Regret (part 1)
Heero stepped off the shuttle and looked around the tired streets of the colony, his prussian eyes narrowing to a scornful façade. The people that passed paid no more attention to the twenty year old Japanese pilot than they did their own feet as they walked purposely, captivated more by their own thoughts than their actions. Heero liked it that way, liked the feeling of invisibility. The war had been over for years but the paranoia still hung over his head. Too many stares, too many curious glances, they left him edgy and uncomfortable. For him, the war would never be over. Peace was an idea and no more real in the physical prospect than in that of the mind. Peace was merely the absence of war, a stand off till either side could reestablish military power. Heero allowed a sigh to escape him. This "idea" had lasted much longer than he had thought. So had their absence. He missed them, he wasn't too ashamed to admit it. To himself at least. The other four Gundam pilots had become a family to him. He trusted them with his life. Over the years, they had lost contact with each other. That hadn't bothered Heero too much. He'd been taught friendship was a weakness, a tool that the enemy could use against him. But if peace really had been achieved, than what enemy existed now to stop him? He glanced down at the piece of yellow paper in his hand, reading over the numbers and name scrawled across it in his own handwriting. He still had a ways to walk, he noted, placing it back into the pocket of his jeans. The crowded streets soon became open country, trees and grass becoming more common than concrete and buildings and in the distance, a little house glowed brightly. That's it, Heero noted, his heart feeling lighter somehow. This would be a long awaited reunion, and perhaps, long overdue. I wonder if he'll recognize me, Heero thought. Though still the same person, the many years had definitely changed him in certain aspects. He had grown taller sense his days as a gundam pilot and his tastes had changed indefinitely. He'd long outgrown his tank top and spandex and was now comfortable wearing T-shirts and jeans. Perhaps, he thought, I won't recognize him. This, more than anything else, frightened him. He'd traveled so far, the memories of the fifteen-year-old he had know in his mind. The door to the house was a foot before him now. Heero knocked at the door and waited, trying to keep still thought anxiety made him fidgety. The lock turned and the door opened, two cobalt eyes peering over the side.
"Oh my God..."
"Hello, Duo." Heero said, unable to think of anything more appropriate.
The twin pools of indigo-blue just stared in disbelief, "Oh my God! Heero!"
The door flew open, allowing the surprised boy to look fully at his long departed fiend, "Wh.. ha… uh, Hi!"
Heero felt all the tension in his mind release. This was definitely the same Duo. "Mind if I come in?" he asked.
"Oh! Sorry, yea, come in!" Duo ushered him in, closing the door behind him, "I, I didn't expect to see you." He said after a small period of silence.
Heero shrugged, "I hadn't really planned on coming but I didn't have anything better to do."
Duo looked visibly hurt, "Oh.. did Quatre contact you?" he asked.
"No, should he have?" Heero asked.
"You mean, you came here just cause you wanted to?"
Heero nodded, "Like I said, I didn't have anything better to do. Besides, I wanted to see what you had been doing after the war."
Duo's smile returned tenfold, "Really? You came all this way just to see me?"
"That's what I said, isn't it?"
Duo nodded and headed off for the kitchen, "Can I offer you some coffee or tea?"
"Whatever you've got will be fine." He replied, sitting down on one of the cushioned chairs. This was definitely Duo's house. The walls were painted black with a night sky on the ceiling and bright blue furniture. Its originality screamed Duo. It was comforting.
"I see you haven't changed a bit." He remarked aloud.
Duo reappeared from the kitchen carrying two black mugs, "Hm? Oh, yea. It's a bit dark but I like it." He handed a mug to Heero and sat across from him on the couch, "So, what have you been up to?"
"Nothing important, "Heero lied, "You?"
"Same. Life sure got boring after the war ended."
"Hm." Heero took a sip of the hot liquid, surprised at its contents, "Hot chocolate?"
Duo blushed, "Ya said 'whatever'."
There was silence for a long time. Heero took the opportunity to, in a sense, check out Duo. Despite the growing length of his braid, which now reached his knees, he hadn't changed a bit. Duo noticed the attention his braid was being given and shrugged, "Sorry, I can hardly stand trimming my bangs. You think I'm going to cut my braid?"
Heero shook his head, "You're going to have to one of these days. At this rate, by the time your thirty, It'll be dragging on the ground."
"I don't have to worry about that," Duo answered absently. The look Heero gave him was the only clue that he had spoken out loud, "Oh, uh… heh heh…"
The phone rang loudly, its shrill bell echoing in the silence, "I'll be right back," Duo said over his shoulder and he stepped out of the room and to the hall phone.
"Hello, Duo Maxwell here." There was a brief pause than an excited shout, "Quatre! Hey, you'll never guess who's here!"
Heero listened from his seat to the cheerful conversation. By the sounds of it, at least Duo and Quatre had kept in touch. The conversation was short and soon Duo was bouncing back into the living room, "Quatre's coming in a few days! Isn't that great!"
Heero nodded, "So, you and Quatre talk often?"
Duo nodded, "Lately, yeah. I was trying to get a hold of you, Trowa and Wufei too but you guys were impossible to locate. It's not hard to find a Winner though. So I called him up one day to say hello and now it's pretty much a weekly thing."
"Why's he coming here?" Heero asked.
Duo bit his lip, "Um, cause...he's got nothing better to do." He replied, using Heero's own response against him.
Heero grunted, setting his mug down, "I should get back to town. It's getting late and I need to get a place to stay."
"Don't go, Heero!" Duo shouted, practically jumping him where he stood. Duo grabbed Heero's shirt and pulled him back to his chair, "You can stay here! There's plenty of room! And it gets sooo lonely out here all alone! Please, it'll save you money!"
"I don't plan on staying on this colony too long."
"That's okay! Just stay till Quatre comes! Please Heero!"
He shook his head, "Duo, I-"
"You can borrow my close if you need some, we're the same size I bet! And I can cook, really I can! Please! Please! Please!"
The look of terror in those cobalt eyes nearly frightened Heero, "Is it really that important to you?" he asked.
Duo nodded vigorously.
"Well... I guess I could stay here. Just for tonight though."
Duo smiled and stood up, allowing Heero to do the same, "Great! Let me show you the guest room!"
Despite his promise to the braided boy, Heero stayed with him much longer than one night. He could bring himself to leave the grinning baka. Especially not when the poor fool kept begging him. Did Duo have no pride in him at all? Heero watched as the rain drizzled down the window pain. Duo's head peaked over his shoulder, the long chestnut braid falling to Heero's lap, "So much for flying kites," he noted with mocked disapproval, "Guess we have to stay indoors now."
"A little rains never stopped me before," Duo said, straitening up and heading for the front door.
"Your not seriously going to fly a kite in this whether are you?"
His only reply was a wide cheerful grin.
"Do you have a death wish or something?" Heero asked. The boy before him went rigged, stopping dead in his tracks, "I just want to play in the rain, that's all." He turned and looked at Heero with saddened cobalt eyes, "Haven't you ever just wanted to play in the rain? Let the cool drops purify you?" he asked, twirling around with his arms in the air as if rain fell from the ceiling of the room.
Heero shook his head, "I can't say I have."
"Then join me! Everything is always funner when the ground is slippery and muddy!"
"How old are you again?" Heero inquired reluctantly standing and following his friend out the door. The rain was hard and stung his skin at first, the stinging drops soaking threw his clothing and into his skin.
"Isn't this great?" Duo shouted, rolling his head back to taste the falling rain. Heero did the same, remembering for a moment the other reason he had come to see Duo. With war at an end, life had become meaningless. He no longer had a mission or a cause. So he'd come to find the only person he could think of who he believed could remind him of what life was. Who could remind him of things like hot chocolate and rain storms things that, in their simplicity, made life fun.
Duo looked over at his friend and smiled. Heero looked like he just might be enjoying himself. You came all this way to see me.. and you don't even know…. he pushed away the thought and forced himself to smiled.
The said boy turned his head, his wet hair plastered to his face, "Yeah?"
"Wanna see who can roll down the hill fastest?"
A hard look overcame Heero's face, "No."
"Come on! You can't play in the rain and not roll down a hill! It's in the rules!"
"Someone neglected to inform me of them."
"Heero, please! Don't make me look like an idiot all by myself!"
A unfeeling retort came to mind but Heero brushed it aside, not really wanting to be rude to the boy. Duo walked over to him and placed a warm hand on his shoulders, "I understand, buddy. Your chickening out cause you don't want to loose to me. I got ya."
"I'm not-" Heero froze as he got a good look at the braided baka's face, all alight with mischief. Too late though. Heero cursed at the boy as Dou tackled him to the ground, sending them both rolling end over end down the wet hill. Duo, on the other hand, laughed. When at last they reached the bottom, they were both drenched and covered in mud.
"Dou, you.. you.."
"What a ride, ne?" Duo asked, rolling onto his back, stretching his arms and legs out in the grass. Heero watched his friend lay there, laughing at the sky, and found it hard not to do the same. The sound, foreign to both ears, startled the American to say the least.
"Heero Yuy... is laughing!" he shouted, doubling over again in his own fits, "I thought I'd never live to see the day!"
Heero ignored him and continued to enjoy himself, his hands grasping the cool earth below him and digging into the soft mud. "You do this kind of stuff often, Duo?" he asked, feeling a little light headed.
The boy nodded, "As often as I can. Colonies only synthesize bad whether days when it's needed, and even then, they are centralized over only specific areas. It's not like back on Earth, but then again, I didn't get to spend all that much time there. Perhaps I should have visited one more time."
"There's plenty of time to visit." Heero pointed out, "It's just a matter of making plans and arrangements."
Duo's smile fell to a hopeless grin, "Yeah... You're right. Maybe some day then, I'll go back."
There was something different in Duo's voice but Heero passed it off and went back to studying the rain.
"What makes this... fun?"
Duo propped himself up on one elbow and sighed, "I don't know. It just is. It's different and rare and at the same time, beautiful. Ya can't help but enjoy it." He turned and looked at his friend with a weary smile, "I can tell ya one thing thought, having someone around makes things a lot more fun."
Heero closed his eyes, "Why?"
"It's an experience you can share, reminisce about, talk about. Some things just aren't worth doing if there isn't anyone else around."
"Like rolling down a hill?"
Duo nodded, "Like rolling down a hill."
Silence claimed the two as the rain continued to pour.
"Do you know what it's like to wake up, knowing everything you do will never be recognized and is meaningless to even accomplish."
Heero opened his eyes, "All to well."
"Then stay with me for a while longer. Share some memories with me so that I know at least some of my time hasn't gone to waste."
Heero shook his head. No matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't stay much longer. He had a job to do, meaningless as it was to him. "I have responsibilities. I just wanted to come by and say hello."
Duo rolled back onto his back, closing his eyes to shield them from the falling rain. At least in the rain, no one can tell the dampness on your cheeks are tears, he thought. "Heero, when you leave, will you remember all this?"
He nodded, "I came here to have fun, and I did. Thank you."
Duo clamped his eyes tightly, "Will you always remember me this way? Fun and happy?"
How odd these question were becoming, "Of course I will. I've never known you to be otherwise. What's your point, Duo?"
He swallowed hard, dreading words he knew he couldn't stop and a truth he couldn't defy, "Heero... I'm dying."
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