Duo glared at his partner the minute he walked through the door. "Wu, you bastard! You're holding out on me!"
Wufei did his patented little grunt of disdain and settled himself into his chair with his usual elaborate show of nonchalance.
"When did you learn how to hack so well? I can't find a trace!"
"Hack? Hack what?"
Hack what? Oh hell no, there was no squirming out of this, ponytail boy. He whipped the monitor around so Wu could see it and pointed. "That!"
"You finally got rid of that stupid picture, so what?"
"You reset my desktop! I liked my desktop!"
Wufei glared. "It was stupid."
Duo crossed his arms over his chest and glared back. "Chibi Deathscythe Hell putting a sleeper hold on chibi Altron is not stupid. Even Trowa laughed."
"Co—argh!" Wufei slapped open a file and yanked a pen out of his desk drawer. "Maxwell! We have work to do."
"So you admit it. Well fine. How'd you do it?"
"I did not hack your computer."
He waved at the screen. "Then how do you explain this?"
Wufei slapped the pen down and scowled. "As you keep telling me, I couldn't hack my way out of a wet paper bag with the step by step guide to hacking by Heero Yuy. Perhaps Yuy did it. He is good enough."
"Why in the hell would Heero hack into Preventers just to change the wallpaper on my desktop?"
Wufei glowered. "Why in the hell would I change your wallpaper to chibi Deathscythe Hell and chibi Wing Zero walking through a meadow holding hands?"
Duo blinked. "Uh."
Duo shuffled to his desk and flopped down, after carefully setting his coffee down. He sighed and rubbed his temples. Wufei looked up from his notes. "What's wrong?"
"Yoshi wants to take me to lunch."
Wufei grunted. "You eat lunch with him all the time."
"He wants to treat. At Giorgio's."
"I hear the food is good."
"It's only the most expensive Italian place in town."
Wufei shrugged and went back to his scribbling. "So? Accept and you won't have to pay for it."
He pouted. "You're no help."
Wufei didn't even look up to appreciate the pout. And he'd put a little extra effort into it to. "Don't you think it's rather pathetic that the life of the party Maxwell has been on less dates in the past year than I have in the past week?"
He glared and gave serious consideration to strangling Wu with the paperclip chain he'd been working on all morning. "You remember that western movie we saw a few weeks ago? Let me give you a hint. You're the cow and Sally is the guy on the horse with the rope around your neck."
"I'm a Preventer agent, not Dr. Lovelorn."
"Bah. I'll ask the expert." He cracked open the email program and typed in Quatre's work address and an all cap HELP! with a ton of exclamation points at the end.
Quat, I need some advice. You know that Yoshi guy I was telling you about? He asked me out, like on a date date. To Giorgio's. Should I go or what? He hit send and then stuck his tongue out at Wufei. Useless Chinese bastard. Duo was just about to shoot a rubber band at Wu's forehead when the mail icon popped up.
Go for it! It's been almost two years.
Yeah, two years. He hadn't seen Heero since the end of the Barton Uprising except on the vid when Princess Pink was giving some sort of speech. Other than swapping a friendly email with Heero once every week or so, there had been no contact, either. To the two emails he'd sent hesitantly explaining how he felt and what he wanted, there had been only a polite request for time to process the information and nothing further. Hell, Heero hadn't given him a lick of encouragement.
He picked up the phone and dialed. "Hey, Yoshi. I cleared it with my partner. Lunch is definitely doable. See up front at twelve?"
"Sounds great. I look forward to it." He could hear Yoshi smiling through the line.
"Great. See you then."
Wufei was regarding him with an approving look. "Feel free to take extra time." The little bastard smirked.
"Hah. I don't put out on the first date."
"What is it you keep telling me? Getting laid'll do you good."
"Yeah, but I don't have a stick up my ass like you do."
Lunch had gone wonderfully. The food was, of course, five star. Yoshi was the perfect gentleman without treating him like a chick. He hated that. Other than a few discreet brushes of hand against hand, there hadn't been any pressure. Yoshi had been warm and witty and just, just there. Lunch had gone so well, he'd agreed to a dinner date later in the week.
Whistling, he dropped into his chair and then met Wufei's arched eyebrow with a grin. He flicked on his monitor and unlocked his workstation. "Before you ask, yeah it went—" What the hell?
Wufei paused in his paper shuffling. "It went?"
"What the fuck, Wu? This is just fucking cruel!"
He spun the monitor and pointed. Instead of the montage of the sport bike of his dreams, a picture Sally had taken of the five them just after the end of the first war was on his desktop wallpaper. Wufei was a little off from the main group, glaring at his feet, Quatre was smiling up at Trowa who was almost smiling down at Quatre, and while Heero glared at something out of the picture, Duo was stealing a lick from his ice cream cone. "That!"
Wufei blinked. "You think I put that there?"
"Who the hell else do you see in this office?"
Wufei turned a dull red and ground his teeth together. "You keep your workstation locked, you idiot. You have that thing securitied so well that Ivan can't break into it, let alone me."
"Yeah, Ivan's a loser anyway. Une needs to hire a better sysadmin."
"You, yourself told me that there is only one person in the ESUN who could hack your computer." Wufei glared. "Quit impugning my honor."
"Heero? You expect me to believe that Heero hacked into my computer while I was having a lunch date to put this picture on my desktop? Did you tie your ponytail too tight or what?"
Wufei picked his pen up. "I am through speaking to you until you apologize."
Catching his foot on his desk to stop himself, he opened his mail program and typed in Quat's address.
Q, the date went pretty good. We did the dinner and a movie thing. We held hands in the theater and we had a really nice kiss when he dropped me off at home. It was good, ya know? But. I just don't know. It didn't feel, well, you know. I feel stupid.
He hit send before he could change his mind, then turned his attention to his work until Quatre replied. Or, at least he tried to work.
Duo, I'm not telling you to forget Heero or give up on him, but you should think about how long you plan on waiting.
He chewed on the end of his pen and considered it. How long, indeed? In a little less than a week they'd officially pass the two year mark since he'd last seen Heero. He glanced up at Wufei, who was bent over his desk furiously writing anything from an in depth plan on the surveillance mission they were doing in the next day or so to a naughty letter to Sally. He could try the dating thing with Yoshi. Go out once in a while, maybe do a little making out. He could see if Mr. Right Now could turn into Mr. Right Forever. And, if not, it wasn't like he had to go steady or anything.
Sighing heavily, he hit reply. Heero who? Quatre would understand. He'd deal with the rest of it later. He cracked open the database and started the cross-referencing he wanted to get done before they committed to the surveillance mission. A couple of hours, three full pages of notes, and one cramped hand later, he shut the database down.
Heero Yuy. His desktop wallpaper said Heero Yuy. Duo recognized the wallpaper; it came from one of the savior of the world gundam boy posters that Princess Perfect's PR team had designed and Heero had threatened to kill over. A young Heero in his spandex and those awful yellow sneakers stood glaring out from a background that included faded profiles of Heero and Wing. Heero who? Heero Yuy.
He looked up at Wufei, who was now flipping through a manual of some sort with his pen between his teeth. There hadn't been any clicking from that side of the room.
But, why would Heero do it?
He picked up the phone and called Yoshi. "Hey. Um. I'm sorry but I'm going to need to cancel for Friday."
"Oh. Well, how about Saturday? We could go dancing or something." The disappointment was palpable.
Wufei paused in his search to frown at Duo.
He ignored Wu and fiddled with his pen. "Well. You, uh, remember me telling you about that guy, Heero?"
"Yeah." Yoshi's tone was guarded and a little hurt.
"I'm sorry, Yoshi. I need to time to do some thinking." He doodled a few circles in the margins of his notes. "I don't think it's fair to you if I didn't get my issues resolved, you know?"
Yoshi sighed. "I understand. I don't like it, but I understand. Will you, um, will you call me?"
"Yeah. One way or the other. I won't leave you hanging, man. And if you see someone, you don't wait for me, okay?"
Yoshi let out an obviously forced little laugh. "Yeah, okay. Duo, thanks for being honest."
He clicked open Quatre's reply to his last email. Whatever you decide, my friend, I'm here for you. Like Quat could be anything else.
What to say, what to say. I've been thinking, Q. I like Yoshi, he's a nice guy. He may not be the one, but he's fun to be with. I'm lonely. You got Tro, Wu's got Sally, hell, even Dorothy Catalonia has someone. I hate going home alone to an empty bed. I miss Heero and I'd rather have Heero than anyone, but I can't wait forever.
"Stop it, Maxwell. You'll break it."
"I have a hard head."
"I meant the desk."
He gave Wufei the dirty look that deserved. "I can't help it, I'm frustrated."
"I'm certain Une will have something for us soon, you should enjoy the reprieve."
God, did the man think about anything but work? "I meant about Heero! Geez. I broke it off with Yoshi a week ago, you know, and I'm still hung up on that bastard Heero and he hasn't even emailed me with his usual mission report!"
Wufei shook his head. "You're hopeless."
Duo stuck his tongue out. "You're not any help, you know that? Of all the gundam pilots I could have had as a partner, I get Mr. Sympathy."
"I feel for you. Perhaps a prostitute?"
He cracked open a browser, covering up the Heero Yuy poster desktop, and surfed the web for a vacation spot that wouldn't have anyone around that would remind him of either Heero or Wufei. Particularly not Wufei. He ended up reading a few online comic strips, some editorials at a few of the larger news sites, and playing a couple of the popular mindless games that were as easy to get addicted to as nicotine was. The boredom was making him twitchy and his feet refused to feel comfortable inside of his shoes. He needed some serious gym time to work off the frustration. He clicked off the browser. "Hey, Wu, I'm going to go—"
He shook his head and rubbed his eyes, but the new desktop image didn't go away.
"You're going to go where?"
It was a picture of Heero, sitting on his bed. Not Heero's bed. Not Wufei's bed. Not even some hotel bed. It was Heero, sitting on Duo's bed. Heero was holding a sign that said, You won't come home to an empty bed again.
"Home. I'm going home." Duo grinned the largest grin he could ever remember grinning. He turned the monitor around so Wufei could see it. "To Heero."