Story Completed: Feb. 14, 2003
Notes: Post-EW. AC 198, the guys are working as Preventers.
************ Time passing or scene/POV change
It wasn't like Heero would *kill* him or anything, after all. In fact, it was more likely that Heero would simply ignore the whole thing. Pretend that his partner never left a Valentine on his desk. Pretend that his best friend never asked if he was willing to consider changing the nature of their relationship. Pretend that Duo Maxwell never confessed he was in love with Heero Yuy.
Hearing voices approaching, Duo recognized one as Heero's and hurriedly left the area. He didn't want to actually be there when Heero read the card. He would know what Heero's reaction had been soon enough. If Heero showed up at the restaurant tonight, it would be the first step towards taking their relationship in a new direction. If he didn't - well, Duo would respect his wishes and never bring the subject up again.
Heero glared at the card laying on his desk.
"I told you ducking into the copy room while she was looking for you wouldn't solve anything," Wufei commented drily.
"Hn," Heero snorted. He picked up the card, held it over the wastebasket, and tore it up without even opening it. "Problem solved."
"You know, Yuy, one of these days you're actually going to have to convince that girl that you're just not interested."
Heero shot Wufei a disbelieving glower, "You think I haven't *tried*?! She just sighs adoringly and flutters her eyes ridiculously and tells me I'm so sweet for trying to protect her." He shuddered at the thought.
Wufei snickered at the expression of disgust on Heero's face, only to groan a moment later as Heero dumped a pile of paperwork in his arms with a definite smirk of triumph.
"There's the case files you were looking for. Enjoy," Heero told him with sadistic pleasure.
As Wufei left, muttering under his breath, Heero sat down and pulled a case file from his Inbox. He had a lot of work to get done today and wasting time dealing with a lovesick girl's Valentine nonsense was definitely *not* on his agenda. He paused for a moment, glancing at the wastebasket. Strange, though - that card hadn't been nearly as gaudy or as - well, *pink* - as he would have expected Relena to have chosen. In fact, it had been in surprisingly good taste for a Valentine, at least on the outside. Maybe the foolish girl was finally developing a little taste. Heero smirked at the thought. 'Nah.' Shaking his head, he went back to work.
Duo had tried to stay away, but by midafternoon, his curiosity was killing him. He just had to check and make sure that Heero had found the card. And he really *did* need to get Heero to sign off on his report from their last assignment.
Standing in front of Heero's desk and waiting while Heero skimmed through the report, Duo surreptitiously looked around the cubicle. The card definitely wasn't where he had left it on the desk. Nor could he see any trace of it elsewhere. Obviously, Heero must have read it. But he had no idea what Heero's reaction had been.
Heero initialled the report and handed it back to Duo. Duo was just turning to leave when Heero tossed a wadded up piece of paper at the wastebasket and missed. "Guess you're getting a little out of practice there buddy," Duo laughed, bending over to pick up the scrap. As he dropped the scrap in the wastebasket, other scraps, bits of an all-too-familiar card, caught his eye. His laughter died abruptly. 'Well, guess I know what his reaction was...' he thought, blinking rapidly as he straightened again. "See you around," he tossed over his shoulder as he hastily left the cubicle.
Back at his own cubicle, Duo leaned his forehead against the cool metal of the filing cabinet while he tried to bring the hurt under control. 'You knew he probably would react that way, Maxwell,' he scolded himself. 'Now stop acting like some heartbroken teenager and get your head together! You have work to do. Just forget about it. Forget about all of it.' Firmly shoving aside the rebellious thought that he *was* a heartbroken teenager and he'd damn well act like one if he wanted to, Duo sat down in front of his computer and set to work like the professional he was. He had work to do. Important work. Far more important than sitting around nursing his broken heart.
Heero's slightly puzzled gaze followed Duo as his partner left abruptly. He had the strangest feeling that he had just missed something. Something important. Duo had acted just a bit - odd. Not typical Duo-oddness, but odd for Duo. Something was decidedly off with his partner and it would need to be dealt with. Later. Heero turned back to his work, setting aside the problem of Duo's behaviour for later perusal.
Hours later, Heero arrived home only to discover Relena waiting at his door, Valentine in hand.
"I tried to give this to you at Preventers HQ but I couldn't find you, so I thought I would just wait right here until you came home," she beamed happily. "Here you go, Heero, Happy Valentine's Day!"
Staring at the very pink, very gaudy *monstrosity* he had just been handed, Heero wondered how he could have ever thought that the very tasteful card on his desk today had been from Relena. But - if it *hadn't* been from her - who *had* placed it there?
Trying to hand the card back to her, Heero told her firmly, "No, I will not 'be yours'. Nor do I want you to 'be mine'. I have told you over and over again, Relena. *I DO NOT LOVE YOU*. Now *GO AWAY*!" Giving up on making her take the card back, Heero swiftly tore it in pieces and let them flutter to the ground, ignoring her dismayed cry.
Turning on his heel, Heero hurried back to his car. The card hadn't been from Relena; therefore he needed to get back to the office and find out who it *was* from. Though when he put the mysterious card together with Duo's odd behaviour... With a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Heero wished he hadn't been so hasty in ripping up the card. Glancing at his watch, he realized he would have to hurry or the janitors would have been around to empty the wastebaskets before he had a chance to rescue the pieces.
Racing into the building, Heero tore through the maze of cubicles until he reached his own. A quick glance confirmed that he had beaten the janitor there. Dumping the wastebasket on his desk, Heero began sorting through the pieces of scrap, picking out and setting aside bits of card. After nearly half an hour of painstaking work - and an incredible amount of tape - Heero finally managed to piece the card back together again so that he could read the message written inside.
Leaving the mess on his desk, he - carefully - snatched up the poor mangled card and tore out of the building. He was late. Very late. He just hoped Duo would understand and forgive him.
Duo sighed and let the spaghetti slide back off of his fork. Even after seeing the torn up card, he had held onto a shred of hope that Heero might reconsider and show up. And since Valentine's Day meals at this restaurant required prepayment when the reservation was made, he'd figured he might as well come and at least salvage *something* out of the disaster his Valentine's Day plan had turned out to be. But Heero hadn't showed up, both meals were now stone cold, and he really didn't have any appetite anyway.
Signalling the waiter over, Duo requested that the meals be packed up to take with him. He couldn't let perfectly good food go to waste even if it *would* be a bitter reminder of a Valentine's Day he'd rather forget. The waiter sighed sympathetically as he gathered the plates up and carried them away.
Duo turned his gaze back to the table and leaned forward to blow out the little bit of candle remaining, only to have a hand cup around the flame protectively.
"I'm sorry I'm late."
Stunned, Duo looked up, hardly daring to believe what his ears were telling him. "Heero..."
Heero smiled ruefully and explained, "Relena was in the office this morning and I assumed the card was from her. It was only after I found her waiting on my doorstep tonight that I realized I had been mistaken. Then I still had to go back to the office and try to put the card back together to see just how big my mistake was."
Looking at the taped-up mess now laying on the table, Duo asked hesitantly, "How big was it?"
Heero's fingers slid under Duo's chin, tilting his head up as Heero leaned over and whispered softly, "Huge. Enormous. Gigantic." Lips so close that they almost brushed, Heero breathed, "Monumental," before closing that tiny distance and pressing their lips together.
Duo closed his eyes and let his awareness of their surroundings slip away, losing himself in Heero's kiss. Maybe he didn't want to forget this Valentine's Day after all. Maybe it was a Valentine's Day to remember.