"Dig in, guys," Quatre offered, and he put the black pan on the table. Three out of four sets of eyes focused on the scrambled eggs and chives garnish within. From the corner of his eye, Quatre noticed Trowa choking on his coffee, and shot him a cheeky smile, satisfied with the reaction. "Heero's coffee too hot for you, Trowa? Sure you don't want some cream with that?"
Trowa was ready this time, and didn't succumb to giving a reaction beyond an amused smirk, which he wiped clean from his nearly-spilt coffee as he coughed once to clear his throat again. "No, I think I like it bare."
Quatre chuckled, and reached for the spatula. "Okay... Same procedure as last meal, guys?"
"Same procedure as every meal," Duo quickly replied. Going in a circle from Duo's right, Wufei, Heero and Trowa nodded in turn.
With a nod in acknowledgement, Quatre split the contents of the pan into six equal-sized portions. He then lifted one portion to each pilot's plate in turn, finishing with himself, leaving one piece of egg-mash in the pan. It had become a strange ritual of theirs; a slight gesture of remembrance, a small step above mere memories, though less than a grave.
They ate. That is, four of them did. Wufei seemed content poking his fork at his meal, instead more content sipping from his coffee to offset his red-streaked eyes.
"Rough night, 'fei?"
Wufei scowled at Duo. "Noisy neighbors."
Trowa nearly spilled coffee again, and quickly hid a slight smirk. Quatre blushed. "Wufei, uhm... I'm sorry, we didn't mean to-"
Wufei stabbed his portion of scrambled eggs, spooned up a bit and shovelled it into his mouth, chewed twice, swallowed hurriedly. "It's okay. Just be a little more subtle next time." Second stab. "Please."
Quatre meekly nodded, and quiet descended over the breakfast table once more.
At least until Wufei closed his eyes, pinched the bridge of his nose and abruptly dropped his fork to his plate. "Whoever that foot belongs to... You're in the wrong place." A quick pan from his right to his left saw aloofness, indifference, innocence and grin, in that order. He frowned at Duo, quickly moved his foot and stomped down on the one that had been caressing the top of his own a split-second before, planning for a yelp.
Instead, he got Heero sputtering on his coffee, Duo laughing, Quatre reaching for the paper napkins on the bench and Trowa tugging on a smile.
Accusing finger, accompanying glare. "You! Yuy, what the heck-"
Heero smirked back at him, wiping his chin with the napkins Quatre offered.
"If you want Duo, he's right over there, why-"
Duo paused his chuckling. "Oh, he knows - and he has two feet, Wufei. He's good at multitasking, see."
Growl. He glared at Heero. "Never again."
"Oh, come on, 'fei - loosen up a little." Duo nodded towards the pan. "Whoever you're saving that for, couldn't have meant for you to remain so damn shut off about everything for the rest of your life. You need to get out and meet someone. Preferably get laid, but a date would be a good start. Any date."
The glare shifted from one to the other. "I've never told any of you who I-"
"Right - but I'm betting it was an old girlfriend or something. The way you brood on it is different from what you'd do for family, or strangers."
Wufei scowled at Duo a little while longer, but said nothing, eventually dismissing it, and returned to concentrate on his meal.
Quatre had finished his portion in the meantime, stood up and grabbed a small, brown paper bag resting on the counter. He held it up to the others for silent approval. Getting nods all around, he carefully shuffled the eggs left in the pan into the bag and sealed it. "I'll go set it up, then. You'll do the dishes?"
Heero nodded. "And Duo will dry."
Snort. "Bossy bastard."
Smirk, but no answer. Not over the table, anyway.
Quatre gave a curt nod, and went for the door. Trowa hastily wiped his mouth with a napkin. "I'll go help Quatre."
Wufei grunted. "Not like last night, I hope - we might have a mission this afternoon, and-"
Duo's light kick in his shin silenced him. Trowa used the diversion to escape, retreating from the ensuing arguments and light bickering. He caught up with Quatre in the hallway.
Brief silence. Trowa threw his partner a lopsided smirk. "You just had to say that this morning, didn't you? About digging in, and cream?"
With an impish smile, Quatre shrugged. "You didn't complain when I told you that yesterday, and you appeared to enjoy the cream."
"Mm-hmm," Trowa offered with a nod. "I suppose - but that's only because it enhanced the flavors of the rest of the 'meal'."
Quatre laughed. "Well, it was fun." Pause, wiggle of brows. "We still have an unused can of that instant whipped cream in the fridge, don't we?"
Snort. "And you think that will still be there by nightfall?"
Amused, raised eyebrow. "Guess we'll just have to steal it before they others spot it, then."
Trowa chuckled. The hallway fell quiet again. He glanced at the paper bag, and sighed. "Remind me again who suggested we do this?"
Quatre shrugged. "I can't remember. We just do it now. Our little common heathen ritual, I suppose. Innocent enough to be ignored by other philosophies and beliefs, but significant enough to matter."
Faint snort. "Sacrificing food..."
Another shrug. "It would only be wasted or fought over anyway. Splitting things six ways is easier than splitting them five, most of the time. Besides, this is something we can all share, don't you agree?"
Drawn out sigh. "I suppose..." And they did - Each of them set aside the sixth portion of their meals for a different person; a young girl with a flower hat, a nun clutching a bloodstained crucifix, a rugged mercenary captain giving his final commands, a mother unknown other than through tears, pictures and carefully selected words, and a fiancée that turned out to be almost as unknown - and worth more respect than could be lived up to. Each entitled to a portion of their meal; of their everyday life in a more ceremonious way than prayer.
None had yet told the others who they were offering to. It was almost too private to share. Quatre wouldn't mind telling, but he knew the rest were reluctant to share their invisible guest at the table, and didn't want to make them feel guilty for remaining silent.
They came to the small, black cauldron set up at the back porch of their safehouse, and closed the sliding doors behind them. Trowa put some kindling in first, Quatre placing the meal bag on top of it. He dug out some matches from his pocket, and lit the fire, flames eating their portion happily.
"It's probably too soggy to burn entirely."
Curt nod. "Maybe. We'll just throw the leftovers away with the ashes, as we always do."
They watched the flames in silence for a while. Quatre placed an arm around Trowa's waist, the gesture returned quickly enough. He rested his chin against Trowa's shoulder, sighed. "How long do you think we'll be doing this, Trowa? Remembrance is good, but... it isn't closure."
Lips to his hair. "I guess we'll all talk about it when we're ready, and deal with it then."
Quatre tilted his head to look Trowa in the eye. "I'm ready now."
Trowa put on a sad smile. "Will you wait for me?"
Quatre beamed back at him, hugged him tight. "Always, love. Always."