I caught at Duo’s sleeve while he struggled with the wet material.
‘Just hold still and let me help,’ I told him. He gave me a
wan little smile and relinquished the job to me; it was still a chore, getting
the sopping shirt peeled off.
‘God, Heero… I thought I was never going to get
away,’ he sighed heavily, weariness plain in his voice.
‘You’re ok now,’ I soothed. ‘Just
let me get this shirt off and…’ I hissed softly as the first
of his bruises was revealed. ‘That looks sore.’
‘I hurt all over,’ he admitted, reaching to touch
gingerly at the edge of the darkening spot. I knew the cold had only made
it more painful. ‘They’re so damn ruthless…’
‘Here,’ I said, pressing a mug into his hands.
‘Drink this. It’ll help warm you up.’
He wrapped his hands around the warm cup and sighed deeply,
closing his eyes for a second and just breathing in the heat. ‘Thanks,
man. I don’t know what I’d do without you.’
‘Don’t worry about a thing,’ I reassured,
bending to work at the wet ties on his boots. ‘Just relax and get
warm. Then we’ll see about getting you patched up.’
‘Ok,’ he agreed, voice sounding just a little
bit small. I think he was waiting for me to chide him for the choices he’d
made, but even though I had warned him… somehow I couldn’t be
angry at him while pulling wet socks from feet so cold they were red. ‘This
is good,’ he ventured. ‘It really helps. I can’t believe
how cold…’ then there was a sound and Duo froze. ‘What...
what was that?’
‘Someone’s at the door,’ I growled and rose
from where I’d been kneeling in front of him.
‘Heero…?’ he asked, and his tone was one
that told me he’d get up and deal with the situation if I asked him
to. I wasn’t about to ask him to.
‘Don’t worry,’ I told him, and tucked the
afghan around his legs. ‘I’ll take care of it. You just stay
‘You sure?’ he had to ask, and his eyes darted
for a second toward the front of the house.
‘I got you covered,’ I said firmly, and then smiled
encouragingly. ‘It’ll be ok.’
‘Careful…’ I heard him murmur just as I
left the room; it was so soft I almost didn’t catch it.
‘May I help you?’ I all but growled as I opened
the front door and glared at the occupant of our front porch.
The kid standing there was all but invisible inside a snow-suit
so puffy there had to be a dozen layers of clothing underneath it. ‘Is
Mr. Duo ready to come back out and play? Tommy promises not to put any more
ice in the snowballs.’
‘I think,’ I informed him testily, ‘that
Mr. Duo is done for the day.’
‘Aw, man!’ the kid said, and I finally identified
him as the neighbor directly across the street. ‘But it’s early!
And he makes cool snow Gundams!’
‘Tommy should have thought of that before he tried to
give Mr. Duo a concussion,’ I said, and he dropped his gaze, scuffing
at a patch of snow on the porch.
‘But it’s early yet!’ he tried again, voice
plaintive and annoyingly high. ‘Can’t he please come back out?
Tommy said he was sorry!’
‘Mr. Duo can come back out when Tommy comes and apologizes
to me ,’ I told him in a tone of voice that the kids know means business.
It’s the tone Duo can’t manage when faced with a pack of grinning
‘Oh,’ he said somewhat dejectedly, probably knowing
as well as I did the odds of Tommy coming within a mile of me. ‘Well…
uh… tell Mr. Duo we hope he gets better.’
‘I will,’ I replied. ‘Goodbye Justin.’
And I shut the door with him still standing there.
‘You get rid of them?’ Duo asked as I came back
into the room where I had him ensconced in front of the fire.
‘All gone,’ I smiled and he breathed a sigh of
relief that I don’t think he intended to. Then he grinned up at me.
‘You’re the best, Heero.’
I snorted and shook my head. ‘Just drink your hot chocolate.’
He gave me a look from the corner of his eyes that could rival
any wide-eyed look conjured by any of the kids in the neighborhood, and
reached out a hand. ‘Come sit with me?’
He’d shucked the last of his wet clothes and I shook
my head at him as I slid in under the afghan and let him curl into my arms.
‘Better?’ I teased, feeling his faint trembling start to ease.
He hummed an affirmative and pressed his face against my shoulder.
‘That’s nice… you’re warm.’
I chuckled at him and then poked at a seeping cut on his shoulder.
‘I think this might need a butterfly bandage.’
‘God, I hate kids,’ he grumbled.
‘No you don’t,’ I chided, chuckling at him.
‘I hate Tommy?’ he tried.
‘No you don’t,’ I told him absently, pulling
out my handkerchief to press to the cut so I could pull the afghan up around
‘Fine,’ he groused, shifting to try to get closer
to me and my body heat. ‘But I’m still getting even…’
‘ Duo… ’ I warned and he sighed.
‘Just a little?’
‘There’s no need…’ I couldn’t
help the smirk, though I tried to hide it. ‘I already called his father.’
‘You didn’t!’ he demanded, raising his head
to look at me, his face nearly split with a wide grin.
‘I did,’ I replied smugly. ‘He’s grounded
for the rest of the weekend.’
The grin toned down to a satisfied smile, and Duo tucked his
head back against my chest. ‘What would I do without you?’
I couldn’t help an indulgent sigh. ‘Probably end
up with frost-bite,’ I chuckled, and Duo chuckled with me, not bothering
to refute it. I pulled him closer and wondered idly if I could find one
of those snow-suits in his size.
Fiction : GW :