Everything I Do (I Do it For You)
Heero Yuy stepped into the glaring sunlight, lifting a hand to shield his eyes from the brightness. The sky that had provided a quiet comfort the night before as he gazed at it was now irritating his eyes as their cobalt scrutiny swept over the few lazy clouds hanging far above him. Last night, the sky had been much more forgiving. The clusters of bright lights – much like stars, but appearing larger and closer – in their uniform patterns stood untwinkling over the Earth as Heero looked them over from left to right, trying to pick one out. Night after night after week after week he had come outside when the stars were their brightest and looked at the tiny, uniformly patterned specs of light he called colonies, and searched for one.
The L2 cluster had always been quite a distance from the moon, making it difficult to spot, yet Heero always found it – nestled between L1 colonies and L3 colonies – and watched it as if he were a stargazer waiting for the sky to fall. But the brightest star of all was not L2 – it was on L2. The brightest star wore black and called himself Death, and had the most expressive, emotionally complex violet eyes Heero had ever dared to look into. It was like looking into a wishing well made of amethyst and finding the shiny silver quarters beneath the waters’ surface, or like the branches of trees and bushes after an ice storm, when everything is encased in crystal. Only Duo’s eyes were so much more alive than the crystal. Alive, and living on L2.. With a woman Heero feared Duo had fallen in love with.
Often, he’d dream of the life Duo and Hirde could have. Hirde, a woman of her own strengths and weaknesses, would slip into the comfort of Duo’s embraces and kisses whenever the world enveloped and suffocated her. Duo, proud of his loyalty and determination, would shower her in the attention she deserved. Trowa and Quatre would visit them, arm in arm, and not feel at all conscious that their genders matched. And Quatre, friendly and inquisitive, would ask Duo how Heero – his best friend – was, during these wonderful days after the war, and Duo would give a sickened laugh and taunt, “That stone-faced soldier-to-the-end finally took my advice and self-destructed successfully enough to kill himself!” Then the laughter, which had always warmed Heero’s heart as a fire warms the hearth, would be spiteful and glad.
These dreams often woke Heero up, with that laughter still ringing in his subconscious. The bitterness would close in, and Heero would continue to keep himself locked inside his mind, behind the stacks of Gundam manuals, behind the years of pilot training, behind the lifeless body of a young girl and her puppy. Heero would cower beneath his safety net of missions and objectives, holding the puppy’s soft body and allowing himself to cry freely and speak Duo’s name. Poetry would flow from this space in Heero’s mind, where his tenderness had been banished to, and Heero told Duo over and over how much the braided boy meant to him, as the dark haired boy killed enemy after enemy on the battlefield.
Perhaps some things are not meant to be. An obstacle that Heero was certain played a part in blocking him from the object of his affection was one whom he had promised fate to. And perhaps, if an obstacle is removed – if a pebble is taken out of a dam – the goal can be achieved. The water will run freely. On that rash decision, Heero made his plans and prepared to do both the colonies and Earth an injustice, and set them into motion. The man whose name he used had been assassinated as well, and perhaps the crime enacted on one will return to be enacted on another. Heero completed his plans and sought out to find his target.
Relena Peacecraft was halfway through her political speech as the impressed crowd looked on. In a balcony above, Heero watched her, ready with a gun to remove her life from existence. Relena was a beautiful woman in her own respects. She was important to the world, yet came about to such a position without her own consent. Heero’s mind trailed off for only a moment as he thought of someone who hadn’t always gotten along with Relena. During times when Duo had roomed with Heero at various boarding schools, Relena would manage to find them. Heero remembered the pattern distinctly. There was always a flutter of Relena’s fans gaping at her appearance as she elegantly made her way directly to Heero. He would stand out in the hallway outside of the room he and Duo shared and greet her with the only charm he knew, which still ended up being stoic. And he learned to glance behind him, back at Duo, because the braided boy would always stand in the doorway and watch. Heero would use his best surveillance skills and pay attention to Duo as Relena talked to him. Though she would think she had the Wing pilot’s complete attention, she did not know he saw every expression Duo made as he stood in the doorway. Every time the amethyst eyes would blink, every rise and fall of his chest as he would breathe, and finally, when his gaze would drop from Heero and Relena to the floor. With a crestfallen posture, Duo would slip back into their room, closing the door behind him. It happened almost every time. When Heero felt the warmth of Duo’s amethyst gaze drop from him, he wanted to stop Relena, to apologize, and follow Duo back into their room. Each time he looked into Relena’s soft blue eyes he saw Duo instead, who would wait in their room until Relena’s visits were over.
Each time Heero would return, he would enter their room to find Duo sitting by the window or on his bed, quiet. Conversation between them would be strained, as if no words could be properly said between them. But their conversations weren’t anything grand – Duo would chatter, Heero wouldn’t know what to do other than close the shutters to his soul and pretend to ignore. But every thing Duo said, every word, made it straight into Heero’s existence. Duo’s advice on life and favorite phrases would play in his mind when he found a situation to apply them to. But it wasn’t really Relena that caused sour moments between them. It was Heero, his lack of social skills, and Duo’s extroverted nature trying to draw him out. Perhaps if Heero just let go of reality it would be easier to spend time with Duo.
Heero blinked, twice, realizing he had lost his focus on Relena. The applause was what brought him back. She had finished her speech, and was ready to leave the podium. Heero watched her closely, her features, her smiles. Relena did not deserve to die. She had seen him fall from the sky, yes, but she had never spoken of it to anyone. Heero knew the Gundam pilots’ secret was safe with Relena.
//I don’t need to kill another innocent.//
That night, Heero watched the stars again. He’d thought about Duo the entire afternoon, as if he amazement that someone could have such an effect on his life had never lost its prominence. The night’s routine checks on the other Gundams and checks for missions were the next task at hand. It had been the same information recently, with the exception of Trowa returning to battle. That had been something new. It was nice, happy news for Quatre. Heero, despite how tired he was, sat perfectly upright at his desk, digitally flipping through information. //It’s all the same.//
Deathscythe’s status report blinked. Heero’s attention was perked, and he sat closer to the laptop, opening the file. “Deathscythe.. left L2?” His heart surged. “Duo..”
**Look into my eyes**
It was time to move. Zechs Merquise, Oz’s former Lightning Baron, was stirring up way too much trouble. Heero accepted the fact that he had to eliminate Zechs. Or Milliard, as he was now calling himself. White Fang had to be stopped. Heero packed his few belongings that he had collected over the past few years, only taking painstaking care in packing one. It was a small photograph he’d gotten from one of the boarding schools. Heero and Duo had managed to be there during the beginning of the school year and were in the class pictures. They both had gotten one. It was the only picture of Duo that Heero had, the only material item he treasured.
Once his belongings were in check, Heero set off to meet up with the other four pilots. It was the same reason Deathscythe, and assumably Duo, had left L2. It was time for teamwork, to destroy White Fang before it could do any large amounts of damage. //This may be the final battle.//
**You will see**
When Heero arrived at the temporary moon base, he found out that Libra, White Fang’s offensive vehicle, had been completed and launched. Treize and the World Nation were going up against Milliard and White Fang; the Gundam pilots would be caught between it. When those allied had completely come together, there were seven – five Gundam pilots and two former Oz officers.
There was one person alone he sought out after leaving Wing Zero in the hangar. Next to Deathscythe Hell, the two mecha looked similar in design and construction. As if the pilots were meant to be close.
Duo’s room was next to his. To remain uniform, the numerical codes Oz had dubbed the Gundam pilots with had stuck, and their rooms were labeled as such. Heero walked past the door labeled “02”, pausing to try to detect any sound that may indicate the occupant’s presence. But he heard none, which meant, in Duo’s case, that he was not there.
But there was a sound in Heero’s own room. He paused at the door, deciding not to knock, as it was his room. He opened the door widely and stepped in with more clamor than he had ever brought into a room before. He found only one person in the room, perched on the edge of the bed and playing with an overturned CD player. Only one Gundam pilot owned a CD player, especially one as ragged and beat up as that which sat in the lap of the person in Heero’s room. The same person who looked up when Heero entered, amethyst eyes wide and welcoming, and smiled.
**What you mean to me.**
There could be no ‘welcome home’ to top that. Nothing was better than coming to this base to fight a decisive battle and to be welcomed by Duo. Heero contained his excitement, unsure of how to express it. Duo got up, leaving the CD player on the bed, and crossed the room to Heero in a playful gait.
“Oi, Heero man!! It’s’o awesome to be all together like this, ne? We’ve got quite a battle ahead! How are you? Here, I brought you something from L2.”
//A gift?// Heero thought idly, not wanting to think about Duo living with Hirde.
“Hai. I thought you could stick it on Wing’s rear end or something.” Duo pushed a small bag into his hands, and Heero set his duffel bag on the floor. Opening the bag Duo had given him, Heero found a bumper sticker inside that read “I (heart) L2”. Duo watched him, amethyst shining, and pointed to the bumpersticker. “I saw that once when me and Hirde had a chance to get out. I figured I’d get you an L2 souvenir, since there’s not much else the colony has to offer. Except a lot of junk.”
Heero’s heart was afloat. //He thought of me.// He remained silent for a moment longer, relishing in appreciation for the longhaired boy. Duo took his silence to a different meaning, and took a small step back. “Hey, if you don’t like it, it’s okay. It’s not a joke or anything, I just wanted to--”
Heero cut him off. “Thank you.”
Duo blinked at him. Heero had never thanked him for his silliness or advice. “You’re welcome,” He said quietly, watching Heero’s profile. Glancing up at the clock on the dresser, Heero recalled Noin’s instructions as he was putting Wing Zero in the hangar.
“Dinner is served in a few minutes.” He said, carefully placing the bumper sticker on his desk. Duo watched him do so, and nodded. “We better get down there. Noin gets mad if we’re late, because the cooks at this base aren’t always thrilled to reopen the kitchen after they’ve made dinner, and they complain to her.”
Side by side, Heero went with Duo down to the mess hall.
“Duo!” Noin said happily, watching the two Gundam pilots enter the mess hall. “You finally made it to dinner on time!”
Duo grinned sheepishly, putting one hand behind his head. “I tried my best, but Heero wouldn’t let me be late! I tried to stand around and waste time before coming down, but he said no!”
Heero looked at Duo, a smirk threatening to cross his face.
Noin played along, smiling at them both. “Thank you, Heero-kun, for getting him down here on time!”
Heero barely had time to nod in response as Duo grabbed his arm and led him to the kitchens.
They were actually early enough to be there before the food had been put out. Duo hit the counter with his fist, taunting the cooks. “Oi, oi, oi! I finally get down here on time and you lazy people aren’t ready yet!”
One cook laughed, and another shook his head. “Maxwell, go sit down! Congratulations on getting down here early, but you know it’s not ready yet!”
Duo dramatically sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “I dunno, man,” He said to Heero, loud enough for the chef to hear. “The service around here stinks!” As they turned to sit down, the cooks behind them broke into laughter.
“Heero!” A pleasant voice called from the entry to the mess hall. Quatre crossed the room, weaving around tables, with Trowa shortly behind him.
“Oi, Quatre!” Duo called, and pointed to Heero. “Look who finally showed up!”
Quatre gave a laugh, meeting them halfway through the mess hall. “How is everything, Heero? Did you watch Relena’s speech on broadcast?”
Heero nodded. “It went well,” he said, and Duo’s jovial expression ebbed some. Duo crossed his arms and started to say something, but was cut off by the cooks’ announcement over the mess hall intercom.
“Dinner has Started!” Came the standard announcement. But this time, it was followed by, “And let’s all give it up for Duo Maxwell, who got here on time!”
Wufei passed the four standing in the middle of the mess hall, shaking his head. But Heero noticed – barely – that the Shenlong pilot was almost grinning.
Duo, no matter how quirky he was, made friends with everyone.
Dinner went perfectly well, normal for when the five were together. Wufei busied himself by eating and listening to the conversation. Quatre and Trowa – who sat next to each other, as usual – and Duo and Heero caught each other up on the latest war, political and mecha related topics. Duo told them more about doing odd repairs on Deathscythe Hell with random junk on L2 than anything else. Heero listened to him with particular interest, noting that the Shinigami pilot did not at all mention the woman he’d stayed with.
It was wonderful to be with Duo again. Heero was glad Duo had chosen to sit next to him at the table. He was close enough that Heero could feel the warmth that came from him. Sound seemed to drown itself out as Heero sat there, seemingly poking at his food but watching Duo as he spoke about his time on L2. Heero simply observed him, as if recording a video to replay later in case Duo wasn’t around. Every hand gesture, every excited look, every frown, Heero took it all in. If he had been born to only observe, he would be happy to only be able to see Duo.
After dinner, the five spent some time in the recreational area. No one knew when the official mission against Libra would come in; they could only kill time until it was ready. Heero and Trowa sat with Duo and Quatre as the two even-numbered pilots played a round of chess. Duo had found the game and asked who was up for a challenge. Heero didn’t know the game so well, but Quatre had accepted. As the game progressed, Duo became creative in his moves and strategies.
//He plays chess the same way he battles his enemies.// Heero thought, watching Duo’s bold offensive moves. While Duo was all attack, Quatre was a balance of strategy. The game seemed to dwindle down to the last moves, and Duo offered the end of his thick braid to Heero, explaining in a maniacal tone, “Here, hold this for good luck!”
Heero fought off the shock. Duo had never offered him to touch his hair, something Heero figured Duo cared a great deal about. He washed it at every available occasion, often taking up to an hour in doing so. But Heero never saw this happen – Duo always locked himself in the bathroom before doing so. It was, in fact, the first time he had touched Duo’s hair. //While he was aware of it.// Heero thought, remembering the nights when he’d gently touch Duo’s hair, treating it as if it were a material susceptible to breaking from too strong a breeze.
Duo won the chess match. He went into his victory dance, first hugging Heero, and jumped up onto his chair, flailing about. Quatre, too good-natured to be sour over his loss, laughed at him.
“Duo! You look like a monkey when you do that!”
A comment of that nature only served to push Duo on, and he continued his little victory dance until he lost his balance and fell over. Heero, in the bath of destruction, managed to safely catch Duo as he fell, but he couldn’t prevent Duo’s arm from hitting the table as he fell. The braided boy’s eyes shot open and he grabbed at his elbow, howling in pain.
“You hit your elbow,” Heero said, quietly, formulating some way to comfort Duo. The injured boy quit howling, and gave Heero a funny look.
“Baka, I know I hit my elbow! I FELT it!” He stuck his tongue out at Heero and slid off the Japanese boy’s lap. Heero instantly missed having the American’s warmth so close to him. It was almost euphoric. Duo stretched, one-armed, and turned towards the door.
“Time to punch the time clock. I’m going to my room.”
Heero looked at him, and glanced at the clock on the wall. //At 10:30? You never go to sleep this early..//
“It’s early,” Heero said, looking back at Duo.
Duo gave him a quizzical look, and shrugged. “I want to take a shower.”
//You’re going to lock yourself in the bathroom for two hours.//
Heero nodded. Duo looked at him for a moment longer before turning with a wave and a “Ja na.”
Heero suddenly felt tired, as if he hadn’t slept in days. Actually, he hadn’t been sleeping much. He never did. Standing up, Heero dismissed himself from Quatre and Trowa’s presence, and headed in the direction Duo had gone. //They will enjoy being alone together,// He thought, looking one last time at Trowa and Quatre before he left. They weren’t looking at him anymore. Quatre and Trowa were already engaged in a new conversation.
Heero passed Duo’s doorway as he went to his own room. The braided pilot had left his door open a little. He didn’t hear the showers running, so he figured Duo wasn’t there yet.
Heero entered his room, closing the door quietly behind himself. He kneeled to untie his shoes, but his senses picked up something. Duo was sitting on the edge of Heero’s bed again. He had taken off his black shirt, and was only dressed in half of his usual attire. Heero had seen him like this before. Duo always removed a few articles of clothing before going into the bathroom. But he never took all of it off, nor did he unbraid his hair, when someone was around.
//He may have with Hirde.// Heero’s bitter thought sent a pang of hurt though him, but his face remained unchanged. If anything, he attempted to look approachable.
“Duo..” Heero acknowledged, and kicked his shoes off, crossing the room slowly towards Duo. The braided boy got off the bed, still favoring the arm he had hit on the table.
“Heero.. I need to ask a favor of you, okay? You can say no if you want, just hear me out..”
“My arm’s a little stiff from that fall, and I have to wash my hair, and—Will you be here in a few after I get out of the shower?”
Heero nodded again. //What is it, Duo?//
“Alright. ‘Cause, well, I’ll tell you when I’m done. I’ll be out in a few minutes.” Duo walked past him, leaving quickly. Heero watched him go. //What does he want…?//
**Search your heart**
**Search your soul**
It was almost a half-hour later when Duo was at his door again. Heero had changed from his civilian clothes into what he preferred to wear for sleeping, a loose tanktop and his boxer shorts. There was rapping at the door, quiet and fast. It was Duo’s trademark door knock, only toned down. When Heero opened the door, he found Duo standing there, dressed only in a faded, baggy pair of blue jeans with a towel in his hands. His hair was unbraided, but twisted into a single, thick strand, which was pulled over a shoulder, the damp ends wrapped in the towel.
Heero watched him as he walked into the room, the bold steps bringing Duo quickly over to the bed. He sat down, toweling his hair. Amethyst remained averted, concentrating on the long spill of chestnut hair in the towel. For long moments, Heero stood and watched Duo towel his hair off, wanting to run his fingers through the damp masses.
“I wanted to ask you,” Duo started, still rubbing the towel through his hair, “If you could.. possibly.. help me comb my hair out. I twisted my elbow a few days ago, and hitting it on the table today didn’t help much, and combing my hair just takes forever like this.”
Still, he did not look at Heero. The cobalt eyed pilot watched him with an intense internal sense of curiosity. Why was Duo asking this now? His immediate reaction was to agree, to take the towel from Duo’s slender hands, and to continue drying the hair himself. He gazed at Duo’s bare shoulders, wanting to massage them, kiss their slender, pale curves—
“If you don’t want to,” Duo’s rushed voice came, wary of Heero’s silence, “It’s okay. I mean, I can manage it myself, I just figured it would be faster if someone else did it, and I figured you would be the one to ask since I’m not so close to Wufei, and Quatre and Trowa are..” His voice trailed off.
“Daijoubu.” Heero responded, walking over to Duo, expectantly waiting for a comb to perform the task with. Duo gave him a look of complete disbelief. “You will?! That’s great! My arm’s been so damn stiff, I can’t comb it out as fast as I usually do--”
“Do you have a comb?” Heero asked, kneeling on the bed beside Duo. //Now is my chance. I don’t know how to do this. But I can try.// Duo nearly fell off the bed, but stood, pulling a small plastic comb out of his pocket. Wrapped around one end was the elastic band he used to hold the braid in his hair. Handing this to Heero, he said in a low, mock-serious tone, “My life is in your hands, Yuy.”
Heero raised an eyebrow, sending Duo into peals of laughter. The amethyst eyed pilot dropped himself unceremoniously on the bed, backing up to Heero as closely as he dared. “Start at the roots, Heero, and work your way down. Don’t be afraid to pull a little – I’m used to it.”
Heero’s hand nearly shook – and he was glad Duo couldn’t see it – as he held what was possibly one of Duo’s favorite possessions up, ready to begin. It seemed that Duo had used a detangler of sorts, because the comb threaded through the damp locks relatively easily. Heero and Duo sat, quietly, as Heero tentatively combed Duo’s hair. A few times, he would glide his fingers along the silky lengths with the comb, just to feel the smooth texture. In front of him, Duo’s head had tilted back, his eyes closed in pleasure. Heero momentarily recalled Duo’s habit of isolating himself to take care of his hair. Forget about Hirde. What he was doing now – letting Heero not only touch, but comb it – may have been the first time another had done so. Heero wasn’t sure. But he knew that everything between them during those passing moments became more intimate – the air warmer – with each stroke of the comb.
It was relaxing. Heero had contentedly sat for close to an hour, combing the chestnut lengths. Duo hadn’t said a word, only sat in a nearly meditative state, eyes closed. Heero was sure he’d gotten every possible tangle out by now. The comb was gliding through without a hitch, and had been for a length of time already. //Now I know why he likes taking care of this hair so much.// Heero noted to himself, feeling the therapeutic effects of such a relaxing activity. His body felt relaxed, almost limber. His mind was clear for once, not cluttered with missions and details. And in front of him, it sounded as if Duo was ever so quietly starting to purr.
**And when you find me there,**
**You'll search no more.**
Heero didn’t know where to take it next. So he simply stopped combing, ran his fingers through Duo’s hair again, and quietly said, “I think it’s done.” In front of him, Duo’s eyes opened, but he didn’t move. Heero set the comb on the bed next to Duo, again daring to run his fingers through the silken masses. Duo had started to say thank you, but felt a different pressure – something touching his hair, but it definitely was not the comb. He waited moments longer, stayed in place, and sure enough, he could feel Heero continue to comb his fingers through his hair.
Heero continued to thread his fingers through Duo’s hair, watching the damp-darkened strands contrast against his skin, his fingers, the callused palms. Duo still hadn’t moved. Heero, experimentally bold, brought his other hand up to the first, running his fingers through two fistfuls of hair. His hands came up to Duo’s ears, combing through the hair from the root, and pulling it towards himself. Duo’s bare shoulders were visible now, unhidden by the hair as Heero gathered it up.
He didn’t entirely know how to braid, but he did his best. Dividing Duo’s thick hair into three equal parts, Heero experimented in different weaves, trying to get the usual pattern he’d seen Duo’s hair in. Duo brought his hands up to his hair, to show Heero how to braid it, twisting the first few strands into the familiar weave. Heero watched intensely, trying it himself. His fingers interlaced with Duo’s over the thick strands of hair, and together they weaved the next few lengths of the braid. Duo let go, allowing Heero to finish it himself. Duo pulled the elastic off the comb, handing it over his shoulder to Heero. Holding the end of Duo’s braid in one hand, Heero took the elastic with the other, briefly daring to glide his fingertips across Duo’s smooth shoulder.
Once the braid was secured, Heero let it go, pausing to take in the contrast of the dark hair to Duo’s creamy skin. Duo hefted the braid over his shoulder, half turning around to face Heero. He eyed the patterned hair, and gave Heero an affirmative grin. “You did a good job,” he quipped, running his hands over the braid to the end, “Considering you didn’t know how to braid.”
Heero gave him a strong look, but without the usual threat. Duo’s head tipped to one side, his amethyst gaze studying Heero. “Something’s with you,” he mused aloud, rubbing the end of his braid over his knuckles. Heero watched him do this, aware of the habit he did often while in deep thought.
“What is it, Heero?” Duo asked, surprisingly insightful. For a moment, Heero felt a pang of terror, fearing that Duo was staring straight into his mottled soul.
Heero was shaking his head. He felt his mask caving in, closing off his emotions as it so often did. He hated to let it happen, yet it seemed to be the only thing he knew how to do. The way Duo was looking at him made him want to fight it, to break free from himself and embrace the boy in front of him. The boy he loved. Perhaps if he could say it, say the simple words that would let Duo know how he felt.
Cynicism closed in, bitter words stung at him. //Who are you kidding, Yuy? He’ll laugh at you. He’ll think you’re the most disgusting thing on the planet, and you are!!! Don’t waste your time on this crap. You’ve already spent too much time on frivolous things. That hair ought to be cut off and burned!//
The voice raged on, and Heero’s face retreated from any look of openness, a low glower returning to his features.
“I did what you asked,” he gritted out coarsely, half crying in sorrow for the opportunity he was throwing away, half disgusted with himself to think he could have a chance with Duo. “Now go back to your own room.”
His voice said what his heart denied. A glimmer of hope remained within Heero, hoping that Duo would refuse to leave, that his intuition would pick up Heero’s true feelings. A glimmer of hope that was shattered as Duo stood from the bed, face becoming sullen. And the voice with which Duo spoke was bitter. “Fine, Yuy. Have it your way. See you on the battlefield.”
Duo fled his room.
In shock, Heero lay down on his bed, which smelled of Duo’s fragrant shampoo. The way his heart ached, the sorrow he felt, was as if he were experiencing something he never thought he would know – heartbreak. Forgetting the perfect soldier, Heero lay awake on his bed, and for the first time in more years than he wished to recall, a few silent tears fell from the Wing pilot’s eyes.
The next morning came horridly soon, and Heero awoke freezing cold. He’d never gotten under the blankets, just slept on top of the sheets in his clothes. //Wonderful,// He thought sarcastically, //Sleep with no covers on while stationed on a moon base. Temperatures drop to thirty below in the hallways. Very intelligent, Yuy. Almost as intelligent as telling Duo to lea--//
He cut himself off from that thought. Heero didn’t want to think about it.
Heero was positive he’d overslept as he pulled on his uniform, heading to the mess hall for breakfast. He was wrong. Quatre and Trowa arrived shortly after he did, and they reassured him he was early. How ironic it was that Trowa and Quatre supposedly stayed in separate rooms, yet arrived at the same time to every function. How ironic, indeed. Heero didn’t feel a shade social, if he ever did, and chose to eat on the other side of the mess hall, away from the others. Duo arrived, finally, three minutes after the kitchens closed, and Heero saw the braided pilot glance his way. After getting his breakfast, Duo sat with the other four. Silence fell over the room, as if there were some tension that everyone felt. Perhaps it was because Noin hadn’t arrived yet. Or, perhaps, it was because of Duo glowering—
“Why isn’t Heero sitting with us?” Quatre asked, loud enough that Heero heard it. The question had been directed at Duo.
“How the hell should I know?” Duo retorted, stabbing at the food on his tray. Everyone, including Heero, looked up at Duo, surprised at his little outburst. Duo looked at Quatre, seeing the look on his face, and apologized, the jester’s mask falling back into place. “Oi, gomen, Q-man! I didn’t sleep so well last night… It was really cold!”
Quatre smiled, and the three sitting around Duo returned to their food. None of them saw the tinge of a glare that stole over Duo’s face as he ate. Heero, across the room, noticed it.
Heero left breakfast early, giving himself a head start above the others. He wandered the halls of the base aimlessly, avoiding the other four. The escape gave him a chance to be alone, to collect his thoughts. The chilly hallways were nearly desolate, so bare that Heero hadn’t seen more than two or three of the base’s employees in the last two hours. As he walked, he allowed his thoughts to run free. Usually, Heero kept his thoughts in control, closing them into a small restricted box filled with mission data and other information. But even in there – even in the tiniest, most regulated part of his mind – there was a tiny portrait of Duo hung neatly on the wall. Among data files and computer wires, Duo’s amethyst eyes remained etched in his memories. As he had walked aimlessly away from the mess hall, he strayed from that familiar line of thought. His gaze remained focused on the steel gray floor that passed beneath his feet, and the further he walked, the more he heard Duo’s jovial laughter ringing through the empty halls. He felt the braided pilot sling an arm around his shoulders – as he so often did – and for once, consciously tried not to shrug the gesture away. Only this time, Heero would turn and find nothing. Despite how he thought he’d heard and felt Duo’s presence, there were only hallways.
Cold, empty metallic hallways.
At length, Heero found himself back at his own room, the dull “01” still in place. For a moment, as his hand closed around the metal door handle, Heero dared to hope that he’d find Duo in his room, as he had before. He stepped carefully in and closed the door behind him. The chill of the room crept straight through his jacket, and Heero knew without having to look.. Duo wasn’t there. The warmth that followed the braided boy’s presence could always be felt when he was around, and the blank cold of Heero’s room was not the atmosphere that Duo carried with him.
Cobalt eyes narrowed as a mocking voice churned within him. //Iie. It’s the atmosphere Heero Yuy creates.//
**Don't tell me..**
**It's not worth trying for.**
Optimism in his mind was Duo’s voice, and it spoke to Heero with his own repressed senses of intuition and personal determination. //Don’t let him get away, Yuy. Break out of that atmosphere, you know you can do it. You’ve been trained your entire damn life to be an unfeeling soldier, but you know that if you love Duo, you’ll try your hardest to make him happy. Don’t let him get away!//
Heero was out of his room and at Duo’s door in an instant. Although he heard nothing, he knocked twice and paused for a moment before opening the door. His thoughts began to take over again, fighting within him between the optimistic encouragement to go find Duo and tell him how he feels and the pessimistic discouragement telling him he was an unnatural bastard and wrong to think that Duo would ever reciprocate the feelings.
As if it had been foreshadowing, the mental argument over his varied confidence was interrupted by the overhead sound of the hangar’s launch pad being opened. The alarm sounded only to let those on the base know that the base was opening, which could make it vulnerable to a sniper attack. Nothing more. Normally, it wouldn’t have bothered Heero. But intuition told him something was happening, especially since Duo wasn’t in his room.
Then he thought of Deathscythe. In a flash, Heero was down the hall, echoes of his pounding footsteps fading down the other end. The door to the hangar was still air-locked, and Heero had to sit and wait for the hangar doors to clear and close before the air lock would release. The light above the door turned from red to blue, and the hiss of the lock opening told him he could enter. The door swung heavily as he opened it, running into the hangar.
Heero’s fears were confirmed. Deathscythe was gone.
//I have to follow him.. I have to find him.// Heero’s initial reaction came, and he knew he’d have to find out where Duo had gone. There were so many places he could go – on Libra alone – and Heero didn’t have the time to simply rely on sensors and intuition to find Deathscythe. Not with the impending battles. Not with thousands of Tauruses out there, where he could—
Damn you Duo! Why did you have to fly right into death like that?! Why couldn’t you have.. at the very least.. given me the chance to join you..
Heero found Quatre in the rec room, pondering over a game of chess with Trowa. Certainly, Duo had told someone where he was going. Or would he have..? Heero scowled. //Damn it.. Duo..//
“Hello Heero,” Quatre greeted warmly, moving one plastic white piece from square to square. Heero fought to gain his composure, to remain calm.
“Quatre, Trowa,” he greeted, trying to hide the slight strain in his voice. “Where did Duo go?”
Quatre turned to look at him, eyes wide and searching. “Duo.. left..”
Trowa nodded. Heero looked at the taller pilot, and read the look in emerald eyes that told him Trowa knew he was upset over something, and given what he’d just asked, Trowa also knew it had to do with Duo.
“He went to rescue Hirde,” Trowa said gently, as if he could ease the pain he knew this would inflict.
The world slowed to an aching, screeching halt. Heero blinked slowly, muttered a thank-you, and left the two there.
Steel hallways are a lonely place. Heero walked slowly back to his room, passing what felt like the same dull electrical light fixtures over and over. Duo was gone, and already the entire moon base had lost the special warmth and life that Duo carried with him. There was no soft echo of Duo’s constant chatter, no scent in the air of Duo’s favourite shampoo—Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Heero Yuy was a lone person, who depended on no one and needed no one. He’d never known such loss, such an intense, emotional loss. Not even when a cherub in a little dress offered him a flower and called him ‘nii-san’. He hadn’t known her, not even her name.
Echoes of his footfalls mocked the rapid patter he’d made before, when he had run to the hangar. Through his clouded state of mind, Heero found himself at his own door. As he went through it, he realized he hadn’t noticed passing Duo’s door. A pang of hurt clenched in his chest, and he felt as if he’d almost betrayed Duo by forgetting him so quickly.
//Aa, I mustn’t truly love him.// Bitterness swept over him, chilling his skin, and cobalt eyes narrowed. //There’s no way I would have let it happen. Love is a liability. An emotion. I don’t feel--//
After he entered his room, the same cobalt eyes spotted a folded piece of paper on his bed, his name scrawled on it. He hadn’t seen it before – he’d only gone into his room for a second to find Duo. But now, on the bed where Duo would usually be sitting, was this piece of paper.
The handwriting, somewhat sloppy but still uniformed, was undoubtedly Duo’s. As Heero read it, every thought of bitterness ebbed away. It had all been lies. He’d only been deluding himself to take away from the pain, a tactic he often used to mentally remove the pain of physical injuries.
**You can’t tell me**
**It’s not worth dying for.**
He read the note once over, eyes closing. Aware of possible introspection, Heero took a deep breath and began to remember…
**You know it's true**
**Everything I do..**
**I do it for you…**
A Few Months Earlier
A new mission had put Heero and Duo together at a boarding school, a trend they would soon get used to. More than once, Heero had caught Duo looking at him, seemingly staring at the tiny white scars the braided boy had left on Heero’s arm when they’d met.
It was indeed the initial meaning that had caught Heero’s attention. Duo had been brash and almost impolite, but most importantly, he wasn’t afraid. Heero slowly discovered that behind the jovial mask his amethyst-eyed ally wore lived a serious, determined soul. He saw it when Duo was piloting, the way he’d throw his entire existence into every mission. In the rare moments when Duo didn’t think anyone was looking, he’d let his mask fall and during these times, wouldn’t always be smiling. His face would look so serious, so battle worn. Heero knew that all of them, all five Gundam pilots, had to endure obscene amounts of stress. More than the average teenager could handle. And likewise each pilot handled it their own way. Duo’s way of handling it.. was with humor, and his friendly, talkative nature.
Much to his amusement, Heero found that Duo could get under his skin no matter what he did. It wasn’t entirely irritating, either, sort of a welcomed distraction.
Definitely a distraction.
Heero knew he’d never forget the nights when Duo would awaken from some horrible nightmare and lie awake in his bed. Duo never cried – never – Heero could testify in court that Duo never broke down enough to cry. But what went on outside often did not reflect what went on inside. Whatever nightmares plagued Duo, he never spoke of them; the braided boy simply stayed awake in his bed, eyes wide open. He wouldn’t cry, but he would deprive himself of sleep for the rest of the night. Heero knew what went on when Duo had nightmares because the American would shiver before he awoke. The rustle of his sheets was enough to wake Heero as well, and although he never told Duo he knew, Heero always stayed awake until morning, watching Duo in the darkness and listening to him breathe. In the back of his mind, Heero wanted to provide some sort of comfort for Duo but could find no method of doing so. That sort of thing wasn’t a part of Gundam pilot training.
One night in particular, Duo awoke so abruptly that he’d sat up in bed, eyes wide. Heero was awake within the moment, and watched discreetly as Duo drew his knees to his chest, arms winding around them, and rested his chin on his arms. His face – without his emotional mask – was drawn and devoid of happiness. The crease in his brows and lips pressed tightly together looked as if he were dealing with some great force of fear or anger.
Something sputtered to life within Heero, and he sat up in his bed. Duo jerked at Heero’s movement, then looked relieved.
“Oi, Heero, you sure know how to scare a guy.” He jibed, trying to force some unnatural grin.
Heero struggled inwardly, trying to find some shred of.. compassion. “Why are you awake?”
Duo gave him an unamused look. “What kind of a question is that? ‘Why am I awake?’ No thought involved there, I’m awake because I’m not asleep, duh. Why are YOU awake?”
He only felt angry for a split-second. He’d become used to Duo’s teasing remarks and knew they were all in good humor. Duo rarely made malicious remarks. “Because you woke me up. Did you have a nightmare?” It was more than he’d planned to say, but it was effective. Duo’s face fell like some child who’d been given their first taste of ice cream then had it taken away.
“It— Was just a nightmare.” The braided boy said dismissively, hoping it’d satisfy Heero enough to go back to sleep.
Unchanged, Heero pressed on. “What about?” //I know you’ve been having nightmares, Duo.// He added mentally, though he could not reveal his insight. He didn’t want Duo to know he’d been.. observing him.
Duo looked at him, and Heero saw his face clearly in the moonlight. Loose tendrils of hair fell around his face, framing the wide, saddened eyes. “Remembering things,” the braided boy replied quietly.
“Things I don’t want to remember.”
For the moment, Duo thought he’d satisfied Heero’s usually limited need for personal details. Daring to look at the dark haired boy, Duo found himself pinned with the most intense, searching gaze he’d ever felt.
**Look into your heart**
**You will find**
**There's nothing there to hide.**
Through a few more stark, obscure exchanges of words, Duo slid out of his own bed and crept across the room, wordlessly getting into Heero’s. The Wing pilot neither protested nor agreed. He simply felt the expanse of Duo’s body line up against his, and watched him until the braided boy had fallen asleep again.
It was the first time he could remember Duo falling back asleep after a nightmare. A short time after Duo’s breathing had drawn into a steady, natural cadence, Heero fell asleep as well, with the light scent of Duo’s shampoo and a small cascade of arms and a braid around him.
It was perhaps that night when Heero Yuy had fallen in love.
Heero opened his eyes, heart aching with remembrance. He wished he could have gone back to that very night and told Duo how he’d feel some day, but he knew it would have been impossible. Chances are, he’d never be able to properly tell the American how he felt.
Heero found he’d clenched the note in his fist and carefully smoothed it back out as he re-read it.
Thank you for brushing my hair out for me. I don’t think you quite know how important that was to me, but it has something to do with the nightmares I used to have. After the night I had that one nightmare, back at one of the boarding schools, and you woke up, I stopped having them. I don’t know why.
I had one last night. It wasn’t all that bad, but I still wanted to come to your room, to your bed, like I did before, but I didn’t know if you’d push me away like you did last night.
I want to talk to you about something. Tomorrow I have to go get someone who needs my help, but before I leave I will be waiting between Deathscythe and Wing for you until noon. Please come meet me. If you don’t, I’ll understand that you’d rather not be an important part of my life.
Heero was glad there was a wall behind him as he slid slowly to the floor, leaning against it. He’d completely and utterly blown it. Duo was giving him the chance he’d been searching for over the past few months. If only he’d… gone back to his room right after breakfast.. Instead of wandering the halls!! If only he’d gotten the damn note sooner!!
//Bastard!// The cobalt eyed boy cursed himself, fist pounding against the floor. The note fell loosely into his lap from his lax hand as he rubbed his eyes wearily. He’d already acknowledged to himself that he’d do anything for Duo – absolutely anything – and here he didn’t have the saving grace to get Duo’s note and fulfill ONE request!
A few months earlier, after the nightmare
“Battle damage reports,” Heero read aloud to himself, in a non-emotional monotone. “SandRock, down 40%. HeavyArms, down 30%, ammo low. Wing, down 55%. Deathscythe, down 70%.”
The status reports inside Wing’s cockpit blinked excitedly as Heero used the last bit of the stored beam energy in a powerful blast, taking out a handful of pressing Leos. A flurry of commands and Wing held its beam sabre, engaging in manual combat with the onslaught of troops.
The battle was difficult, but it could have been worse.
A small notice blinked red, and the sensors went off. Another mobile suit was approaching, fast. And it was undeniably large. Heero stared at the vid screen, ponderously asking the air, “Gundam?”
In SandRock’s cockpit, Duo’s voice crackled to life over the comlink. “Oi, Quatre! Do you see that?!”
The blonde’s sensors picked up the new object as well.
The four present had noticed, the newly refinished bulk of Gundamnium. And Zechs Merquise, proudly piloting it for Oz, engaged Heero in battle.
A fleet of Arieses joined the few remaining Leos, and the three pilots tiredly renewed their assault on their attackers. Damage to Wing was picking up momentum on their status reports.
Inside the cockpit of the Gundam labeled 01, Heero’s mind was a neatly organized clutter of decisive rapport, but he didn’t make any real decisions. He simply battled Wing to exhaustion, not caring what happened to himself. He would win this battle, even if it meant—
The status panel blinked rapidly. At a glance, Heero saw that Deathscythe surrounded by enemies. Damage reports for the black mecha showed that it was at near-critical levels, and over the last few minutes, Duo had gotten quiet over the comlink. This was a losing battle, and the new enemy - Tallgeese - was pressing in. Failure was within sights unless drastic measures were taken.
Heero at once knew what he had to do.
**Take me as I am**
**Take my life**
**I would give it up**
**I would sacrifice.**
“Retreat.” Heero said over the comlink, simple but with a point.
“What?!” Came a reply from SandRock. Heero repeated his one word command, readying himself for what he had to do.
“Get Deathscythe and retreat,” Heero added, watching SandRock hesitate for a moment before it was piloted over to Deathscythe. Duo’s voice crackled over the comlink.
“—eero! What th—ell ar—y—doing?!”
Heero was quiet as the Wing’s hatch opened. Tallgeese, still in battle, stood still as its pilot watched in awe. The Oz officer piloting Tallgeese was no doubt boggling over Heero’s exceptionally young age.
Heero held up a small device.
**Don't tell me**
**It's not worth dying for**
**I can't help it**
**There's nothing I want more.**
“—EERO!!!” Duo’s voice called desperately from the cockpit, and Heero watched out of the corner of his eye as SandRock and HeavyArms pulled Deathscythe to a safe distance. “—ON’T SELF—ESTRUCT!”
//Ninmu kanryou. Duo.. ai shiteiru.//
Heero clicked the button. In a flash of red, white, and pain, the world faded to black. Distantly, sound faded as well – a muffled sound of pain from SandRock, a mournful word of disbelief from Deathscythe.
Heero’s eyes closed tightly then opened, focusing on a small spider’s web of scars over his hand and knuckles, where he’d held the self destruct switch. It had been the most painful thing he’d ever endured, not only from physical injuries, but the act itself, knowing that if he’d self destruct, he’d never see Duo again.
Fate had many cruel cards up her sleeve, and had dealt Heero a favor laced with reminders of his ordeal. Three months of blackness and silence went by, where he’d dreamed solely of chestnut bangs and braids, amethyst eyes and smooth, creamy skin. When he woke up, there was that telekinetic sensation of someone staring intensely at him, but the eyes were not amethyst. Beneath a shock of brown bangs were emeralds, and Heero found a great appreciation for Trowa after realizing that the taller pilot had taken care of him for nearly all of his time unconscious.
After he was awake, they spent more time together. Although they’d never discussed it openly, Heero felt that Trowa knew how he felt about Duo. Heero’s feelings were rarely wrong. Despite the pleasant, companionable silence Heero and Trowa shared, the Japanese boy missed Duo terribly.
But he’d never show it. Instead, he’d have his dreams and thoughts, uninterrupted by missions until he was healed enough to continue his life as the Perfect Soldier.
Perfect soldier indeed, who sacrificed himself for the life of his love. Although Heero had no real knowledge of angels and such spiritual things, he allowed the amusing and endearing belief that Duo was an angel, sent from the Heavens to the colonies. Perhaps, if life had been a fairy tale, Heero could find himself among dew-dappled grass, every waking hour full of magic, chasing that unobtainable angel.
Heero’s eyes opened slowly, the note still again clenched in his fist. He sat quietly for a moment, as if the mission the five Gundam pilots had been waiting for was about to come in. Out of habit, his eyes flickered over to the lit screen of his laptop, but saw nothing.
It was a stupid thing to do. He knew that when the mission came, it’d make itself more than known. There would be no way they could miss it. Big mission, fairly dangerous. They were most definitely safer together, but that was often impossible. Quatre had mentioned having a hard time getting Trowa, Duo and Wufei to organize into some sort of teamwork while in battle, but ZERO System had fixed that.
ZERO System could fix any problem. Or make the pilot forget. Heero looked again at the note in his hand, eyes falling on the two words he’d read thirty or more times over.
**You know it's true**
**Everything I do**
**I do it for you.**
The sound of the alarms overhead jarred him. He knew what it meant. In moments, Heero was suited up, the note jammed into a pocket. He met the other four at the bridge of the hangar, each pilot heading for their respective Gundam. Quatre, Heero had found out, had already removed ZERO System from his Gundam. Duo had even warned Heero some time ago to be careful with ZERO System… And Heero had answered him honestly. Despite the fact that ZERO System was dangerous and manipulative, Heero continued to use it. He needed it.
Noin’s voice filled the four cockpits. “White Fang is sending out a few fleets of mobile dolls! Be careful, and good luck.”
In a flash and flurry of ammunition and beam sabres, four Gundams were engaged in full-scale combat with the mobile dolls. Heero gave it his all, as he always did, but left the comlink on for once. It was wishful thinking, but he’d left it on in case he had to pick up a transmission from Deathscythe, perhaps a message of location. Or rescue.
Or the worst case – recovery of scrap Gundamnium.
The anger that boiled within him at the thought of Duo’s untimely death sent a fit of rage that complimented ZERO System’s initial boost of his skills, and Heero tore through the mobile dolls with a ruthless precision no less than perfect. The transmission never came. Instead, his sensors picked up a friendly mobile suit off in the distance, and Heero recognized it immediately. Duo was back.
The initial joy that swept through him was expressed in the graceful dismemberment of another mobile doll. Heero automatically ran a diagnostics test on Deathscythe to find out its condition, and found that it was relatively in good shape. The computer brought up some new information – Deathscythe wasn’t alone. As the black Gundam came into view on his vidscreen, Heero saw it was carrying behind it a badly battered Taurus.
“Returning to base.” Came Duo’s voice over the comlink. Heero blinked. What was that? The voice.. It was Duo’s, yet it lacked the cheerful bounce he usually carried while piloting, that proud sense that he was Duo Maxwell, there to kick some mobile butt.
//I’m starting to think like him.// The Japanese pilot thought offhandedly, watching Deathscythe cruise past him towards the base. There was something about the Taurus that Duo carried with him that bothered Heero -- how he knew what it was, yet didn’t want to admit it.
Reflexes anything but slow, Heero continued to trash mobile doll after mobile doll as he mulled over Duo’s behavior in the back of his mind. In front was nothing but piloting details, Wing’s fuel capacity, the speed of the thrusters, the amount of dolls around him. Even in his moments of insecurity and being love-lorn, Heero could still manage to be a perfect soldier.
A short time after Duo had returned, the mobile dolls had been obliterated, and Heero and the other three returned to the base. Heero got there last, noticing that his spot next to Deathscythe was unoccupied. Certainly, their Gundams hadn’t been assigned specific areas. It simply seemed that he’d been given the privilege of placing Wing next to Deathscythe.
The hatch opened and Heero gracefully glided to the floor. Within moments he was at the hangar’s exit, and started down the hall. Intuition told him to head for the infirmary. Given the Tauruses’ marred condition, the chances of its pilot being in a similar state were very high. He turned down the hallway towards the first rooms of the infirmary, and found himself face to face with Duo for the first time since he’d last seen him the day before at breakfast. In the lightning-quick instant, cobalt met amethyst, and Heero’s heart rate threatened to increase tenfold. His control won over the impulse and Heero simply stared into Duo’s tired eyes. Without word, Duo broke the gaze and disappeared behind the curtain into the small cubicle.
The limp body lying among pale white sheets was indeed Hirde, as Heero had unwillingly expected. The murmurs of doctors and clatter of equipment was quiet in contrast to the steady beep of Hirde’s heart monitor. Although Duo had returned into her room, Heero didn’t see the braided boy, but still went bedside out of respect. Hirde’s brows were drawn, forehead beaded with perspiration and a few flecks of dried blood. A network of tubes and IVs ran from machines and bags of fluid under the sheet, some visibly connected to her upturned wrists. Hirde’s jaw was slack, her deep breathing a quiet backdrop to the sound of the machines.
Heero stood next to the bed for longer moments than he’d expected. Looking at her wan face made him think of Duo, as selfish as it seemed. A quick glance ensured no one was watching him, and Heero raise a hand, delicately tracing the line of Hirde’s brow. //You feel the same as I do.// He thought, watching Hirde’s unchanging face. //You’re in love with him. You’d do anything for him.//
The finger traced around a small line of stitches on her forehead, half hidden by a sweep of violet hair. //You’d die for him, Hirde. You would, you risked death.. But you haven’t died yet. I’ve died for him, Hirde.//
Heero briefly closed his eyes, a slight tremor running through him as he remembered the moment he’d pressed the self-destruct and destroyed Wing, all to save Duo. //I’ve died for him.//
He pulled his hand away from her brow, and turned to leave. A soft sound left her, and Heero turned back.
“Nani?” He asked softly, wondering if she thought he was Duo.
“Gomen..” A strained whisper came. “..Gomen.. Duo..”
It seemed what she said would carry no real meaning to Heero, but her words bit like acid. He didn’t even understand why it affected him so, which drove the bitterness further.
“Duo..” Her voice came again, eyes flickering.
Heero confirmed again that no one was around, and leaned closer to Hirde, placing his hands on the bed railing.
Eyes that flickered slitted open, trying to focus on something.
“Mes..sage..” She started, finding Heero’s face. A hand reached up, fingers covering Heero’s. “On.. Libra..”
Hirde had barely gotten ‘Libra’ out when another form entered the cubicle.
Duo entered to find Heero standing over Hirde’s bed, one of her hands over his. For a moment, his eyes widened, but an unnatural quietness enveloped him as he approached the other side of Hirde’s bed. Awkward silence stretched between them as Hirde tried to focus on the new presence.
“D..Duo..” She rasped, heavy-lidded eyes visibly brightening.
“She has a message from Libra,” Heero stated, voice flat, without choosing to look in Duo’s direction.
“Fine,” Duo answered, not seeking Heero’s eyes. “I’ll find out what it is, thanks. You can go.. do whatever you do.” He waved a hand dismissively, though his drawn brow and fiery eyes told Heero something was being covered up by the passive gesture.
Heero stared at him a moment longer, watching a tinge of colour creep into Duo’s cheeks. He complied, giving Hirde a silent regard before leaving the cubicle, deadpan expression in place.
But it didn’t last long. Shortly after Heero was back into the hallway, his brows and jaw tensed, composure knotting up. Why was Duo acting like that? Was he really angry over the fact that Heero had missed meeting him at noon?
//Iie,// Heero corrected the thought. //He doesn’t know I missed it. He thinks I deliberately didn’t show up.//
Heero stopped dead in his tracks, a determined look crossing his face. //Even if there is no next opportunity… I’ll be prepared for it, Duo..// He went back to the Infirmary, standing near the exit. //I won’t miss the next chance. Gomen, Hirde. I won’t give him up.//
**There's no love**
**Like your love**
**And no other**
**Could give more love.**
He wasn’t sure how long he’d waited outside the double doors, but it seemed like an eternity. In his mind, a sense of reality battled with a sense of emotion, half telling him to forget about it and leave, the other half telling him not to let Duo slip away.
Emotion won, and Heero was acting upon how he felt. The door swung open and Duo stepped out, stopping short when he saw Heero. The American’s face was drawn and full of thought, but when he was confronted with Heero’s presence, the face threatened to belie the wearer’s nature by throwing on a mask. Heero pulled the note out of his pocket, worn and crinkled, and Duo eyed it.
“I got this…” Heero started, but Duo cut him off.
“I see that. And I see that you chose not to show, end of discussion. I have things to do..”
“Wait.” The interruption was firm.
“Look, I don’t want any lectures about frivolous wastes of time and all that garbage. Just let me go right now, okay? I need to think about some things.” Duo turned and walked away.
Heero watched him walk away down the corridor, willing the braided boy to at least turn around and glance behind him. //Look at me, Duo.. give me something to believe in.. Turn around and look behind you, and give me something to hold onto..//
Duo got to the end of the hallway where it split like a ‘T’, looking both ways before choosing a direction. Briefly, he glanced at Heero, amethyst eyes wide and questioning. Heero caught his glance and let it go as Duo disappeared to the right. A surge of unfamiliar emotion came over him, and he let it; stopping only to appreciatively observe something he was often a stranger to – the feeling of hope.
The pilot of Wing stayed in place for a few moments, watching the end of the hallway where Duo had turned to look back at him. The moment was magic, despite how outwardly insignificant it had been. To any onlooker, Duo could have just been checking a sound he heard behind him or looking to see if Heero had followed him. But that wasn’t what it was. Duo had turned back to look at Heero because he was thinking about the Japanese boy. To Heero, this meant that Duo brushing him off was just a defensive move because he was working on his true battle strategy. There was something in those amethyst eyes, something churning and bubbling, simply waiting for the moment to make Duo realize how Heero felt about him. As if the walls around him needed to be reminded, Heero whispered it quietly, eyes still in place. “Ai shiteiru, Duo.”
Heero took the shortest route back to his room, wishing somewhere in the back of his mind to find Duo sitting on his bed, hair freshly washed and with a comb in hand. What he found was the same cold, empty room he’d left a short time ago. The disappointment, although present, wasn’t overly devastating. Heero hadn’t expected Duo in his room and not seeing him wasn’t as big a letdown.
As expected, the cafeteria and mess hall had been left open, a standard procedure because the base residents had been out at battle during normal dinner hours. Heero dropped by for only a few minutes, just enough time to pick up some rations to eat back in his room. He wasn’t entirely hungry to begin with, eating only what he knew he’d benefit physically from.
The evening was quiet. There was no clatter in the hallways, no mail activity on his computer, no braided boys knocking on his door. Trowa and Quatre had simultaneously turned in to bed early, too convenient and ironic for even Wufei to roll his eyes.
Eventually, Heero decided to go to bed. It wasn’t a decision he often made – on missions, he’d sometimes just fall asleep on the bed. It happened whenever exhaustion overwhelmed him and his subconscious took over. But tonight, he felt close to bored. The dark haired boy retrieved his shower items and headed for the four-stall shower room to get ready for bed.
The water was warm and soothing to his back and shoulders, which were often tired after piloting. Multiple-capacity shower rooms like this weren’t always that appealing to the Wing pilot; he preferred to be alone while showering to be able to relax before returning to the stress of war. There were no politics, battles, or mobile suits to deal with while showering, only a body and a spray of water. Heero’s hands ran trails of suds over smooth skin, encountering the occasional scar here or there. The final rinse was his favorite part. Clean water removed the cleansers and the dirt, everything washing away to reveal the body in it’s simplest form. All bodies were composed the same way when nude. Individuality of the person’s inside were what defined differences, be it with a uniform or other clothing and makeup or other markings.
Once he was dry and dressed in boxer shorts and a tee shirt, Heero’s line of thoughts returned from the theoretical ponderings and ideas to the narrower, focused line of thought. The sound of the shower room door opening caught his ear, and Heero resisted lamenting. He didn’t want any more fruitless encounters with Duo until they’d talked things out sensibly, hopefully to work towards some mutually satisfying goal.
Heero set himself with his normal, expressionless face, and stepped out of the shower.
“Yuy,” Wufei’s voice met him, the Chinese boy setting his things down outside a shower stall. He paused. “How’s the water?”
Heero’s expression softened, if anything. “Fine.”
A moment longer of regard, and Heero left the shower room. He was both relieved it hadn’t been Duo and disappointed. Given the odds, it was probably a good thing he hadn’t seen Duo moments before the boy would be nude and under the gentle fountain of water… It would have been too much to even think about.
The walk back to his room was solitary and hollow. Out of habit, Heero paused outside Duo’s door, listening for a sign of the braided boy. The sound of casual movement and low music came back, a common occurrence when Duo was around. He was most likely settling into bed, or preparing to shower or something. Or perhaps Duo had already showered, and was now combing out lengths of chestnut hair.
Heero grimaced, the tightness in his chest too common as of late to be alarming. Ignoring his wistful impulses, Heero passed Duo’s door and went to his room, leaving himself to only wish in the back of his mind that he could once again have the privilege of combing Duo’s hair.
Without much else to do, Heero went to bed.
It was the noise in the adjacent room that woke him up some undeterminable amount of time after he’d fallen asleep.
The alarm clock, though he was used to relying on his internal sense of time, told him it was a little after two in the morning.
//What is Duo doing?// He thought, still in the bed. The slightest click at his door roused him, and Heero sat up straight, pulling a gun from the nightstand with lightning speed.
“Heero.” A whisper came from the door. Heero’s arms remained poised and ready as he advanced to the door. Opening it, he recognized Duo in the dim fluorescent night lighting of the hallway. The ghostly glow showed some serious look on Duo’s face, rather than his usual.. smile. //Aa. That’s it. Duo isn’t smiling. He hasn’t been smiling. ..It’s my fault.//
“Heero?” Duo said, breaking him from his thoughts. Heero closed the door behind the braided boy. Duo entered his room casually, navigating with the limited light. There was the sound of a weight settling on the bed, and the rustle of sheets.
“What are you doing?” Heero asked the darkness, still standing at the door.
Duo didn’t answer him at first. The rustle continued, and then all was quiet for a few moments.
“I don’t want to talk right now, Heero..” Duo’s voice came, unusually melancholy. Heero recognized his tone.
“Nightmare.” The Wing pilot said, rather than asked, and walked over to the bed.
Duo was quiet.
//He’s upset over something.. and..// Heero explained to himself, getting into the bed. //And he came to me.//
He settled between the sheets, not entirely cramped. Duo shifted beside him, as if he were hesitant over something.
Heero bit back his hesitations, his arms awkwardly circling Duo’s body and pulling him close. The thinner boy seemed to go rigid for a split second, but relaxed and curled up next to Heero. The contact caused Heero’s breath to catch briefly, his eyes closing in a euphoric memorization of the feeling. //This feels.. right.//
Duo lifted his head, fingers touching Heero’s face as if a blind man were trying to locate something. “In the morning, I have to tell you something.” Heero nodded.
Heero watched the clock on the table until it was nearly three, wondering if he was dreaming, despite how illogical it would be. //You don’t stay awake for 45 minutes wondering if you’re dreaming in a dream.// The thoughts on the physics of dreaming were only momentary - just something to keep other thoughts away. Thoughts that hurt. //Why is he here? I thought he was upset with me, and now..// Heero’s thoughts paused as a soft snore rose from Duo, the braided boy’s nose buried against Heero’s neck. //Now..//
Slowly, the Wing pilot fell asleep, the object of his affection tucked in his arms.
Heero awoke to the glorious rhythm of sunrise, yellow-orange rays spilling through the dull base windows across his room. He’d had the most wonderful dream last night, where Duo had come to his room after having a nightma—
Heero looked at the beautiful boy coiled in his arms, disbelieving. Duo stirred, nuzzling his neck, but his eyes remained closed.
“Ne, Hirde..” He mumbled, “Close the shades, ‘s too bright.”
Heero froze, stung. Duo had just called him.. Hirde.. as if the braided boy had been sleeping with her. It was evidence enough. Heero quickly disentangled himself from Duo’s arms, but found he was stuck. The grip Duo held on him was unfathomably strong and he wouldn’t let go.
“No, Duo.” Heero murmured thoughtlessly. “No. Iie. I won’t have it, Duo..” He continued to try to pull away, to no avail. “No, Duo! It can’t be this way!”
Heero closed his eyes, exhausted. The figure holding him shifted, and he looked upon it to find Hirde. Heero froze in shock.
“I won.” She said simply, and everything faded.
Heero awoke with a jolt. The room around him was as he remembered it, dark and quiet. The clock said it was nearly four-thirty. He breathed a sigh of relief, finding the bed empty save himself. //It was a dream. All of it..//
He rolled over, ignoring the pang of disappointment that welled in his heart. A sound from the other side of the room stirred him, and Heero was up in a flash, gun aimed towards the bathroom. The door was closed, a sliver of light shining under it. //Who the hell--//
The light clicked off, door opening. In the faint light streaming in the windows, Heero found himself amazed.
It was only partly a dream.
The thin figure made his way to the bed, climbing in it, a braid slung over one shoulder. Heero felt Duo take his place again next to him.
“Go back to sleep.” The braided boy whispered softly. It was all Heero needed.
At long last, it truly was morning. No further dreams had plagued Duo or Heero, the latter of whom awoke first. Heero was purposely careful not to disturb Duo. The longer the American pilot was asleep, the longer Heero could sit and study him. Obsessive though it sounded, chances to watch Duo unguarded were few and far between, if not nearly non-existent.
And the impulses these moments gave him! Heero gave into one, raising his twitching fingers to brush the bangs from Duo’s eyes. The simple gesture could be so easily overlooked, but in Heero’s case, it spoke volumes of the emotions he could not express.
Heero allowed himself to observe Duo’s peacefulness for a little while. They would logically have to get up eventually, but Heero always roused early. It was nearly seven-thirty in the morning, almost an hour since Heero had awakened. He nudged the pilot sleeping next to him, who stirred.
“Duo. Wake up.”
“Just a few m’re minutes..”
“Iie, it’s seven-thirty. Wake up.”
One amethyst eye opened, looking at Heero. “Wha’ssat s’posed to mean?”
“It means time to wake up.”
Duo shook his head, but still grinned, diving back to the pillow. “Huh.”
Heero felt awkward. “Duo..”
“I’m awake, don’t worry.”
Duo sat up, rubbing his eyes. And then he seemed to comprehend where he was.
“Ne, Heero..” He said apprehensively. Heero looked at him, wishing he could delve into those pools of violet and figure out what the braided pilot was thinking. It wasn’t as if Duo wasn’t expressive enough about how he felt; Heero simply didn’t want to have to guess as to what Duo was expressing. The current moment was example enough. //Does he regret coming to my room? Is he upset that I didn’t show up yesterday?//
Both suggestions brought pangs of guilt to him, one of the feelings he remembered from his past. It was one of the feelings he’d been trained to ignore; love was as well. It had taken the persuasion of Duo’s unique extroverted personality to bring back the dead emotions in Heero.
Duo’s voice broke his train of thoughts.
Heero blinked, realizing he was still staring into Duo’s eyes.
//Tell him..// He thought, as if it could somehow help him confess his feelings for Duo. //It won’t make a difference in the end, this is war. Either of you could die today. So just stop thinking about it and tell him how you feel!//
Heero’s brows creased at the bitter thought. //..Iie.. That was wrong. It makes a difference. I didn’t think I would live this long, but now I have a reason to keep living, even if.. Even if I never tell him.//
His hesitation was long enough. Duo crawled off the bed, standing. Smoothing back loose strands of hair, he headed for the door.
“Sorry I disturbed you, Heero. I won’t do it again.”
Heero turned on his heel to Duo, taking a step towards him. There was something in that voice, despite how dismissive the words sounded, that told Heero to stop him from leaving.
To stop himself from losing his chance.
“Duo, wait.” Heero said quietly, stopping before he reached the braided boy. Duo stopped at the door. Over the small span of carpet and air between them, their eyes met for a single, intense moment. Heero couldn’t bring himself to form words under Duo’s gaze, the amethyst eyes holding him in a sort of paralysis.
Duo seemed to be affected by the same, until both began to speak at the same time.
Simultaneously, they stopped. Heero paused, mind running through the situation frantically. He’d never been trained to deal with such things.
“You go.” He said quietly, surprising Duo.
“You usually want me to shut up,” the braided boy tossed back, finding a moment to grin. Heero didn’t waver. “Nah, Heero.. I talk enough as it is. You go.”
//But that means I’ll have to go through with this..// Heero’s thoughts observed, the slightest hint of protest detectable.
“Duo..” he started, taking in a deep breath to fuel his courage. He took a step closer to Duo, lightly grasping one of the braided boy’s wrists. Duo looked surprised, but didn’t say anything.
“I want to tell you..” Heero worked out, gaze unfocused as his mind processed with infinite speed. “I--”
Overhead, the loudspeaker interrupted him. Heero turned a harsh glare on it.
“Attention all personnel, staff and soldiers present: Due to events and procedures out of the ordinary, breakfast will be held an hour early. Please report to your respective mess hall by seven forty-five. Those not reporting by eight will have to wait for lunch, which will be as normally scheduled. That is all.”
Heero was silent, angry with himself for not being able to say what he felt needed to be said, and the announcement for ruining his moment. Duo sensed Heero’s moment of angry introspection, leaning against the door.
“Ne, Heero.. Let’s talk over breakfast, alright?”
Heero was reluctant to respond at first, watching Duo for a moment. //He’s uncomfortable here?//
Duo shifted under his gaze. “It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to miss breakfast, what with all the stuff that’s been going on. And..” He hesitated. “It would be less awkward.”
The latter sentence sounded more like Duo admitting something to himself than a suggestion, but Heero agreed. It would give him a few more minutes of preparation, a few more minutes to think it over and wonder why he, the perfect soldier, could be so crazy. Heero ran a hand through his hair, turning to get dressed. He felt Duo’s eyes on him for a moment, and heard the braided boy open the door.
“I’ll meet you down there.”
Heero arrived on time to the mess hall, with nearly eight minutes to spare. Duo wasn’t there yet, as he’d said he’d be, leaving Heero with feelings of doubt. //He’s not coming. He’s getting revenge for yesterday, when I didn’t show up to see him.//
Heero watched the huge clock on the far wall, it’s enormous face keeping a close eye on those in the mess hall. The dark haired boy was by himself at a table in the corner, half the room’s length away from Quatre and Trowa, who sat quietly, eating. A few tables further away were Wufei, Sally, and Noin, who seemed to be in some sort of war conversation. Two minutes until eight, and Duo wasn’t there yet..
Everyone had someone, but Heero was sitting alone.
**There's no where**
**Unless you're there.**
**All the time**
**All the way.**
The clock’s display flipped, one minute until eight. The room was a quiet clamor of the conversations of the soldiers, sitting here and there in groups. Heero was tuned into the sound of one voice, waiting for it to appear among the sea of others. He poked at his waffles, appetite close to nonexistent. The chime of eight o’clock was heard, signaling the close of admission to the mess hall. Heero, glad no one was around, sighed. //He’s not coming.//
Faintly, he heard a familiar voice conversing with one of the guards outside the mess hall. A spark of hope flared within him, and Heero turned slightly to look out the doors leading to the hallway.
Duo had arrived. He was standing there, talking to the guard outside the door. The look on the braided boy’s face was not unpleasant; rather, it was easy and conversational. The guard was going to let him in. As if on cue, Duo waved to the guard and breezed past him, pausing to scan the room. //For me..? Of course for me. He said he’d meet me here.//
Heero watched out of the corner of his eye as Duo looked his way and began to walk towards him. His stride was bold and long, trademark of the matching personality. Heero continued to poke at his waffles, watching Duo’s lean figure approach his otherwise empty table.
Duo sat down across the table from him, elbows instantly on the table. “How’re the waffles?”
“I hope they have some left. Waffles sound good.”
“Stay put. I’m going to go get some food. Okay?”
Heero’s eyes flickered to Duo and back to his food. “Aa.”
Duo heaved himself up from the table and headed for the service area to get his breakfast. Heero turned to watch him, fascinated by the way Duo was stopped every here and there by soldiers who stayed regularly at the base, talking to the violet eyed boy about various things.
//He has such popularity..// Heero mused, knowing that he himself would never attain such status. //I would bring his status down some.// The second thought came, more self-depreciating than Heero realized.
Heero sat and poked at his waffles for a few moments longer as he waited for Duo, who returned shortly with a plate of waffles, a bottle of syrup, a carton of orange juice and two cups.
“I didn’t know if you wanted a drink or not, ‘cause you didn’t have one here, so I brought an extra cup and some orange juice.”
“Thank you.” Heero replied quietly, accepting the cup. Duo watched him for a second, looking nothing short of stunned. He recovered, pouring both some of the drink.
Heero’s thoughts churned like boiling water, his fork jammed into a pile of waffle. Discreetly drawing in a deep breath, he stared at his plate, blurting out something to the effect of, “I’m not good at talking about my feelings.”
Duo dropped his fork, jaw hanging open. Heero looked at him questioningly.
“That’s okay,” Duo said quietly, recovering. “A lot of people are like that.”
“Sometimes, no. Sometimes, yes.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, and Heero knew there was something working in Duo’s mind, given the boy’s unnatural quietness.
“Heero,” Duo started quietly, sighing, “Relena.. is on Libra. That was Hirde’s message.”
“Relena?” Heero responded, eyes widening. //No. No way. I don’t have time for this now, Relena…//
Duo nodded. “Hirde told me something about Relena trying to talk some sense into Zechs. She tried to get Relena to return with her, but she refused. Dunno why.”
Well, there was a surprise.
Heero sighed softly. He’d have to go rescue her. As much as it would interfere with his situation with Duo.. As much as he didn’t want to do it. But a world without Relena would be without peace, making his and Duo’s existence as Gundam pilots completely worthless.
There was a heaviness in his chest again, and Heero knew the danger of rescuing Relena. He could end up completely missing his chance to act on his emotions and tell Duo how he felt if he went to rescue Relena. There were no questions about it. The conflict between his personal feelings and his duties as a Gundam pilot were finally conflicting in a way he couldn’t ignore it.
//Tell him NOW!//
“Heero..” Duo said, stopping the dark haired boy before he could speak. “Go rescue her. You know how important it is to the world and all. I mean, we may as well be dead for what we’d be worth if something bad were to happen to Relena! Our eventual goal for peace would be ruined, no one would want peace..”
“Duo..” Heero protested, feeling his heart clench again. //No! I love y--//
“Just go!” Duo said, standing. “It’s too important to stop. I didn’t want to admit that, but it is. With her, we can all try for a future, but without her, we’ve got no future.”
“Duo!” Heero tried again, but he knew Duo was right. //You stubborn idiot, Duo.. you..//
Duo sat back down, staring holes through him. “Just go, Heero. I’ll be here when you get back.”
His last sentence hit Heero particularly well, and the cobalt eyed boy’s face softened a tiny bit, the change best noticed in his eyes. Finally, he nodded, standing as well. “Ryoukai.” Reluctantly, he left Duo there, who gave him a smile and a thumbs-up when he glanced back. But Heero knew to read beyond the gestures, to look into those amethyst eyes and see what was going on beneath. Heero left the mess hall.
Duo sat back down, poking at his own waffles. “Be safe, Heero.” He whispered, elbow on the table and chin in hand. “Don’t get killed. I still want to talk to you.”
Duo hadn’t expected to sit in the mess hall for long, and was surprised when the base clock systems chimed nine o’clock. He’d sat there for an hour, but so lost in thought he hadn’t realized the time going by. But he had come to a decision – Some things are better left said. Heero had wanted to talk to him about something, he could feel it. And all he had done in return was shoved the Wing pilot out into a dangerous mission!
Duo shook his head, standing, and left the mess hall. It /had/ only been forty or so minutes since Heero had left the mess hall. There was a chance he’d still be getting ready to leave. Duo hurried to the nearest spot Heero might have been at, his room. A quick knock on the door provided no answer, and when he entered, Heero wasn’t anywhere to be found. The hangar was his next destination, but Wing was still in its spot. Where the hell was Heero?!
//He might have gone to tell the others where he was going..// Duo mused, heading for the recreational room. In it, he found the other three pilots. Quatre was sitting, drinking a soda. Trowa stood nearby, reading, and Wufei was putting some sort of exercise equipment to use.
“Oi,” Duo called, entering the room. “Where’d Heero go?”
Trowa flipped a page. “He went out on the Virgo transporter we collected, so there’s only one place he can go.”
Duo made a face. “But he left Wing ZERO behind. What, does he expect to beat down Libra with his bare hands?” //I don’t believe this.. There’s no way he’d leave without ZERO..//
Quatre looked at Duo, face without worry. “I don’t think he went to get Zechs.”
“Oi, oi, don’t tell me.. he’s going to save Relena?” //He actually listened to what I said! I still don’t believe it..//
Quatre nodded. “Hai.”
Across the room, Wufei scowled at his exercise equipment, the resounding squeak of its hinges not going unnoticed. “Hn. If that’s his objective, then I’ve overestimated him. I thought he was the best of us.”
Trowa flipped a page again. “That’s not it. Relena is a woman who has the power to.. motivate someone like Heero.”
Duo fought the urge to laugh aloud. //Oh, Trowa.. She’s only motivational to him because she plays such a huge role in peace. Don't you get it?//
Wufei snorted at Trowa’s comment. The spiky banged boy put his book down. “Wufei.. when Heero returns with Relena, you should at least greet her. Women are even more sensitive than you.”
The scowl that crossed Wufei’s face was almost powerful enough to melt the paint off the walls, and Quatre couldn’t conceal the little smirk that crossed his face.
Duo was barely paying attention. Where he normally would have been doubled over in laughter, his mind was on Heero. “Shouldn’t someone have gone with him?” //I should have! I made him go get Relena. Damnit, Duo..//
Quatre shrugged. “We need our defenses here for the time being. …Besides, I don’t think we should get between those two.”
Duo’s jaw dropped. “You guys really think he’ll be fine..” His expression grew serious. “Even Heero can make mistakes, you know.” //Because I have the feeling he would have been there yesterday, but by some mistake, he wasn’t. Oh, Quatre, if only you knew. ..But there are still things I wish I knew. I don’t even know if this is love I feel for Heero. But damn.. if only you knew.//
The room was silent.
//Heero’s gone to save Relena.// Duo thought idly, lying on his bed, one hand rubbing the skin of his belly exposed by his partially pulled up shirt. //And what gets me is that I don’t really understand why it bothers me. Well, I sorta understand, but not the way I’d like to.// The chestnut haired boy sat up, a frown marring his face when he felt the tug in his chest the previous thought had left him feeling. //It’s almost as if I miss him. Damn.//
Duo shoved himself off the bed, heading for Heero’s room. Thankfully, the door was unlocked. The room’s interior smelled faintly of Heero, the traces of low-key shampoo and Wing’s leather and Gundamnium cockpit barely detectable. And it was so neat and clean, no trace of disorder detectable anywhere. Duo circled the room four or five times, pointlessly, but hoped for something out of the ordinary to catch his eye and give him a reason for being there.
He was, in fact, only wasting time. Or, rather, telling himself he was wasting time to cover up for his behavior. The mental argument left his eyes focusing on a slightly ajar nightstand. Impulsively, Duo opened it. A combination of shock and delight immediately surpassed the pang of guilt for snooping. Inside the drawer, framed neatly, was a school picture.
The picture was a class shot Duo remembered from a boarding school that he and Heero had both attended. By chance, they’d ended up next to each other in the picture. Heero’s somber face next to Duo’s cheerful grin were centered in the frame, the rest of the now unfamiliar faces as unimportant as the gray frame in which the picture was mounted.
Duo was amazed at the sentiment Heero unknowingly displayed by keeping the picture. His fingers ran across the smooth surface of the print, thinking to his own copy. Indeed, Duo had a copy of the pictures, stored safely with the few books he ‘forgot’ to return to the school. He didn’t have a frame for it, hence the need to keep the print safely squished between the heavy pages of the book. It may have been the only reason the schoolbook was still around.
Carefully replacing the picture, Duo left Heero’s room, praying he was leaving it in the exact same condition in which he’d found it. But knowing Yuy, he’d find something, a new wrinkle in the bed cover, a bit of dust out of place.
Duo had forgotten to leave the nightstand drawer slightly ajar. He had instead closed it completely, the picture tucked neatly inside.
It was disappointing how easy it had been to sneak into the base with the transport unit, but Heero did not take the time to celebrate. He just wanted to get the mission done and back to the moon base. And he felt a little guilty for leaving without telling Duo he was doing so, but it wouldn’t have made much of a difference otherwise. He hadn’t told Duo how he felt yet, and that made everything else unimportant.
Relena was practically anticipating Heero’s arrival. It was evident as he stole through the hallways, locating her room with ease and using a guard’s passkey to get in the door.
“Heero.. I knew you’d come..”
She followed him quickly to where he needed to go, finding an obscure computer terminal to retrieve vital information Hirde had missed. Relena talked quietly to him, not unable to hide the surprise in her voice.
“I’m surprised you’re letting me see this..” She intoned, standing next to the wall.
“I thought the things you did were top secret..”
“Is it that you trust me?”
“Heero..” She said softly, eyes wide and not without emotion. “You.. Heero, you know.. You give me strength to carry on, day to day..”
“Same to you.”
She was quiet for a moment. Heero glanced at her out of the corner of his eye before returning to the keyboard. It wasn’t untrue. Relena did have qualities to her that Heero found endearing, and wished he could have himself. She was selfless – incredibly so – and the Wing pilot wondered if it was a trait he could ever associate himself with.
Relena stepped closer to him, watching his face. “I’m sure others must feel the same.”
Heero paused. The very length and placement of his pause gave a quiet confirmation to Relena, or so Heero hoped. In that moment, the only person he could think of was Duo. //Does Duo think of me like that?//
After a moment, he heard Relena’s voice again. “Heero.. you’re such a strange person.” This comment, he would not let slip by.
“Again, same to you.”
The man Heero knew as Zechs Marquise now presented himself as Milliard Peacecraft, but Heero’s memory remained firm. Zechs had an offer for Heero that he neither had expected nor wanted. Relena tried to persuade him out of his plots against Earth, but Zechs was solidly determined to do what he pleased. Heero’s gaze was steel as he watched Zechs, scrutiny evaluating the white-clad man as he mentally turned him over bit by bit. Zechs gave Heero a short speech about being a Colony-born, thus giving him the right to either lead White Fang or join Zechs as a comrade.
Zechs also explained his views on the former Colony Leader Heero Yuy and the Peacecraft family, telling Heero and Relena that he wanted to show the people the foolishness of war. Heero knew Zechs wouldn’t be told otherwise.
“Okay.” The dark haired boy answered, the single word seemingly his ultimate decision for Zechs’ plans. He turned to Relena, who looked surprised at his acceptance. “Your job is done.”
Heero walked away from both Peacecrafts; he knew something was coming. Treize Kushrenada and his followers had been far too quiet lately and a retaliation or answer to Zechs’ decision to blow Earth to kingdom come was probably not too far off. But Heero knew it would be safer to stay on Libra until the battling outside was done, or at least in a lull. Chances were that Treize didn’t have the power to bring Libra down, and Heero didn’t even have Wing ZERO to go fight with. The feeling of helplessness was about as pleasant as the feeling in his gut every time he’d think of how many chances he’d lost with Duo.
All in all, Zechs didn’t seem to care if Heero was on Libra or not. Him being there ensured that he wasn’t outside in Wing ZERO, ready to tear Libra up. And for the moment, Relena could pursue Heero rather than Zechs. The blonde girl found him in a defunct hangar, sitting among trashed mobile suits.
A cobalt gaze shifted towards Relena before closing again, Heero’s back resting stiffly against the wall where he sat.
“Heero, why are you still here?”
//Because if I go out there NOW, I’ll only succeed in being blown to pieces. And I can’t do that, I can’t let Duo down.//
“It’s too dangerous to go. Do whatever you want, leave, or stay here.”
“Then I’ll stay.”
Heero sat silently, meditative state helping him develop a plan as he rested body. Relena sat beside him, yawning, as if she were suddenly overcome by weariness. Within a few moments Relena had slouched against Heero and fallen asleep. A sense of protectiveness welled within him, as if he were an elder brother watching over his youngest sibling. Relena had never felt like a possible love interest to him, but over time he’d felt an undeniable attachment to her. Most of it was based on that same protectiveness he felt as they sat in Libra’s hangar within the very core of danger. Without Relena, the world would be lost. Heero sighed.
Without Duo, Heero would be lost.
**Oh you can't tell me**
**It's not worth dying for**
The ship’s name was Peacemillion. Noin and Sally knew they needed to get closer to Libra, and the triangle-shaped ship had the space they needed for five Gundams and Noin’s Taurus. Once the four remaining pilots had properly moved their respective Gundams onto Peacemillion, the debate arose as to what to do with Wing ZERO. Duo saw to it that Hirde was well taken care of at the moon base before boarding Peacemillion. He had wanted to pilot Wing ZERO onto the ship but Quatre had received more experience piloting the Gundam, therefore giving the blonde leverage in the decision.
Duo watched silently as Wing ZERO was gracefully placed in the hangar on Peacemillion, its bulk coming to a rest between Deathscythe and HeavyArms. The Gundam reminded the braided boy of one thing, one single person; its silent bulk asking him over and over, ‘Do you want him? Do you want him?’
In his mind, he heard Heero’s voice. ‘Could you shut up for a while? …. Ryoukai.’ It repeated the simplest phrases, things Duo had heard the Japanese pilot repeat time and time again. He wondered what certain other phrases would sound like in Heero’s voice, chipped with a nasal tone. ‘I love you, Duo.’
Duo was smiling to himself. //Would he say it like that? Maybe in Japanese..?// His mind formed Heero’s voice again, placing it to another thing he’d never heard Heero say. ‘Ai shiteru, Duo.’
The shiver that hit his spine when he thought of Heero saying such amorous things told Duo he had more than a crush. He’d been debating it for weeks now, how he felt about the Wing pilot, and was quickly realizing he felt something deep.
//I’m.. in love..//
Suddenly, the alarms were ringing throughout Peacemillion, drawing Duo from his reverie. The shrill announcement signified that he had to get to the bridge. Upon reporting there, Duo found that Libra had finally made use of the enormous canon in its center, and acted on Zechs’ threat to Earth. The canon had been fired.
The span of damage Earth had was enormous, a black spot against the blue of the planet’s surface. Duo silently regarded those who were now dead because of the shot; the enormous span of damage had probably killed thousands upon thousands. And now, for Duo, it would be off to the battlefield.
Conferring with Noin, Sally, and the other three Gundam pilots, plans were quickly drawn up. Sally would stay with Howard and the other engineers on Peacemillion while the others suited up and headed to Libra. Although Treize Kushrenada had been an enemy at one point, the Gundam pilots would now be fighting alongside his forces. Wufei seemed to object to the idea, but after a moment of introspection, he decided not to complain.
The battle was gritty and intense, flashes of white lighting the Gundam pilots’ vidscreens as White Fang and Oz’s suits were destroyed. It was a grueling task, but the Gundam pilots made it to Libra.
Time had a funny way of behaving, especially for Duo in his search for Heero. The braided boy scoured hallway after room after hallway after room but found absolutely nothing. And to him, it was the most frustrating thing in the world. At length, he began to wish to find anything, any sign of hope.
As if it were an answer to his wishes, Duo came upon an inconspicuous gray door that had been locked. Skills learned as a street kid kicked in as he picked the lock, grinning from ear to ear with the satisfying click of success. The door swung inward, and Duo held his breath and his gun.
“Well!” An odd, elderly voice croaked, “Look who came to save us!”
Duo’s heart fell to his knees with disappointment. He’d found.. the scientists?
“Where’s Heero?” Duo asked, making sure the room had no other occupants but the five scientists.
“Not here, my boy,” Dr. J answered. “Are you looking for him?”
A twinge of trepidation bit at Duo. “Hai.. He’s somewhere on this ship.”
The scientists had no helpful information for him, but together, they devised plans. Duo’s job would be to get them over to Peacemillion to implement their plan. Libra had been moving towards the Earth, most likely to crash into it. The doctors knew how to wire Peacemillion to explode, and in turn destroy Libra. Time was of the essence as the tension between Libra, the Earth, and Peacemillion continued to grow, all fueled by Zechs’ determination to end up on top.
Duo went about his task. During this, he would find out later what happened between the other pilots.
Quatre had found Dorothy, the boiling point of the tension between them taking shape in the form of a fencing match. Despite the blonde boy’s skills, Dorothy implemented ZERO System and won the upper hand. Quatre, somehow, survived the massive injury she gave him. Trowa stayed true to his love, staying with him as they returned to their mobile suits. Although Quatre had every reason to be immensely angry with Dorothy, he wished her well before leaving.
Dorothy fell to her knees and wept.
During the commotion, Sally and Howard had decided the only way to keep the canon from firing again would be to ram the pointy nose of Peacemillion directly into it. Although risky, it was successful in destroying the canon beyond immediate repair.
Wufei had found Treize among the fray of mobile suits, challenging the Oz leader to a rematch of their duel. Treize, always the noble knight, accepted his challenge. The outcome of their duel left pieces of Tallgeese III scattered among the stars as Wufei sobbed in disappointment.
A distance away, Lady Une slouched over the computer systems in front of her, fists tightening in a silent show of her own grief.
This left Heero. During the time Duo was out fighting, the disturbance created was enough for him to slip back to Peacemillion, Relena in tow. She protested him leaving again with Wing ZERO, but he wouldn’t listen.
“Heero.. You’re going to get yourself killed.” Relena said softly, perched on the Wing ZERO’s open hatch. Heero regarded her for a moment, but didn’t say anything.
“Heero, please! Don’t do this!”
“I have to.” He said, simply, grasping her shoulder. With gentle force, he propelled her away from Wing ZERO, the lack of gravity allowing sending her floating away from the Gundam.
“No, Heero!!” She cried, but Heero had tuned her out. The only thing he listened to was the din of machinery as his Gundam warmed up and the familiar recollection of Duo’s voice in his mind. The voice strengthened his will, and for once Heero wasn’t going out for the sake of a mission. He was going out for the sake of the one he loved – and acting upon his emotions.
**I can't help it**
**There's nothing I want more.**
Zechs was a lunatic, or something close to it. Where he had wanted to use Libra to destroy the Earth, he now wanted to destroy Libra as well. He was waiting for Heero when the Japanese pilot showed up to battle him. They both fought to the best of their skills as Libra lurched forward with movement below them. Its engines had started up, sending the ship towards Earth with Peacemillion still jammed into its canon.
Heero was nearly unaware of it. He was also unaware when an explosion came from Peacemillion’s engine area, the thrusters turning on at full speed. The force of its powerful engines began to push Libra out of its path towards Earth.
Zechs had whipped the Buster Rifle away from Wing ZERO with the whip weapon Epyon had, forcing Heero to resort to using the Gundam’s other artillery for the fight. At one point, Wing ZERO was brought to its knees by Epyon.
“Looks like I’m winning.” Zechs’ voice came over the comlink. The surface of Libra cracked beneath the two mobile suits, and a fourth of it broke free. Peacemillion continued to push the larger bulk of the ship away, but the broken fourth headed directly towards Earth in Libra’s original path.
All at once, the Colonies made the announcement of their wish for White Fang to cease their fighting, and that they wanted peace with the Earth.
Heero barely noticed three large mobile suits heading towards the falling fourth of Libra, towards Zechs and himself.
“It’s over, Zechs!”
Despite that, the two fought on, their Gundams crashing through the inner hallways of the drifting part of the ship. Tension grew between them, giving Heero the perfect opportunity to destroy Epyon and kill Zechs. But he purposely missed, drawing the Beam Sabre over Epyon’s shoulder. Its arm fell to the floor.
Zechs was stunned. “Why.. didn’t you kill me?”
“Because Relena would be sad.” Heero closed his eyes for a moment, not wanting to think of the debt that he’d owe her for killing her brother. He needed more freedom than that.
Quatre’s voice broke over his comlink. “Heero! This section of Libra is still heading for Earth!”
Heero nodded. He knew the contents of the power systems would be devastatingly poisonous to Earth if it hit and spread, and therefore made his decision.
“I’ll destroy the power system.” //And then, it’ll be over. Duo, stay safe.. Please wait for me. I have so much to show you, even if it’s with only my words.//
Quatre agreed over the comlink, and left to initiate an evacuation of the fourth of Libra.
Heero heard gunfire in the distance, and his sensors told him there were friendly mobile suits around. The others had come to help destroy the falling section of Libra before it crashed into the Earth, and perhaps Duo was with them. Then he found the power system.
Lady Une’s voice crackled over the comlink. “-wo –undre—sec---s –til im—act!” It had sounded like she’d announced the amount of time until the falling section of Libra hit the Earth. It had also sounded like a very short amount of time.
Heero’s Beam Sabre wouldn’t work, and his bullet supplies were empty. His heart sank as he realized his only option. //I’ll have to self-destruct.// Palming the pale gray button, Heero closed his eyes. //Gomen nasai, Duo. I can’t tell you how I feel, and now I have no chance to. This is for your safety, to ensure you will have a life to live. Gomen, Duo. Ai shiteru, zutto.//
Cobalt eyes opened, and he muttered into the comlink for the MO2 satellite, where Relena was, “Sayonara, Relena.”
The response he got shook him from his thoughts.
“Dameo, Heero!” Zechs growled, landing Epyon between Wing ZERO and the power source. His next sentence was drowned out by metal tearing into metal as he stabbed his own Beam Sabre into the power source. Electricity flew as it exploded, sending Wing ZERO sprawling away.
Everyone held their breath until the explosions had cleared, and sullenly, a voice broke over the comlink.
“It’s still intact!” Quatre panted. “We have to destroy this before it hits the Earth! Duo, Trowa, Heero, try to destroy as much as you can!”
//Duo is here?!// Heero thought, switching his comlink onto Deathscythe’s frequency. Sure enough, Duo’s affirmative soon melted away into battle cries and the sounds of explosions as he went to work.
Shenlong appeared before Heero before he could do anything. In its hands was the Buster Rifle.
“This is yours.” Wufei announced.
Word spread among those still in the falling part of Libra that Heero had gotten his Buster Rifle back. Within moments, they were evacuating.
“Ninmu ryoukai.” Heero intoned, Wing ZERO’s bulk speeding ahead of the section of Libra to get a good enough range to destroy it. He headed straight into Earth’s atmosphere, the heat tearing at the outer shell of his Gundam as his speed began to slow. Turning the Gundam on its back, he leveled the barrel of the Buster Rifle at the huge object directed towards him.
“I..” He breathed, watching the target locks flicker about the screen. He couldn’t get them locked on the piece of the ship to fire.
Another failed attempt as his eyes tried in vain to focus. All at once, the sensors turned green, beeping readiness. The target was locked on.
//This is for Duo!//
“I’m not going to die!!” Heero announced loudly, firing the Buster Rifle. The yellow beam hit the chunk of falling metal dead on, and within seconds it exploded in a bright display of brightness and sparks.
Off a distance, Duo watched with wide eyes as Wing ZERO turned and fired. Heero had been facing all odds, and the chance that he’d come out of it unharmed was so.. small..
And then there it was, the dark spot that was Heero’s battered Gundam, emerging from the whiteness of the explosion. Duo did a double take.
“He did it!”
Close by, Wufei gave a little smirk. “I expected no less of him.”
Trowa was smiling. “You’re some guy, Heero.”
Quatre reflected a similar smile, despite that he was wounded from his fencing match with Dorothy. “Heero.. You are the true heart and soul of space..”
Heero opened his eyes as he headed for his four copilots. “Ninmu.. Kanryou!”
There was a lull in events. Relena was leaving shortly, despite secret plans to give her a birthday party. Heero had made sure he didn’t miss this one, and left a teddy bear and a note on the plane. Playing on what he’d done to her a year ago, she tore the note in half.
“Next time, give it to me in person!”
Heero allowed a smirk as he turned and walked off. The lesser part of his business was done. Now, the war was over, Quatre invited him and the other Gundam pilots to an estate, and he had time to live. And perhaps now, enjoy life.
The first few days were awkward. The five crept about the house as if they were unsure as to what to do with themselves. After some time, things fell into an easier routine. Wufei found the gym equipment on one of the lower levels quiet useful, and resolved to keep himself in better shape for the coming year. Duo and Quatre planned a New Year’s party, as the final day of AC 195 was quickly approaching. Trowa practiced playing flute melodies often, usually out in the courtyard. If things became quiet enough around him, birds would answer to his notes.
Inside, Duo was a brooding mess, wondering if Heero would approach him, or if he should approach Heero. The moment hadn’t arrived yet, but he wished for it to be soon.
And it did. On the night of New Years’ eve, Quatre invited Sally, Une, Noin, Relena, Hirde and even Dorothy to his estate for a celebration of peace. All invited guests attended with the exception of Hirde. Her reply was apologetic but firm.
“Gomen nasai,” the email had read, “But I can’t attend. I’m still healing, and I promised a special someone some plans for that night. Oh, please tell Duo I said hi!!”
Quatre had told Duo this in Heero’s presence, bringing a barely controlled smile to the Japanese boy’s face. It was news he was glad to hear.
During the party, Duo had wandered off somewhere. Heero noticed it as everyone shuffled out front to watch the fireworks display against the dark sky. Heero searched around the first and second levels of the house, and found Duo standing on a balcony adjacent to his room.
Setting down his drink, Heero approached Duo quietly, soundlessly sliding the glass door open. He was nearly next to Duo when he spoke.
Duo jumped, turning quickly to find himself face to face with Heero. “Aa.. Heero! Oi, man! You nearly gave me a heart attack.”
Heero smirked some quiet, friendly smile, and leaned against the balcony railing next to Duo. Overhead, fireworks crashed and boomed, showering the sky with brilliant lights.
“I can’t believe it’s over.” Duo said quietly, eyes sparkling with the lights in the sky. Heero wasn’t paying attention to the sky. Instead, he was focused on Duo’s face, pale and beautiful in the light of the moon.
“I want to talk to you.”
Duo nodded slowly. “I want to talk to you too.”
“Let me go first.”
Duo looked at Heero, brows creasing. Heero seemed to sigh.
Duo nodded, face lacking the usual grin.
“I.. need you to know this… Back at the first time I battled Zechs,” Heero explained, speaking directly from his heart and with more words than he was ever used to saying at once, “When I self-destructed.”
Duo winced. “Yeah, go on..”
“I did it because you were in danger.”
Duo’s face visibly softened, eyes widening as his jaw went slack. “You.. you self destructed for me?”
“Aa. I didn’t want to see you hurt.”
“But you could have died!”
“If you had been killed, I would have died.”
“But, Heero.. you shouldn’t risk--”
“Duo,” Heero interrupted him, grabbing his wrist. “I would die for you.”
**Yeah, I would fight for you**
**I'd lie for you**
**Walk the wire for you**
**Yeah, I'd die for you…**
Duo stared at him. No one.. NO ONE had offered such a sacrifice for him. “You.. would..? But why? I’m just an idiot that talks too much..”
“Duo..” Heero started, interrupting him again. He was trying to orally express what he’d thought so many times.
“Heero..” Duo breathed, stepping closer to the dark haired boy. He lifted a hand to press his palm to Heero’s warm cheek. “I love you, Heero. I didn’t know it for a very long time, but I realized it..”
Heero’s eyes closed briefly before flickering open again. The words washed over him like a soothing warm breeze. “A-- Ai.. shiteru.. Duo..”
Duo pulled him into a tight embrace, arms locked tightly about his shoulders. Heero wound his arms around the braided pilot’s waist, feeling Duo’s chin on his shoulder.
“I’m glad, Heero.. I’m so glad..”
The finale of fireworks exploded rapidly overhead, the pinnacle of the night’s show. Clocks all around the house chimed midnight.
Heero felt Duo pull away slightly and put his hands to the sides of Heero’s face again.
“Happy new year,” the violet-eyed boy whispered, pressing a simple kiss lightly to Heero’s lips.
Heero’s eyes closed, and Duo continued to kiss him, lips soft.
“Happy new year, Duo.” He whispered in return. “I love you.”
**You know it's true**
**Everything I do**
**Ohh.. I do it for you.** -Owari-
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