Disclaimer: You know Gundam Wing isn't mine... right?
<<<<<<<*Two Years Ago*>>>>>>>
Following protocol – an annoying obstacle at the best of times – Heero and Wufei waited until the man opened his
door. Heero was surprised. Not because he looked normal – they always looked normal – but because he didn't
look normal. His hair, a dirty blond, was died in dreadlocks and pulled into a ponytail. His face, stocky and angled, was
rough with stubble. He smirked with a mouth pulled down on the right by a scar. A fresh one.
And his eyes were an arrogant brown-gold.
“Hey,” he said, and his voice was deep, almost country. Heero hated that the man was taller than him. But most
people were taller than him.
The man pointed his thumb at his scar before Heero could say anything. “Don't mind the mark. It's a victory scar.”
Wufei snarled. “Victory?”
“Yeah, man. You know the Gundam pilots? This was a parting gift from the long-haired one just before he bit it.”
Heero felt fear smack him in the chest hard enough to catch his breath. “I doubt it. We aren't weak enough to be defeated
by someone like you.”
“'We'?” The man looked shocked for a second, but then his cocky grin turned feral. “So you've come to me?
That makes my life pretty fuckin' simple.”
“Inside or out?” Wufei asked calmly.
The man laughed gleefully. “Hell, let's make a spectacle of it!” He gestured behind them. “Shall we?”
Heero scowled, jumping back and grabbing up his gun. Wufei did the same. Neither was willing to show their backs to this man.
“My name's Dracul,” The man told them. “I think it's only fair for you to die with my name burned into those
eyes of yours.”
Heero wasn't expecting the man's movements to be hard to follow.
It was like entering the battlefield again. Only this time I was completely defenseless.
Trowa charged into the room – my room, where I was conveniently trapped on the bed – and glared murder at... me.
If I wasn't so scared of the promises in those eyes, I would've cocked my eyebrow at him. What, did I think I dragged Quatre
over here, kicking and screaming in protest?
Heero, of course, came to my side and matched Trowa glare for glare. I just about died. Hadn't these four become, like, best
friends while I'd been away? Was it all crumbling to the ground because I was back? Why?
“Yuy, what the hell is Quatre doing here?” Trowa growled. I couldn't believe it – Trowa completely disregarded
the fact that Quatre was right there in the room with us.
“I asked them to bring me over, Trowa,” Quatre snapped, pulling Trowa's attention to him. I thought I saw the
anger flicker for a second in Trowa's forest-green eyes. Was that hurt in its place?
“Why?” Trowa demanded. “I told you-”
“And I told you I don't give a damn about your stupid fucking prejudices,” Quatre punched in. I was too shocked
to speak. Quatre was so pissed he was using the cursed 'F' word? And why, why in hell, was Heero the one Trowa had
turned on the instant he'd walked in? I was surprised to find that it got my back up.
“No! Duo's my friend, Trowa!” Behind Quatre's anger was a desperation that made me wince. Trowa heard it
too. I could tell because he flinched almost violently.
“That piece of shit?!” Trowa threw a hand to indicate me. This time I flinched.
Quatre stared at Trowa in shock. Those sky blue eyes drowned in sorrow.
“I believe it's time for you to leave,” Heero said quietly. My eyes drifted over to him. I could only see the
side of his face, but it chilled me. He was the Perfect Soldier now, eyes dead and cold. I saw that his hands had clenched
Trowa caught the danger in Heero's stance as well and frowned. “So you're still...”
Heero... snarled. “Get out, Trowa.”
Trowa glared right back. “Fine. Quatre, we're going.”
“No.” Trowa turned to Quatre in shock, hurt... fear? “I'm staying here, Trowa.” And Quatre's eyes
were so full of pleading, begging Trowa for something.
I couldn't believe how quickly things were degenerating. “Wait,” I said, then louder, “wait!”
They all turned to me, three pairs of eyes – damn, four pairs of eyes, as Wufei ran into the room. I couldn't believe
this. Quatre and Trowa looked like they were on the verge of breaking up, and Heero seemed about ready to commit murder. I
had to stop this. “Look,” I said, and I wished I could freaking move my arms, at least. “Look,” I
said again, “how about Trowa and I just talk this out for a bit?”
Heero snarled. “Absolutely not.” There were similar noises coming out of Wufei's and Quatre's faces. Trowa glared
fiercely at me.
“This is between me and-” I began, but was cut off.
“You're not pulling that one out again,” Heero snapped. “No fucking way. I'm not leaving this room.”
He sent a dark look to Trowa.
“Heero, this is something that has to be done.” I looked over at Quatre, who was looking back and forth between
me, Heero, and Trowa. “We can't have things continuing like this.”
Quatre frowned, but he nodded. Heero growled at him, now, too. “All right, I'll concede that,” he said slowly.
“But we aren't leaving. The sides aren't even right now.”
“And they'll be even with everyone ganging up on Trowa?” I countered. “I don't think he'll strangle me,
you know.” Note the words I don't think. “We can't exactly hash this out with spectators.”
Heero turned to me, turning his back to Trowa. It wasn't negligence, but instead a blatant insult. You could never beat
me. I watched Trowa. He wouldn't take Heero's insult as an invite, would he? “Duo, I won't leave you.”
I glared at him stubbornly. There was protection and then there was freaking hovering. “Heero, you know this is ridiculous,
Heero scowled at me outright. “You're right; it is ridiculous. Trowa should know that-”
“For the love of... Heero Yuy, are you telling me you guys fought like this over anything else? Before I came back,
did you fight?”
“No,” Wufei piped up from the doorway, “but that was because we avoided speaking of you around him.”
My God. Things were really that tense? “See? That's ridiculous. Now get the fuck out of my room.”
Wufei sighed and went behind Quatre. “No – hey! Wufei!”
Wufei leaned over and whispered something into Quatre's ear, something that made him settle down a bit. I watched him wheel
the blond out and turned to Heero. “Please?”
Heero's eyes looked pained. But they also showed understanding. “Dammit,” he whispered. He whirled on Trowa. “You
touch him – fucking touch him – and I will kill you.”
It was an even deeper threat than when he said it to me during the war, said in a low growl. He seemed willing to give Trowa
an example before he turned back to me and brushed a quick kiss over my forehead. The sign of endearment caught me off-guard,
as it always did. By the time my head cleared, Heero had left the room. I highly doubted he'd left the hallway just outside.
It was an instant awkwardness, infinitely worse than when I'd found Trowa after he'd lost his memories. He glared at the floor.
I stared off to the side, trying to see patterns in the patternless wall.
So,” I started jerkily, turning to him, “I know I hurt Quatre-”
“You have no clue,” he spat. “How he worried, how he...” Trowa looked up to sear my skin with that
hatred in his dark green eyes. “Every day. Every day I would see him staring at the vid phone, at the pictures and cards
you sent him. He would stare at them for hours.”
I winced. I could see it; Quatre's empathy was so strong. “No, I couldn't have known that.”
“You left. And why? For yourself. I had thought you weren't that greedy, that selfish. During the war... but
you changed. You left everyone and went on your merry way, and you never thought about those you left behind.”
“I thought about Quatre every day,” I argued, but there was no heat in the words. It was true that I thought about
Quatre. How couldn't I? Quatre had always been there for me. I'd hurt him by leaving. I'd known it. But I'd been desperate.
I had to make Trowa see that somehow. “I love Quatre. I didn't leave so I could hurt him, Trowa.”
“It doesn't matter why you left. It matters what happened when you did.”
I couldn't argue that. “I agree.” Trowa seemed suitably shocked by this announcement. I took the chance to continue.
“I agree; hurting Quatre is inexcusable. I... I can never make up for what I've done to him. And then when we finally
meet each other again, I send him into death. I sent all of you in there, and for what? Because I'd messed up. It was for
my mistake. I know. I'm not asking for forgiveness. I don't deserve it.” I could see those eyes flicker a bit. Could
see the confusion. Thank God.
“Then what do you want?” he demanded.
“Nothing. Nothing for me. But Quatre's hurting right now, and it's because of the tension between us. I don't want that,
and I know you don't. And you and Heero and Wufei, you've all always been close, even during the war. You've become practically
brothers, and now...” I shook my head. “I don't want everything to crumble just because of my mistakes. You all...”
“I don't understand you!” Trowa began pacing, a sharp clip. The room was too small for it to release any stress,
but Trowa continued anyway. “You practically disappear for three years and then you return and try to get us killed.
And now you fucking say it's all your fault!”
I frowned. “It is.”
“I'm not arguing that,” Trowa snapped. “But I didn't think you'd admit it.”
“Hey.” I put on my patented quirky smile. “I may run and hide, but I never tell a lie. Remember?”
Trowa glared at me. “I remember.” He didn't pause in his pacing. If anything, he paced faster. “you say
you're worried about our relationships.”
“I am,” I defended. “Of course I am. If it weren't for me, you guys wouldn't have any problems, right?”
Trowa glared at me, but he didn't respond other than that. I took that as an affirmative. I was about to speak when Wufei
poked his head in. “Maxwell, Yuy's frothing at the mouth out here. What are you guys saying?”
I grinned. “I knew he was out there. Mama-Yuy.”
Trowa glanced at me, then Wufei. He scowled outright. “We need a few more minutes.”
Wufei shrugged. “Fine. But if you hurt Maxwell, I'll skin you alive.”
“Get in line!” I called as he closed the door. I shook my head. “See? See that? What the hell? The Gundam
pilots are turning on each other. It's not right.”
“What the hell were you doing those three years?” Trowa asked suddenly, his voice hard. It startled me a bit.
“I was a mercenary. Black Strike-”
“I know that, goddammit.” That made me jump, too, because how often did Trowa curse? It was only a bit more than
Quatre. A minuscule bit. “But you weren't out killing people twenty-four-seven, so pray tell – what the fuck were
you doing those three years that you couldn't stop by and say hello to Quatre?!”
I frowned and looked away again. My answers didn't satisfy me, so there was no way in hell they would satisfy him. “At
first, it was more that I needed to be completely alone. I felt like, if I returned to see anyone, I would start depending
on them. I wouldn't be able to... it was the reason I kept coming back to you guys after the war, I mean... I just was so
dependent on... on us. As a group. I knew I'd go back to doing that if I saw anyone.”
“And then?” Trowa pressed, ruthless.
Yeah. Here was the part that I myself hated the reasoning for. “And then I became a bounty hunter, in pretty much all
senses of the term. I made enemies. And I was the only one searching blindly for a war that was long over, while I knew damn
well Quatre had settled down as a fucking businessman and I didn't want to bring the war to him again, and I knew that anyone
I associated with would be targeted.”
“And that's your excuse for never seeing Quatre? For never coming to check on him or be with him?”
There was condemnation in that voice, but I was ready for it. After all, I condemned myself for the exact same reasons. “Excuse
is a pretty good word for it,” I said quietly.
“Goddamn it!” Trowa roared. “Do you know what you did to him? And as if that weren't bad enough,
that fucking psycho came and said he'd killed you and Quatre fucking went catatonic. He lost hope, lost faith. He never
slept, he hardly ate. He sat by the phone every fucking day, waited for the mail woman every day, crumpled when he didn't
receive anything from you. I thought he would die.”
I winced again, hurting with each word Trowa spoke. “I didn't know,” I whispered.
“Of course you didn't! Because you were too busy worrying about yourself!”
Heero busted open the door. “All right, enough. Get out, Barton.”
“No.” He turned on me. “You and I are the ones who are going to be having a talk next. As for you,”
he snarled, turning back to his old comrade, “you get the fuck out of my house.”
Trowa glared back at Heero. I almost expected the two of them to pull guns out on each other. But then Trowa just walked out
the door, leaving Heero alone in the room with me.
Heero shot me a look. “I'll be right back,” he promised, as if I could go anywhere, and stormed out after Trowa.
I heard a few heated words murmured too low for me to hear, then a door, some more mumbling. Finally I heard Quatre's voice,
low and insistent, and the door closed. Heero opened the door and entered my room again just as a car blew down the road.
“Shit,” I murmured, looking over to the window on my right. “I hope it helped.”
“You fucking idiot!”
I flinched again, staring at Heero wide-eyed. He was glaring at me now. What? What had I done?
“How could you?” he continued, coming toward the bed. I had a vision of him strangling me and gaped in
terror. “How could you take all the fucking blame? It's not your fault!”
And Heero sat down on the edge of the bed, gently gripped my face in his hands, and kissed me full on the lips. My brain short-circuited
completely, frying the few furiously working brain cells. He tasted so good. It wasn't often we kissed, mostly because I was
uncomfortable with how quickly everything was changing, but when we did it was pure Heaven.
Heero broke off the kiss and leaned back, staring hard into my eyes. “Duo,” he murmured, “how could you?
You were hurting, too.”
It was such a simple phrase. I had no idea why it made my insides melt. “But that was because of me – I was hurting
because of me. Self-inflicted wounds. But Quatre...”
“Those wounds were his own, as well,” Heero sighed. “Just as my wounds are mine alone. My fear, my love,
my hope. It hurt, but it was my emotions, mine, that hurt me. You can't alter another person's emotions, Duo. Quatre's pain
was his own burden. They weren't your fault.”
“But if I'd stayed-”
“If? Please, Duo, don't give me any if's. I'm too happy with how things are right now to worry about how they might
be different if we'd walked different paths.” He pressed his forehead to mine. I could smell his breath, could breathe
it in with my own lungs. I could feel his heat, smell his skin. I wished, so very badly, that I could lift my arms and touch
him. But I knew it would be too painful to try. My ribs made even the thought of moving torture.
“You're... happy? With this?”
Heero hummed a light affirmative. “Why wouldn't I be?”
His eyes were so close they were blurry. I couldn't see them. I closed my eyes and brought that cobalt hue to mind. “Trowa,”
I said simply.
He hummed again, but this time in annoyance. “He'll either learn, or he won't be welcome here.”
“Heero!” I gasped and tried to pull away.
“No you don't,” he whispered, pulling my head back into place beneath his. “I mean it. He's hurting you.
He's saying everything you fear. And you believe him. Gods, I can't stand that you believe him.” He leaned up and kissed
my forehead again, a feather-light touch. “What am I going to do with you?”
I almost shrugged, but my ribs sent a warning before I could make that mistake. “Heero, he's right. I hurt Quatre –
I knew leaving would hurt him and I did it anyway. And it was for my own selfish reasons. I-”
“Shush, dammit. Every human being on this planet has the right to be a little selfish.”
I tried to argue again, but Heero just growled a warning. So we lapsed into silence, our foreheads warming each other. I slipped
into sleep with the peace of Heero's presence beside me.
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