disclaimer: blah blah blah (of course i don't own gw)

pairings: 1x2, 3x4, 5xM, etc etc etc
warnings: not much. it's AU, so no spoilers..

notes: sorry this took so long!

Part 25
by 0083

- The Twenty-Fourth Encounter -

Most people would say having one's significant other move into their home is a rather pleasant turn of events. I would have thought so too, until I realized just how much of a selfish person I really was.

Only three days after Heero's temporary move in, problems became apparent. The first main problem was that I was not in the habit of sharing living spaces with anyone. Before college, I had my own room, my sanctuary which served me quite well. I had all kinds of personal space when I needed it and had parents who understood my need for privacy. Personally, I think they were just afraid to walk in on me either jerking off or doing indecent things to a girl, but hey, it worked out. Then there was college in which I chased off my first roommate quite quickly to his girlfriend's dorm room and had a single for the rest of my stay there. Then law school provided me with my own place for the first time, a rather dingy apartment then my fancy digs here.

All in all, I have not had the displeasure of living with a roommate at any point in my life. I got used to eating dinner in front of the television in my underwear, walking out of the shower butt ass naked, prancing like an idiot in front of my fridge, you get the picture. Then Heero suddenly has no place to live for a bit and I'm the solution to his temporary homelessness. I was quite happy, thinking that I would enjoy our time together.

Boy, was I wrong there.

He folds his towels, do you know that? After he showers, instead of throwing the used towel into the hamper, he folds it and hangs it back up. Does he not know what kinds of bacteria fester in wet cloths under dim lighting in a warm environment? Then there is the issue with the food. He does not appreciate the fine culinary art that is fast food which I live on when I work as hard as I do. I mean, sure, it'd be nice to indulge in fancy cooking every day since I enjoy it and all, but let's not get fantastical. I'm usually up to my eyeballs in work and time is of a premium. I can't cook all the time, damn it!

Oh, there are more things, and I'm sure I annoy him greatly with the way I live, but Heero is used to living with someone. He's got experience under his skin so that he can live with my little foibles.

I am not so generous.

The biggest problem is probably the fact that I had to give up my second room to him. I certainly wasn't ready to share my bed with him and I didn't want him crowded and uncomfortable on the couch, so I made room for him in my office room. That created a load of problems, since I work in there quite a bit. And when I work, I tend to smoke a bit. Okay, a lot. That bit about me slowing down this habit of mine is a lie of sorts since I can't do anything productive on the computer unless there is a cancer stick dangling from my lips. Sad, but true, what can I say but that I have many vices that have the potential to kill me one day? But you see, Heero is not a smoker and I can tell he hates it so I was forced not to smoke. Nearly drove me insane.

Three days and I was ready to kill him. Does that say anything about the kind of person that I am?

On the fourth day of our living together, I came home grinding my teeth down to the enamel. January, though it may be a slow month for many other professions, is a busy month for criminal attorneys. It has to do with the little fact that most judges take long vacations in December and schedule all the trials in January. I was loaded down with major court dates practically daily and had so much work to do that I began to see paperwork in my dreams. That added on to my current living situation, family problems and otherwise, it was a wonder that my teeth still were there for me to grind.

Suffice to say, my mood was not at its best when I slammed open my door and stalked into my apartment like a starved panther. Unfortunately, Heero was the unsuspecting rabbit in my path.

I have heard from good sources, mainly Quatre, that coming home to find the person you love already there is a wonderful thing, causing many different types of warm and tingly sensations. That was not my reaction, however, when I walked in and found Heero sitting on my couch surrounded by files. Oh, I will be the first to admit how great he looked with his little glasses on for reading, the faintly gold rimmed edges giving him that sexy, intellectual look, but damn it, it was my couch, my place, my space.

It was mine and I felt like I had been invaded by the local unfriendly alien. And when he raised his head and smiled beautifully in welcome, my heart turned to lead in my chest instead of fluttering like it should have.

"Duo," he said in a very warm tone, "you're late. Hard day?"

Hard day. Let me see, there. I was in the office by seven in the morning for preliminary work, was in court from nine until four during which I missed lunch due to prepping a witness, and had paperwork until eleven. At current time of a wee bit after midnight, I was tired, wanted a shower, quick greasy microwave food and sleep.

And there he was, looking tasty and great, offering me comfort and contentment. He was the devil.

Perhaps I should realize that I'm not being entirely rational. Perhaps I should cut Heero some slack because nothing is really his fault. Perhaps I should let go of my selfish needs and not resent him for being in my living room, sitting on my couch.

But no, I just want some.. space.

"Heero," I grind out through my clenched teeth, "don't take this the wrong way, but.. I gotta go."

That was more intelligent than just blowing up at him for no reason. So I tossed my briefcase down, turned around and left. I didn't even turn to see if he was hurt or surprised at my curt departure. I needed room to think, to be alone.

So of course, I go to a bar.

I went to my favorite, the Tornado Fodder, and took a booth in the corner. I ordered scotch, neat, hell with the ice, and seethed. For the love of god, what was wrong with me? Did I not love the man? Had we not come through worse things than living arrangements? Why was it that the little things were driving me mad when there were other things that I should have been worried about?

Around one or one fifteen, who knows, but it was during my fourth glass of scotch, a very familiar person slid into the booth with me, drink in hand.

"Quat," I greet, "is it just that you have a Maxwell misery meter? You have this knack for showing up whenever I'm feeling like shit."

He shrugs and sips his drink like nothing was amiss. Then he looks at me straight in my eyes and lectures me.

"Heero was worried, so he called. That's getting to be a habit for him, don't you think? Something eating at you today, again? I swear, Duo, you have the biggest problem just communicating with him."

Well, don't I know it? But being an intractable bastard is what I do best when I'm feeling miserable. I had just wanted to come home and collapse onto the bed, moaning like the pitiful creature that I was, but no, I had been faced with a caring boyfriend who had waited up for me.

Oh yeah, I concede that such a situation would not irk most people, but I'm Duo Maxwell. I can be as irrational as they come sometimes.

"Quat, I just wanted some space, you know? Some alone time with my misery. I don't know how the hell you live with Trowa so well, every day."

Quatre lifted one blond eyebrow nearly to his hairline at my comment.

"So well? What the hell are you talking about? Did you know that he uses the dishwasher as a drying rack for clean dishes? I can never tell what the hell is clean and what isn't! Drives me batty."

"Really," I say in a bit of surprise, "so you have problems living with someone, too? It's not just me?"

"Duo, everyone has problems living with someone. It's not easy putting two people under the same roof, what with all the differences they have."

"So you're telling me I'm not being an idiot."

Quatre snorted and rolled his eyes, giving me the distinct impression that he had implied no such thing.

"I'm being an idiot then?"

"Oh yeah," Quatre says without sympathy, "big time idiot. But that can't be helped. We all act like idiots sometimes, it's our nature. Anyway, I'm telling you little things will happen and they will piss you off. The best solution is to talk it out and compromise a little."

Did Quatre just say compromise? As in give in, give up, let it go, go with the flow, et cetera?

"Blondie, compromising isn't really my style."

"Well, it's going to have to be if he's living there with you."

"But," I whine, much to my chagrin, "it's only temporary!"

Then it hits me. Heero's only living with me until he finds a place of his own. It is not like he and Relena can make up with each other or anything since it'd be plain wrong and I'd have a seizure if they moved in together again. I had forgotten in my fit of nitpicking through the difficulties of living with someone that Heero wasn't going to be there forever.

Now, the question then is, does that bother me? The fact that Heero was only a guest of sorts in my apartment, that he did not have his little knick-knacks all over the place, that he did not have his clothes hanging side by side with my suits? Honestly, I can't say. After all, I'm still whining about the living situation.

"Yeah, temporary," Quatre responds with a nod, "so how hard can it be to swallow your own needs for a few days? Don't you ever plan on moving in with him permanently? This could be your trial period."

Well, I suppose Quatre has a point there. I think I plan on moving in with him one day, don't I? Isn't that where every serious relationship goes one day? You date, you fall in love, you share space and shampoo. I think that's the way of things and everyone else seems to fall within the pattern one way or the other. Unless you're Wufei, in which case you move in together, then date then fall in love. If they date at all, that is. Wait, I'm going way off topic, but that's what my brain does when it is thinking too hard.

"So you're telling me in your esteemed opinion, I should go back, apologize yet again, and then work shit out."

Quatre gives me a pat on the head like a patronizing kindergarten teacher and shoos me off. Literally. All I can do is roll my eyes, resist the urge to stick out my tongue and trudge off home to see if there is a way for me to explain my strange behavior to Heero. Goody.

When I get home, all I do for about fifteen minutes is stand outside of my door, staring at it as the hands on my watch creep ever closer to two in the morning. I haven't the slightest clue as to what to say to Heero, if it merited an apology at all, or if I should just pretend I had a mood swing and let it go at that. I mean, hasn't Heero and my relationship so far been nothing but a series of making up after stupid shit we do to each other? Besides all the talking, kissing, groping, talking, laughing.. Okay, I get the damned point.

Finally, I open the door and step into the apartment, only to find Heero still sitting on the couch, wide awake and looking rather tense. I suppose I'm responsible for that, Heero being less than happy.

"I'm back, Heero."

He doesn't look at me, but nods at my voice. I stand with my back against the door, still wondering what to say, when Heero speaks.

"You've never lived with anyone, have you?"

I chuckle. I can't help it.

"That's obvious, right?"

Heero finally looks at me then and there is a gentle light in his eyes and a slight curve to his lips.

"Very much so. So, what about me gets on your nerves?"

I walk towards him, my lips mirroring the small grin on his face.

"Many, many things. But I think we can work them out."

Heero scoots over on the couch, making room for me. I sit next to him and stare into his blue eyes and realize that although there are little things that send me to the brink of homicidal rage, in the end, I love him too much to let it truly drive him away.

"There are things you do that make me wonder if you're human," Heero says with a rueful grin.

"I want you to stop putting the toilet seat down."

Heero laughs genuinely, the sound lifting my miserable self up considerably.

"Well, Duo, after living with a woman for so long, it had become a habit. After the first time she fell into the toilet and yelled at me, I just.. well, I'll try to remember to leave it up."

"Atta boy," I cheer, "so what do you want from me?"

He thinks about it for a while, tilting his head this way and that, as if I had asked him about the state of the nation's finances.

"I want you to stop leaving leftovers in the fridge. You never eat them and they start moving in there."

"Easy enough," I reply, and from there, we have a good conversation about exactly what irks us. The talk goes on for a while, but there is no complaining, just talking things out. We concede, compromise and in the end, agree on a few things.

Sure, we won't be having a blissful time of it for the time Heero's here, but in the least, we won't bottle it up until it explodes. Heero will give me some space, I will give him some space. Living together does not mean being with each other all the time, you know? Everyone needs privacy, even from the one they love. Perhaps, most from the one they love.

on to part 26

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