Disclaimer: I'm out of my head and know not what I do.

Pairing: a little Duo/Heero
Rating: PG-13
Warning: Shounen-ai
Challenge: Competition
Word Count: 499

A/N: Written for the GW500, this little ditty is a short ficlet only telling a brief tale.

Time to Quit
by Merith

He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans, resolve wavering. Enough was enough, and time for it to end. Stopping outside the small shop, he leaned against the building, watching the traffic. What been a way to pass the time on the Peacemillion spawned a competition of sorts. Their firsts had been clumsy, too full of youth, pride and arrogance. As the years passed, they became more refined, telling a story more than art vying for attention.

He pushed off from the wall and entered the shop. This would be his last, and his best. As part of the challenge, each design had to be different than those before. Each a work of art neither had displayed. When he thought of it, it astounded him on their numbers. He had over fifty, and believed Heero's numbered the same. Though when an idea struck either one, the other couldn't always compete. Personally, he was running out of room.

The old man behind the counter said not a word, but rose and went to the private work-booth, expecting him to follow. His son merely snorted and rolled his eyes. The smell of ink permeated everything, the old man's fingers stained with it. And though Duo had used other artists at different times, this one was the best. Taking a seat, he laid out his design, and told of his idea. The old man understood and set to work. Duo leaned back and closed his eyes; it would take some time.

Always the same, a terse note simply stating - Come to Earth. - with a date and time. A ship would be waiting, a car to meet him. And Heero would be there to welcoming him.

"Duo," his rich, warm voice called from the steps. Greetings exchanged, he was ushered inside, made comfortable and the showing began.

Reluctance, knowing this was the last, overcame him. With some hesitation, and a little trepidation, he exposed his final design. His smile lost, Heero nodded his understanding. Their solemn ritual became even more serious. When Heero showed his own idea, Duo could read fear in the man's eyes.

It was beautiful. The best. And yet...

Duo raised his gaze. Heero had moved to hang his final declaration amongst those he'd commissioned before. It was then, he realized, they'd been telling one another for years without vocalization and his hand trembled over this last scroll. A fingertip traced the detail. He felt Heero come to stand at his shoulder, waiting.

Barely perceptible, he leaned back against him. His answer, given before he'd been asked in a nearly parallel scroll. Rolling his latest gift, he scanned the wall again, noting the vibrant colors of some, the starkness of others, the pale pastels and the enigmatic greys. His last, plain and simple, reflected his feelings without embellishment.

Heero's haiku inked amidst what could only be a replica of his garden out back, and above a pair of golden rings.

Life's journey.
Adventure anew, with me,
Will you?


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