Lost and Found
by Lys ap Adin

Notes: And this is what happens when I hear a random Christmas lyric that ran along the lines of “I gave you my heart last Christmas / You gave it away the next day / This year I’m giving it to someone special / Blah blah blah” and start wondering, “Well, what would happen if you really could give your heart to someone (and take it back)?

And then I remembered that episode of The Simpsons where Bart sold his soul, and it was really all downhill from there.

Go ahead. Comment and tell me how weird I am. You know you want to.


Heero had given his heart to Duo some years ago; lately he had come to think that he wanted it back. They had grown distant, he felt, and it seemed like it might be time to end this thing and move on.

He thought it over carefully, and it still seemed like a good decision--after all, the spark seemed to have gone out of their relationship. It seemed like days could go by without any conversation more significant than "Pass the salt," and "Have you seen my briefcase?" Even the sex was getting scarcer--not that sex was the foundation of the relationship, of course, but Heero did miss the intimacy. Things had definitely changed, probably for the worse, and wasn't it really a mercy to just end things now before it got really bad?

So he went to his desk, where he kept all his important things, and unlocked the drawer that held all of his really important things, and took out the strongbox (gundamium reinforced, with a gundamium-alloy padlock) where he kept his most important things off all, and unlocked it.

Inside was Duo's heart, pulsing gently.

Heero lifted it out and held it in his hand, feeling the heft of it and thinking about the day Duo had given it to him, saying, "Here, you'd better have this--it's yours anyway, this is just making it official." How long had they been together before that? A couple of years, at least. Now that he thought about it, Duo's reluctance to give over his heart rankled a bit. Heero had given Duo his heart almost immediately...

Heero bit his lip. How could he not have seen this day coming sooner? The signs had been there from the start.

He closed his Most Important box and put it away, empty, and locked the Really Important drawer again, and then went and found a box. He lined it with tissues, set Duo's heart inside, and went downstairs in search of Duo himself.

Duo was sitting in the den, curled up on one end of the couch and surrounded by paperwork he'd brought home from the office. Heero stood in the doorway, watching him, until he looked up. "Need something, Heero?" he asked.

"I have something for you," Heero said.

Normally, Duo might have smiled and asked what it was. Heero figured something in his demeanor must have given away the seriousness of the situation, because Duo just pushed his glasses up and held out a hand.

Heero came over and placed the box in Duo's outstretched hand.

Duo lifted the lid a crack and peeked in. His mouth tightened. "What is this, Heero?" he asked, his voice very soft.

"Your heart," Heero said.

Duo closed the lid, and looked up at him. "I can see that," he said. "Why are you giving it to me, though?"

"Because... I would like mine back," Heero told him.

Watching Duo's face change was like watching a storm front moving in. Heero waited for the shouting to begin.

It didn't.

"You want your heart back," Duo said, after a long silence.

"Yes, please."

"All right." Duo put the box with his heart on the coffee table, and stood. "I'll be back." He left the room, taking care not to touch Heero as he went past.

Heero waited for Duo to return. And waited. And sat down in the easy chair. And waited some more, while he began to hear thumpings, and crashes, and things being moved around. It was very gracious of Duo to be having his fit privately, Heero decided, and waited some more. He picked up the newspaper, turned to the crosswords, and began to work the puzzles.

Ninety minutes later, he had done both crosswords, the word jumbles, and read every word in the sports section--and the noises had finally ceased.

Duo reappeared in the door, sweaty, disheveled, and grimy with dust. His hands were empty, and Heero eyed him. Duo began to look very guilty, and mumbled, "I think I might have lost it."

Heero stared at him. "You what?"

"I, uh, think I might have lost it. Um. Misplaced it. Temporarily mislaid it." Duo rubbed the back of his neck. "Um. Oops?"

"This isn't a very funny joke," Heero growled.

"Do I look like I'm joking?" Duo snapped. "Jesus, Heero."

"You--lost it. My heart." There was a buzzing in his ears, and one small part of his brain was busy calculating ways to get rid of a body. The rest of his brain was busy wondering at how very much this hurt to hear.

"Don't worry, I'm sure we can find it again, no problem!" Duo waved his hands. "I know where to start looking and everything!"

"How could you lose my heart?" Heero demanded.

Duo rubbed his forehead, leaving a smear of dirt. "When we moved last time, I think," he said. "So many boxes--you remember we never did find some of them--"

"You let the moving crew handle my heart?" A significantly larger part of his brain was considering corpse disposal now. He had moved all of his Very Important items himself, carrying each box from their old apartment to this house himself. "Duo!"

"Sorry," Duo mumbled, studying the carpet at his feet.

Heero reined in his temper. "You said you know where to start looking."

"Yeah. I found the phone number for that moving company." Duo waved a scrap of paper around. "We call them, ask them for a look in their lost and found, find your heart, and it's all good."

"Why," Heero said around his anger, "do I think that it's not going to be that easy?"

"It'll be fine," Duo assured him. "Come on, let's go call them now." He turned.

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Heero asked.

Duo looked back over his shoulder. "What?"

Heero jerked his head at the coffee table, and the box with Duo's heart.

"Keep it for now," Duo shrugged. "Call it collateral." He left the room, presumably to go call the moving company.

Heero gritted his teeth at this carelessness, and picked up the box on his way after Duo. How hadn't he known better?

In the kitchen, Duo was on the phone, talking rapidly. "You're sure? Absolutely?" He paused. "Uh-huh." He saw Heero out of the corner of his eye, and grimaced. "All right. Thanks for your help." He hung up.

Heero leaned against the counter. "Well?"

"Our moving company went bankrupt," Duo said, and positioned himself between Heero and the knife block.

"Did they." Heero kept his voice even through sheer will.

"Yeah," Duo said, "but I have a plan."

"What plan?" Heero set the box with Duo's heart on the counter, to prevent himself from crushing it accidentally.

"Well, the bankruptcy thing is fairly recent. There's probably a warehouse full of stuff sitting around, waiting for the legal stuff to be worked out. All we have to do is go dig through it," Duo explained.

"Are you sure there's going to be a warehouse?"

"Positive. Trust me."

"Right now, I trust you about as far as I can throw you," Heero muttered, but Duo was ignoring him, digging out the phone book and flipping through the pages.

Heero heaved a sigh, and took Duo's heart back upstairs to put away in the Most Important box. There was no sense in it getting lost too, especially since Duo had turned everything inside out while ransacking the house in his search.

Duo was off the phone when he got back down to the kitchen. "You want the good news or the bad news first?" he asked.

Heero groaned, sat at the kitchen table, and covered his face with his hands.

"Right, then. Good news first." How could Duo sound so cheerful? Because it wasn't his heart in trouble, that was why. Idiot. "There is a warehouse, just like I'd thought there'd be. That's the good news."

"The bad news?" Heero asked.

"We can't get into it."

Heero lifted his head out of his hands and looked at Duo.

"And when I say 'can't' what I mean is 'can't legally.'" Duo looked rueful. "Remember what I said about legal things...?"

"I think I hate you," Heero announced.

Duo flinched. "I said I was sorry."

"Sorry," Heero said, "is not adequate for this situation."

"Okay, so you've got a point there." Duo took a deep breath. "You're going to have to be my alibi, or something."

"Your what?" Heero repeated.

"I'm going to break into that warehouse, 'kay? Which is not strictly legal," Duo explained. "So you're going to cover for me."

"You're saying that you can't even break into a warehouse without getting caught? You?" Heero shook his head. "You were a Gundam pilot, for God's sake!"

"And it's been a couple decades since then," Duo said. "I'm rusty."

Heero sighed. "I'm going with you."

"You are not," Duo contradicted him.

"I am too."

"It's my mess."

"It's my heart," Heero argued. He stood. "Where's this place at? I want to check it out."

Duo sighed. "I've got the address. I'll drive."

~*~

They were quiet during the ride downtown. Heero was still fuming, and Duo must have known better than to try to carry on a conversation in that atmosphere. Duo broke the silence only to point out the warehouse in question, and then drove past it a couple of times at Heero's request.

"You need an alibi for that?" Heero said in disgust, after the final pass. "There's a rent-a-cop in a guard shack. That's it!"

"Sue me. I was overestimating their defenses. How are we gonna do this?" Duo asked.

"Let me think about it," Heero said, opening a notebook in his lap and making notes as Duo drove them home.

~*~

Duo brought him a sandwich and some coffee while he worked on the computer, laying out plans and looking up the security plans of the company that owned the block of warehouses in question. Heero ate, and thought, while Duo straightened up the room. It was almost like the old days, when Heero would lay out plans while Duo hovered, asking the important questions and making him think.

"So how are we going to do this?" Duo asked, lining up the books on the shelf.

"I'm still working on the mission," Heero said.

"Not the mission. This." Duo gestured at their room, and kicked his footlocker back under the bed. "Am I supposed to move out? Are you? Are we gonna sell the place? I call dibs on the couch."

"Oh." Heero stared past his computer screen. "I--hadn't thought about that."

"Never mind, I guess. We'll worry about it later. Yell at me when you've figured out the mission plan." Duo left him in peace.

~*~

They parked the car a few blocks away, and walked the distance to the warehouse. They went over the chain link fence in back of the building, both of them landing more heavily than they would have even five years ago. Duo still managed to have the lock on the back door picked in under thirty seconds, and they were in.

That part was laughably easy.

Duo was the first to break the silence. "Well, shit." He moved the flashlight's beam over the rows and rows of shelves, all stacked high with boxes and crates. "This could take a while."

"I don't suppose you remember what box we're looking for?"

"It'll say Maxwell-Yuy on it. That's all I can tell you," Duo said, with a shrug.

"Let's start looking," Heero said, grim. Duo fell in beside him, and they began pacing down the first aisle, Heero looking at the boxes on the right and Duo the ones on the left. For the first hour, the only sound was the scuff of their feet against the concrete and the scrape of a box as one of them pulled it off the shelf to look at it more closely.

Halfway up the second aisle, in the third hour, Duo announced, "We're crazy."

"Since when is that news?" Heero asked tiredly.

"Since never," Duo snorted, and promptly began to sneeze from the dust. "I was just saying."

A little later, he asked, "What'll you do if we don't find it?"

"I don't know," Heero said. "Killing you still isn't out of the question," he added, upon reflection.

"Yeah, yeah, love you too," Duo muttered, pulling a box out and looking at it, before shoving it back in disgust.

"If that were true, we wouldn't be here right now," Heero snapped.

"Because being willing to commit a crime for a guy isn't enough proof that you care," Duo retorted.

"And losing my heart isn't enough proof that you don't?" Heero exploded, rounding on Duo.

"I think you're putting too much emphasis on your damn heart," Duo snarled, stepping forward so that they were nose-to-nose.

"I don't think you put enough on it!" Heero yelled back. "And I can't believe ever gave it to you in the first place!"

"Yeah, well, I can't believe you gave it to me either!" Duo shouted.

"Hey, you! What are you doing in here?" A blinding flashlight caught them both.

"Fuck!" Duo grabbed Heero's hand and they ran.

"Stop! Stop right there!" The security guard chased after them.

Heero snagged a box as they ran past, pulling it off the shelf to land behind them--and by doing so, destroyed the balance of the entire stack and caused a minor avalanche.

Duo laughed as the security guard cursed, and then they were out the door and going over the fence on pure adrenaline. They didn't slow down until they were back at the car, Duo jumping behind the wheel and slamming the car into gear before Heero even had his door closed.

"I'm getting too old for this," Heero panted.

"You're not the only one," Duo agreed, between wheezing breaths. "I can't believe I ever thought that shit was fun."

"Me either." Heero sighed. "Security will be tighter now."

Duo was quiet. "Let's worry about that later. I'm too tired to think up a new mission plan."

"You're not the one whose heart is at stake," Heero said, but most of the rancor had gone out of it.

"No, of course I'm not. Of course I'm not. Sorry for forgetting." Duo's laugh was tinged with hysteria. "But I guess sorry isn't adequate, right?"

"Duo--"

"Security'll be doubled, maybe tripled, I'd say, with actual patrols," Duo continued, steamrolling over what Heero might have said. "A new lock, too--if you can stand to wait that long, I'd say it'll be back to normal in a week or so."

"That's fine," Heero said. "I can wait."

"Glad to hear it." Duo went quiet until he had pulled into the driveway and turned off the engine. "Heero, can I ask you something?"

"Yeah, go ahead." Heero waited, looking sideways at Duo's profile.

"What made you decide to ask for your heart back?" Duo was staring straight ahead. "What changed?"

Heero searched for the words. "I--it's not the same as it was. Everything's so--quiet."

"Says the man who talks less than some rocks I know," Duo said.

"It has changed, though." Heero paused. "And now I'm wondering if I ever really knew you to begin with."

Duo sighed. "Did it ever occur to you that things have changed because we've changed?" he asked, gently. "We're middle-aged, you know? It's not going to be like it was when we were kids."

"You still misplaced my heart," Heero pointed out.

Duo sighed. "Come inside," he said, and got out of the car.

Heero followed him into the house, and upstairs to their bedroom. Duo pulled his footlocker out from under the bed, and opened it. He rummaged through, tossing the odds and ends he stored in it onto the bed. At the very bottom of the footlocker was a box, somewhat grubby and battered, from which Duo extracted a package wrapped in faded green cloth. He unwrapped it, and tossed the old tank top onto the bed with the other stuff, and silently handed Heero his heart.

Heero stared at it in disbelief. "You said you'd lost it."

"I said I might have. And you believed me. Jesus Christ." Duo shook his head. "I was stalling. I thought that you weren't serious, or that I'd talk you out of it, or something. Sorry." Duo wasn't looking at him. "I'll sleep downstairs tonight, okay? We can talk about how we'll split things up in the morning." He leaned over, grabbed his pillow, and headed for the door.

"What about your heart?" Heero asked.

Duo stopped in the door. "You can keep it, or flush it down the toilet, or whatever," he said, without turning. "It's yours, after all."

"Duo--"

"Goodnight, Heero." Duo walked down the hall to the stairs.

Heero looked down at his heart, which was beating too rapidly, and at the miscellany on the bed, a lot of which he recognized now that he looked at it, like the ragged tank top, and the handful of photos, a scattering of concert stubs and paperwork, and a vial of bullets--Duo's Very Important stuff.

"Oh, hell," Heero said quietly, and was scrabbling at his desk drawer before he quite knew it. When he pulled out the box with Duo's heart in it, the cardboard was stained red. Heero looked in anyway, to see the two halves of Duo's heart resting forlornly on a soggy mass of red-stained tissues. "Shit, Duo..."

He carried his heart and the box downstairs, padding into the den, where Duo was setting up the couch's fold-out bed.

Duo looked at him, and at the box, and then back at Heero's face. "In case you're wondering, it feels about as good as it looks," he said. He turned back to the fold-out bed.

"I didn't understand," Heero said.

"No shit." Duo shrugged, and unfolded a blanket. "It's late, Heero."

"I know. I'm sorry."

"Sorry really isn't adequate." Duo spread the blanket out, and folded it down.

"No, it's not. You're right." Heero watched Duo climb into bed. "Sleep well."

"Heero." Duo sat back up. "You're bleeding."

Heero looked down at his heart, which was dripping onto the carpet. "That's going to stain the rug," he said, not knowing what else to say.

"Screw the rug. C'mere." Duo patted the bed.

Heero came to the fold-out bed and sat down gingerly. Duo leaned over and picked the heart out of Heero's hand. "We've made a mess of things, haven't we?" he asked, nudging at the halves of Heero's heart, trying to match the ragged edges together. "It's going to take some work to fix this."

"Yes," Heero agreed, opening the box and lifting out the halves of Duo's heart. He studied them, trying to see how they ought to fit. "I'm willing if you are," he added, uncertainly.

"I never stopped being willing, idiot," Duo said. "Ah, there we go." The two halves had lined up and begun to join up again. "Want this back?"

Heero cocked his head and looked at Duo. "Why? It's yours."

Duo grinned, and Heero bent his head back over the work of rejoining his set of halves back together.

--end