Summary: Traditions, time, and truths.
A/N: Merry Christmas, everyone! ^__________^
When they were eighteen, Heero presented to Wufei a grubby looking envelope that appeared to have spent the afternoon being pressed and folded twice over by rough, nervous hands. Wufei, with his sharp eyes, noted immediately when Heero didn't meet his stare, and when Heero—too casually—leaned against the doorframe and looked at a spot past his ear on the far wall behind instead of walking away. Stifling a snort, Wufei peeled the envelope open carefully, and shook the flat hard object out onto his palm. It was a card key.
“I've got us a place,” Heero muttered, and from then on, everything changed.
On Heero's twentieth birthday (one of Une's many wicked underlings had long-ago assigned Heero Yuy the dubious honor of being born on the 25th of December), he came home to find Wufei sprawled over the living room carpet in old jeans, asleep with a book over his face. Tracking quietly to the kitchen, he tugged loose the collar of his shirt, and his hand froze there as he looked over the many covered dishes on the table.
Sweet and sour pork. Small platters of roast chicken and smoked duck. Oysters and cheese. Cai xim vegetables fried with garlic and lard (his favorite, but Wufei had had to tear the admission out of his mouth with the spatula, and it'd only worked because Wufei had been unfairly distracting, wearing nothing but the apron over baggy pants). In the center of it all, a bowl of vermicelli had been placed with a dish of red eggs stained for luck and longevity beside it. A birthday dish.
Heero shut his mouth with a snap, and then carefully reached for an egg.
When they were twenty-three, Wufei broke his leg in the midst of a frightened and stampeding mob that pushed him off the edge of a three-story tall warehouse. The fire was put out, the other Preventer agent dangling by white fingertips to the ledge below was rescued, and Heero was arrested by mistake as the terrorist who'd started the fire because, as a witness shakily put it, “He suddenly went berserk!”
Wufei would've laughed at the headlines, but his cast itched horribly, and besides, he would probably have woken Heero, asleep on the chair beside him with his wrists cuffed to the bed-handles.
A year later, Une physically threw them out into the street because “—it's about time you boys take a holiday. For real.” Heero stared at her as if she'd grown a second head to match her double personality and Wufei, clutching a sheaf of forms, was one step away from attempting to hurl himself back inside the building. Of course, that was when Une had added in a bellow, “Go to Vegas or something. Go get married, for God's sake.”
And while Wufei spluttered and turned five shades of red that faded to sickly white, Heero closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, hard. Une smiled and waved off the gawking passers-by.
Duo looked like he was twenty-eight going on nineteen, a fresh-faced, bright-eyed picture, arms waving dramatically, an almost comical mask of incredulity plastered to the expressive features.
“You sure you're still a virgin, Wu?! But I thought you and Heero—!”
Wufei cut him off with a terse, “Quite sure. Now, can we talk about something else please?”
Standing on the other side of the curtains in the safety of the dark balcony, wineglass in hand, Heero had to stifle the small, uncharacteristic chuckle that fought to escape.
When Wufei's thirtieth birthday approached, Heero spent the entire week thinking himself into a crank. He mulled, looked at it from every possible angle, quizzed himself into a corner, and finally decided there was no other way.
The night before, he couldn't sleep, because something that felt suspiciously like nerves kept his eyes open and his hands twitchy. He pulled the blanket up over Wufei, tucked Wufei's head surreptitiously closer under his chin, and tried to calm himself.
Finally, morning dawned. Wufei's eyelids fluttered, still half-asleep, but Heero blurted it out anyway: I love you.
And he was surprised when a weight he didn't know he'd been carrying lifted off his chest, surprised at the warmth that flooded his heart when Wufei chuckled and murmured simply, “I know.”
The Christmas of AC 212 was the coldest and most icy that they'd both seen since they moved to Earth. Heero's breath fogged in the air, and Wufei rubbed his face with his free mittened hand in a vain effort to dispel the permeating chill. They ran across the slippery path like teenagers, balancing parcels and plastic bags of food, and for one precarious second, Wufei almost dropped the turkey. Heero wrestled with the key, pushed open the door, and was greeted by a welcoming flare of warmth emanating from the heaters placed beside the door. Wufei staggered in after him and past him, heading to the kitchen. Heero followed, slipping off one mitten a finger at a time.
He knew Wufei was going to cook again, like he had all those years on Christmas Day; Heero had his own personal preference for a particular brand of vermicelli by now, but this year was different. So he stepped squarely into Wufei's path when the other man was reaching for a pot, and clasped the strong, callused hand in his own instead.
He saw the question in dark eyes, and he struggled to get the remaining mitten off one-handed; now he was feeling clumsy and slightly awkward. When he succeeded, he tossed the glove onto the table, and then shoved his hand into his pocket before he could lose his nerve.
When he handed Wufei the little red velvet box, Wufei looked steadily at him, not saying anything, letting Heero think twice, be certain—
“Marry me,” Heero said, and he felt calmer than he'd ever been in his life, and not so surprised this time to find the warmth in his chest again, spreading like alcohol in his veins, twice as heady. “I want to take care of us for the rest of our lives...I love you.”
It was only the second time he'd ever admitted it.
Wufei opened the box, a little shakily, and stilled completely when his fingers tentatively grazed the simple gold band.
Long moments passed, and Heero waited.
“I know,” Wufei's voice was soft when it finally cut the silence. And then he looked up into Heero's eyes, the rarest, gentlest smile on his face, and then repeated it louder.
“I know. Of course. Yes. Yes.”