Disclaimer – Gundam Wing isn't mine, and I have no idea how Duo found their safehouse. Possible spoilers for Episode
Zero. Leave me alone.
Duo stepped off of the bus briskly, whistling an old song sung by Evanescence. It was a song of anguish and turmoil, and he
damn well liked it. His fingers fiddled in his pocket, noting the only other measly thing inside - his last twenty. He'd been
lucky enough to score a whopping forty-five bucks in just that one day. He wanted to smack himself for giving Sharon that
other twenty, but hindsight was the thing that was always 20/20. You never gained experience until just after you needed it.
Duo found his thoughts dropping depressingly and switched songs, now humming a Japanese song. Heero would probably flip if
he knew Duo took any sort of interest in Japan. Duo played with the thought as he twisted through alleys and shadows in the
dark, dark night of very early morning. His eyes constantly scanned the flickering movements around him, old habits kicking
in unconsciously. His good hand was poised over his hunting knife, which was strapped to his leg. It would be out in a second
if needed. His other arm was held protectively to his chest, making it almost impossible for an enemy to hit without coming
directly into Duo's line of sight.
He knew that Heero was going to be pissed beyond measure when he showed up at the safehouse. He also knew that the man's first
concern would be the mission. So, he took care to cover his tracks. He'd taken at least 3 buses, walking from one town to
another before taking another one. It was almost three or four in the morning. He had sold his watch to make the rent, so
he had no exact clue. Besides, did it really matter when he decided to show up and scare Heero shitless?
He touched his arm and looked up at the stars wonderingly. What was it like, far away from Earth, maybe in a different galaxy
altogether? What would that be like?
It was something he had thought about when he was a kid, staring up into the ebony night as the stars sparkled at him. He
usually found himself unable to sleep back then, always aware of every minute sound made. He never really thought about it
like he was daydreaming, only that he was seeking a sort of refuge, and that it wasn't on L2, and that it couldn't be anywhere
near here, like Earth, so it had to be up there somewhere. Solo had caught him gazing at them one time.
`What're ya doin', kid?'
`So? Ya gonna answer me?'
`Just tryin' to find ... I dunno ... a home, I guess.'
`We're da closest ta a family you'll find, Dodger.'
He had sighed. `I know, Solo.'
`Get some rest, kid. It'll be a big day `morrow.'
Duo sighed and looked around. He should be fairly close to the safehouse by now. He had been traveling on foot for a while
now. He wished he had a watch. Unlike Heero, he didn't have a mental clock ticking behind his ears. All he had was the moon,
which was slowly descending. The sky was beginning to turn gray. It was time to get out of the alleys, where he was easily
cornered. Time to steal food from the opening shops.
He shook his head, amazed at how quickly his body and mind had reverted back to the street days. He half expected Solo to
pop from a corner and tell him that they had selected a target. But Solo was dead. Dead and rotting in a pathetic grave dug
by a kid with long brown hair that had quickly grown up.
Duo found that he had long given up the Japanese tune for Evanescence again and just gave up. He took a winding path through
another alley and cut through a motel, just in case someone was tagging him. He went through the motel, came out the back
- no one was in to notice him, and he was dead careful with the alarms - and hiked up a hill, then waded in a river for a
while. He looked at the forest on the right and shrugged, stepping out of the water to jog over to the thicket, quickly losing
himself in the foliage.
Birds seemed to be awakening as he jumped into the trees and acted like a monkey, swinging himself from one oak to another,
almost losing his balance as his left arm couldn't act as a balancing rod. He sat on a thick branch and watched the sun rise.
If his contacts were right, he was only a mile or so from Heero now. His stomach quivered a bit as he thought of Heero's reaction
to his arrival. He definitely wouldn't be happy. Duo would be more of a hindrance.
But he couldn't just sit home and wait. He'd rather be shot... again. Quatre would come over, and he would drag Trowa, and
Duo would be trapped with the two and would be completely under their command. Guilt would follow him enough as it was. He
didn't need any more reason to hate himself. Besides, it would kill him to be waiting for Heero, unable to know what was going
on with him, to see if he was alright, or know if there was anything he could have done to help.
So, his decision reinforced, he gently slid from the branch and walked carefully, sidestepping twigs and dead leaves. He wanted
to be as quiet as possible, lest he had pursuers. Heero would be beyond pissed if he brought the enemy to the doorstep with
him. He didn't want that. Miss Paisley was a nice, sweet woman. She reminded him a little of Sister Helen.
'Oh! Duo, there you are!' Sister Helen called, and Duo stopped and turned to her, his journey to the pews halted. He was secretly
grateful that she'd shown up. He wanted to prolong his chores as long as possible. Oh, he could shoulder his own weight, but
that didn't mean that he had to enjoy doing the mundane chores like waxing the pews. Bor-ing.
'What is it, Sister?' he asked, also glad that it was Sister Helen who'd caught him. Just because he liked her. She was nice.
Actually, she was the one who had not only shown him how to put his hair in a braid, she had also given him back his self-confidence
and self-esteem, when he'd lost it after a boy at the school had told him he smelled like a sewer. She, with Father Maxwell,
had taken up Solo's place in his life. They were everything.
'Oh, I was hoping you could take care of a mouse in my room. You're the only one I know who won't want to hurt it.'
An animal! Duo's eyes brightened, then dimmed as he looked at the rows of pews that lay before him.
She noticed and smiled at him. 'If you get it out of my room, I promise to do the waxing.'
Tempting. But unfair. 'Naw, I'll do both. I'll be back soon, Sister.'
He raced off to take care of the mouse, and came back later to find the pews gleaming from a new, waxy shine. He repaid the
debt by getting rid of all the mice. From then on was a sort of challenge between one another to see what they could do for
It had been his turn that night.
He found himself sinking into a dark depression that always came with these memories. They were horribly bittersweet. He found
himself, once again, going over what he could have done different, better, to save them. But there was nothing. And everything.
Run faster. Been smarter. Had them leave the church.
It all left him horribly empty. Would they be alive if he'd done just the smallest thing better? And where would he be now,
if they were? Would he have ever met Heero?
Then he saw the safehouse looming before him, daunting in its horrible familiarity. How many places just like this had he
sheltered inside during the war? And how many times had he slept in places far worse?
The place was disgustingly simple. A tiny log cabin in the heart of Nowhere-ville. A stream trickled behind it, and trees
surrounded it. He stepped silently up to it, staring at the wooden door for a long moment. He blew out an exasperated breath
and berated himself. Him standing out here would only attract attention that could not be attracted for the safety of Miss
Paisley. He lifted his hand to knock, emboldened by the thought.
The door was flung open, and the muzzle of a gun was thrown against his forehead. He kept his soldier's instincts in check,
making sure he stood stock still. He saw, above the nozzle, cobalt eyes widen in shock and a little horror. The gun finally
dropped away from his head.
"Just what the fuck are you doing here?!"
Duo gulped. It was the Glare 2000, back and better than ever. He smiled weakly. "Uhh... hi?"
Heero growled. "I said, what the fuck are you doing here?"
"Right now, I'm standing outside where everybody can see me, waiting for a guy with blue eyes and brown hair to let me the
hell into the cabin before I get caught." Duo waggled his eyebrows. "Sooo..."
Heero snorted in disgust and moved aside. Duo accepted the action as an invitation and stepped inside before he could change
A blond head turned towards him and smiled warmly. "Duo!" It was Miss Paisley. "I was wondering if you'd be coming!"
Duo shot Heero a glance, but Heero was too busy looking pissed to realize he wanted to know why she still thought of him as
an agent. He shrugged and smiled at her. "I was delayed." He waved his arm as a silent explanation, not explaining any more.
He let her draw her own conclusions.
Her brow puckered in a frown, her lips following suit. "Are you alright? I'm not certain it's very safe ..."
He shrugged and laughed. "That never stopped me before!" He caught the deadly Look sent in his direction, but chose
to ignore it. He looked around the tiny room. It looked cozy, if nothing else. There were two lounge chairs and a fireplace
that was running as he watched, the flames licking at the wood as it burned brightly, lighting the dark room as the dawn crept
"Homey," he remarked, plopping down in the closest chair, near to where Miss Paisley sat in the other one. He smirked at Heero.
As long as Miss Paisley stayed in the room, he wouldn't have to hear the riot act. Maybe he should glue himself to her...
no, too awkward when they needed a bathroom break.
He heard footsteps coming and braced himself for the next explosion.
He wasn't disappointed. "Maxwell?! What in hell are you doing here?!"
He grinned defiantly at Wufei, who had come in juggling three cups of coffee. "You just couldn't keep me away, Wuffie," he
told his old ally. "I'm like a weed. You just can't get rid of me." He stood up and took two of the cups from his hands, knowing
that Wufei could hardly juggle as good as him. Even with one hand, he could carry a couple. He turned to Heero and grinned
broadly, seeing the glare still trapped on the man's face. "Un pour vous," he grinned, then turned to Miss Paisley, "et un
pour vous!" She giggled, and he considered his job done. He leaned against the wall, letting Wufei take the chair.
"And how many times have I told you not to call me that, Maxwell," Wufei growled, glaring at him.
Duo sighed. He was getting reamed on both sides, even without them yelling at him. He couldn't win. "Many a time, Wufie my
man, but that don't mean I'm gonna stop!" he drawled, choosing to let his street lingo slip through. It sometimes slipped
out, especially after he took strolls down memory lane.
"Maxwell..." It was a warning.
Miss Paisley broke the growing tension easily. "I take it you aren't supposed to be here?"
And added more to it.
Shit. "Nope. I'm not supposed to go anywhere with this arm of mine." He looked at Heero then, trying to convey his need to
be near. "But I couldn't just leave you here with these two. I've gone mad with that torture before." He grinned reassuringly
at her, and she smiled at him gratefully. "They're always so ... silent and businesslike. It's disgusting."
"They are awful... quiet." She looked at them apologetically.
"Quiet? Hah! They hardly speak! It's like they're robots!" He laughed sardonically.
He winced. Oh, shit. "See? One won't even say my first name ..."
"At least I speak it correctly!" Wufei fumed. Duo watched him in amazement. He hadn't said-
Duo watched Heero instead. The Japanese Preventor was tense, ready to burst. "Hey, Wufei, why don't you take Miss Paisley
upstairs or something? Heero and I need to... talk. Could you do that for me?"
Wufei looked between them and nodded quickly. "Madam?"
"Oh! Of course!" The two placed down their cooling cups and stood, leaving the room quickly. It wouldn't do much if a scream
fest came, but at least they weren't trapped in the middle of it. He watched them, knowing he'd just dug his own grave.
"What the fuck are you doing here? I will not ask again." Heero's voice was cold and low. He was pissed beyond reason.
"Heero, I made sure I wasn't followed. You know me better than that. I'd never bring the enemy in with me." He was babbling,
but he couldn't quite make himself stop. "I just needed to be here. All I was doing was sitting at home staring at the phone
and praying I'd get a phone call from you, saying that everything was okay. I couldn't take the waiting, the not knowing.
It was horrible. I had to know you were okay. I-" He blushed. "I wanted to be here near you, to try to help, even if I couldn't
help much. I'm not completely useless; I'll bet I've bonded with that woman in these few minutes more than you two did over
this whole time you've been with her. And I could-"
"Were you even thinking about your *condition* when you rashly decided to come here?"
Duo ignored the warning growl that told him it'd be best to shut up. "Of course I did, Yuy, I'm not that fucking stupid. I
know that I'm definitely not one-hundred percent, but I had to come here. I just had to."
"I could kill you for this."
"Yeah, but now it would be illegal. And I don't think that that's something poor Miss Paisley needs to see right now. Help
me out, Heero. I know you aren't thrilled with the prospect of being cooped up with me like in the war, but I promise I'll
stay out of your hair. I won't even leave my room if-"
"There are no more rooms."
Well. That posed a problem. "I'll bunk with Miss-"
"There are two rooms. Wufei is with Miss Paisley. I'm alone."
Well. That posed a huge fucking problem, didn't it? "So, I'll sleep down here."
"On the floor? In your condition? You'd fuck yourself up worse."
"I could sleep in the chair," he pointed out.
"Out of the option." Heero looked at him for a long moment, then his glare softened a bit. "What made you think I couldn't
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing. But I just..." He found himself digging his ass deeper and just shut the hell up. "I was..."
He had been worried. It seemed fairly stupid now, but he knew he'd be worrying himself sick if he were still cooped up at
home. Because he was falling all over again. Hard and fast. And he just had to with him. For as long as he could. Before Heero
could leave him like he'd tucked tail and run before.
"Finish your sentences, or you're leaving, and you can find someplace comfortable on the streets."
Duo perked up cheerfully. "I can do that, too!"
Heero looked at him in horror. "No!" He then caught what Duo'd tricked him into and glared at him again. "Fine. You can stay."
His nostrils flared. "But if you do anything to-"
"I'm not gonna fuck up the mission, Yuy," Duo said in agitation. "Duh."
Heero studied him for long moments before walking off silently. Duo watched him, feeling upset that Heero believed him foolhardy
enough to do such a thing, and that he hadn't been worried about HIM. But there was a good thing that came of it. He was allowed
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