I love Quatre to death, I really do… but there
are days when I seriously doubt his sanity. His faith in his friends
but sometimes his space-heart leads him to put faith in areas that just
leave me wanting to call a time out. Or the little men in the white coats.
Finding myself breaking and entering Heero and Duo’s house, on Black
Friday no less, so that I could help my partner ‘liberate’ Duo’s
Christmas decorations and distribute them liberally about that self same
house… well, let’s just say it wasn’t exactly what I
thought I would be doing the day after Thanksgiving.
I was doing my best to keep my doubts to myself, but steadying
a purloined ladder while watching Quatre feverishly string lights along
the eves of
a house that wasn’t even ours, was just a bit much to take on faith.
I guess I sighed. Apparently more than once.
‘Stop your sighing and help me, so we can get this done before Duo
gets home,’ Quatre commanded from his perch. ‘The ladder isn’t
‘That’s what you said about that stack of boxes in the garage
right before you almost got buried under Christmas lights,’ I grumbled,
and didn’t let go of the ladder while he leaned alarmingly to the
‘I’m fine,’ he scoffed, righting himself and looking
like he wished he could make the ladder ‘walk’ closer to the
corner of the house without having to climb down. ‘Though this would
be easier if this was a mobile suit…’ he muttered, confirming
‘Just explain to me again the whole breaking and decorating thing?’ I
sighed, stalling the letting-go-of-the-ladder part until he’d climbed
down. ‘This isn’t going to become our new holiday tradition,
is it? Because next year I don’t really want to do Wufei’s
place… he’s in a tenth floor apartment.’
Quatre snorted, turning to look at me once he was on the ground
so I could see the roll of his eyes. ‘I’m hoping this is a one-shot deal
and besides… Wufei doesn’t have any deep seated problems with
the holiday. This isn’t a tradition thing… this is a Duo thing.’
‘Please tell me you don’t think a few lights and tinsel are
going to cure Duo’s carefully cultivated hatred for all things Christmas?’ I
asked, not even trying to keep the incredulous tone out of my voice.
‘Of course not,’ I was informed. ‘But I’m
hoping the fight will.’
I had meant to help him move the ladder, but that last statement
rather left me blinking and I just sort of stared at him while he shifted
thing, wiggling it the way you do to test the stability. ‘Uh… what
‘The one Heero and Duo are going to have when Duo comes
home and finds all this.’
I was so dumbfounded, I just stood there while he climbed back
up and began hooking lights again. ‘Let me get this straight… you
are deliberately setting our two best friends up for holiday induced domestic
violence? Please tell me you’re kidding?’
‘Well, I’m sure as hell not hoping for a visit from the ghost
of Christmas past,’ Quatre said, never breaking stride on his light
stringing marathon. ‘Now will you get to work… we’ve
still got wreathes to hang and the giant lighted candy canes to put out.’
He seemed steady enough, so I dared go back to the edge of the
porch to dig around in one of the many boxes of sparkly crap we’d hauled out
of the garage. ‘Maybe you could get Rashid to dress up and play the
part? It would have to beat the hell out of this harebrained plan…’
‘You doubt me?’ he asked, theatrically aghast. ‘I’m
The derisive snort did not escape his attention and I got flipped
Quatre, I’m not seeing how making Heero and Duo fight over our decorating
prowess is going to do anything good for Duo’s… problem.’
‘Making them fight will result in them talking about it
instead of continuing to ignore the white elephant in the corner of their
He sounded so matter of fact, that I left off digging through
plastic gingerbread men and turned to look at him. ‘White elephant?’ I
asked, agog. ‘Quatre… that white elephant has been there so
long it has a name and gets invited to the dinner table. It has its own
place setting and everything. I’m pretty sure they buy it presents
at Easter. It would take years of high intensity therapy to get them to
even admit there’s a problem… I don’t think one fight
is going to cut it.’
Quatre paused in looping lights to crouch down enough on the ladder
that he could see me under the edge of the roof line. ‘That’s the
point! This… this ‘white elephant’ is getting bigger
than the house! They need to stop pretending it’s not there!’
‘Don’t call Bessie fat,’ I muttered and delved
back into the box of harebrained schemes.
There was a pause long enough that I glanced back to find him
smiling at me warmly. ‘Have faith.’
I snorted. ‘I didn’t abandon you to Yuy’s mercy,
He just grinned widely. ‘That’s just because he’s
not here yet.’
He went back to work on the lights and I finally found the giant
candy canes at the bottom of the box. Red and green, they were meant
the front walk, but I decided I’d use them around the side of the
house, because maybe I hadn’t abandoned my partner… but I sure
as hell wasn’t going to be the sucker out front who got to explain
this mess to Heero when he got home. Wasn’t my damn idea.
It was… a long afternoon. Duo owns more Christmas trappings
than your average department store. An odd thing for a man who purportedly
the whole season and has steadfastly refused to so much as put up a tree
in years. I understand he made a boy scout cry once, when the poor kid
made the mistake of trying to sell a Christmas wreath to Scrooge Maxell.
While Quatre put up the icicle lights and ran drop cords, I placed
the candy canes, hung the wreathes and staked the life-sized lighted
Angel in the side yard. There had been a bit of debate over the lighted
deer, but we’d both vetoed the horrid spiral ‘trees’ that
looked more like giant springs, with nothing more than a shared look.
I had gotten so involved with trying to run the power out to the
deer that I’d rather lost track of time, and the first clue I had that
it was after five was the slam of a car door and Heero’s horrified
‘Winner! What the fuck do you think you’re doing!?’
I have to give Quatre credit for chutzpah… he never missed a beat; ‘Heero!
Welcome home! Surprise and Merry Christmas!’
I opted to continue running my drop cord at the side of the house. In
my defense, I would have gone out front if it had actually sounded like
Heero was going to strangle Quatre.
‘You can’t be serious? Are you deranged?!’ I had never
heard Heero manage a tone of voice quite that… high before. I wondered
about his blood pressure.
‘Calm down, Heero…’ Quatre began, and I took a moment
to be grateful he’d finished with the ladder and was on solid ground.
‘Calm down?!’ was the unbelieving reply. ‘Do you have
any idea what’s going to happen when Duo sees this?’
There was a moment of quiet while either Heero waited for an answer,
or Quatre made Heero wait for an answer… I wasn’t quite sure which. ‘Yeah,
Heero… I kind of do.’
I didn’t think it was exactly the answer Heero had probably
been hoping for, and the dead silence that greeted the line, finally
to drop my extension cord and creep up to the corner of the house. I was
honestly kind of surprised to not find Quatre knocked on his ass with Heero
trying to beat him to death with a string of icicle lights.
Instead, they were just standing there staring at each other.
Quatre had on his patiently gentle expression… the one that makes him seem like
he’s so very wise beyond his years. I personally find it annoying,
but other people seemed to fall for it. It must have worked on Heero because
he suddenly threw himself down on the front steps, dropped his head in
his hands and groaned.
‘Oh God… what have you done?’ he asked nobody
Since Heero wasn’t looking anyway, Quatre didn’t bother
with the sage expression anymore, instead looking past him to catch my
he could flip me off for hiding behind the house. I just smiled, but he
‘Heero, it’s time this stopped and you know it,’ he
commanded, all firm and using his board room voice. ‘Duo is making
himself miserable and I really can’t believe that you can just sit
by and ignore the situation...’
Heero muttered something that I couldn’t hear, but it stopped Quatre’s
lecture in its tracks. ‘Uh… what’s that supposed to mean?’
Heero straightened up, throwing his hands out in a frustrated
can’t do anything about the fucking situation because the fucking
situation is my own damn fault!’
I wondered if my own expression was as confused as Quatre’s. There
was a long moment or two of listening to nothing but a leaf blower a couple
of blocks over before Quatre managed, ‘Come again?’
Heero shoved up off his ass and stalked a few feet out into the
yard before turning around and stalking back. ‘Call me Scrooge… call me
the Grinch… call me the devil incarnate… I killed Christmas!’
I’d heard of giving people heart attacks from shock before, but
mental breakdowns? I was impressed when Quatre tried to rally despite the
whole scheme appearing to have spiraled to… someplace he hadn’t
‘Wait,’ he began, puzzling over Heero’s bizarre declaration. ‘Let
me get this straight… you did something that caused Duo to go from
being the reincarnation of Santa Claus himself, to… the holiday zombie
he is now?’
Heero was deflating a bit, losing a bit of his confessional zeal.
He suddenly didn’t much seem to be thrilled with looking Quatre in the eye, and
dropped his gaze to the dead grass, rubbing at the back of his neck. ‘Uh… maybe?’
Quatre let out a slow breath, looking from Heero to me and then
up at the glow of Christmas lights. It was unnerving to see his faith
plan falter that far past ‘too late’. I sighed and stepped
out onto the porch. ‘Why don’t we go inside,’ I suggested. ‘I’ll
make us some hot cocoa and you can take it from the top, Yuy.’
I can only describe his expression as… resigned.
Settled at the kitchen table while I puttered around finding pots
and mugs and milk, Heero seemed to be sinking into a funk, and I caught
more than once, glancing at the clock. I imagine he was counting the time
down until Duo got off work. He made us wait until I’d passed the
mugs around and sat down across from him. He might have made us wait longer
than that, but that was about all the patience Quatre had.
‘Come on, Heero… spill,’ he demanded. ‘What
do you mean you killed Christmas?’
Heero sighed and turned his mug so the handle was to the left.
Then back to the right. ‘Well…’ he finally began. ‘You remember
how he used to be… right?’
His tone was oddly vague, and I wondered about it, but Quatre
pounced on the opening; ‘Of course we remember! Duo used to love
Christmas! He planned for it all year long!’
Santa Maxwell… Duo Claus… Duo ‘Kris Kringle’ Maxwell… just
to name a few. Oh yeah; Duo loved Christmas and everything about it. I
swear his favorite passtime of the entire year was hitting the after Christmas
sales for Christmas decorations. He loved the lights and the shine and
the sparkle and the spirit and just… the whole damn thing.
Up until about three or four years ago. Now you didn’t say ‘Merry
Christmas’ to the man unless you wanted to risk getting your head
gnawed off for your trouble.
‘Exactly!’ Heero replied to Quatre’s comment with a
light in his eyes that I suspected was misplaced. ‘He started planning
the day after Christmas! Each year had to be bigger and better and… and … gaudier!
There was no end in sight! We own more damn Christmas decorations than
Macy’s! Every bit of spare room is crammed with decorations! The
garage… the attic… the basement… ‘
‘Hold on a minute, Heero,’ Quatre cut in, seeing that the
conversation wasn’t going exactly where he’d thought it was. ‘Just
what are you saying? You guys fought over… Christmas?’
Heero lost a little of his animation, figuring out maybe that
quite see what he had thought we saw. ‘Of course we fought, damn
it. The neighbors were starting to complain about the traffic and the noise.’
‘Now wait…’ Quatre tried again, just not grasping things,
though I was starting to see Heero’s point. Of course, Quatre hadn’t
been with me when I found the giant, inflatable snow-globe with the life-sized
dancing bear in the sequined tutu. According to the box, it played two
hundred and fifty-seven different Christmas carols. In an endless loop.
‘Damn it,’ Heero muttered, looking down into the depths of
his untouched cocoa. ‘You’re making me feel like a complete
‘Well,’ I couldn’t help offering, ‘if the shoe
‘Stuff it, Barton,’ he growled and I just sipped my
‘It wasn’t so bad… at first,’ he grudgingly admitted. ‘It
was kind of pretty, I guess. And Duo really enjoyed it. No skin off my
nose… and he did most of the work anyway. But then, I don’t
know what happened. Every year it had to be bigger and ‘better’ and… different.
And some of the crap he dragged home was just so… so… tacky.
I didn’t even realize what was happening until it was too late…’
He managed to sound guilty and pissy and all together unhappy
all at the same time. Quatre and I shared a glance over his head, and
it was Quatre
who finally asked the pertinent question; ‘Heero… what did
Heero’s head sank even further between his shoulders and
he stalled by using his finger to stir his cocoa and then sticking his
finger in his
‘Heero…’ I prodded and he sighed.
‘I just… sort of… tried to keep things under control,’ he
hedged, glancing up at Quatre through his bangs.
Quatre, bless him, finally seemed to be losing his temper. ‘What
the hell did you do, Heero?’ he demanded.
Heero was back to looking for wisdom in the depths of his chocolate. ‘I… mocked
him,’ he admitted, and I swear I saw him cringe. ‘I didn’t
really realize it at first… I just wanted to keep him from going
over-board, and I guess I was being derogatory to everything. It almost
got to be a game or something; it was just what we did… he played
the holiday sprite and I played Scrooge. It was just… my part. And
then one day he must have gotten pissed, and now he’s turned into
‘We know,’ I supplied, because there just aren’t that
many ways to say ‘Scrooge’ and we’d already been through
them all at least once.
‘Wow,’ Quatre blurted, ‘you really did kill
Heero got grumpy again then, glaring across the table at my partner. ‘Yeah,
and it’s well and truly dead and thank you very damn much for delivering
this... mess on my front lawn.’
‘Heero!’ Quatre admonished. ‘You can’t
just leave things like this! Duo is miserable! He gets depressed as hell
now! How can you just ignore that?’
‘Don’t you think I haven’t tried?’ Heero snapped
back. ‘But you know Duo… he carries a grudge like no other… when
he makes up his mind he’s going to be stubborn about something, you
can just forget it! ‘
‘You need to talk to him…’ Quatre began, and
got cut off with a snort and a roll of the eyes.
‘I’ve talked myself blue in the face,’ Heero grumped,
frowning down at the table again. ‘I even tried last year to get
him to decorate and he about exploded before I had two words out of my
mouth. It’s a ‘thing’ now and you know how Duo is about ‘things’.’
Truer words were never spoke; I had to give him that one. Duo
Maxwell had become a Gundam pilot and fought two wars over a ‘thing’… man
could do bitter tenacity like none other.
‘Dear God,’ Quatre said, almost to himself. ‘You two
have to be the most dysfunctional human beings I have ever met. Christmas
lights? Seriously… two grown men and you can’t even sit down
and discuss something as mundane as hurt feelings? You know what? Screw
this… I’m out of here.’
‘What?’ Heero squawked, almost spilling his mug as he followed
Quatre to his feet. ‘You can’t just come in here, make this
mess, and then leave!’
‘Watch me.’ Quatre informed him and was already headed
for the pile of coats on the couch. I opted to not be left alone with
Heero growled his frustration, trailing along behind us. ‘What
in the hell am I supposed to do when Duo gets home?’
Quatre zipped up his jacket and stuffed his hand in his pocket,
pulling out what proved to be a little packet of mistletoe. Reaching
out, he slapped
it into Heero’s hand. ‘Turn on the lights, tell him Merry Christmas… and
Then my partner turned and walked out the front door. I did not
hesitate to follow. We were half way down the front walk before Quatre’s guilt
caught up with him. ‘Think we should go back and offer him our guest
room… just in case?’
I snorted and dropped an arm around his shoulders to keep him
moving toward the car. ‘Let’s … not make that an option.’
We walked past the reindeer carousel at the end of the walk, the
motion sensor kicking in a spritely rendition of Jingle Bells, and Quatre
got a point,’ he said… and restored my faith in his sanity.
‘Think they’ll work it out?’ I had to ask somewhere
between the luminaries and the mailbox evergreen garland.
He thought about it for a minute, but then smiled that annoying,
wise-beyond-his-years smile. ‘They do love each other. I have faith.’
Fiction : GW :