Dear, Awesome Person,

You are invited to an amazing party, that is basically my doing, but is also co-hosted by one of my best friends, Quatre Winner. This party is happening for several, very good reasons, which are as follows:

1. To celebrate something, that happened earlier this year, which I’m not going to give details about here, but definitely needs to be celebrated.

2. To be a housewarming party for Quatre’s hot boyfriend, and another one of my best friends, Trowa Barton, who you may or may not know, and whose new house the party is at. (Trowa says, that I’m not allowed to request presents for him, but he’s not getting this email, so he doesn’t know what I’m requesting. He has practically no furniture, or household stuff, since his old house BURNED DOWN, so if you want to bring him something, and don’t tell him I told you, DO IT.)

3. To celebrate Trowa’s birthday, which was a month ago, but which we never celebrated right at the time. (If you want to bring him something, you can pretend it’s a birthday present!)

4. To celebrate Quatre getting out of a bad situation, which I also don’t need to give details about, but which we’re all really happy he was able to get out of!

5. To let Quatre make a sort of formal apology, (by paying for this whole thing,) which some of us don’t think he needs to do, but he thinks he needs to, for anything he said, or did, in that bad situation, that made anyone else unhappy.

6. To give me a chance to hang out with all my new friends, and introduce anyone of them, who haven’t met each other, to each other!

If not one, single one of those very good reasons, seems like a good enough reason for you to come to this party, you need to rethink your life. Plus, we’re going to have all sorts of food (including birthday cake, that Heero’s making, and if you haven’t tasted Heero’s cooking yet, you also need to rethink your life), and good drinks, and play some great games.

There followed the date and time of the event, Trowa’s address, a further exhortation for the recipient to attend, a surprisingly flourishless closing, and a post-script reiterating the point in even more forceful language. It was, overall, a very effective communication, and almost never failed to make Heero laugh out loud. He tried to avoid doing so in front of Duo, of course, and mostly only reread the thing whenever he was a little bit down, which generally happened out of Duo’s presence anyway.

He’d reread it just now, and was shutting off the computer reluctantly, because the day of the party had arrived, the hour of the party was approaching, and he needed some cheer to help brace him for the prospect.

Since Duo hadn’t yet mastered the art of blind carbon copying, Heero had a fairly good idea of whom he would encounter tonight (assuming they weren’t too busy rethinking their lives), and he predicted the Winner Plastics employees would have the highest attendance percentage of the various groups on the list. Duo had convinced Quatre to let him send out this invitation a week and a half ago so as to give people as long as possible (without setting the party for a later date) to clear their schedules for tonight — which also meant the gossips had had eleven days of fresh frenzying over phrases like ‘one of my best friends’ and ‘Quatre’s hot boyfriend.’ To meet the latter, to try all over again to winkle the truth out of any of the people involved, to get more fodder for their endless speculations, the curious Winner Plastics folks would probably die before they missed a chance.

Of course Heero had plenty of practice putting up with the work crowd, even at parties, so he wasn’t terribly worried about that. Then, some people he counted as friends — including his sister and her husband, and Treize and Zechs — had also been invited, and of spending time with them, even in combination, he wasn’t afraid. But then there was the second half of the list. Some of them might have been requested by Quatre (or possibly even Trowa, though Heero highly doubted that), but it was still a large set of people whose names Heero didn’t recognize and that he wasn’t sure how Duo had met and become friendly enough with to demand they come to a party. And Heero would probably have to be introduced to most if not all of them.

But he would put up with it for Duo’s sake — and for Quatre’s, since, as Duo had mentioned in the email, the evening would be something more than a standard party to him as well. Hell, even for Trowa’s sake, since Duo’s not-so-subtle hints might win him some much-needed presents.

The present Duo had bought for Trowa, not a much-needed item but still one Heero thought Trowa would have a good use for, appeared suddenly very nearby in its bright new dressing of multi-colored star-sprinkled wrapping paper and a huge red bow. Readable in Duo’s head was the fact that he had proceeded, not admitting it aloud, with the plan Heero had expressed disapproval of: putting a load of shiny star-shaped confetti inside the wrapping paper so as to cause a huge glittery mess when the gift was opened. Heero opted to say nothing about this, but he would not be the one cleaning it up.

“What do you think?” Duo asked eagerly. “Not bad for someone who hasn’t wrapped anything in paper for ninety years, huh?”

Taking the rectangular package in hand from where Duo had been holding it right in his face, Heero examined it at a more propitious distance and from various angles. “Yes, you did really well, especially on the corners.”

Duo radiated pleasure and satisfaction, and Heero could tell that his joy ran deeper than mere pride in skillful handling of paper, tape, and scissors. He was extremely happy about several aspects of the situation, including that his very first purchase with his very first paycheck earned in his new human life had been a birthday present for his best friend.

Heero liked that too, though he remained silent about it. He considered the present, which had been rather expensive, a symbol of Duo’s willingness to forgive and move on after a painful event in a relationship — and he couldn’t help finding that significant.

Duo was also pleased about the nature and origin of the gift. Heero, having combined two memories — Duo’s statement, “He was pretty good at clarinet back in the day,” and Trowa’s text, I haven’t played for years — with the fact that the extremely musical Quatre would sooner or later be moving in with Trowa, had suggested this particular gift when Duo, overwhelmed even more than usual at the staggering number of possible purchases he could make with his first paycheck, had wondered in something of a daze what he should buy first.

The suggestion had delighted Duo as an indication of increased friendship between Heero and Trowa; it seemed to demonstrate a growing understanding not only of Trowa personally and what would help him reestablish a life removed from curses and penance, but of Trowa’s relationship with Quatre and what might strengthen it. Though Heero didn’t feel he was owed any special credit for this, he did consider it true, and didn’t really mind when Duo insisted on including him in the ‘from’ slot on the tag. Though he refused to take credit for the confetti any more than clean it up.

He handed the boxed clarinet back at last and added, “You wrapped that better than I could have.”

“I miiiight have watched a tediously detailed YouTube video about wrapping presents yesterday,” Duo admitted. Of course Heero already knew this, but he was working hard to keep from mentioning aloud anything he picked up from Duo’s head so as to avoid making him uncomfortable. “And anyway, you made the cake, and I couldn’t have done that.”

“Cake mix,” said Heero with a smile as he stood from the chair by the computer. “You wouldn’t have any problems.”

“Yeah, but I might not have the patience,” Duo replied, mirroring the expression and reflecting that for the six dozen cupcakes Heero had made, to match and eke out a cake far too small for everyone at the party, he would definitely not have had the fortitude. Even merely trying to help Heero frost them had only been able to hold his interest for about five cupcakes before he’d turned his attention to creative arrangements of sprinkles instead. Cookery of any sort was clearly not something he was cut out for.

Heero chuckled and leaned over to kiss Duo briefly. “We should probably start carrying everything down to the car.”

“This first!” Duo hefted Trowa’s present like the hard-won prize that, in a way, it was.

“You’ve got two hands,” Heero told him sardonically, and headed out of the room.

As they set out with Tupperwares full of cupcakes in stacks, one with a giftwrapped clarinet balanced on top, Duo asked with serious casualness, “Do you think Quatre’s ready yet? I kinda got the feeling he might be making The Big Announcement about moving in with Trowa tonight.”

“I honestly don’t know,” Heero replied. “He’s been working hard–”

“Harder than anyone else thinks he needs to,” Duo put in.

“–and I think he’s feeling a lot better by now,” Heero continued with a nod of agreement. “But he has his own standards to live up to, and I don’t know if he’s there yet.”

Their conversation had to pause as a couple of fellow apartment tenants, whom Heero recognized only by sight, fell into step with them. Evidently Duo not only knew their names, but had invited them to the party, so there was confirmation of attendance to be sought and given. In fact the two were on their way, like Heero and Duo, down to the parking lot so as to leave early — in their case to pick something up on the way as a housewarming gift. By the time they parted to head for their separate vehicles, Duo was gleeful.

“This is going to be so awesome,” he gloated. “Trowa’s going to be flooded with stuff.”

Heero shook his head with a smile, setting his burdens on top of his car in order to unlock it. “Only you could get people to come to a total stranger’s house and bring him presents.” He added as he began stacking the cupcakes in the back and pondering whether or not to seatbelt them in, “That’ll be an incentive for Quatre to move in sooner: if anyone brings Trowa anything Quatre doesn’t like, it’ll drive him crazy until he can get in there and sell it so he can replace it with something better.”

Duo laughed triumphantly. “Maybe that was my plan all along!”

“Sure,” Heero allowed in a tone of amused doubt.

“So let’s go!” Duo, having deposited his cupcakes next to Heero’s in the back, opened the driver’s side door impatiently and leaned in to set the wrapped present in the passenger seat. “We’ve got friends to force into cohabitation!”

Again Heero shook his head. “We’ve got to go back up for the cake,” he reminded him. “Or at least I do.”

“I’ll come with you,” Duo declared. “For moral support.”

“OK,” Heero allowed. “Cake, moral support, and friends.”

“Sounds like a perfect night!”

And whatever Heero might feel about parties specifically, in general he had to agree.

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This is currently the last chronological story in the His Own Humanity series, but keep your eyes open for more!