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fic - i backward cast my e'e part 10 [novella] - the turnip patch
version 2.0
fic - i backward cast my e'e part 10 [novella]
Title:  I Backward Cast My E'e
Part:  10

I Backward Cast My E'e
sequel-lite to for promis'd joy
Part 10

Heero caught himself avoiding the cracks in the sidewalk on the way home from class.  It was a habit he'd purged long ago, but it still snuck up on him while he wasn't looking sometimes, when his mind was elsewhere.  The obvious solution was to connect his mind to his mouth and let it speak the matter out.  "Hey... did you know the DoD has other internships, too?"

"Really?"  Duo called his thoughts back from where they had scattered.  Heero wasn't generally the type to start random small talk.  "Though you know, I'm sort of starting to wish it weren't called an internship.  Especially a summer internship.  This is like a 'if you do well, we'll hire you' internship, not like a 'aw, aren't you a cute little noob? go fetch my coffee' internship."

That brief little tangent sort of passed Heero by.  "Why are we quibbling about the terminology now?"

"Hm?  Oh.  Alex was just razzing me about it earlier today.  'Cuz the bastard had an 'internship' back before junior year, you know?  He worked on an earthquake retrofitting project or something, so now he thinks he gets to tell me I'm soooooo behind."  He rolled his eyes before ceding conversational control back to his boyfriend.  "Anyway.  You were saying?  Other programs?"

Heero blinked and got back on track.  "Yeah.  They've got a few of them.  They've got a network security working group that's looking for some fresh blood.  Some databasing projects.  Guidance systems."

"Wow.  Who knew the government could be so friendly?"

Well, Heero did, but he'd had an association with the government since before he was born.  "I've been thinking I'd apply for the rover group," he threw out casually.

"Rover?  Hey, you mean like the programming for after we've sent it off to fend for itself?"  Not even accepted as an intern, and already Duo was expressing a proprietary interest in the project.  It proved a certain confidence in his acceptance that he didn't dare express directly.  "Yeah, that sounds pretty cool.  Heh, would that be like your work protecting my work?  Hey, that means we'd be practically working together!"

"Not really," Heero shrugged with deliberate nonchalance.  "Same project in the end, maybe, but different departments."

"That'd still be pretty awesome."  Duo bumped shoulders with him as they walked.  "Shit, my deadline for application passed a while ago.  You still good on yours?"

"Yeah, nothing to worry about.  The application hasn't even been made available yet."

"Man, you programmer dudes sure like to chill.  So is this a new program or something?  Figure your dad would clue you in on these things way ahead of the curve."

Heero shook his head, then had to shake it once more for good measure to get the bangs out of his eyes.  "No, I've had my eye on it for a while.  Odin's definitely influenced me more toward R&D than industry.  And this... well, I don't think I have to explain how cool it would be to send something up to space."

Duo's steps slowed as his attention wandered.  "One day, man... we'll be living among the stars.  You and me can help make it happen."  He smiled dreamily before turning that smile on his boyfriend.  "You're absolutely right.  No explanations needed.  Hey, you never said anything before."

"I... knew the deadline wasn't for a while yet."  The brief hesitation made Duo cast a sidelong look at him.  He avoided eye contact momentarily, then met the look for a second, then returned his eyes to the forward position.  After a few seconds' silence, he admitted the rest.  "I... wanted you to get your app done first."

Duo's answering blink was less surprised and more puzzled.  "What?  Why?"

"I... wanted you to make your own decision first."  He paused for a small, sideways smile before resuming his squirminess.  "You... went back and forth on your program for a while, you know?  I didn't want to influence you one way or another by saying I wanted to apply for my program."

They walked almost a block while Duo chewed on what that meant.  He was pretty sure he had worked his way to the conclusion of the thought, but pushing himself there required some small, shuffling baby steps.  "I... haven't thought too much about life after graduation.  I mean, other than the job, there's Howie.  ...And you.  I... I kinda think I... don't wanna end up too far from either of you, you know?  We both get in, and, um... well..."

Heero volunteered to finish the next part of the sentence.  "We'd pretty much be working in the same place."

"Yeah."  In totally different departments, of course, which made it totally kosher.  But still right there, more than just kind of near each other.  He stopped at the corner, just opposite the market, and meticulously inspected the non-existent cross-traffic before slowly setting foot in the intersection.  "Just wouldn't seem right to get two separate places to stay."

"Yeah," Heero echoed.  "That's what I was thinking.  But... I didn't want that to be a main factor for you in deciding on the program..."

"Yeah?  That's... awful decent of--  What the fuck are you doing here?"

Nothing beyond a stunned silence from all parties was the response.  Duo looked pissed, Heero was uncertain, Howard was finding it difficult to locate the appropriate words, and Elizabeth was decidedly uncomfortable.  She broke first.  "I... should be going."

After the briefest hesitation, Howard stopped her before she'd quite left the register counter.  "No, you shouldn't."

"Then I will."  Duo turned on his heel to leave.  Behind him, Heero stumbled a hasty half step to the side to give him the room to get through the door.


He stopped.  When Howard used that tone of voice with him, he listened.  It didn't get like that too often -- firm, with a side of deep concern.  But it wasn't strong enough to force him to turn around.  He stayed rooted in place, eyes down, jaw clenched, shoulders tight, unable to defy the voice that called him back, unwilling to acknowledge the situation behind him.  It was only the knowledge that there were three people staring at him expectantly, and maybe even fearfully, that made him turn his head over his shoulder to signify a reluctant readiness to listen.

Howard took the opportunity and ran with it, but he kept it simple.  "This lady here's just guilty of bad judgment, Duo, if not just bad luck.  Don't go taking your anger out on her."

"I got plenty of anger to go around, Howie."  It was something of a warning and a threat.

"She didn't wrong you, kid."

"She didn't have to come here."

"She's been wronged, too."

He turned.  "Look.  You shacked up with the wrong guy and got screwed.  Yeah, I get it.  You have my sympathy and all that, but that's as far as that goes."

"I don't want your sympathy!" Elizabeth snapped softly, painfully.  She looked back and forth between uncle and nephew with something akin to anger.  "I... I just want to understand.  Jake... I loved him.  He treated us well.  Had a bit of a temper, maybe, and a few buttons you knew better than to push... but he wasn't the man you describe.  I... I don't see how he could ever be the man you describe."

Duo didn't remember ever having that kind of luxury.  His parents had always been brutally honest about what they thought of him.  But he thought that the luxury of denial must be a pretty nice thing to have in times like these.  He found an annoying current of sympathy running through his envy, and told himself that maybe everyone would be happier if he let her carry on with it.  "Maybe you're better off leaving things at that, then."

The idea both tempted and repulsed her.  "No... that's not... that's not right.  I don't accept that.  I won't just look away because it's easy.  I know that finding out all these things now, now that he's gone, doesn't change anything, but..."

"Just what do you want to hear?  'Cuz if you want to hear how much of a loser he was, then you've got a pretty big masochistic streak running through you.  And if you want to tell me I got it all wrong and you're gonna redeem him to me?  Not gonna happen."

"I..."  She looked away first.  It wasn't much of a contest.  "I don't know what I want.  Only that... that at this point... knowing... seems better than not knowing."  The moment this whole thing had started was still fresh in her mind.  Crazy old Great-Aunt Louise, going on as she normally did... and then bam, the rug was pulled out from underneath her.  Pain?  She thought she could deal with the pain of clarity and truth.  It was the anger and the betrayal and the shame that was a lot harder to swallow.  Knowledge wouldn't change things, but at least maybe she could rest a little easier, knowing there weren't any more surprises out there, ready to flip her life upside-down.

Duo traded looks with his uncle.  He was getting damn sick and tired with the way Howard seemed to keep punting the ball back to his side of the court, but he supposed he'd be sick and tired no matter what his uncle was doing, so there wasn't any winning on that point.  He tried not to look at Elizabeth, but his eyes couldn't fail to take notice of her dejected pose.  Howie was right.  It was Jake that had put her into this situation.  As one of his father's messes, he felt no obligation to clean up another of his father's messes, but... Maybe if he gave the lady what she wanted, then she would go away.

Heero touched his shoulder lightly, but his soft words were pointed in Howard's direction.  "I can watch the store.  You two can..."  All eyes turned to him.  He squeezed Duo's shoulder and let his hand drop.

Howard nodded and took the lead.  "We can go over to the park to talk."

"Neutral ground," Duo murmured beneath his breath.  He turned to Heero, who only gave him a small, supportive smile and relieved him of his backpack.  With an effort, he squared his shoulders and led the way out of the store.

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14 comments or Leave a comment
jaefire From: jaefire Date: November 9th, 2008 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Cruel, cruel place to end it! ::cries::
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 9th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
It wasn't deliberate!  I just haven't written any more of it!  =)  (kinda forgot what that conversation was going to be about, anyway. >_>)
eg06 From: eg06 Date: November 9th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Argh, i'm with jaefire, very cruel place to end it! I fell in love with this not-a-oneshot about two years ago and I keep coming back for more, I love your writing! I can't wait for more of this.
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 9th, 2008 07:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Glad to hear it!  But by pushing out chapters of the fic one at a time, I'm just giving you something to keep coming back for, right?  =D
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: November 9th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Aaaaah... Logic prevails! I was kind of halfway fearing that Duo would somehow be able to keep on running away. Good for Howie stopping him this time and Heero supporting him. ^____^
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 9th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ha, well, Heero was standing in the doorway and all, so it was harder for Duo to flee.  ^o^

But as I said... probably about time I moved the 'plot' along.  Duo had to man up before people started smacking him.
lavendarlizard From: lavendarlizard Date: November 9th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Smacking? No! Who would be thinking that? O.O *hides the smacking stick* ^_____^
ravelqueen From: ravelqueen Date: November 9th, 2008 06:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
argh I want to know what they are going to say!! no I have to wait again..I want to knooow~~ so I'm with the others you are a cruel, cruel person^^
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 9th, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Heh, when I posted, I didn't think at all that it was a cliffhanger!  I just thought, this is what I've got so far, so here you go!

Hopefully I'll figure out the next bit soon.  ^_^
kazeko From: kazeko Date: November 9th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
GAH. Cliffies. I hate them. The Heero in this AU seems pretty much like your jammies-cladded Heero in another AU huh? =D

turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 10th, 2008 03:53 am (UTC) (Link)
... I'm getting the feeling that I need to apply myself to working on the next part of this before working on anything else. >_>

All my Heeros are essentially the same.  As one great Heero once said, it's just the same personality applied to different situations. =)
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: November 9th, 2008 10:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yay! Heero did not get run over! :D Cause... you know... there for a second, I wouldn't have bet against it. No more running for Duo, huh? This conversation should be... interesting. In that curse sort of way. ^^;
turnippatch From: turnippatch Date: November 10th, 2008 04:06 am (UTC) (Link)
I've always thought Duo was a good sprinter, not a good endurance runner.  ^o^  Boy can't run forever!

For a moment, I was considering not actually covering the conversation.  Figured it was all ground I'd covered before, one tidbit or another.  Then I figured out, you know, I think it's only ground I've covered in my head.  I don't think I've actually ever written it before... maybe?  Must go back and reread... >_>
sunhawk16 From: sunhawk16 Date: November 11th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you're gonna have to write it... *grin*
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