by Kracken




" What's the matter, Duo?"

The Preventer locker room was empty, just the two of them having waited, even after everyone else had left, to put off their final departure as long as possible. Duo was frowning down at his uniform tie, held between his two hands as if it were something precious. He had changed into his street clothes, but he seemed to be having trouble with that one last item.

"Duo?" Heero tried again as he slipped on a blue polo shirt and tucked it into his jeans.

"Just wondering if I should keep... something," Duo replied uncertainly. "I mean... it's all going in the garbage, you know? It's twenty years of bullet holes, knife cuts, shrapnel rips, blood stains, and saving the day."

"Hopefully, you did not wear that one uniform the entire time?" Heero tried to joke as he slipped into his shoes and stood behind Duo, staring down at the length of tie.

Duo snorted irritably, "You know what I mean."

"You can keep it, if you want to," Heero told him as he slipped arms around Duo's waist and held him close, "but you're not throwing away all of your medals, or all of your plaques honoring your every pore. You're also not not throwing away your friends, here, even though we won't be clocking in every day. You've got a lot more than just a tie."

Duo tried on a smile, but it was shakey. "I suppose it just feels more final, dropping this into the garbage. I didn't think retirement would suck this much. I was always looking forward to it."

"We could re-enlist, do another five years?" Heero suggested, though it lacked enthusiasm.

Duo turned in Heero's arms, his smile wider, telling Heero he was being an idiot. "Then we'll be too old to enjoy retirement... or too dead. That last mission... we barely made it out alive... again. Lady luck is only on your side for so long."

"Then let it go," Heero told him, more seriously. "Time to relax and live for us. We have a shuttle waiting, two tickets to the islands, and a beach house with our names on the deed. Let's go have some fun. We've earned it."

Duo sighed, ran the tie through his fingers one more time, balled it up, and then tossed it into the nearest garbage. "Two points," he chuckled.

Heero laughed, hooked a finger into the belt loop of Duo's jeans, and pulled him along towards the exit door.


The End

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