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Knowing You


Notes: This is an attempt to write Duo more seriously, to get out of the "braided baka" stereotype. And to try and portray Heero as more emotionally competent. So they'll probably seem OOC to some people.

Oh, and the whole speech Duo gives on his past...well, I've never read (or even seen--except the itty-bitty pic at Anime Castle when they tell you it's sold out -_-) the Episode Zero manga, s~o...humor me. ^^;

AND I kinda changed a few of the details when Heero accidentally killed the little girl...haven't seen EW in a while, sorry. ;_;

Timeline: Sometime after Heero & Duo stayed at boarding schools together, also after General Noventa's death...but Heero hasn't tried to self-destruct. Other than that, this is a total TWT. (Timeline? What timeline?)

With a long-suffering sigh, Duo trudged wearily up the hiking trail, barely used by the look of the state of the undergrowth successfully trying to take it over. Deathscythe was safely hidden in a ravine, covered by a camo net with all stealth measures fully operable. He would make repairs to his partner after he slept for a day or so. G seemed to think he was indestructible, ordering attacks on base after base...the only time it had been remotely bearable was when he had been attacking with Heero... someone to share the guilt of the bloodshed with...if Heero knew what guilt was.

That was one of reasons why, worn out as he was, he was almost dreading the peace and quiet offered by the safehouse. Guilt. Too much time to think of all the people he'd killed. The enemy soldiers he could almost cope with-but the other, inadvertent killings, those Duo could barely allow himself to live with. The possibility of his actions forcing some innocent kid to live through the same nightmare that was his childhood was all too real. What if he caused another Maxwell Church for some other young child?

After the godforsaken war was over, he'd make up for it all... somehow. And if he couldn't...

He opened the door to the safehouse and stepped in, turning to close the door. When he turned back, two guns were aimed at his head and a gleaming sword leveled at his person.

"Who are you?" one of the three asked sharply, cold green eyes assessing.

Duo blinked, he recognized the voice. "03?" he asked suspiciously.

The other gun-holder clicked the safety back on and re-holstered the gun. "I told you guys he didn't feel like an enemy. Don't you recognize his voice?"

"You're 04," Duo murmured, turning to the third boy standing there. "So you're 05, right?"

"Who are you?" the Chinese boy snapped. "And how do you know I'm not 01? Assuming things--"

"Jeez, can it already. Duo Maxwell, pilot 02, Gundam Deathscythe. And I know you aren't 01 because Heero is 01, and you are most definitely not Heero." At a sign of hesitation, he added, "Look, I've got my mecha stored not too far from here. I could even describe every little aspect of 'im, if you want."

The Chinese looked like he was about to insist Duo do just that when a familiar, slightly nasal voice spoke from the threshold of what appeared to be the kitchen. "Lay off. He's who he says he is."

"Hey, Heero," Duo greeted the Japanese pilot, a small hint of cheerfulness coloring his tone. A barely perceptible nod was the reply, but, seeing it, Duo almost felt...happy to see his part-time partner.

"I'm Quatre Raberba Winner." The blond who had dropped his gun first introduced himself, stepping forward with his hand out and a smile.

Duo shook his hand...then something dawned on him. "Whoa...Winner as in the L4 Winners?"

Quatre sighed. "I'm afraid so."

Duo smiled at him, then turned to 03, who had put the gun back wherever it had come from.

"Trowa Barton."

He looked to 05. "Chang Wufei."

"I'm glad we've all met face to face now. Maybe next time you won't try to put a few bullets in my head, or a sword in my chest."

All three had the grace to look somewhat chagrined, Quatre most of all.

"Now that that's over, can one of you show me where I can sleep for a day? G seems to think I can go a week with about an hour of sleep."

Heero smirked at him, his expression saying, "I can."

"Okay, Mr. Superhuman Yuy, get your ass over here and show me where a poor, pathetic, only mortal person such as myself can get some shut-eye."

The smirk quickly faded to a semi-glare as the Japanese walked over and gestured for Duo to follow him, blatantly ignoring the amused looks of the other three pilots.

"There are only two bedrooms," Heero informed him, walking down a short, dimly lit hall to a flight of rickety wooden stairs. Duo focused on keeping his steps smooth and flowing instead of broken and lurching, as his body really wanted to do.

"Quatre and Trowa are in that room." Heero gestured to the right. "Wufei and I are in there." He waved a hand to the left.

Duo smiled wanly. "I won't make you put up with me any more than you already have." He turned right, dropped his stuff, and fell onto the nearest bed, setting his internal clock to wake him in 12 hours. Two seconds later, he was soundly asleep, and nothing short of the safehouse blowing up would wake him.

Heero sighed and went over to the bed, carefully pulling the American's boots off. He checked the boy over for injuries, finding only minor scratches on his arms.

"I wouldn't have minded," he whispered to the quiet room, then left, closing the door silently behind him.

* * *

Duo woke at 21:00 and was instantly aware that his boots weren't on his feet. When did I do that? Not that it mattered. He located his boots at the foot of the bed, sitting neatly next to each other. Heero.

He felt along the inside, checking for his dagger and specially crafted throwing knives. All were accounted for except for one of the light-weight throwing knives which had gotten stuck in some OZ soldier's back.

Deciding he didn't really need them, he left the boots--and blades--where they were and went to find the bathroom, then made his way down to the main floor.

Trowa and Quatre were sitting side by side on the couch, bent over documents resting on the coffee table and conversing quietly. Wufei was nowhere to be seen, and Heero was also conspicuous in his absence.

Duo plodded into the kitchen, not feeling the unconscious need to move gracefully without the influence of Heero's presence. Sitting on the small table was a ham and cheese sandwich. Duo's mouth watered as he eyed the slightly melted cheese--just the way he liked it.

Not that anyone would have made him a sandwich. But it never hurt to ask.

"Hey guys?" he called, popping his head out of the kitchen. "Whose sandwich is this on the table?" He tried to keep the plaintive note out of his voice, he really did. It just didn't work.

"Your's," Quatre answered cheerfully, glancing up from the papers. At Duo's confused expression, the Arab explained. "Heero thought you would be waking up soon, so he made you a sandwich--he's the only one that knows anything about you beyond your name--before he went out... somewhere..."

"Really? I'll have to thank him." He dashed back to the table and sat down, promptly devouring the food. Yum...

Finished, he took the plate over to the sink and washed and dried it, then went back to the central room.

He considered going back to sleep for a while, but decided to stay up and explore the house... he was certain he'd seen a tiny window near the peak of the roof when he had walked up the trail. Attics full of clutter normally distracted him from certain... unpleasant... thoughts.

After shoving his feet into his boots, he searched the old house for a way up to the attic. He found it behind what appeared to be a normal closet door in Heero and Wufei's empty room.

With growing curiosity, he climbed up and felt around for a light switch. The dim glow provided by the single bulb was barely enough light to see that the entire expanse of the attic was empty, utterly devoid of anything except a small window at the front of the house, and a larger window with a window seat big enough for him to lie comfortably on the back wall.

Now that he thought about it, with stomach filled and thirst quenched, he was rather sleepy. And if he slept in the attic, he wouldn't have to share a room with anyone that would be disturbed by his... nightmares.

He trudged down the steps and into the bedroom, then went downstairs, told the lone Quatre where he would be--Heero tended to get annoyed with him if he just disappeared without telling someone, preferably him--and went back upstairs, stopping long enough to grab two blankets from the linen closet.

When he went through the bedroom, Wufei was sitting on his bed, polishing his katana. Where'd he come from...? I must be more tired than I thought to miss someone coming in the house.

"Where are you going, Maxwell?"



"To sleep."


"Because there are only four beds and I'm tired. Still."

"You aren't going to share a bed with Heero?"

Duo stopped inching his way toward the door. "Huh? What gave you that idea?"

The black-haired boy shrugged. "You seem to know him."

The indigo-eyed teen made a rude noise directed at Wufei's assumption. "Know him? Nobody knows him. Not me, not Doc J, not Relena, not even Heero knows himself."

Before Wufei could comment, Duo had zipped up the stairs, faint resounding footsteps the only proof he had been there.

* * *

Duo woke up with sunlight glaring directly in his face. More efficient than an alarm clock. He glanced at his watch. 07:00. Normally dragging himself out of bed was necessary, but after twenty hours of sleep, he was more than happy to get up.

He quietly went down the stairs and peeked through the crack between the door and doorframe. Heero's bed was empty--causing him to wonder if Heero had even come back to the safehouse last night--Wufei was still asleep. He pushed the door open further and crept out, noting with smug satisfaction that the Chinese boy hadn't stirred a fraction of an inch.

The other bedroom door was closed; Quatre or Trowa--or both--were still asleep.

He went down to the kitchen and grabbed a ration bar, then left the house and stepped into the almost surreal setting of dew covered plants and warm sunlight. It was cooler in the shade of the trees, but not by much, he observed, maneuvering his way through overgrown plants. He absent-mindedly nibbled on his food as he went to begin repairs on his Gundam.

He was so absorbed in not thinking about battles he didn't realize Heero was standing in the middle of the trail until he brushed past him.

Huh? he stopped and turned back, finally registering the Japanese's presence and the half-annoyed, half-amused look on his beautiful face.

"Hey. Where've you been?"


"Done with repairs?"


"Wanna come help me with Deathscythe?"

There was a long pause before Heero answered. "Aa."

"Good. Deathscythe doesn't talk much."

Heero opened his mouth, and then closed it with an almost audible snap. Duo could almost read his thoughts.

Yeah, Heero, I know you don't talk much, either. But, you aren't a giant gundanium machine of destruction, no matter how "perfect" you are.

"C'mon," Duo said, pocketing the rest of his "breakfast." "I think there's a bug in the thermal system. Would you mind taking a look while I replace damaged sensors?"


"I'm gonna take that as a, 'Sure, Duo, whatever you say'." The American youth smiled at the cobalt-eyed boy and continued to his mecha's hiding place.

When they came into view of the vague-looking black Gundam, Duo sighed. "Sometimes...sometimes I wish I'd never seen a Gundam."

Not expecting any sort of reply, Duo ducked under the camo net at the machine's feet and punched the button to make the lift--not that it could really be called a lift--come down.

"I think we've all wished that at one time or another," Heero said from behind him, causing Duo to jump slightly and turn his head to look at Heero in surprise.

"The Perfect Soldier wishes he had never seen a Gundam? Surprising."

Heero ignored Duo's comment. "Not that I'd know what a normal life is like."

"Shit, man, join the club."

Heero quirked an eyebrow at him.

"I--I'll tell you later. Gotta get Deathscythe done before we run outta light."

Once they were both up, Duo pressed his hand to the palm ID that would open the cockpit. He stepped inside and quickly typed in his multiple passwords--not that Heero couldn't have hacked through them--to get into the system programs.

Retrieving his toolkit and spare sensors, Duo exited the cockpit to give Heero room to work. "Have at it, computer genius. The transfer time between activating the thermal scythe and the scythe actually activating sucks."


Duo agilely climbed to his mecha's shoulder and went to work.

* * *

"Do you know what those wacko scientists are planning for us?" Duo queried as he and Heero started up the trail to the safehouse, picking their way carefully through the overgrown undergrowth.

"No. It's beginning to..." he trailed off, not finding an appropriate word.

"Worry you?" Heero started to shake his head in a negative response, but stopped and nodded thoughtfully.

"If you're worried...we're doomed." No hint of playfulness or sarcasm was to be found in Duo's voice.

"Why are you acting so...different...from how you acted at the schools?"

Duo blinked, looked at Heero, and blinked again. "Heero. Nobody knows me," Solo, Sister Helen, Father Maxwell, the other orphans, "and I intend to keep it that way."


Duo half-glared at his companion. "What brought on all this inquisitiveness?"

Heero shrugged. "Going to answer me?" He smirked.

"I guess. It involves a long answer."

Heero stayed silent, an open invitation to say more, coming from the Japanese.

"I grew up on L2, no home, no relatives to speak of, no name. Nothing. Had to steal everything just to get by.

"When I was still pretty young--seven or something--I met a kid named Solo. He took me under his wing and taught me everything about living on the streets--some things I didn't want to know, but I was probably better off knowing. And he gave me my name.

"Then the plague hit L2, and Solo got it. He--he died in my arms." Duo stopped and leaned against a tree, swallowing the lump in his throat. "After that, I was taken in by the Maxwell Church orphanage." He smiled a small, sad smile and continued, "I was a real pain back then. Sister Helen just kept telling me it was because I had an independent nature, and that it was okay to depend on other people at times.

"I eventually did come to depend on Sister Helen and Father Maxwell and the other orphans. I l-loved them, just like I had loved Solo. They knew me, just like Solo had.

"They died, too. Federation soldiers destroyed the entire church. No one made it out except me...Maxwell's demon."

Indigo eyes raised to look at the fading blue of the sky through the deep green leaves, their owner concentrating on keeping those eyes dry and wondering if Heero would get what he was trying to tell him.

"No one has ever loved me," Heero commented, facing away from Duo.

Duo blinked. That hadn't exactly been the comment he'd been expecting. "What about Relena?"

The shorthaired boy glanced at him. "What about her?" He started walking up the trail again, forcing Duo to scramble to catch up.

"You can't tell me you haven't noticed."

"Noticed what?"

Duo rolled his eyes, wondering what the dull ache in his chest was from. "Man, for a perfect soldier, you're dense."

Heero shot him a semi-glare, one that said "I am not stupid, don't even think it," and walked faster. "If you're referring to her following me around everywhere, I don't see your point."

The point is you could have a life with her if you survive the war. Maybe even be happy. He noticed Heero looking at him. "Uh...did I say that out loud?"'

Heero nodded slightly. "Even if I do survive the war, I'm other people. And I probably never could be."

"Do you think any of us could be normal after piloting a Gundam and taking thousands of lives--not all of them the enemy? Do you?!" Duo forced his voice back down to a reasonable level. "All of us are going to be beyond fucked up from this. Even you."

"You have a chance." Piercing cobalt eyes bored into indigo, the intensity of the other's words and stare surprising the longhaired boy.

"What do you mean?" They had simultaneously stopped walking.

"Everyone who meets you likes you. At least the 'you' you choose to show them."

Before he could stop himself, Duo blurted out, "Even you?"

"Even me," the Japanese proclaimed solemnly without hesitation, almost as if he had been expecting Duo's question. They spent the rest of the short trip in silence, Duo trying to understand how Heero, of all people, could admit to liking him.

When they entered the safehouse, Quatre poked his head out of the kitchen to see who had come in.

"Hi! Dinner will be ready in a few minutes."

Heero "Hn"ed and went upstairs to check his laptop for mission orders.

"Eh..." the Arab gave Duo a slightly amused look.

"So," Duo said brightly, "what's for dinner? Need any help?"

* * *

Just as Heero was lifting a bite to his mouth, Duo grinned and announced mischievously, "I helped." Heero paused, looking at the other pilots, who looked back at him apprehensively, as if he knew some great secret dealing with Duo and cooking.

Heero shrugged infinitesimally and continued eating.

Duo sighed loudly. "You're no fun," he groused with a very small hint of nervousness in his otherwise steady voice.

The rest of the meal passed in silence; mainly due to Duo not being sure how to act after Heero had brushed off his attempt at "cheerful Duo" which scared the Deathscythe pilot to no end. Could Heero see through at least some of his false facades?

* * *

Duo's left hand flew to his gun, his right reached for his dagger the instant he heard the slight noise of a stair creaking. Someone was coming up to the attic, being careful to remain silent.

A few seconds later, Duo could barely make out a tousled mop of hair coming into view in the dim light.

"Heero?" he called softly, right hand moving away from the dagger.

"Hn." The rest of the Wing pilot came into view.

"Next time make some noise so I don't almost shoot you or put a dagger in your chest, okay?"

Heero almost blushed. "I thought you might be asleep."

"I can always go back to sleep. Can't exactly take back a bullet. Or knife."

He's acting differently, they thought simultaneously.

"So what's up? Can't sleep or somethin'?"

"I...I wanted to talk to you."

Interesting turn of events...first time I've ever heard him admit he wanted to talk. "'Bout what?" He scooted into a corner of the window seat, looking like just a pile of blankets against the wall, and patted the space beside him.

Heero sat against the opposite wall, knees bent, facing Duo.

"My training." Heero whispered so softly that Duo barely heard him.

"Wha--? Why me?"

Cobalt eyes glinted in the moonlight filtering in through the window as Heero answered with an undertone of ferocity, "After what you told me this afternoon...I-I know you'll understand."

Oh god...I shouldn't be doing this...he's already gotten too far under my skin. I can't afford to let this go any farther. But I can't stop him; I don't want to stop him. But the consequences...

"So, talk," Duo murmured, not unkindly, as he shifted further out from his corner, a part of his blanket covered body coming into contact with Heero's bare feet.

"Before the Gundams were sent down to Earth, J gave me a mission to test my training. I was supposed to blow up an apartment building where a dozen OZ officers and their families lived. I set the bombs up early in the morning and went to a nearby park to watch until all twelve were accounted for." He paused, glancing nervously at Duo's face.

"While I was there, a little girl and her puppy came up to me...she gave me a yellow flower and left. The first person to ever show a killer like me kindness...

"I-I didn't know she was the daughter of one of the officers. After the building had been destroyed, I found a scrap of cloth from her dress and her dead puppy.

"I don't remember exactly what happened after that...only that J or a trainer found me burying the puppy and took me back to...fix...the regression in my training."

Duo's eyes were wide with horror at what he had heard. Heero's head was tilted downward, bangs obscuring most of his face. From what he could see, something small glinted suspiciously on the dark-haired boy's cheek.

Extracting his limbs from the blankets and feeling bare to the world--Heero--because of the action, Duo tentatively eliminated the distance between them and sat next to the Japanese, wedging himself between Heero and the window.

Heero's head raised and Duo saw he had been right; Heero was crying.

Daringly, in the first true gesture of affection he had shown anyone since the massacre, he pulled Heero into a close hug, wrapping wiry arms around the slender shoulders.

Heero tensed in the American's arms, then relaxed abruptly and seemed to burrow into Duo's embrace, crying softly. Bright tears also formed in indigo eyes as Duo realized he had inadvertently but irreversibly put Heero directly in the path of the curse that seemed to kill anything Duo loved.

Please God, if you're really out there, please, don't kill Heero. I'll do anything! Take me if you have to, just don't kill Heero.

"Duo?" Heero queried hoarsely when the longhaired boy had been quiet for what seemed like far too long. He cleared his throat and wormed out of the embrace and looked Duo in the face, shocked to see his friend crying.

"Duo?" he whispered again, brushing tears from the smooth cheeks.

"God, Heero, I'm so sorry," Duo murmured huskily, whether he was apologizing for loving Heero or for Heero's non-childhood was unclear.

Heero didn't move a muscle for a few seconds, and then the still teary-eyed Duo found himself with the normally stoic Wing pilot curled up in his lap like a child.

Heero's voice was slightly muffled but clearly audible when he announced softly, "I want to know you."

Duo's whole body went tense as he heard those words from Heero's lips. "You don't know what you're asking for," he whispered, "but, God help you, you do. More than anyone."

"I do know. I want you to know me too."

"I do...I do."

Heero uncurled a bit and maneuvered until his head was at an equal level with Duo's. Slowly, giving Duo time to pull away, he leaned in millimeter by millimeter until their lips pressed together in a sweet, chaste kiss that spoke volumes.

He moved back marginally, and, seeing nothing more than mild surprise on Duo's face along with love, leaned back in and placed another quick kiss on the Deathscythe pilot's lips.

Can this really be happening? Could he be the one to survive my curse? God, let him be the one.

Heero stood in one fluid motion and was only a step away from the top of the stairs when he felt a hand on his wrist. Twisting back around, he was encircled by two strong arms. He returned the embrace, pressing his cheek against Duo's.

Indigo eyes were squeezed shut, holding back tears of joy. "Sweet dreams, Heero," the chestnut-haired youth whispered, releasing the only person alive who knew him as he really was.

Heero gave his hand a small squeeze and said, "Goodnight," before silently making his way back down the stairs.

Duo sat back down on the window seat where Heero had been moments before and curled up under a blanket.

We know each other. Duo thought with strong overtones of happiness and contentment as he drifted off to sleep.


I wanna thank Kimmie for beta-ing this for me!!! (And Loremaster...and deathangelgw...and miriya...^^;) *glomps everyone* ('Specially Kimmie for cheerin' me up! ^_^)

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