AUTHOR: Anria Lalumin
TITLE: Friendship is confusing (3rd fic in POV series, and a really crappy title)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Gundam Wing. All I own is my certifiable insanity once fed sugar.
WARNINGS: yaoi, het, Heero's POV (and I think he's a little OOC -- put it down to Duo rubbing off on him), angst, Duo talking in his sleep (which is bad thing), slight sap, and GODAMMIT I WROTE A NICE RELENA FIC! AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! I hate Relena. Why did I write a nice Relena fic?
PAIRINGS: 2x3, 1xR, 4x5. All pairings which apart from the other two fics in this little series I have never written before. Well, not seriously.
FEEDBACK: Is desired, worshipped, craved, and is best served with whipped cream and a naked Gundam pilot. (Especially Trowa! Hehe . . . gomen Duo-lovers, but Trowa's #1 . . . although Duo gets a close second place. ^_~)

Friendship is confusing

My friends confuse me.

I mean, take Duo and Trowa for example. I know damned well that despite hardly talking to each other for the first few months they knew each other, they were screwing each other's brains out. For the longest time I didn't understand that relationship at all.

But then, I didn't understand Duo or Trowa.

I suppose I should start from the beginning.

When I first met Duo. . . . Well everyone knows about that. Everyone who's met Duo, that is, and has got onto the subject of me. Especially when I'm in the room. I swear, he keeps bringing it up just to see whether I really will kill him this time.

But anyway, when I first met Duo I thought he was pretty well held together. That out of all of us, he was the most stable. It didn't take me long to find out otherwise.

It started when we were rooming together in various schools around all over the place, on various missions. Duo seemed to be completely happy with what he was doing -- sometimes it seemed like he had split personalities or something, for him to be able to so totally remove himself from the pain of the war. Either that or he had some really good masks. I discovered it was the latter one night before the New Edwards mission. We were in our dorm room for the night and I was lying awake, staring straight up into the darkness. I had woken from the beginnings of my nightmare, the one that seemed to have a starring role in my sleep every night. It had almost become a reflex to wake up at the very start of it now, before the bad memories stained it. It had also become a reflex to stay up after the dream for an hour or so, as I knew if I went straight back to sleep it would start up again.

And so I was awake to see Duo caught in his own nightmare.

Normally when he sleeps, Duo just sleeps. That's all. It's like he's a lump of wood or something, for all the noise he makes. He doesn't move either. Just lies there, completely still and dead to the world. If his chest didn't rise oh-so-minutely with his breaths, I would say he was dead.

But that night his sleeping pattern changed. Duo began muttering to himself -- I caught something about 'gang' and 'damned whore'. Curious, I turned my head to see what was going on with him.

Duo's face was crumpled up into an expression that combined hopelessness, fear, pain, and anger all in one. He twisted and writhed on the bed as though fighting someone off, or fighting himself to remain still. He cried out loudly a couple of times, the voice of a whimpering child.

"I can't -- it hurts --"

"You will pay me, right?"

"If you pay me I'll do it."

The implications of what he was saying and the movements he made, all the while his face scrunched up in that horrible expression, froze my brain. I watched as his nightmare began to get worse, and lay there frozen. I didn't know how to deal with this. Nothing in my training told me how to deal with this.

"Ah -- no -- stop --"

"I can't take it-- I told you to STOP!"

"Stop -- stop it. . . ."

"Please. . . ."

I jerked my head back to stare at the ceiling above me and tried to block it out. I didn't know how to deal with this! I couldn't deal with it! The Perfect Soldier took over, and told me I didn't have to deal with it. It was Duo's problem, let him sort it out on his own. It didn't detract from his skills as a fellow pilot, so it was nothing to be concerned with. I relaxed.

I hurriedly shut my eyes when Duo suddenly sat bolt upright in bed, gasping for breath and wide awake. I feigned sleep as I heard him almost fall off the bed and half-stagger, half-run for the bathroom. Then came the sounds of him vomiting.

It was cowardly, not helping him. If Wufei had been there and had known about it, he most likely would have tried to help in any way he could and probably made matters worse, but he would have tried. Quatre would most likely have called for psychiatric help. Trowa. . . . While with the others I know what they would 'most likely' have done, but with Trowa I know what he would have done because he did it.

I knew Trowa before Duo did. Well, if you could call having the boy as your nursemaid after you'd blown yourself up knowing him. But anyway, once I woke up and started to heal I talked to him a lot.

And don't you dare say neither one of us talks anyway, because we do too. Maybe it was just me being so used to Duo's babbling the silence got to me a bit or maybe some subconscious impulse told me I could talk to this boy, but whatever the reason, I started talking, and he talked back.

During our talks I learned that Trowa had problems too, and that they were very similar to Duo's. Of course, he didn't come right out and tell me, and he didn't have nightmares in the way Duo did, but give me some credit, please. I am not a totally insensitive jerk. The only reason I seemed like that was because I had absolutely no idea of how to deal with anybody on normal terms, and when my fellow pilots (who were closer to me than anybody else in the world) had several different kinds of intense problems. . . .

Well. Let's just say I kept myself to myself.

I first found out about Duo and Trowa one night after a mission. I didn't mean to walk in on them. It was just that it was four in the morning, I was half-dead from exhaustion, and dammit for a vocal person Duo can be incredibly quiet when he wants to. Although I don't know whether he wanted to be quiet -- the silence of the two might have had something to do with Quatre and Wufei sleeping in rooms on either side of them.

Anyway, I was sharing a room with Duo again, and Trowa was sharing with Wufei. Seems he was bit leery of sharing a room with Quatre when the blond boy was very nearly at the stage of molesting him in public. I knew Trowa cared about Quatre, but not in the way the Arabian wanted, and Trowa was trying to find ways not to hurt him.

Damn it, I'm getting distracted again. It seems my intensely focused Soldier mentality has decided to take a vacation -- a permanent one. I suppose I have Relena to thank for that.

So. Back to what I was saying. I was going up to mine and Duo's room, ready to just crash. Duo's bed is opposite the door, mine along the wall beside the door. I was too tired to notice anything in particular -- I actually walked into a chest in the hallway. For some with night vision like mine and a phenomenal awareness of where each part of my body is at every moment that goes beyond hand-eye coordination, that was pretty unusual. So I opened the door without thinking anything was out of the ordinary, and got treated to a sight I would never previously have dreamt up.

Trowa was on his back on the bed, Duo sitting on top of him, riding him. There was hardly a sound in the room -- not even a soft moan coming from either. I just stood there in the doorway, staring stupidly. There was something that seemed . . . off about the whole picture, and I couldn't quite place it. I shut the door as quietly as I could and made my way downstairs, and crashed on the couch.

I ended up not falling asleep instantly as I thought I would. Instead my overactive brain decided to ponder and analyze just the sight of Trowa and Duo fucking seemed so wrong. It couldn't be jealousy -- I didn't want either one, not even as a friend at that point, the Soldier mentality was so strong.

I must have lain there for a few hours, pondering why it seemed so wrong. Then it hit me.

They might have been connected in the most intimate way possible, but it was as if they were only concerned with their own pleasure. Their hands were on themselves, and they weren't even looking at each other. It looked as though they were masturbating, even though they were having sex. And yes, I know how strange that sounds. It just . . . looked that way.

And that was what had tipped me into thinking something was wrong.

After that night I started watching the two of them very carefully, and I mean that in more ways than one. I was careful not to let them know I was watching them, but also I was careful not to miss any details. They ignored each other. Completely ignored each other. . . . Until after one time where they had been in a safehouse alone together and the rest of us had been out on a mission. After that it was plainly obvious to all -- except Quatre, who was acting like Relena -- I mean come on, I like him and all, but he was in stalker mode -- that they were together, and emotionally this time too. Even Quatre could see it over time, and the stalker mode receded enough for him to be gracious about it. At the time I felt like asking him to teach Relena that trick.

Once I was satisfied that they weren't doing something stupid, I ignored them. Completely. I got through the war without really having a conversation with either, although Duo talked at me a lot. I think . . . I know he was only doing that to annoy me. I got the feeling he didn't like me that much, but that was okay, because I didn't like myself that much either. It was only after the end of the first war that I found myself becoming more involved with Duo and Trowa -- or rather, they involved themselves with me, rather forcefully. I was on L1 and had been for some months, relishing the chance to have a secure base, a home I could stay in and not know that I would have to leave in a few months in case OZ detected where I was staying. I liked my apartment.

I had not retained contact with any of the other pilots. As far as I knew, none of them knew where I was. I had a job, I had a peaceful life, Relena was too busy to come bother me. I was the closest to being happy that I had ever been before.

Then Duo showed up on my front doorstep.

He even had the gall to ring the doorbell at one am, and keep ringing it followed by pounding on the door and yelling until I got up and opened the door.

"What?!" I growled at him, then stopped.

He looked like he'd been living under a stone for the past few months. He was dirty, his clothes had tears in them, and his braid was in the rattiest condition I had ever seen it in.

He glared at me. I couldn't help but notice that his eyes were bloodshot and he stank. "Hello to you too, Heero," he said. "Aren't you gonna let me in?"

He didn't wait for a reply, just charged in past me. I stood there at the door gaping foolishly, then shut it and wandered in after him. Duo had dropped onto the low couch, and now looked as though he had been ensconced there for years.

This was not good. I could feel my hard-earned peace and happiness slipping away as the braided idiot grinned at me, then bit his lip. Next will come the puppy-dog eyes.

Oh, and look, I was right. He's giving me that soulful look that might make other people want to give him whatever he wants, but I had always assumed it would never work on me.

But then again, he'd never used it on me before. He'd had more sense. Or not enough.

I folded my arms and glared at him. "What do you want?" I said flatly before he could do more than open his mouth to speak.

"I need somewhere to stay for a while," he said. And that was it. No babbling, no reasons of why I should put him up, not even actually asking me. Just that and the look.

I tried glaring him down. I should have remembered the idiot's immune to it. I tried ignoring him while staring him down. Ha, yeah, like that was going to work. I felt that if I moved from my position, he would have dug himself in so well it would take years to get him out of the woodwork, so I stayed, but I wanted more than anything to physically haul him to his feet and throw him outside.

Instead I said, "Why me?"

He bit his lip again, and looked up at me shyly through his bangs. Not gonna work, Duo, I know you and your acting skills. "I . . . had a fight with Trowa. And I can't go stay with Wufei -- he can't stand me."

I almost snorted out loud. *Wufei can't stand you? That's a good one. . . .* "What about Quatre?" I nearly missed it. I nearly missed the slight hardening of the skin around Duo's eyes and the faint hint of venom that crept into his gaze before he covered it over again. "Nah. I've bugged Q enough before. . . ." he trailed off when I stared at him hard, my eyes wide. He'd had a fight with Trowa, and I was willing to bet that Quatre was involved in that fight somehow.

"You missed out Hilde, Catherine, Sally, Une, and Zechs."

Duo snorted. "I bugged Hilde too much last time I went to visit her on L2 -- plus I've had enough of that hellhole. Catherine, well she's gonna take Tro's side in any argument, isn't she? Sally -- I might go stay with her if I wanted to run into Wufei every time I turned a corner. Zechsy boy, same. Une --" he shuddered "-- don't even get me started. Face it, Heero, the only person I'd put after you is ojousan."

Relena. Ah. That was a low blow. He was implying that if I turned him away, his last option would be going to Relena. I shuddered at the thought of anyone having to put up with her. She was still in stalker mode at that point, you see.

It was when I was thinking about Relena, and Duo having to stand her, that I heard my mouth open and say, "I don't want to put anyone through Relena," and instantly cursed myself because I knew Duo would take it for an invitation. Even if it wasn't.

"Sugoi! Arigato, Hee-chan!"

Oh God.

The months leading up to the Mariemeia incident were agony for me. Duo would not stop bugging me, would not shut up, would not stop interfering with my life in every single way possible. I felt like killing him more than I ever had done in the past.

The worst part was that I could not get him to tell me about the argument between him and Trowa. If I even mentioned Trowa he would get very quiet and sit staring off into the distance, which was even more unnerving than him talking all the time. After a while I gave up and tried calling Trowa instead.

He was courteous until I asked him what was going on between him and Duo. Then his face got wary, and he asked if Duo was there with me. I told him he was. Trowa cut the connection, anger in his face.

I stared at the screen in complete bemusement. Why the hell had he done that? And why the hell had my mentioning Duo was with me made him angry? I tried calling him back, only to find he had blocked all calls from my apartment. I tried calling him from work, even from a payphone, only to find he had been very clever with his call blocks. You couldn't get access to him at all unless you knew a twenty-seven digit password that used all numbers of the keypad at least twice in a random order. I felt a slight compulsion to try and break it just to see if my hacking skills were still in shape, but then some form of conscience that had been growing in me since the war ended prevented that.

So I asked Duo why Trowa reacted like that.

"You called him?" He didn't seem angry. He didn't seem to have any emotion in him at all, and that was what worried me.

"Yes. And once he heard you were staying with me, he hung up and blocked my calls -- with excessive measures, I might add. Why?"

He was silent for a moment more, staring off into the distance, and then seemed to snap back into himself, and a particularly mischievous glint entered his eyes.

"You really wanna know?" he said, and if I didn't know any better, I'd say his voice sounded . . . sultry.

I glared at him. "Of course I want to know, baka," I growled at him, more than a little irritated. And the next thing I knew, I was slammed up against the wall with Duo trying his damn hardest to rip my tonsils out with his tongue. Okay, so that's an exaggeration. It damn well didn't feel like an exaggeration!

I suppose if I had been attracted to Duo in any way it would have been pleasurable, but at that point what I most wanted to do with him was hogtie him and throw him in the nearest trash can. I'm strange when it comes to relationships; I have to develop at least an affection for the other person before I can consider them sexually. Yes, I know how odd that is. It's just how I function.

It took precisely four seconds for me to stand there in stunned silence. It took two seconds for my brain to say: 'Hm, Duo's kissing us. What do we do now?' and another three seconds to come up with the solution: 'Throw him off/Hit him/Hogtie him and throw him in the nearest trash can.'

I went for option number one. Duo went flying, and was lucky to land on something soft -- the couch.

"What the hell were you doing?!?" I bellowed at him. Yes, bellowed. It's the kind of noise you make when you have the temper of a pit bull surrounded in red and the articulacy of a dead rat. It makes whatever gibberish you come out with seem threatening.

Duo levered himself to his feet -- painfully, a distant part of my mind noted. The rest of it was adding together all the little (and large) annoyances he had given me over the past few months, what had just happened, Duo quietly moping around about Trowa AND the fact that his nightmares had returned not so long ago and were keeping us both awake at night and I came out of this addition seeing red.

"Do you fucking think you can use me to get back at whatever Trowa did to you?" I yelled at him. "Do you think I want to be a fucking playtoy because you screwed up what you had with him? Huh? Well listen up, baka, because I'm going to tell you RIGHT NOW that I do not give a FUCK any more. I don't know WHAT happened between you and bang boy, and right now I don't want to know. All I do know is that I want to stop fucking around with both me and yourself and stop feeling so fucking SORRY for yourself!" I started ticking things off on my hands. "Your nightmares came back. I haven't had to stand one of those things since the middle of the war when you and Trowa got together, and if you have he'll have been there to help you out of it. I don't know how the fuck to help you with them, and I'm not about to even try! I've got my own share of problems! You won't talk about what happened between the two of you. Trowa won't talk about what happened between the two of you. You won't talk to or about Quatre. The very mention of him makes you look as though you just ate something sour. You're ruining my life. You annoy the hell out of me. And now you try to pull some sort of STUPID SHIT on the two of us to get back at Trowa because you're feeling sorry for yourself that you had a fight. Boo. Hoo. I would give my fucking right arm and leg to have the kind of thing you do with Trowa! Why the hell are you trying to throw it away?! You haven't spoken to him in FOUR AND A HALF MONTHS!! I'm sick of it! All you do is mope around like you've been abandoned! You don't go out -- you don't even have a job! So tell me, right now, what happened between you and Trowa and it had better be damned good or I swear I will hogtie you and throw you in the nearest trash can, then personally drive you to the nearest garbage disposal facility and dump you in. Got it yet? Or do I have to issue a statement to the entire Earth Sphere and sign a damn confession in triplicate?!"

I wound down, out of breath. Duo was staring at me, the kind of stare you give people who come up to you in the middle of the street with a doped-up grin on their faces and say they've heard the voice of God and it came from their goldfish Spot who died when they were twelve, and that it told them the way to salvation was to prance around in neon pink waving flags saving "I have found my chi and it smells of fish." [1]

"All right, Heero," he said. "I'll tell you."

And he did.

It was stupid. It was petty. It was the most immature reason to be mad at someone I had ever heard of, and I told him so. Repeatedly. I told him that for about a week before he finally yelled at me that he would talk to Trowa. I then nagged him for another week before he said all right, he wouldn't talk to Trowa, he would apologize to Trowa. Once that came out, I smiled at him the way you smile at someone before you blow their head off, and said he'd made the right decision. I can be so patronizing when I want to be.

It was shortly after that that news came in about Relena's capture and the Mariemeia issue. Which was a shame, because Duo had been planning to leave and speak to -- apologize to -- Trowa on Christmas. Instead, I had to rope him into coming on the mission with me.

At least he got to relieve the last bits of his anger before confronting Trowa.

When we entered the computer room to find him already there, the tension was tangible in the room. I worried a bit then, hoping that this mission would not prevent them from saying what needed to be said, as we all knew this was a dangerous one, perhaps more dangerous than in the first war, as we had incomplete information.

I could see Trowa out of the corner of my eye. He kept sneaking glances at Duo.

When I handed an unconscious Duo to Trowa to take care of, I heard the sincerity in his voice when he said he would, and saw the gentle way he cradled the other boy's limp body, and breathed an inward sigh of relief. Trowa had missed his smaller lover.

Ha! No more braided bakas clogging the drains in my apartment!

I don't know when they made up, or where, or how. I only know that by the time I woke up in my hospital bed, they were once again together. I was happy for them, but a little sad as well. That one confused me. After a few hours of examining my emotions, I decided that I needed to keep in touch more. Despite his incredible annoyingness, Duo had brought more life into my small world -- if only by me fantasizing about different ways of killing him.

It was after the Mariemeia incident that my own love life (if it can be called that) began to change. Relena accosted me after I left the hospital with me groaning inside at having to deal with The Stalker again, which left me shocked to hear her apologizing. She apologized for stalking me. She apologized for interfering during the war and compromising my missions and safety. She even promised to totally avoid me in the future if I so wished.

I surprised myself by saying no.

Being kidnapped by Mariemeia really opened her eyes. She no longer holds to her unrealistic ideals of total pacifism, understanding that the real peace is only obtained by fighting for it, whether in the literal or metaphorical sense. It also opened her up to the fact that, like her pacifism, her ideal of me was just that; an ideal. She wanted a white knight, and I was in the right place at the right time.

Once she was jolted out of stalker mode, we spent far more time together, and imagine my surprise when we fell in love. I actually like the damn girl. We were married three years after the Mariemeia incident, with Duo snickering at me all the way through the ceremony. He cracked up when I told him I was marrying Relena. I mean really, truly, totally guffawed.

Then I told him I was serious.

He nearly had a heart attack. This time it was me who cracked up, which nearly made him have a stroke. The combined shock for him was so bad, piled one on top of the other, that I called Sally and made him sit through an examination. It turned out he was fine, but he kept asking who gave him a hallucinogenic, then asking for a strong drink when I told him nobody had. I worry about Wufei and Quatre. They're trying to be happy, but I'm not sure they're making it, and both are too stubborn to let go easily. Even out of stalker mode, Quatre really did love Trowa, and I think he still does. Wufei . . . is a tough case to crack. I know he cared, but I don't know how far that caring still goes.

Yes, Wufei loved Duo. I don't think he ever told him, though. Seems like I'm the only straight one out of the Gundam pilots -- the media would get a kick out of that. 'Talk about gays in the military!' [2]

It's kind of sad, really, that so much happened to us when we were so young. What's even more sad is the air of old pain that still surrounds our group whenever we get together. I'm not sure if the old wounds will ever heal, or if there will always be this slight tension between us whenever we talk of some subjects. I know Duo and Trowa are blissfully happy. They had a lot of stuff to get over and when I was observing them at times it seemed more like their relationship was filled with pain than love, but that only seems to have made them the stronger. [3] Quatre and Wufei I still worry about, and until the slight tension between them and their former loved ones dissipates, I will continue to worry about them.

Me? I'm happy. Married eighteen years with three hyperactive kids who like pranks even more than Duo on a sugar high. Still, I'm happy.

But goddammit, my friends confuse me.

~Owari

[1] I came up with this phrase while on a simultaneous sugar and caffeine high. I like it!
[2] Line stolen off "The Birdcage". Go see go see go see! <shameless plug> This thing is *sooooooo* funny.
[3] Gah! Clichés! I hate clichés! So why the hell do they always seem to end up in my fics?

Um . . . gomen if Heero was overly OOC. I tried not to make him be, but . . . this thing kinda wrote itself. In fits and starts. <glares at muse>

[back to Anria's fic]