Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing. Duh.
I woke with a clearer head. Immediately my mind decided to skip back to Heero's and Wufei's admissions, as if awaiting my
moment of cognizance to beat the shit out of me.
Were they kidding? Teasing? Manipulating? No, neither would do such things. I may not have been with them for the past three
years, but I knew enough of them to know they would never be so cruel.
Which demanded I sit back and seriously digest what all they just told me.
I didn't know where to start. Maybe the pain I'd felt all those years ago, reaching out to nothing. Or maybe the looks on
their faces as they admitted their mistakes, as if they were punishing themselves for it even as they spoke. Or their tones
– so sad and regretful.
Or more precisely, the way Heero's face broke down, the red swollen look to his eyes, what I could only guess were tear streaks.
Heero? Crying? For something he did to me years ago?
Could they miss me so much?
What should I do? I didn't want them to suffer. The last thing I wanted was for them to hurt in any way. Should I go back
with them? Should I just... let them take me back? Surely I could handle it. I could be the Jester again. I could return,
if only to make sure that I never saw Heero's eyes that red ever again.
It meant an eternal sacrifice for me, eternal pain until finally I found death. It meant giving up my last hope of finding
myself and gaining nothing for the loss but pain. It meant suffering.
I'd been able to continue saying no. I'd been able to stand for myself and no one else. But I hadn't seen those tears before.
They... they were what I couldn't say no against. They hurt me too much. I never wanted Heero to cry. If my absence, for whatever
reason, hurt him so much, I would return. I would go back to them, for them. I would accept whatever pain it meant I would
go through. I didn't want them... hurting. I would take their pain. It was my duty – as the jester, as Shinigami. As
Duo Maxwell. I always acted better as the laughing martyr than Heero or Wufei.
I would hate myself forever, no matter who I was. I would despise myself. And I would never find myself.
But I couldn't let Heero cry again.
I opened my eyes, afraid to face the day now that I had made such a decision. I knew I had to be careful; the bastards were
perceptive. If I didn't walk through this cautiously, they would find out I was only doing it for them.
Had to be slow. Careful.
It was slowly that I sat up, carefully that I turned my head. With a blush I realized I was very close to losing my dignity
by pissing where I slept. I struggled roughly to my feet.
I hissed; Heero. I took another look around and found Wufei absent. He had to be the one on watch duty. I tried to ignore
Heero and stand. My side hurt like a bitch.
“Duo, take it easy.” Heero came up by my side, his hands out as if to help me.
“No,” I growled. I couldn't. Not yet. If I was going to give up my solitude merely for the others, I... I needed
to gain some strength first. Before my heart tore itself to shreds. I couldn't bear, after all, to imagine watching Heero
and Wufei kiss.
“Duo, let me help.”
“Enemy territory,” I reminded Heero tersely. In other words, I needed to be able to handle myself.
Heero made an irritated noise, but he stood back. He understood full well the necessity of taking care of oneself while in
enemy territory, injury or no.
I made it to the bathroom – which, just as I suspected, had been usurped by the almighty power of Mold and Mildew –
and relieved myself. I had to bring back the Jester without them getting suspicious. Then I had to go back with them and...
God. God, it wasn't what I wanted. I wanted...
But I couldn't have him! I leaned, panting, against the disgustingly dirty wall and fought the stupidly useless tears. No.
He and Wufei had a very close, obviously intimate relationship. Just like Quatre and Trowa. I was happy for them. Really.
I was really happy for them.
I was... but I couldn't stop the tears.
“Duo? Are you okay?”
Oh my God, Mama-Yuy was timing me. Jesus. “Fine.” I managed to keep my response clear of any sorrow or pain. No
wobbles, no sniffles. I would be even better in a minute. I just needed a minute. One minute.
Two minutes later, I flushed the toilet and left the room with a clean face. The mirror, cracked and practically useless,
had shown my eyes to be only slightly red. My eyes hadn't gotten the chance to swell that much. But still, still I knew he
He didn't disappoint me.
“Duo?” Heero's eyes pierced through me as soon as I exited the cubby-hole bathroom. His eyes flashed, but this
time I had a chance to read them – shock, sorrow, fear. Fear? Something like that. Worry? Maybe that was the better
term. “Duo, what's wrong?”
“Nothing,” I muttered, already knowing the bastard wouldn't let it go.
“Duo,” he warned.
The response was one of Wufei's. It made me want to cry again. “Nothing,” I said more firmly.
“Duo, if this is about last night-”
“The hell it's not!” Heero rushed in front of me when I would have just returned to my little cot. “Duo,
talk to me. What's wrong?”
Saying 'nothing' again would probably hit a nerve. “You don't need to worry about it.”
“Dammit, Duo!” Heero snapped, and I realized I'd hit a nerve anyway. “It's not about need! Maybe
I want to help! Did what we said yesterday mean nothing?!”
Immediately Heero snapped his mouth shut and raked a hand through his hair. “Duo-”
“I got it,” I murmured. “I got it, okay? I got it. Just... drop it.”
Heero didn't seem to know what to say. “Quatre and Trowa will be here soon.”
I hummed and got back in bed. Sleep. I needed to sleep. I could be the Jester when I woke up again. I just needed time to
change back into someone I hadn't let myself be in... in a very long time.
“Duo,” Heero whispered.
“I'm just going to get a bit more rest, then we can plan our next move.”
Heero hesitated. I knew, though, that he would consent. We had to be ready. “All right.”
I nodded and turned, favoring my injured side and arm. I love Heero. More than anything. If he wanted Wufei as his lover...
fine. That made him happy. It made him smile. He could talk to the man, show him his secrets. Heero loved Wufei. I... could
handle that. Why did I listen to Wilson Phillips' song? Because I understood it – very, very well.
And... if the regrets he had for what he did to me during the war hurt him... if not having me around hurt him...
I would open the door. I would open the door and let him in. Because I love him. I don't ever want Heero to cry again. Not
My hands clenched into fists. The pain from my arm hardly existed to me at that point.
I would do anything to keep Heero from his pain. Anything.
I love you, Heero.
And I would never say those words out loud.
I wasn't awakened when Wufei returned, but I let it slide. Instead, when I did awaken, I took another bathroom break,
during which I didn't cry, and got into planning our newest strategy.
“Well,” I sighed, “all those weapons I got are long gone.”
“Quatre's bringing more.” When I turned to Heero with a cocked brow, he merely shrugged. “I suppose Quatre
has contacts, too.”
I had to wonder how much shit Quatre took for having said contact. Was it as much as I had taken? I didn't think so. But maybe
that was just because it was impossible to yell at Quatre.
“So, what's the plan?” According to my own rules, I was taking it slow. Only my tone had changed, and only slightly.
Wufei seemed a bit more relaxed. Heero seemed to tense whenever I spoke.
What, exactly, did the man want from me?
“From what we can gather, the enemy's base is off on the right field past Sector H-5,” Wufei told me. “There
are fortresses set up strategically through the sectors in the H quadrant. We have to go through mountains of armed forces
before getting to Harlow.”
“When don't we?” I grumbled, flicking my braid. “Okay, then, we'll just beat the hell out of everybody.”
“Yes, Maxwell, thank you for that extraordinarily useful tactic. Why don't we just rush in and beat up all the enemies?
I laughed at Wufei's dry tone. He'd loosened up almost as soon as I started speaking like the Jester. I had to wonder if Heero
would also be comfortable if he hadn't seen the evidence of my tears. I cursed my weakness. “See? Wufei says it's brilliant.
I say we try that.”
“Maxwell, do you even understand the word 'sarcasm'?”
I had only begun laughing when the tension in the air increased. I stopped fairly quickly, looking at Heero's and Wufei's
Heero looked both angry and hurt all at once, and Wufei looked about ready to bolt.
Ah. An indirect insult to my intelligence. I'd been so accustomed to it, I hadn't caught it in time. I rolled my eyes. “Man,
I know you were joking. Chill.”
Wufei seemed wholly uncomfortable. “Maxwell, I-”
“For the love of – drop it, 'Fei. I know. I know, okay? It's no big deal to joke about it.” There hadn't
been any cutting tone in there, after all. Not like during the war.
“Duo.” Heero's voice was silky-soft and absolutely furious. “Why the hell are you-”
A sudden tapping began on the door above, again like someone was banging their foot to a beat. I smiled at the obviously classical
tune. “Qat's here.”
“Must you make nicknames for everyone?” Wufei huffed as Heero cautiously opened the door.
“Yes. It's shorter. And fun.” I turned to see Quatre's eyes quickly scanning the room and locking on me.
Quatre launched himself across the room and into my arms, wrapping his own around my neck. I bit my lip to keep from crying
out in pain and hugged him back. “Hey there, Qat,” I said quietly. Here was someone I couldn't hide from. Quatre
always saw right through me. Even during the war... he'd just known.
Quatre hugged me hard enough to steal my breath, then pushed me back to look at me. “Let me see you.” I knew he
immediately saw my pain – I saw its reflection in his eyes – but then he smiled. “I'm glad to see you again,
“And I you,” I said honestly. He was definitely older, with his cute little chubby-cheeks gone. His hair was still
too far into his face, still golden. His eyes, still baby-blue, were still wide, giving him a false look of naiveté. He was
a bit taller, but still shorter than me, though only by about an inch.
It felt so good to see him again.
Almost, almost I fell against him and wept. Almost I told him everything, all my pain and confusion and fear.
But instead I smiled and turned to Trowa, who was calmly leaning against the wall by the door. He'd grown even fucking taller,
the bastard, leaner and stronger. His hair was still covering one eye. But on his lips was a small, beautiful smile as he
looked on Quatre. His eye, when it met mine, was sharp, both approving and disapproving. For coming back. For leaving.
I couldn't apologize. Because I would be returning... against my will.
“Hey, I was told you guys had presents?” I looked between the two of them.
“We're to exchange information while retrieving them,” Quatre explained. “Trowa will leave with Wufei while
I stay with you and Heero.”
Sounded logical. I shrugged, ignoring my arm. I was officially in a lot of pain. A little more would only serve as a distraction
to the larger. “Works for me. See ya soon, guys!” I waved to Trowa and Wufei. Wufei cocked a brow before leaving.
“All right.” Quatre put his hands on his hips. “What is going on here?”
I had expected it, in a way. Quatre wouldn't be one to miss the tension radiating off of us. “Nothing, Qat. It's me.”
Quatre's eyes snapped to me. “What do you mean, 'it's you'?”
I shrugged again. “You know. I've been a pain.”
Quatre's eyes flickered as he digested everything I didn't say. “I want to hear everything,” he ordered. “I
I nodded, even while I knew I would keep things out. With a sigh, I sat down. “All right.”
“And then you,” Quatre turned to Heero, “are going to tell me everything he doesn't tell me.”
Heero looked a bit surprised, but then he smiled and nodded. “Of course.”
I sighed. Quatre always did know me too well.
“All right, then. Duo...” Quatre hesitated, then looked between Heero and me for a split second. Then he sighed
and focused on me once more. “Let's hear it.”
I stuck to the battles and other plain facts before entering into the personal stuff, knowing it was important to get that
out first – and also knowing how it would hurt Quatre to hear it. I tried to spare him as much as possible, but Heero
fucked that over royally. He hid nothing from Quatre. It didn't surprise me when, after being told verbatim what that damn
poem said on my cockpit's wall, Quatre had to leave to escape to the bathroom.
I hung my head in my hands. “Yuy, do you have to be so cruel?”
“I told him everything you didn't,” Heero said calmly. “He's stronger than he looks.”
“I know that,” I snapped. “But...” I looked to the door. “He's hurting now.”
“He knows what it means.” My head turned back to him, eyes wide. Heero's face was almost fierce. “He knows
who the poem is addressed to.”
Of course he did. Quatre had been there, right there while my heart broke. Of course he knew. Just as he would never tell
Heero – because I'd made him promise. The one thing I'd ever made him promise me.
I turned away from those eyes.
“Duo, I want to know.”
I shook my head. “No.”
So frustrated. So upset. But I had to have this one secret, this one piece of me, untouched and unblemished, as painful and
cruel as the secret was to me. I couldn't ever let him know. “I didn't even mean to tell Quatre. He... walked in on
Heero was silent then, filling in the pieces that I'd skipped. “I see.”
I kept my eyes on the bathroom, waiting for Quatre to come back out.
“Duo.” Heero hesitated again. “Would it... help... to talk about it?”
“It won't change anything.”
Heero struggled with something. “But... despite that... it's easier...”
Ah. So Heero had admitted to everyone, or at least one of the pilots, that he loved Wufei. I suppose it had been easier,
at least for him. Because he got what he'd wanted. Who he'd wanted. But I wouldn't say anything. I wouldn't – just it
case it hurt him. Instead I made a noncommittal sound.
“Quatre may be strong,” I whispered finally, “but he hurts when one of us hurts. He takes all the pain onto
himself. No one is strong enough to handle that and still be okay. Just... think about that.”
Heero sighed. “I know that.”
Then why are you hurting him? I wanted to ask, but didn't. “I don't want him taking any of my pain. It's mine
“Duo, that's wrong. It's all of ours.” Heero leaned forward. “It's something we all had to learn. If we
try to suffer through alone, we not only hurt ourselves, but also those close to us. By seeing you in pain and not being allowed
to help, we-”
“I can handle it myself.” I have for years.
“Not completely. None of us could,” he assured, putting his hands up slightly when I turned to snap at him. “We
helped each other heal. It's easier to stitch up a wound with someone else's help.”
I just turned away again. This pain couldn't be healed by anyone. “Heero,” I said suddenly, then stopped. I didn't
want to ask him. I didn't have the courage to. I couldn't.
Curious, worried, concerned. I was beginning to understand Heero's tones again. I closed my eyes. This can't be happening.
Seeing Heero like this – kind, caring, open. It was making me love him even more. It was absolutely heartbreaking.
I couldn't ask him. It would kill me. “Nothing.”
“Duo. Tell me.”
I found my heart beating faster and faster. I shook my head.
For the second time, I was rescued by a tapping on the trap door. Heero seemed about ready to spit. He stood with an agitated
flourish and went to the door to answer it.
Quatre came out of the bathroom just as Trowa and Wufei placed down the fifth box. “Last one,” Wufei grunted,
rolling his shoulders. Trowa said nothing, just turned to Quatre. I saw his eye widen slightly before he rushed to Quatre's
Why, when feeling a warm fuzzy and seeing such a beautiful bond of love, did I feel like dying?
Trowa glanced over at me, glaring slightly. I turned away from that, too. How could I answer it? Quatre's pain was my fault.
I was in pain.
Dammit, this was why I didn't want to be around these guys. I... I always hurt when they were near.
But Quatre turned Trowa's eyes back to him and shook his head. He hugged Trowa tight. Trowa's long arms wrapped around Quatre's
body, holding him close. He stiffened for a second, obviously reacting to something Quatre said, before whispering something
unintelligible in return and hugging Quatre tighter.
I turned almost wildly to Wufei.
“Hey, so we're heading out tonight?”
Wufei turned from Quatre and Trowa and nodded to me. “Yes. It would be best if we moved out as soon as possible. We
don't want these provisions to be found, just in case we'll need more later.”
“What've we got?” I asked.
“Everything from machetes to grenades,” Wufei confirmed.
I grinned. “Awesome. Grenades? Perfect.”
Wufei sighed and shook his head.
And then my nightmare came true: Trowa and Quatre moved off into a corner to talk, and Wufei and Heero went into another corner.
And for the next hour, I was once again alone.
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