

"I think Duo is right."


"You *do* need to get laid."

He laughed.

They got back with two minutes left on the countdown clock.  When they had been waiting for it to tick down earlier, it had seemed to go so very slowly.  Now that they were reaching the end of the year, it seemed to fly by so very quickly.

Wufei and Trowa went to pick up their own servings of cider.  Heero and Duo seemed disinclined to budge from their seats.  With ten seconds left, Relena thought she'd be kind and bring them their celebratory cups, but when she had them in hand and turned around, she pouted.  "No fair!"

They'd gotten an early start on the new year.  Passing midnight with a kiss in progress had seemed much more reasonable to them than passing midnight in anticipation of a kiss.  Relena would have had no problem with this, if only they hadn't draped the throw blanket over themselves, hiding all the juicy details.  She could see that Duo had straddled Heero's lap, and that little hint of what was going on underneath the blanket was frustrating.

A mug clinked against hers, and she looked up to find Quatre on the other side of it.  "Happy New Year, Relena."

She glanced over to the television display to see that the clock was now counting upward.  With one last glance at the blanket-enshrouded couple, she chuckled and toasted Quatre.  "Happy New Year."

Quatre got a mischievous gleam in his eye, her only warning before he leaned in to give her a feather-light peck on her cheek.  When he pulled back, he winked.  "Can't kill me if he can't see me."

Her answer was lost in a dramatic moan coming from the sofa.  "Oooh, yes, yes!"

A hand skimmed underneath the surface of the blanket to smack Duo on the back of the head.  "You will not spend the rest of the year faking it."

The exaggerated rocking motion came to a halt.  "Oh.  Sorry."  The two highest lumps beneath the blanket merged back into one for a few seconds before a bright-eyed Duo threw the blanket off.  "Okay, where's my cider?"

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