Heero Yuy was dragged from one of the first good slumbers he'd had in weeks
by a very loud, very off-key voice drifting---or was it blasting?---from the
bathroom. He looked at the clock that sat on the table between his and Duo's
beds. 7:29. Damn. That baka was never up that early. What in the world was
"CLOWNS TO THE LEFT OF ME, JOKERS TO THE RIGHT, HERE I AM STUCK IN THE
MIDDLE WITH YOU..."
He dragged himself out of bed, and stumbled over to the bathroom door.
"Duo!" he bellowed, pounding on the flimsy wooden barrier that, at the
moment, kept one long-haired boy safe from the hands of one very cranky
The singing stopped. A timid "Yes?" made its way to Heero's ears.
Trying to keep his voice even, Heero growled, "What are you doing singing at
the top of your lungs in the shower at 7:30 in the morning, Duo?" He waited
patiently, or as patiently as one could wait when dealing with Duo, until he
heard a gulp, and knew that he was not going to get an answer. Not that way,
With one swift motion, the door was off its hinges and lying on the floor in
the boys' room. Duo, dripping wet, with shampoo still in well over half of
his hair, stood there shocked, not moving except to drop Heero's scrub
brush, which he'd been using as a microphone. Heero asked, dangerously soft,
"Could you speak up, Duo? I didn't hear you."
It was comical, really. The God of Death was cowering in the corner of the
tub at that point, praying to every deity he could think of to spare his
life. "Well, Heero, it's the Fourth of July, you see..." he began.
"Omae o korosu! I don't give a damn what day it is! I was sleeping! What in
the gods' names does the date have anything to do with you acting like a
"But Heero, it's a holiday, and I was excited, and..."
"A holiday? What holiday?"
"You've never heard of America's Independence Day?" Duo asked incredulously.
He'd thought Heero had known everything there was to know.
"I know of it. What I'm not familiar with is the tradition of loudmouthed
bakas waking up the rest of the household before the morning mail even gets
here." Heero was beginning to soften. "What's the big deal, anyway? You
didn't even act like this at Christmas."
"That's because you're supposed to sleep in on Christmas morning, genius,"
Duo said. Sensing it was finally safe to get out of the tub, he grabbed a
towel and headed to their bedroom. Heero stepped aside, not knowing exactly
how he'd managed to refrain from strangling Duo's neck.
"See, on July Fourth, you're supposed to get up early, buy ridiculous
amounts of food, and spend the day cooking and setting up a place to blow
off your fireworks," Duo explained. "At least, that's how we always did it
on L2. Except we stole the food," he added with a grin. "Then you spend the
night blowing things up and watching the sky. There's usually a fireworks
show, too. Or something like that," he added.
Heero didn't really see the point in such activities, but was sure he was
going to dragged through the ritual. As if on cue, Duo looked at him with
hopeful eyes and asked, "You will come with us, won't you? Even WuFei is
Heero sighed. There hadn't been a mission in awhile, and they weren't due
for one, so he really had no excuse to say no. He just hated these sorts of
events, because he was always reminded that he wasn't the type for a certain
braided brat that he had his eyes on. Duo was always bouncing around, having
the time of his life, chastising Heero for being a "stick in the mud." But
Heero had no choice. If he loosened up, he might let his feelings slip, so
he was always as stiff and uptight as ever at these "functions." They
weren't anything but a pain in his butt.
"What have you got planned?" Heero asked, deadpan, although he hoped like
hell it didn't involve a lot of people. Especially not that Peacecraft girl.
Duo's eyes lit up. 'How can I love that and hate that at the same time?'
thought Heero. 'He always gets his way when he does that, but he looks so
damned gorgeous...' He forced himself to knock it off. Duo would never feel
the same way about him. Besides, if the others caught wind of Heero's little
obsession, he'd lose all credibility with them. That was still important,
even if the baka did have gorgeous eyes...
"Well, we're going to barbeque, and get some fireworks, and have fun,
naturally!" said Duo. "Then we're going to spend the night in the field,
under the stars. They look best from the earth in summer," he said
Heero nearly melted at the sight of the wistful boy. Thank goodness he'd
created a pretty strong outer shell, because at the moment, it was the only
thing holding his mushy insides together. "I guess."
"You mean you'll come?" Duo practically gushed. He started dancing around
the room, singing that stupid old song again. Heero was beginning to feel
like he was the one surrounded by clowns. He pushed down the feelings of
hope at Duo's reaction and got back into bed, saying, "You had better finish
rinsing your hair, Duo."
"Oh, yeah, sure thing Hee-chan!" Duo bounced back into the bathroom. Heero
grumbled back into his land of dreams.
"Okay, we need hotdogs, and hamburgers, and some popsicles..." Duo was
prancing around the store, tossing all sorts of useless objects into the
cart. Heero looked down at one particularly stupid item. "Water balloons.
Hn." He'd finally convinced Duo to wait a bit, saying he'd go shopping with
him if the baka would let Heero sleep for another hour. So he was stuck in
the store now, pushing a rapidly filling cart and trying to keep up with a
braided bundle of energy.
"Is all this really necessary, Duo?" he asked skeptically. In an instant
Duo's violet eyes were staring pleadingly into Heero's own. "Please,
Hee-chan? I really need all this, I promise! It's important!" Heero sighed,
knowing he would deny the boy nothing, and cursed himself for letting his
perfect soldier persona slip, even if it was only to himself.
After they'd stood in a ridiculously long line and paid for their purchases,
they loaded up the car they'd borrowed from Quatre and headed for the
safehouse. Heero was content to drive without talking until a shrill voice
nearly drove him off the road. "OOOH! Sno-cones! Pull over. Heero! Please?"
Ten minutes later, he found himself walking behind a cheerful baka, holding
in his hands a purple concoction that Duo had forced him to buy for himself.
"You have to have a sno-cone, especially on the Fourth of July. It's
downright un-American not to," Duo had said, completely ignoring the fact
that Heero was Japanese. So Heero had grudgingly chosen a purple one. It
wasn't until they were on their way back to the car that he realized he'd
picked it because the color matched Duo's eyes. He sighed inwardly,
wondering if he would ever get over it.
Back at the safehouse, Duo unloaded their purchases onto the kitchen table,
yelling for Quatre to get his butt in the kitchen. The blonde came down the
stairs, Trowa in tow. "So you got everything we put on the list yesterday,
Duo?" he asked brightly.
"He got it all right, and then some," huffed Heero. "I'm going to work on
Wing, if anyone needs me." He stalked outside, determined that the day of
"fun" was not going to get his mind off course. Behind him, he could hear
giggles and excited jabbering. He rolled his eyes.
In the garage, Heero looked up at Wing and mulled over his thoughts. 'What
is it about that baka?' he asked himself. 'Why do I have to be attracted to
anyone at all?' He climbed up into the cockpit and pulled the hatch closed.
Sitting in the seat and blowing hair out of his eyes, Heero looked at a
picture of Duo and himself that had been taken that winter. He'd snatched it
out of Quatre's hands when he'd first seen it, swearing he was going to burn
it. But he'd kept it in the cockpit of Wing, because he wanted Duo's face to
be the last thing he saw if it ever came to...well, if anything ever
happened. The picture was of him and Duo in front of one of their
safehouses. Duo was wearing a ridiculously loud orange parka and silly white
earmuffs, and Heero was wearing a black leather jacket. Behind them stood a
snowman that Duo had insisted they build. Duo's arm was around Heero, while
his other pointed like a gun at the camera. Heero's arm was around Duo too,
though Heero hadn't realized it at the time. He was almost smiling. For some
reason, that picture made his heart pound, and he didn't want to share it
with anyone else. So it stayed safe with Wing to protect it.
"Duo," Heero said aloud, although so softly he could barely hear himself. He
felt emptiness in his stomach, and closed his eyes, suddenly very tired from
the effort to keep his feelings bottled up.
"Heero! Wake up! It's almost time to go!" It was the second time that day
Heero was woken up by the incessant voice of one Duo Maxwell. He looked down
and saw that Duo had struggled to get Wing open and was now shouting at him.
Heero fought to keep his heart in its chest.
"Coming," he grumbled. He climbed down from his gundam and landed in front
of Duo. "I'm ready."
Duo looked at him with wide eyes. "You're wearing that?" he asked, a little
"What's wrong with what I'm wearing?" Heero asked, looking down at his
"Well, the shirt's all right, but we'll be sitting in grass, and you
probably would be more comfortable in long pants..."
"I haven't got any."
"Well, you can borrow some of mine, then," Duo said brightly. "We have a few
minutes. Come on." He turned toward the house. Heero followed him, wondering
how on earth he was going to fit into the slimmer boy's clothes.
He needn't have worried. Duo's pants were all baggy, and he'd explained to
Heero that he liked them a little big around the waist. But once he saw
Heero in a pair of his blue jeans, he decided that Heero also needed a
T-shirt and a pair of Duo's sneakers. "You'll look more natural," he said.
So now Heero was standing in their bedroom under Duo's appraising eyes.
"You'll pass," the braided boy said. "In fact, you don't look half bad. Not
bad at all, actually." And with that he bounced from the room. Heero stood
there in disbelief, replaying the other boy's words, until impatient voices
from downstairs broke him from his reverie. He hurried down after them,
pushing Duo's comment to the back of his mind.
"This is it, guys!" Duo crowed. "Pull over there, Heero. Wu-man, would you
help me unload the grill?" Duo had practically flown from the car. Barking
orders, he and Quatre had managed to get everything set up and going within
fifteen minutes. Soon, the grill was running, Quatre was making hamburgers
and hotdogs, and Duo had set up everything they'd need on a blanket near a
tree. "I can't wait till it gets dark!" he sing-songed. Heero sighed and
decided to take a walk. He couldn't stand seeing Duo, especially since his
feelings were so strong and he knew they wouldn't be returned.
Heero walked a ways until he finally came to another tree. Duo had picked a
spot way out, so that no one would bother them and they'd have plenty of
room to blow off their firecrackers, so it was pretty empty. Heero sat at
the tree's base, looking across the field to where Duo was dancing around,
getting their makeshift camp ready. He chuckled to himself as Quatre dropped
a plate of hotdogs to prevent an oblivious Duo's braid from falling into the
It was hard for him, admitting how he felt, even if it was only to himself.
He was embarrassed at the fact that he was so weak...WuFei would probably
call him an onna if he knew. Heero sighed deeply, inhaling the scent of
Duo's shirt. "How did you get under my skin, Maxwell?" he wondered aloud.
A twig behind him snapped, and he spun around to meet the emerald gaze of
Trowa. "I didn't mean to sneak up on you. I just wanted to know what was
bothering you," he said quietly. Heero blushed a little, knowing it must be
bad if Trowa noticed he was out of sorts. "It's Duo, isn't it?" the taller
boy said gently. Heero crossed his arms, refusing to give in and become a
"It doesn't matter," he said gruffly.
"You know he planned this day for you, don't you?" Trowa asked, ignoring
Heero's cold shoulder and sitting down next to him. "He knows that we all
have celebrated this with American friends before. He wanted you to
experience it." Trowa looked across the field to where Duo was chasing WuFei
around with what he could barely make out as a sparkler, as it wasn't quite
dark yet. After a few minutes of silence, he continued, "He's fragile,
underneath that joker's mask. He really looks up to you, Heero." The green
eyed boy glanced at Heero. "He's a wonderful person with an enormous heart.
I'm sure he'd be willing to share." And with that, Trowa rose and sauntered
back to where the others were almost finished with the food, leaving a
stunned Heero staring after him.
"So, you ready to eat Hee-chan?" Duo asked excitedly as Heero rejoined the
group. "I saved some sparklers for you, too. The green kind...I know it's
your favorite color. Now have a Super Duper Special Maxwell Burger," he
said, thrusting a paper plate into the other boy's hands. "Conceived by me,
saved from a fiery death by Quatre's cooking," he smirked. "Shinigami spares
nothing!" He laughed, plopping down next to WuFei. Heero sat next to him,
directly across from Trowa, who shot him a knowing look.
"These aren't bad, Maxwell," WuFei said around a mouthful of burger. "Got
anything to drink?"
"Sure do. I brought some soda," he said, handing WuFei a can.
Heero stayed silent, not knowing exactly what to make of the situation, now
that he knew it was for him. He looked to Trowa for what he wouldn't admit
to being a silent plea for advice...and Trowa nodded toward the sparklers.
Heero gulped. "Uh, Duo, can I have one of those sparklers?" he asked
Duo's violet eyes became impossibly huge. "Sure, Heero!" he said happily.
"You know what to do with them, right?" He stood up, shoving a pack into his
pocket and walked away from the group into the darkening field. "See, you
light it up like this, and you can write words in the air!" He waved his lit
sparkler in the air wildly, writing his name. "It's fun!"
Heero grabbed a pack and tried it out. It was kind of neat, he had to admit.
He started by writing his own name, and then he drew a sun. He looked over
at Duo, who was spinning around wildly with his sparkler. He couldn't see
what the braided boy was writing. Emboldened, he decided to write Duo's
name. It looked pretty there, in green smoke that only he could see. His
sparkler burned out then, so he lit another one and continued to draw,
beginning to whirl around like Duo was. He was actually having fun, and he
liked the feeling. He stopped spinning to light another sparkler, and drew a
stick figure with a braid on it. He gasped when he heard a voice behind him.
"Is that me, Heero?"
He whirled to find himself staring into violet eyes. "Uh, it's..." he
stammered, not quite sure what to say. 'Gods, I'm so embarrassed...'
"Would you draw it again, Heero?" Duo asked softly. Not quite sure of
himself, Heero complied, recreating the figure in the air. He was surprised
to see Duo quickly drawing something next to it, and was even more surprised
when he realized it was a stick figure of himself, holding the hand of the
fading image beside it. Then Duo skipped away, lighting another sparkler and
writing the words "Omae o korosu" so that Heero could see them. Before he
realized it, Heero was tackling Duo, and they were rolling around in the
grass. When they came to a stop, Heero found that he didn't quite want to
let go of Duo.
"Baka," Heero whispered. "Thank you for showing me this." Duo looked
"It was nothing, Heero." He looked up as a small explosion sounded. A giant
purple blossom lit up the sky. It was followed by several others. "They're
starting, Heero. Aren't they beautiful?"
"Beautiful," Heero whispered, looking down at Duo's face. Standing, he lit
another sparkler. He walked to where he knew Duo could see it, and wrote "ai
shiteru." Duo looked up at him.
"What does that mean?" He got up, going to stand next to Heero to get a
better look. Heero wrote another word in the air. "Anata."
"Heero..." Duo whined. "I can't understand that!" He put on a grumpy face.
Heero pulled his braid so that Duo was standing only inches away from him.
"It means I love you," he said in English, and kissed Duo softly on the
"Oooh! Look, Tro-chan! You were right!" Quatre squealed as he looked across
the field. Their friends were embracing, sharing what looked to be a very
tender kiss under the fireworks. Trowa and WuFei came over to watch with
"It's about damned time," said WuFei. "It was obvious that there was
something there." He snorted, trying to appear unaffected, but he was
smiling to himself.
"Heero just needed a little push, that's all," said Trowa, hugging Quatre
close. "So which fireworks do you want to watch, koi?"
Quatre snuggled up to him. "I think I'll stick with the ones in the sky.
It's not every day we're in America." He smiled. "And I'm sure there's going
to be plenty more of that---" he said, gesturing to where Heero and Duo were
lying in the grass, "---in the future."
Duo and Heero were lying on their backs in the grass, looking up at the
fireworks and holding hands.
"How did you know?"
"That I liked you?"
"I didn't. I took a gamble."
"I'm glad you did." Duo's eyes shone.
"You know what, Duo?"
"Your eyes are like sparklers."