Habitat for Redemption (part 3)
Despair threatened to overwhelm him.
One of the things that had drawn Dr. J to Heero in the first place was the boyís indomitable spirit. That had been the only part of Heeroís spirit that Dr. J had NOT tried to destroy. That spirit awoke within Heero once again, and filled him with an iron-willed resolve.
He didnít deserve Duo. Yet. But he would.
He would make it all right. Somehow, he would account for what heíd done.
How can you make THIS right? I was kind to you, and you murdered me. You murdered us all. What could you possibly do, to make this RIGHT?
He wasnít sure. He had so much to atone for. But he would find a way. He would find a way to make it right.
If it took the rest of his life.
Relena looked up at the commotion at her door. The guards that Noin had insisted she have now stumbled backwards, propelled by the force of the personality of the man trying to push past them.
"Let him pass," she ordered her guards, having recognized the voice.
The sentries swiftly parted, allowing an irate Duo to shove past them, before they all fled from the room.
"Where is he?!" Duo demanded.
Relenaís face was s study of comic bafflement.
"What are you talking about, Duo? Where is who?"
"Donít FUCK with me, Relena! Where is Heero?!"
She frowned at him.
"Well, since I havenít seen him since Sally informed me that his injuries werenít too severe, I would imagine that heís still resting in his room," she patiently informed him.
"Bullshit! Where did you have him moved to?!"
"Duo, what in the name of god is wrong?"
"Donít play this game with me, Relena. I was just AT his room, and itís empty. Where. Is. Heero?"
She rose from her seat. There was something very wrong here, and it wasnít just Duoís temper.
"Did you go to the right room, Duo?"
"Unless you had him moved, YES, I went to the right room!" he answered, voice high with anger, anxiety, and exasperation.
"I didnít have him moved. I swear. This is a big place, and itís been so hectic today... Iíll bet you just got turned around... Let me take you to his room. How does that sound, Duo?"
"I didnít fucking get lost, Relena. Iím a trained thief and assassin. Iím pretty sure I know how to keep my bearings in a place like this. Heís gone," he sneered.
"He canít be gone, Duo. Heíd never leave like that. Heíd at least say good-bye to everyone. Well, to you all, at any rate," she replied, sighing with vexation.
"Fine. Weíll play your little game," Duo answered with a mad little grin.
As she swept past him and got to the door, Duo crept up behind her and leaned close to whisper into her ear.
"Itís quieter there anyway. So when we donít find him there, I wonít have any interruptions when I wring your freakiní neck till you tell me where he is," he snarled menacingly.
She paused and tossed him a look over her shoulder. Duo frowned.
Rather than fear and trepidation, all he saw on her face was weariness and a slight hint of amusement.
"Donít be so melodramatic, Maxwell."
Duo stifled his growl of frustration as Relena stepped up to the very door heíd left behind a mere few minutes before. She knocked politely, eyeing Duo as he barged past her and shoved open the door unceremoniously.
"Iím sorry about this intru-" she began to apologize as she stepped into the room.
The emptiness cut her short.
Duo stood in the center of the room, arms crossed over his chest angrily as he glared at her.
"So, Miss Relena," Duo said mockingly, "Where is he?"
"I donít unders- He must be out on a walk," she answered, voice low and almost timid.
Duo watched as she walked over to the closet and opened it to peer inside.
"No," she breathed softly, voice cracking with denial.
He slipped up behind her and glanced over her shoulder.
"Itís an empty closet. Big deal. What the fuck is going on, Relena?"
"The clothes... His things... Theyíre gone... He- He really is gone..."
Duo growled, spinning around to strike the wall, rather than Relena, like he really wanted to. Maybe he could frighten her into telling him the truth, before he would actually have to hit her... After all, punching the Queen of the World was bound to have some consequences.
A crumpled slip of paper lying on the bed caught his attention. Heíd been so caught up in his excitement and anger before, that heíd missed its presence the last time heíd been here. He pounced on it.
Relena turned to stare at him dully as he un-crinkled the note and began to read it. She recognized it as the very letter sheíd left in the back pocket of the pants sheíd left for Heero.
Duoís incredulous glance skimmed over her gracefully scrolling cursive, scanning its contents in a few brief seconds. The anger faded from his eyes, to be replaced by denial and fear.
He glanced up at her guiltily.
"He- You- "
"His things are gone... I canít believe that he-" Relena broke off, disbelief quieting her voice to a softwhisper.
"Heero..." Duo gasped, his face crumpling into tears.
Relena dashed forward, trying to cushion Duo as he collapsed to his knees, folding in on himself. She wrapped her arms around him as he began to sob.
"Heís gone! Heís gone! I didnít... didnít mean- anything to him! Oh god. Why? I thought- I thought-" his breath caught in his throat, making him hiccup between gasped words.
"Duo! No! You canít think that!" Relena cried incredulously.
"Why? Why would he- leave this? Why would he- leave without- without saying goodbye!?"
Never in her life would Relena have thought that one day she would be crouched on the floor, comforting a sobbing Gundam pilot. Especially not Duo Maxwell. Despite his joking demeanor, heíd always seemed so strong to her. Thatís why she was willing to lose Heero to him. Duo would have the strength to make Heero happy. To teach him how to live.
Sheíd never realized that Duo took his strength from Heero. Sheíd never known how interdependent the two were. The revelation only firmed her resolve to get the two pilots together.
To hell with what any psychiatrist would say; those two needed each other!
She simply held Duo for long minutes until his shaking calmed and his tears slowed. Crooning wordless encouragement, and gently stroking his back, she held him and anchored him to reality until he could come back to himself. When he was finally calm enough, she shook him gently.
"Duo. Stop. You have to listen to me now."
He unfolded a little, unconsciously rubbing the back of one hand across his face to scrub away the tears still leaking from his puffy red eyes.
"Duo," she sighed, allowing her voice to become colored with a shade of disappointment.
He sniffled and pulled away a little, her tone making him feel defensive.
"Youíve given up already?" she asked gently.
"You. Youíve given up already," she replied, making the former question a statement.
He pulled away, scowling and wiping the evidence of his breakdown from his face.
"What are you talking about?" he demanded.
"So Heero left. Itís not the first time heís vanished without a trace, ne? Youíve always managed to find him before. How could this time be any different?"
He sat and thought about that for a moment.
"It just is. Donít you feel it?" he asked hesitantly.
Silently, she had to agree. This time DID feel different. But she wouldnít let that stop her.
"Humph. Youíre just trying to rationalize giving up on him. I guess he really didnít mean as much to you as Iíd thought," she said with carefully calculated haughtiness.
THAT got the appropriate reaction. Duo jerked out of her arms and surged to his feet, thrusting the note in her face.
"Fuck you! What the fuck do you know about it?! Iím not the one who gave up first!"
"Oh yes. I guess you would think I gave him up first. But at least I was relinquishing him to you. What are you relinquishing him to?" she asked sweetly.
"Himself! He obviously doesnít want ME!"
"Is that right? Then I supposed he ALWAYS threw away his missions like he did the time he rescued you instead of killing you like heíd come to do?"
"He rescued you, too, ya know," Duo replied sullenly, turning away from her.
"Yes. And I think we both know why, too. You and I both know it was because of the role I was to play in the history and future of the world. Donít even try an deny that, Duo Maxwell."
He tried to ignore her, hugging his arms close to his chest and bowing his head.
"Duo? How could I give him up if I never had him?" she questioned tenderly.
He spun around again, fixing her with an unreadable expression.
"Heís out there somewhere..." Duo breathed, his eyes gone glassy as he focused on his thoughts.
"Yes. Now what will you do about it?"
"I donít think he wants to be found this time, Relena. How... How can I do it?"
She sighed, smiling at him with amusement.
"I thought you were the trained thief and assassin. Isnít this in your job description?"
"Yeah, but this is Heero, weíre talking about... If he really doesnít want to be found..."
"Yes. Well, Iím the Queen of the World. Do you honestly think that even Heero could avoid your talents and my resources forever?" She asked him, gracing him with a mischievous smile.
"You- Youíd... help me?"
Relena sighed with frustration. She stalked over and, in an uncharacteristic maneuver, grabbed Duo by his shoulders.
"Of course Iíll help you!"
Stroking the note in his hand she turned her intense gaze back towards him.
"Maybe Iím not making myself clear enough here. I want you to find him, Duo. I want to you be with him.
"I want you to teach him how to live."
The simplicity of that question, the quiet confusion it represented almost broke her. Was she- Had she been such an obsessive ogre, that he couldnít comprehend how much Heeroís- no... All of the Gundam pilotsí happiness meant to her?
"Because, he deserves it."
"Why me? I thought you-"
"Because Iím not strong enough to do it. Only you are. Iím the Queen of the World. Thatís challenge enough for me. Keeping the world and the colonies happy, preventing another war, providing guidance to all of humanity? That I can do. Humanizing Heero Yui? Thatís just a little out of my league.
"Besides," she continued shyly, "Believe it or not, but maybe I think you deserve some happiness in your life, too. We may not have always seen eye to eye in the past, Duo, but Iíd- Iíd be honored if I could call you a friend."
Duo stared at her, shock and surprise playing across his face unabashedly. Without warning, he reached out and folded her into an enormous bear hug.
"Can I call you ĎOjosaní?" he giggled.
"Whatever makes you happy," she replied with a giggle of her own.
Taking his arm in her own, she led him from the empty room.
"Now, letís go see if we can track down that silly koibito of yours, shall we?"
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