Disclaimer: Don't own 'em. Wish to Luna I did, though.

Pairings: 1+2+1
Rating: PG, I think
Warnings: Fluff, sap, possibly OOC.

Notes: Okay...here's some fluffiness, although there's more substance to this than to my others. The house in this fic is a real house, the lady was a real lady, and the salt is a real tradition. I love you, elephant lady. 26-11-18/07-01-97 This is specially dedicated to the illustrious Tsuki-Moon. Millions of thimbles to you and thanks for all your encouragement. I really hope you like this.

Colored Salt and A Story

Heero listened to the banging coming from the kitchen of the small safehouse that he and Duo were currently staying in. It was run-down with missing shingles and five rooms, and everything was terribly old fashioned. Heero was grumpy from trying to find a suitable connection for his laptop, and all he wanted to do was run over some old mission reports and relax, and try to stop thinking about his partner. But his wish would go ungranted. Duo was in the kitchen, knocking things over as he searched through the cupboards for something, and was proving quite distracting to the "Perfect Soldier."

"What are you doing in there, baka?" Heero called. A loud clank answered his question.

"Oh, I'm fine, Hee-chan!" Duo's muffled voice replied. Heero growled softly at the pet name, but Duo couldn't hear him. There were some more loud noises, and Heero finally decided to go see what Duo was up to.

"Duo, you're making a mess," Heero stated flatly, observing the wreckage around his partner. The braided boy was seated on the floor, his head buried under the sink, surrounded by pots and pans and all other sorts of kitchen utensils. A small pile of glass jars was set off to the side. Pulling his head out, Duo looked up at him with a silly grin on his face, violet eyes sparkling.

"Look at what I found!" he said, gesturing to the jars next to him. Heero looked, but didn't see anything special. It was just a bunch of jars, different sizes and shapes, some really dirty.

"What about them?"

Duo looked hurt for a moment, but it was a moment too quick for Heero to notice. "They're for doing colored salt," he explained. When he saw that Heero didn't understand what he meant, he continued. "You take salt and pour it onto paper plates, then rub colored chalk over it. Then you can pile it up in a clear jar and it makes a pretty pattern."

Heero snorted. What in the world was the baka thinking? There were more important things to do, like exercising or preparing strategies for missions that might come up. But there was little chance that he would be able to convince Duo of this, so he just turned and went back into the small living room to hopefully take a nap. Duo sighed and went back to sorting through the contents of the cupboards.


That evening, Duo sat at the crowded kitchen table, lining up the jars he'd found. When Heero came in from his nap, Duo started chattering excitedly. "Whoever lived here was really interesting!" he exclaimed. "She saved everything!"

"How do you know it was a she?" Heero asked, rubbing his unruly hair.

"I just have a feeling," Duo said. "Have you looked at all this stuff? There's the hugest collection of elephants in the living room." Heero didn't see how anything in the living room could be huge, as the entire thing was no more than 12 feet wide and 8 feet deep. It had been added on to the front of the kitchen, which was about the same size. The former front windows looked into the living room now, and where panes of glass once were sat piles of old books. The whole setup was very cluttered, and made Heero a little uncomfortable as he felt too tall for the low ceilings and cramped walls. Still, he followed a bouncing braid back into the tiny room, where Duo knelt down in front of a long shelf. Heero didn't really pay attention as Duo ranted on about the wooden and ivory statues, then dragged Heero over to a collection of positively ancient board games. He was too busy pondering his own thoughts, which were frustratingly occupied by swirls of violet and chestnut.


"So where are you sleeping tonight, Heero?" asked Duo, stretching lazily. "You can have the bedroom, if you want." There were two small bedrooms, one of which was packed to the ceiling with stuff. Neither one of the rooms was any bigger than a walk-in closet.

"Are you sure?" Heero asked.

"Yup. The recliner in the living room looks really comfortable." Duo rummaged through the small closet at the top of the tiny staircase leading to the bedrooms, and emerged a few minutes later with his arms full of blankets. "I'll see you in the morning, Hee-chan," he said, winking, and disappeared into the living room. Heero sighed, for once not getting upset at the childish nickname Duo had taken to calling him. He made his way back to the bedroom, carefully avoiding a rickety table that blocked most of the five-foot-long hallway. Once there, he threw himself on the bed, not bothering to change his clothes. He closed his eyes, and saw Duo.


Heero was woken up by the sound of something scratching in the kitchen. Looking at his wristwatch, he saw that it was a little after three in the morning. "What in the world...?" he wondered aloud. He rolled out of bed, trying not to hit his shins on any of the numerous trinkets and boxes packed into the tiny room, and headed into the kitchen. In the dim light from the lamp above the stove, he could see Duo with his jars and paper plates spread out around him. Duo's hair streamed down his back as he rubbed a piece of chalk against a plateful of salt. Mesmerized, Heero stayed in the shadows of the hallway, watching as Duo folded the plate and poured the brightly colored salt into a tall jar. The boy was a vision, with pale light making the red hues in his hair dance. He looked ethereal. Heero's grip on his breath was fading fast when he heard a soft voice say, "You can stop hiding, Hee-chan." Heero let out an involuntary gasp. How had Duo known he was there? Sheepishly, he stepped into the kitchen.

"Have a seat," Duo said, smiling slightly. Heero complied, wondering at the placid look on his friend's face. "I couldn't sleep," Duo explained, answering Heero's unasked question.

"What is it that makes colored salt so special?" Heero asked, trying to make conversation. Duo was different tonight, and Heero didn't want to break the reverie that his comrade was in.

"Sister Helen taught me how to do it," he answered thoughtfully. "She said that each layer represented a different part of something, and that when we were finished with a jar we would know what that something was." He looked up at Heero. Noticing the look on Heero's face, Duo said, "I know, it's a sissy thing. It's just that this whole place reminds me of Sister Helen." His eyes lowered bashfully.

Heero fought back the urge to stroke Duo's face. He was amazed at the compassion and insight possessed by the violet-eyed boy. Since he and Duo had started traveling together, Heero had felt more human, had seen more of what life was meant to be. However, he had to force himself to ignore the feelings welling up inside of him and concentrate on being the soldier he was supposed to be. But instances like this made it so hard for him. Even when Duo was annoying him, like earlier that afternoon, he'd wanted to wrap his arms around the baka. And now, said baka was sitting in the kitchen, rambling wise words as if he were some sage. It amazed Heero to no end.

"Anyway..." Duo's voice interrupted Heero's thoughts. "Since it seems like we're both up, you wanna play a game? There's tons here." He stood up, pushing his half-finished jar of salt as far away from the edge of the table as all the stuff on it would permit.

"Sure," Heero grunted. He followed the stream of hair to the pile of old games, and sat down while Duo crouched in front of the small cabinet.

"Now, what's here? Upwords, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders---that one's fun! Kismet...isn't that sort of like Yahtzee?" Heero watched as Duo rummaged through the games, once again suppressing the urge to touch the beautiful boy in front of him. Duo looked up. "What would you like to play, Heero?"

"Whatever you want will be fine," he said, quickly turning his gaze to the floor. If Duo noticed, he didn't say anything. Instead, he pulled out a large box.

"Lets play Upwords then. It's like Scrabble, only you get to cheat." When Heero looked at him quizzically, he smiled and explained, "You can pile letters on top of letters, so it's easier to make words." He opened up the box and began setting up the game. Heero watched him the whole time, marveling at the boy's beauty---the waterfall of silken hair, the intensity of violet eyes. It made Heero's heart pound.

They'd played for nearly an hour when Duo began to get tired. "Heero, I think I ought to get to bed now. I want to take care of the flowers outside tomorrow, and there's a lot of work to be done in that garden. Did you see all those weeds?" he asked sleepily. In fact, Heero hadn't even noticed the garden at all, but he was sure that it would be beautiful after Duo graced it with his hands.

"Sure, Duo. You can have the bed now," Heero said. Duo protested, but Heero had his way and soon the boy was snoring softly between the sheets in the small bedroom. Heero cleaned up the game, and lay in the armchair in the living room. It didn't matter where he was, anyway, because sleep would not come for him. He couldn't stop thinking about a certain braided pilot who'd grabbed onto his heart without even realizing it...


The next morning, Heero was roused from the light doze he'd fallen into by (what else?) some more clanking from the kitchen. He stretched and stood up, rubbing his back. The chair wasn't as comfortable as Duo had said. He shrugged it off and went into the next room, where he saw Duo grinning triumphantly as he emerged from under the table with a spade in his hand.

"This lady was about as organized as Sister Helen, too!" he giggled. He tossed the spade into a bucket and stood up, and Heero could see that instead of his customary black he was wearing a pair of ratty jeans and a grey tee shirt. Duo noticed the other boy's stare and said, "I found these in the dresser. I think they're girl's clothes, but they fit me all right, so..." He trailed off, noticing the slightly amused look on his comrade's face. "Why, is the great Heero Yuy smiling?" he teased, picking up the bucket of gardening tools.

Heero surprised himself by saying," Well, I do believe you're right, Mr. Maxwell." His smirk became a full grin as he watched Duo's jaw drop to the floor. He chuckled to himself and headed to the bathroom to wash up. 'Yup,' he thought. 'Duo is definitely changing me.'

When Heero came back into the kitchen, Duo was outside weeding the garden that ran along the side of the house. Heero peeked out a tiny window and looked down at him. "Daisies...no wonder he wanted to take care of the flowers," he said aloud, trying to remember just when it was that he'd found out daisies were Duo's favorite. He grunted a little bit, not too harshly, and thought to himself, 'Doesn't matter now, Yuy. You're hooked.' Right then and there, he made the decision that he wanted to do something for Duo, to show him that he cared. He was scared out of his mind, and a little part of his brain taunted him about it, saying that the Perfect Soldier shouldn't feel fear. But Heero didn't care any more. With all the thinking he'd done the night before, and all the magic he'd seen in Duo that night and every other night he'd known him, Heero knew that he had to tell Duo how he felt or he'd go mad.

The question was how. Duo was different, an elfin sort of person who carried charm in his pocket, and Heero wanted to do something that was as unique and special as the boy he admired. But what in the world could he do? What could be special enough...His eyes lit up as he recalled the conversation of the previous night.

***I know, it's a sissy thing. It's just that this whole place reminds me of Sister Helen.***

That was it. He could show Duo how much he cared, how much he noticed, by making him one of those jars of salt. What had Duo said was special about them?

***She said that each layer represented a different part of something, and that when we were finished with a jar we would know what that something was.***

Heero looked out the window again. Duo was still busy with the flowers, humming to himself. He appeared to be lost in his own little world, and Heero figured that would give him enough time to do what he'd decided on.

Clearing off a spot on the table, Heero selected a medium-sized jar that ballooned out toward the bottom, the unusual shape reminding him of his comrade's distinct personality. He then began rooting through the box of colored chalk Duo had scrounged up. "Hmmm...Well, I definitely want to use the violet, and this reddish brown..." He picked out a blue, and a yellow, and a green...


It was calming, really---the scrubbing sound of the chalk on salt, Duo's humming from outside. Heero was barely aware of his surroundings the entire time he worked, which meant he didn't notice Duo watching him as he poured the last of the salt into the jar. It was red, Duo's favorite color. Heero topped the jar, and tied a stray piece of red yarn that he'd found on the table around the top. "Perfect," he sighed.

"Yes, it is." Heero whirled around, and found himself staring into the shining violet eyes that had run rampant in his dreams for what seemed like forever. He could have sworn that they were laughing merrily at him. "So, what did all the parts add up to?" Duo asked, sitting in the chair beside Heero.

Heero was at a loss for words. He hadn't really believed the bit about the jar meaning something when it was finished---he'd just wanted to do something special for Duo---but a shock came to him as he realized that indeed each color stood for something, that each was part of a whole. He gulped. How was he supposed to explain it? "I'm...I'm not really sure," he said, unconvincingly.

"Oh, come on!" Duo prodded. "Is it a landscape? A lover?" He didn't notice Heero's gulp. "A story?"

"That's it. It's a story," Heero heard himself saying. Duo pulled his knees up to his chin and draped his arms around his legs.

"Tell me."

"There was a soldier, a very dedicated soldier, who put all his effort into his duty to protect the world in which he lived," Heero began a bit nervously. "He thought he cared about nothing more than his work. Until, one day, he met a sprite."

Duo's enormous violet eyes lit up. 'Of course they would,' Heero thought. 'He loves fairy tales.' He continued:

"This sprite was more beautiful than anything the soldier had ever seen. It was colored as brightly as a rainbow, just like this jar of salt. And like this jar of salt, each color meant something special."

"What?" breathed Duo, enraptured.

"Well, the green was for the bond the sprite had with nature, and the yellow was for the sunny disposition it had. Red was its favorite color. The white glow it gave matched the color of the daisies it so loved...the violet its eyes..." Heero trailed off, knowing he'd given himself away. He looked down at the table, afraid to meet Duo's eyes.

"And the blue?" Duo asked softly.

"Eyes...my eyes."

"So the 'whole something' adds up to love." Duo stated simply what Heero was too afraid to say. He stood up suddenly, and went outside. Heero looked after him, his heart breaking.

"Now I've done it. I am such a baka," Heero put his head down on the table, and stayed that way for several minutes, never wanting to see the world again. He didn't hear the soft footsteps behind him, he only smelled the sweet tang of summer near his head. He looked up into a bouquet of fresh-picked daisies. "Duo?"

"They're for you, Heero. You showed me your love. This is me showing you mine." Heero took the flowers, hardly believing what he was hearing. Duo brushed a stray lock of hair from Heero's forehead.

"I made it for you," Heero said, barely whispering and gesturing slightly at the jar. Duo smiled.

I know, he mouthed silently. He picked up the jar and carried it with him as he went back outside. 'Where is he going now?' Heero thought. He heard a rustle through the open window, and decided to follow his "sprite."

In the scarce light from the rapidly lowering sun, he saw Duo carefully set the jar in the middle of the now-perfect garden. Heero moved forward slowly, until he finally flanked the long-haired boy, and took his hand.

"Thank you, Duo." He gulped, and forced himself to push aside his fear so he could say the one thing he'd been trying to with his gift---the one thing that the "parts of the something" meant. "Ai shiteru."

He was rewarded with the sight of bright eyes, filled with unshed tears. "I love you too, Heero."


back to fiction

back to kai fiction

back home