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fic - a long and winding road [haven] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - a long and winding road [haven]
Title:  A Long and Winding Road
Series:  Moments of Haven
Summary:  No armadillos were harmed in the making of this part.  I can't speak for that fuzzy animal, though...

A Long and Winding Road
A Moment of Haven

"So?  So?  Did I play nice?  Did I, did I?"

Heero batted at Duo's arm as they entered the parking lot.  "What are you talking about?"

Duo bounced a little on his toes.  "I played nice during the whole boring meeting thing, and for special bonus points, I was even pretty pleasant to the people in the office of triplicate hell.  Now you have to hold up your end of the bargain and wine and dine me tonight."

"I don't remember agreeing to that bargain."  As usual.

"You didn't not agree.  Silence is consent!"

Heero threw him a sidelong look.  He didn't quite agree, because silence wasn't the same thing at all as inaction, but he thought he'd let it slide.  Duo almost certainly didn't mean it, and Heero wasn't exactly unwilling to treat him to a nice night out.  With perhaps a few minor modifications to the idea.  "There will be no wine."

"Okay, I guess I can do without that part.  Hey, let's get drunk sometime!"

He raised an eyebrow at Duo.

"Not right now, of course, but, you know, sometime."  Duo shrugged, his fingers wiggling to indicate some vague point in the future.

Heero's previous experience with alcohol hadn't left him with an unwillingness to experiment with it again in a controlled environment.  As long as Quatre wasn't involved, things weren't as likely to get so odd.  Though with Duo involved, it was very up in the air where else things would go.  "...Maybe after we're legally able to purchase wine," he responded, deferring the matter to a later point in time.

Duo laughed.  "Ha, oh yeah, huh.  Man, that's so crazy!"  Old enough to fight and kill and maim enough to drive a person to drink, but not old enough to drink legally.  Crazy.  "Do you think we've changed?"


"Yeah, of course we've changed," he answered himself.  "That's obvious, 'cuz this is a whole different time and I don't think we're doing too badly with it.  But more insidiously?"


"I think... Sorry for being a dick earlier."

"Do you think you can finish one thought before moving on to the next?  Please?"

"Well, I'm just... You were right, the meeting wasn't that bad.  Yeah, I've got a chip on my shoulder, but you know, it's not nearly as massive as it used to be, or so I like to think, so if that's true, that's something to be proud of, don't you think?  Do you think that's true?"

Heero was thinking that maybe they'd find something without sugar or caffeine in it for dinner.  "I think it's true."

"Yes!"  He pumped his fist victoriously.

"I'm not sure your current behavior could convince me you've matured much, though."

Duo stuck his tongue out defiantly.  "Maturity doesn't have to mean you act like you've got a stick up your ass."

They arrived at their parked bikes.  Heero paused for a moment, a faint furrow in his brow.  "Do you think I act--"

"No, no, no!" Duo was quick to interrupt.  "Of course not.  Well, okay, maybe once in a while, but on the whole, no!  And when you do, I dunno, maybe it's just a small stick or something and whoa!  Dirty thought!"  He grinned, still on the fence about what the mental images did for him, but not particularly disturbed.  "Sorry, that one just came out of nowhere.  Well, okay, not really.  Anyway.  We got some afternoon and plenty of evening left.  Whaddya wanna do?"

Heero blinked at him blankly for a few seconds before concluding that there was no particular explanation for the energy level.  Duo was apparently just in one of his moods.  Perhaps it was a reaction to his earlier grumpiness.  He toyed with the helmet in his hands and stared off toward the city streets in front of local HQ.  "Well... we'll be getting dinner out here for sure.  We can plan around that."

"I was thinking we could go shopping for the supplies I need, but..."

"Bikes don't have much storage space."

"Yeah.  Bummer.  Oh well, maybe tomorrow.  It's not urgent."  He searched his brain for a novel way to pass the time.  Something date-y, just because.  "Hey, let's go catch a movie."

"Movie?  Is there something you want to see?"

"I don't know.  I don't keep track of these things."  Nothing could be more date-y than dinner and a movie, but he definitely drew the line at date movies.  "There's that little indie place down on Finch.  There's usually some interesting movie we've never heard of showing down there.  How about that?"

"You want to watch something we've never heard of?"

"Come on, it'll be an adventure.  Besides, it's like a Wednesday not-quite-evening.  We'll probably have the whole theater practically to ourselves.  It'll be fun."

And so it was.  They ended up finding a pretty good drama to watch on recommendation of the guy manning the ticket booth.  Sadly, the movie held their attention enough that they couldn't properly put the otherwise empty theater to good use, but there was plenty of privacy to be had elsewhere.  A randomly selected indo-thai restaurant near the theater filled their bellies with satisfactory food.  It wasn't anything special, but it did the job.

As initially proposed, they took the scenic route back, bypassing the main highway for the smaller, windier one.  It was an easy drive home.  Maybe a little too easy.  "Hey," Duo started, speaking into the small microphone on the inside of his helmet.  It broadcasted a tight, encrypted signal that Heero's helmet was configured to receive and unscramble.  "Think there are any cops around here?"

There was a moment of silence before Heero responded cautiously.  "Why?"

"Either I want to take my helmet off and feel the wind on my face, or I want to go faster."

"A lot faster?" Heero questioned with a mix of resignation and skepticism.

"A lot faster."

"We're already clipping the top edge of legality."

"Think they would get pissed if we flashed our badges if someone actually tried to pull us over?"

Gee, no wonder so many people had thought that giving them badges was a bad idea.  "I think I'd get pissed."

"What?  Why?"

"On principle.  I don't approve of the abuse of power."

"...Okay, geez, fine.  Way to make a guy feel bad.  What if we just abused the bikes?  I heard that cops can almost never catch a bike for speeding.  I guess that's engine power, but not the same thing at all, right?"

"Duo... don't make me regret suggesting the scenic route."

"Boo."  They took a turn in the highway in silence.  "You don't... you know... miss it?  Just sometimes?"

"Not really."  Heero elaborated when Duo seemed a little disappointed.  "Not exactly.  There's a big difference between doing something because you have to, and doing something because you want to.  I don't miss living like that every day.  I don't want to go back to that.  But parts of it?  Once in a while?  Because I want to?"



Duo almost-sighed in almost-relief.  They were more or less on the same page, and that was always a good thing.  "So, do you want to pick up the pace a little?"


"Boo."  He held his hand out in a thumbs-down sign, just to be clear.

Heero glanced at the gesture with a turn of his helmeted head, then returned his attention to the road with an introspective air.  "Do you want to?"

"Well, obviously, I'm the one that suggested it in the first place and oh no you don't, Yuy."  Duo's glare of disapproval managed to transmit itself even through the visor of his helmet.  "Don't let me force you into feeling you 'have to' do something."

"Don't let me force you into feeling you have to not do something."

Dammit, why did Heero have to be so stupidly oatmealy about things, anyway?  No, he knew the answer to that.  That was just Heero's way, for better or for worse, and he had to believe that it was better than being the other way around.  "This isn't an argument that's going to get us anywhere, is it?"

"Probably not."  Habits were hard to break.  Compromise was probably the best way to go.  "Okay, maybe a little faster."

"Just a little," Duo agreed amiably, smiling where no one could see.  Crisis averted.  They cruised along at that speed for about thirty seconds before they passed a lump in the middle of the lane.  They parted gracefully around it, giving it plenty of space.  "Ew, was that just roadkill?"

"I think so."

"Ugh.  Why does that gross me out so much?  I've seen men torn up and mangled in any number of painful, bloody ways.  Why does a little bit of roadkill seem so much worse?  Were you grossed out by that, too?"  He got no response.  "Heero?  Hello?"  Their homemade comm system was pretty sweet, but not guaranteed to be one hundred percent reliable.

"I'm here."

"So --"

"There's the pulloff."  Heero flipped on his turn signal even though there was no one else on the road to see, and turned onto the short side road that led up to the scenic point.  Duo could only follow.

The night seemed comfortingly quiet after they cut their engines.  It was a modest hilltop, with a modest view of the city lights, but it was what passed for a scenic point out here.  They took off their helmets, breathed in the clean night air, and went over to stand by a rail that was really more like something just to lean on while enjoying the view, rather than a barrier to keep people from falling.  Duo exhaled in contentment and sidled half a step closer to his partner.  "We should go chill by the ocean again sometime.  When we don't have work the next day."

"Better view?"

"Nah, just a different one."  He didn't think he liked one better than the other.  They each stirred up different feelings inside him.

"More people."

"Yeah, I guess."  He remembered the view from Howard's ship, not just looking at the ocean, but being on the ocean, surrounded by the ocean.  In a way, it had almost been like that first time he'd been outship.

"Maybe it's worse because it used to be a fuzzy animal."

"Hm?  Oh."  Roadkill.  Yeah, maybe 'grossed out' hadn't been the right term, exactly.  He slid that last bit over to stand shoulder to shoulder with Heero.  "What if it was like a, a, I dunno.  What's a non-fuzzy animal that wanders into the road?  An armadillo?"

The corner of Heero's mouth quirked upward just the slightest bit.  No armadillos in these parts, but god bless the nature channel for giving them entry into the wide, wild world of Earth's biological diversity.  "You know what I mean."

"Yeah."  Innocent.  Unsuspecting.  Damn.  "Wonder what will happen to it."

"The body, you mean?"

"Of course.  I'm not high enough to start wondering if animals have souls and if they have a heaven or a hell."

"Oh."  He thought about it for a few seconds.  "There has to be some local agency that takes care of it."

"Wonder how long that will take.  Geez, I kind of feel like we saw it, so we should clean it up.  For its sake.  Give it a decent burial or something."


"Relax.  I'm not crazy enough to actually do it yet.  It just... you know.  If I were dead by the roadside, I wouldn't want people just driving around me, wishing someone else would clean me up."

Heero drew breath to say something, but changed his mind and slipped an arm around Duo's waist instead.

"You know... when Trowa picked you up after... after your big boom... I was relieved we weren't just leaving you there, but at the same time, I was so damn..."  He shook his head sharply.  "Gah, I don't want to think about this.  Quick, say something mushy to me."

"I... uh..."  Heero spent only two more seconds at a loss for words before he chuckled.  "Dammit, Maxwell."

"What, can't work under pressure?"

"Can't work without context," he answered, giving him a light squeeze.  "I'm not about to go comparing your eyes to the stars or something."

Duo bumped his elbow into Heero's ribs.  "Oh, hell no, you better not.  You have a better repertoire than that.  One I thought was inexhaustible.  Sigh.  I'm all disillusioned now."

"Guess I'll just have to work harder at it."

"Gee, you don't sound bummed at all.  Bet you'll enjoy that."

"Well, between that, and dwelling on our deaths...?"  The inside of his head was often gloomy enough as it was.  Balance was a good thing.

"Huh.  Good point.  Can you at least make sure I'll enjoy it, too?"

"That's all I ever aim to do."

Duo sighed in satisfaction.  "Ah.  That's much better."

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