Disclaimer: Gundam Wing still isn't mine. Dammit.
It was almost lunchtime now. I was alone for only the third time in three weeks. Heero had reluctantly returned to work this
week. It was a blessed relief. Instead of my happy music, which was all I let myself listen to while Heero was around, I was
free to mope to my sadder tunes and release some of the pain before it swamped me that night. I was happily pouting with Three
Days Grace when the bell rang.
It was nothing new to have one of the guys visit randomly. Apparently all hours were acceptable within their little circle,
which was incredibly tight. I was only beginning to realize what they'd all spoken of during our mission. They had
all gotten close. Very close. More like a tight-knit family than a group of ex-Gundam pilots. It would most likely be Quatre,
carrying some sort of fancy food, with Trowa standing stoically behind him. I opened the door with a wide smile, hoping neither
listened to the lyrics of my music.
But Quatre and Trowa weren't waiting behind the door. Instead it was, of all people, a UPS driver. “Hello. Are you Duo
I was surprised. No one other than the pilots and Une should know where I was. “Yeah.” My mercenary instincts
kicked in. This couldn't be good.
“Could you sign this, please?”
“Sure.” There was no way I was using my usual signature. I scribbled chicken-scratch on the electronic board he
gave me and accepted the small package. Once he was back in his truck, I turned to the box and carefully lifted it to my ear.
No ticking, but that didn't mean much. I got out Heero's toolbox and investigated the box. I couldn't find anything wrong.
With a deep breath, I opened the box.
Harmless enough, I thought, but then again, maybe not. I gently moved the wrapping, making sure not to pop anything. But there
was no bomb inside.
There was a card.
I froze, immediately recognizing it. I hadn't chosen to make a stupid-ass symbol for my code name, but Une had insisted I
have one. It was as ridiculous as the notion. Black Strike had become a black lightning bolt. I detested it.
Still, it was impossible to misunderstand it.
I picked up the card and flipped it over.
I found you.
Well, this was bad. I was found.
I looked around. Heero's living room, into which I had gravitated, was a comfortable place now. I didn't want to leave-
I didn't want to leave.
As much pain as I was in, I was in an equal amount of comfort. Stability, for the first time in my life, was in my grasp.
I had already begun to place down roots for the first time in my life.
But for the safety of everyone, it was time to go. No joke this time.
I stared down at the box. Such an innocent-looking piece of shit. Why now? Of course, it was obvious. It's because
I had begun to put in roots. I had never stayed in one place for such a long time. And as the number one mercenary, it was
expected that I would have made enemies. Wasn't that a reason I had never made friends on my travels? Because of this.
I sat down on the sofa and just... moped. Nickelback's “Someday” was just making everything worse. Would Heero's
smiles disappear? I couldn't let that happen! I had sworn that I would never let Heero cry again. What if I left now? When
Heero had begun to move with me instead of around me. When we were once again becoming... friends.
I snapped up from my seat and started pacing. Heero. He was the one I would have to worry about the most. The man was astute.
He would see. I couldn't hide the box. So what could I possibly say to him? I was asked to perform another mission? Plausible.
It may even help to explain my impending absence. Of course, it would be expected that I would return.
But if I did, how long would it be before someone else found me? Damn. I really shouldn't have survived Harlow's bullets.
Things would be so much easier if I had...
But then again, it would have made Heero cry.
I glared at the card in my hand. Why? And what was more important? Surely Heero's smile was important, but his life was paramount.
Then again, Heero, of all people, could handle himself.
I clutched my stomach and carefully returned to my wheelchair, regretting my momentary lapse of intelligence. I, on the other
hand, couldn't handle a half-beaten puppy at this point. I was totally and completely helpless. If I left, I would be caught
and killed quicker than it took to breathe. If I stayed...
Who was it? I wondered. Who had I left alive that was able to track me down? Granted, I may not have hidden myself well enough,
but who in the hell had found me?
Should I tell Heero? He'd be more prepared if he was informed, that was for sure. Then again, if I wanted to skip out, I wouldn't
tell him until – or maybe after – I had packed my bags and hopped in a taxi. So I should at least wait until I
knew what I would do.
Besides, he wouldn't attack yet. He was warning me, meaning he wanted me to react. If I left, he may target everyone.
Dammit. What was I going to do?
First things first: I needed to rip this damn card to shreds. I did just that, then rolled myself into the kitchen and tossed
the pieces into the trash. Then went the box, unharmed. If nothing else, whether I lied or not, it would explain any brooding
I was caught doing.
I returned to the living room and switched folders. I had to listen to something else, and quick. Feeling inexplicably tired,
I changed it to 'Night' and went the hell to sleep, right there on the couch.
“Duo, what do you want for dinner?”
I looked over to him, surprised. Heero hadn't asked that the first week at all, feeding me a bunch of healthy-tasting crap
that Quatre had ordered for me. But now he was watching me with a small smile. The pain reared, my heart in its grip, as I
stared into those eyes. His deep eyes were crinkled just a bit in a smile, shining. He was so beautiful. “Uh, I don't
“Hm.” Heero cocked his head slightly. His aura radiated contentedness, even as we took our stances. “Try
God, how could I possibly argue with that face? He seemed to want to cook whatever I said I wanted. If I said sloppy
joes, the man would run to the grocer's, even though he never ate the stuff. He seemed... happy. I sighed in defeat. “Lasagna.”
Boy did I have a craving for it. I'd wanted it for days.
Heero grinned. Outright grinned. “Sounds good to me.”
“I'll help,” I offered. Lord knew making lasagna was a pain.
“No, I've got it. Sit back for a while.”
“Heero,” I whined.
That grin broadened into what I could only call a warm smile. “I want to do this,” he murmured.
And his voice was so contented that I didn't argue.
“Wufei,” Heero said sternly.
Wufei turned to Heero in surprise, but his eyes quickly took on understanding. I watched in curiosity. Wufei had only been
speaking about a mission two years ago, a difficult mission where they'd been trapped in a basement of a shack for three days.
I cocked an eyebrow.
Then it clicked, painfully clicked right into place: the beginning of their relationship. I felt my chest choke.
“Wait a minute.” I brightened my confused look into a beam. I heard my heart break. “That's when it happened!”
“Tell me everything.” Then I reconsidered. “Okay, not everything, but c'mon, man, details!
Not those details.” I felt the pain triple, then quadruple.
“Duo,” Wufei tread cautiously, “you mean you know?”
“C'mon, like it's not obvious.” I snorted. And wanted to die. “So? You mean it happened during a
mission? How off-the-wall is that? The two guys I thought were married to their mission...” I trailed off, unable
to continue. Perhaps 'married' had been the wrong term to use.
Wufei blushed. If I weren't in so much agony, I would have laughed at his consternation. “We didn't know, or else we-”
“Oh, don't worry, I won't tell.” I pantomimed zipping my lips. “I won't tell a soul.”
The blush deepened. “No... Trowa and Quatre know, but...”
Wow, that hurt. That Quatre hadn't felt fit to warn me. Or maybe he just didn't want to hurt me. As far away as I had been,
I never would have known. Unless, of course, something like Harlow happened. Who would've guessed?
“Well, I won't tell anyone. So? How'd it happen?”
Wufei's blush turned his face red. “Maxwell!”
Heero looked absolutely stricken. I gave him a confused glance. Was he okay? Why didn't they want me to know? Quatre and Trowa
could know, but not me? Fine. “All right, all right. You look about ready to combust, 'Fei.” I turned to Heero.
“When are Quatre and Trowa gonna get here? I thought we were going to the pizza place at five.”
“They'll be a bit late,” Heero managed. He looked about ready to faint.
I deftly ignored their reactions to my announcement. “Man, poor Qat. He's so overworked.”
Wufei couldn't meet my gaze, and Heero was staring out at nothing. “He'll be fine. The meeting just held over a bit
longer than expected.”
I turned back to Wufei, apparently the only one who could speak. “Huh. What's he doing now, anyway?”
Wufei snatched at the question with both hands. “He's trying to help get jobs for veterans of the war.”
“Man, good luck with that. Not many like them right now.”
“Yes, but Quatre-”
The key in the door woke me from the memory-dream. I watched it drift away, feeling the pain of it rest solidly in my chest.
Ever since that day, the memory had made a point of popping up whenever possible.
I turned to the door and watched Heero open it. His eyes immediately sought me out. As soon as he saw me lying on the sofa,
that small, contented smile appeared again. “Hi,” he said softly. There was no point in apologizing for waking
me; as soldiers, we understood that it was a norm.
“Welcome back,” I said. I was careful not to show anything more than friendship, and a cautious friendship at
that. I never wanted him to know. Especially now that there was no chance I was wrong.
“How was everything?” he asked, dropping his keys on the table by the door. He immediately shrugged out of his
suit jacket and hung it up, tugging at his tie. Heero, I had learned quickly, despised the mandatory uniform. It never failed
to make me smile. If only he knew how good he looked in it.
But he'd never hear it from me. I wondered if Wufei ever told him.
“Okay. I got tired around lunchtime, though.”
“The doctor said that might happen. With the way you push yourself at your therapy sessions, it's no wonder you find
With how things were turning out, however much I've pushed myself in those sessions wasn't enough. The card entered my mind
in all its glory. I frowned. I didn't want to think about it, but there was no help for it. I needed to figure out what to
do. And as soon as Heero entered the kitchen, his eyes would inevitably find the box. Because the man cooked. And threw away
his trash as he did so.
Heero made his way to his room to change. “Did Quatre stop by?” he asked.
“Nope.” I didn't know which jokes would upset Heero. There were some I said unthinkingly that made his smile disappear.
I didn't want that. My existence here was for him, after all. “So? What about you? Anything exciting?”
“If you call paperwork exciting,” Heero said dryly.
“Still working on that? You must've really had it piled up.”
“Well, my little mission with you gave me two days' worth of papers itself. I had to fill out about a million reports...”
He sighed. I felt guilt swell once again, as it always did when that fiasco was mentioned. Never had I apologized for everything,
but only because Heero had seen me about to and told me off. I remember having given him a displeased face.
“No, Duo. Harlow's actions weren't your fault.”
“But,” I started.
“Enough, Duo. I won't have you apologize for this. We all made it out, didn't we?”
“Heero, I should've-”
“No. That's enough of that. I told you, didn't I? I don't want any apologies from you.”
I had scowled and turned away. Because he didn't want it, I wouldn't say it. But I would think it.
Heero turned to me now. “Are you hungry?”
Starving. I thought about the box and shrugged it off. He would see eventually. If I tried to hide it, it would be even more
suspicious. “Yeah. What're you cooking?” But Heero had always asked that question since that second week began.
I couldn't argue it; he seemed too happy to do it. I didn't want to take that smile away.
“What do you want?” he countered predictably.
“What do we have?” Because the third day I'd said something and Heero had left to go to the store to get it.
Heero sighed. “Chicken, spaghetti, steak-”
I cut him off there with an appreciative moan.
He chuckled. “Steak it is.”
That chuckle never failed to make me smile, too. “Steak,” I moaned. I hadn't had steak in ages. I could
hardly remember the last time I did; I'd defeated a tough opponent and treated myself. “Steak. And potatoes?”
I asked hopefully.
This time he laughed outright. It was enough to make me burn. “Yes, 'and potatoes.' Anything else?”
I grimaced. “I suppose you'll make me eat vegetables.”
“You're recovering, Duo,” Heero chided gently.
“Vegetables suck,” I complained.
That laugh returned. “But they're good for you.”
“Which is probably why they suck,” I pointed out, enjoying his laughter. During the war, his laugh had never been
like that. Whenever he laughed, it sounded... evil. Now... now it was just happy, plain and simple.
“Green beans it is,” Heero smirked.
I groaned, but it didn't take away my smile. How could I leave? Heero was smiling, for God's sake. Actually smiling, and right
at me. Though he's with Wufei, though love was impossible, the friendship I'd begun to form with him was even stronger than
it had been before. I was thrilled to be with him. I loved seeing his smile. As painful as it was when I went to sleep, it
was even more painful to consider leaving.
My love was a curse.
I sat in the room for a short second, then spoke without thinking too hard about it. “Hey, Heero, may I use your phone
to make a long-distance call?”
“Hm? Sure. Why?”
“I got this package today, but nothing was in it but bubble wrap.”
“What? Did you order anything?”
Okay, I seriously needed to start thinking ahead. “A couple writing pads,” I admitted. I would say for
my poems, but I wouldn't say it for the embarrassment if it were true, so I swallowed it back.
“Writing pads?” Heero said, surprised. “You could have just asked me.”
I looked away, blushing. Okay, this wasn't something I should talk about. It was humiliating just thinking about it. What
was I thinking? Oh, yeah. That if Heero saw a box and I didn't say anything about it, he would become suspicious. Heero seemed
almost paranoid – or at least he would if he weren't right most of the time. “Yeah, well,” I muttered stupidly.
Heero smiled. “How about I just buy you some and we call it even?”
I frowned. “I already used my money...” Blatant lie.
“Duo, I think I can handle buying a few writing pads.”
I couldn't erase the frown. I really didn't want or need the things, so why was Heero so adamant about getting them for me?
“It's settled. I'll buy them and bring them back tomorrow night.” He turned to the stove. “Duo, you don't
have to be embarrassed over these things. I like your poetry.”
My face flushed. “Um, what?”
That smile grew. “I love reading your poetry, Duo. It's beautiful. And it tells me everything you don't.”
“U-Um...” The flush covered my neck, as well. “O-Okay.”
“Duo...” Heero hesitated.
“Do you... remember... the poems on your ship?”
I had already considered it. Though I had yet to see my ship, I'd taken the worst-case scenario into account and tried to
remember all of them. “For the most part. Why?”
“I... have you written them down?”
No, I hadn't. For the very reason I thought he was about to mention. “No.”
Heero waited a beat, then sighed. “Because you don't want me seeing them.”
I was silent a little too long.
“Duo, after all this time, can't you open up to us? Just a little?”
I turned away, looking to the floor. “The poems... show parts of me I don't like showing, Heero.”
I hissed. “Then why...?”
“Duo...” Heero turned back to me, the ingredients for dinner now spread along the counter. “Duo, my curiosity
hasn't been satisfied. I need to ask.”
Uh-oh. Like things weren't bad enough. Maybe this... would lead to my leaving? “What?” My voice was a bit too
wobbly for my liking.
“Duo, I still want to know.” He didn't come toward me, but that gaze penetrated me so that I might as well be
chained to my seat, helpless under interrogation. “Who's the man that poem was written for?”
I know it went too fast, but dammit, I'm tired. So sue me.
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