Disclaimer: See all the others; status unchanged.

Pairings: None
Rating: PG-13
620 words
Warnings: Alcohol

AN: Written for [ gw500 ] challenge #170, 'vice'.

by kebzero

"Duo, you sure you don't want some coffee?"

He closed his eyes, muttered a curse to himself, none too happy about the repeat disturbance. Stargazing was something best done in peace, and it'd only been a few minutes. "No thanks, Howard. Not a big fan of coffee."

The man used a knuckle to push his sunglasses up. "Oh, but this is special coffee, straight from the finest plantations in Ireland." He flashed the bottle and gave it a shake.

Duo shot him a glance. When they'd first met, he'd known right away the guy had been more than a little nuts. His fashion sense told as much. And who in their right minds wore sunglasses even at night? "You shouldn't be drinking, Howard. It's a miracle you don't fall over the railing as it is."

Howard gave a loud snort. "Hey, when we're out of port, this," he said, holding up the bottle, "is the only vice I can entertain. Stay off my case, kiddo."

Sitting up, Duo chuckled. "Never figured you for a ladies' man, Howie."

"Why you little-" he started, clenching his free fist. "I'll have you know I used to be quite the catch - hell, I still know a trick or two on how to please women."

"I bet," Duo said. "Get them good and drunk, right?"

"Hey, you want your Gundam fixed, or not?" Howard snapped back.

He grinned defensively. "I do, I do - sorry, old man."

Howard shot him a glare above the brim of his sunglasses, but backed down. After a swig of his 'Irish coffee', he spoke up again. "You know... I used to be like you - young, handsome... Unable to keep myself out of trouble," he added with a smile. "But I still did better than you do now."

"Whatchya mean?"

The smile turned towards a smirk. "Well, so far, the only one you've brought aboard has been a half-dead guy with all the social skills of a hermit crab."

Duo let go a snicker. "Yeah, and he even nicked bits of my shell."

Howard merely shrugged. "That's what happens when you don't watch your valuables, kid." He paused briefly, going on before Duo could retort. "Say, can't you bring home some pretty young girl next time? I mean, once she sees what a dull bastard you can be, I'd still be here to... comfort her," he concluded with a lift of brows. "Better yet, make it twins."

Duo wrinkled his nose and gave Howard a stern look. "I think you've had enough coffee for one night, Howie."

He eyed the bottle. "S'what happens when you don't take your share," he bit back, sloshing the remainder around.

Duo sighed, glancing up at the dark sky again. His Gundam was still broken, the world in general was on the brink of chaos, and he was hiding out here, somewhere in the big Pacific - and then there was that guy, who had really gotten to him. It wasn't as if Duo was all that mad, but he swore to get even, eventually. With interest. "Know what, Howard? I think I'll take you up on your offer after all. Pour me a cup of that stuff, would you?"

Howard nodded. "Sure thing."

"Is it strong?"

He let go a chuckle. "Don't worry, kid. This'll chase all your worries away," he promised. "At least for a while," he added with a grin. "And I got a special mix down in the galley for hangovers."

With a quick, bitter laugh, Duo took the offered cup. "Looking forward to it."


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