Author: Anria Lalumin
Disclaimer: I don't own Gundam Wing. Come to think of it, I don't *want* to own Gundam Wing, because that would mean I got Relena in the deal as well. . . .
Warnings: AU, yaoi, OOC, Hilde-angst, um . . . I think that's it.
Pairings: 1x2, 3x4, and something you'll just have to be patient for.

Past Encounters
Part Fourteen: Hilde's Secret

It was a hectic run out of the palace. Apparently Treize had prepared for the contingency that they might run, with several squads of guards popping up from around just about every corner. Duo and Heero ducked, dodged and ran, only fighting when there was no other alternative. Neither wanted any more casualties than had already been inflicted that day. Eventually they arrived in the courtyard, intent on saddling and readying both their horses in record time, only to find that someone had already done so. Zero and Death stood patiently, waiting for their masters to arrive.

Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth [6], Duo shrugged and swung into Death's saddle, closely followed by Heero. They made a rapid check of the saddle cinches, stirrups and reins, then were about to leave when --

"Yuy!"

Heero yanked on Zero's reins not a moment after he had dug his heels into the horse's sides and swung the gelding round to face his father. "Make it quick," he growled, hand on his sword hilt. Behind him, Duo stopped and swung back to watch the proceedings.

Odin skidded to a halt beside his son. "After what happened back there in the hall, you can no longer be my heir," he said without preamble, not out of breath despite his run.

Heero's eyes went flat and cold, and he made to swing round again when Odin clamped a hand around his ankle, holding him in place. The King of Ylloh smiled up at him. "But you will always be my son."

Heero had a moment to stare while that sank in before Odin shoved the blue-eyed boy away. "Now go!"

The movement of Duo's horse as the braided nobleman dug his heels into it's sides shook Heero out of his shock and he followed, with a brief, grateful smile to his father. Moments after they slipped down an alley, the guards spilled out into the courtyard. Hardly daring to breathe, the two outlaws stopped, knowing the sound of their horses' hooves on the cobbles would attract attention.

"Which way did they go?" the sergeant demanded of Odin, momentarily forgetting protocol.

"They split up. One headed for the East gate, the other for the South," Odin reported. The sergeant nodded his thanks and began barking orders; half the group headed East, the other half South.

Heero and Duo breathed a sigh of relief and continued cautiously Northwards.

+

Quatre and Trowa were waiting for them on the outskirts of the city. "Took you long enough," was Trowa's only comment before he turned to watch the sun set over the city.

"There were a couple of times I though we were gonners, back there," Duo said cheerfully. "Few too many close calls, if you ask me. Anyway! How's about we head for an estate of mine that's a couple of days' ride from here to sit down and do some thinking?"

"Don't you have anything closer?" Quatre asked.

"Well, yeah, there's one small property that's a couple of miles away, but since that's the closest it'll be the one they'll expect us to head for. The one that's about four days' ride away is the furthest out from here, and it's far enough away from all the others that they'll be so busy searching those it'll take them ages to get to where we are." Duo gave the blond a sunny smile. "Right then, that settled? Hee-chan?"

Heero, who had been drinking out of a flask and only listening with half an ear, suddenly choked. "Where the hell did you learn that word?" he gasped out after coughing for several minutes.

Duo pointed at Quatre, who was almost falling out of his saddle with laughter. "Don't blame him, Heero," he said, still grinning. "It was worth it just to see the look on your face!"

"Baka," Heero grunted. "Let's move."

For an entire day, Heero would only talk to Trowa. Which meant that the rear of their column was pretty damn quiet.

+

As Duo had predicted, it only took four days to reach his outlying estate. They were greeted in a manner rather unusual for all other nobles in the four kingdoms and totally naturally for Duo.

The braided boy had just dismounted from his horse when a small, black-haired whirlwind in a plain blue dress came charging out of the house and thwapped him soundly on the head.

"Itai! Hilde, whatcha do that for?" Duo said plaintively, rubbing his head and looking askance at her.

Hilde propped her fists on her hips. "You, my Lord Maxwell, are a world-class idiot."

Heero snorted, only to find himself on the end of one of her glares. Surprisingly, he stopped.

Abruptly, Hilde's demeanour changed and became what was more usual for anyone in the employ (in any meaning of the word) and she clasped her hands in front of her, blue eyes wide and deceptively innocent.

"Would my Lord and his friends like to come inside for a moment?" she asked, and her words dripped ice.

"What's bit you on the ass?" Duo asked her, which earned him another whack on the head. "Okay, okay, I'm coming already! Lighten up, will ya?"

Hilde stuck her nose in the air and swept back into the house. All around the courtyard people were snickering and covering grins. Duo looked around, then threw his arms in the air. "Fine, fine! Go ahead and laugh!"

So they did.

Once the horses had been stabled and his friends' giggles were under control, Duo led the way into the mansion. It took quite a while to get anywhere near to the room they were headed for, as the nobleman seemed to stop every two steps to greet a maid or exchange jokes with a footman. The House of Maxwell had as many servants as any other noble house in the realm, and considering the wealth of the family probably far more than many, but Duo seemed to be on first-name basis with all of them. It left Heero with even more pride in his lover.

Eventually the group of four arrived at a tastefully decorated and mostly comfortable sitting room, where Hilde was already seated, waiting for them.

"All right, Hild, what was that fiasco at the gate all about?" Duo asked as he plonked himself down on a sofa.

"Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends?" Hilde asked -- a little too sweetly.

"It can wait. What was that about?"

Hilde leaned forward intently. "You just got every single soldier and noble and commoner in the realm out after your blood, when I just get some wonderful news for you, and you wonder why I greeted you like that?"

"Oh. . . ." Duo looked away. "How d'you find out so fast?"

Hilde snorted. "Carrier pigeons, idiot," she said.

"So what's this news?"

Hilde smiled at this, and it was nothing like her previous smiles that were more angry than anything else -- this one was genuine, and deliriously happy. When Duo found out about this, he'd be kicking himself even more about being declared a wanted man, she knew. And she would have finally found the answer to his pain over Heero, and maybe even found a little bit of happiness for herself -- maybe he would marry her! No, that had to be too much to ask for -- but to hope for --

"Hild?"

Hilde jerked herself out of it with a shock. "Oh, sorry," she said. "Got a little distracted there . . . who are your friends?" It could wait, she decided. It could wait until she knew who all the others were and could celebrate with them as Duo's friends. . . .

"Uh, you sure you don't want to tell me now? No? Oh, all right. The blond one's Quatre, the one with more hair than face is Trowa, and the last one . . . is Heero."

The last two words hit Hilde like a sleeper being awakened with a bucket of ice cold water. "Heero?" she repeated stupidly, blind to everything apart from Duo's sudden glowing grin, that was like a stab in the heart.

"Yeah, ain't it great? We kinda conspired to get out of BG and BR, and, well, it went a little wrong, but we're still alive, ain't we? So. . . ."

Everything Duo said after that got filtered out. So, the obvious thing would be that Duo and Heero were now together, after two years -- and more -- of Duo growing steadily more tense and depressed and unhappy until he was ready to explode, and now --

-- now he was jabbering away like everything was normal, with Heero seating himself beside him, the silent boy's eyes fixed solely on Duo's form and a small smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

I've never seen Duo this happy, Hilde thought in a daze. And in that moment she knew she couldn't tell Duo. Not right then. One day she would have to, but since he would have to leave the country she would stay here and leave him to his happiness with Heero.

"Hilde? Hilde, you okay?"

Hilde blinked, and the world suddenly swam back into focus. "Sorry, Duo," she apologised. "I've not been feeling too well recently, I must've zoned out again."

Not exactly a lie.

Duo's smiling face suddenly turned concerned. "You gotta take care of yourself, Hild," he admonished.

"After all, when me'n Heero leave to go with Q and T back to Q's homeland, you're gonna have to take care of all the guys here!" It had been decided on the ride to Duo's mansion that they would all go to Quatre's home in order to escape from Treize.

Hilde had just had her thoughts confirmed, but that was not what struck her. Usually Duo was so independent, acting on his own and never saying 'we'll do this' or 'we'll do that', but he had just said . . . me'n Heero. Which meant he really was in deep.

The rest of the night passed in small talk. Hilde heard none of it.

+

Two days later, as they could not afford to spend any longer there in case Treize's men caught up to them, the four readied themselves to leave, and Hilde ambushed Heero.

The boy was striding down to the courtyard to meet with the other three when Hilde stepped out in front of him. "I want to talk to you," she said, and the determined expression on her face made Heero absolutely certain that if he didn't want to talk there was no way in hell he was gonna get around her.

"Fine, talk," he said. Hilde rolled her eyes and dragged him into the nearest room.

"I want to know how you feel about Duo," she said without preamble as Heero settled himself into an armchair. She marched over to stand in front of him in a stance that could only be described as demanding.

"How I feel about Duo?" Heero repeated, startled. "I thought it was obvious."

"I want to hear you say it."

"All right then. I love him."

Hilde nodded, arms crossed over her chest. "Good," she said. "Now tell me you will never hurt him."

Heero was beginning to get irritated. "Look, Hilde, I don't know what you're getting at, but I don't think --"

"You don't know what I'm 'getting at'?" Hilde hissed, leaning down so her face was thrust in front of his. "Let me tell you something, Mr High-And-Mighty-Never-Seen-Suffering! When I first met Duo, I was a whore on the streets and damn close to dying. I don't know why, but I had begun attracting customers who liked beating on me and tearing me up inside -- and then not paying. I had a fever from infection, was half-starved and probably delirious! Duo took me from that and never asked a damn thing from me that was more than I wanted to give him. After he met you he started winding himself tighter and tighter and sinking deeper and deeper into depression until it looked like he was gonna implode if he kept it up any longer! And then you come in here with him today, and I swear he looks happier than he ever has since all the time I've known him. I owe my life to him and I would do anything for him, but he DOESN'T LOVE ME! If you hurt him in ANY goddamn way I swear I don't care who you are or how good a warrior you are, I will hunt you down and kill you. Understand now?"

Heero's eyes were wide at the end of Hilde's tirade, and he was leaning back in his chair to keep his face away from hers, which had been steadily advancing. Abruptly noticing how close she had gotten to him, she straightened up and looked away, mumbling an apology with a blush colouring her cheeks.

Heero stood, and slowly walked past her. At the door, he stopped and turned.

"I love him, Hilde," he said softly. "I will never hurt him. And you just made me feel extremely relieved that when I wasn't there to care for him he had such dedicated people with him."

Hilde bowed her head, hugging her arms across her stomach. She heard the door click shut, and only then allowed the tears to roll down her cheeks.

Making her way over the window, she shifted to the side so that she wasn't visible from below, and watched the proceedings. When Heero strode out, Duo bounced over and glomped onto him, then removed himself and they both swung up into their respective saddles. She was still standing there, watching, when they rode out.

A hesitant knock on the door sounded, and Pargan [7] walked in. He laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Why didn't you tell him?"

Hilde gave a bittersweet smile. "Did you see how happy he looked?" she said softly. "I couldn't take that away from him." She turned to the old man. "I'll tell him when it's all over."

++

Wow. . . . How stilted was that? Can any of you guess what Hilde's secret is?

[6] Bad, bad pun. Gomen.
[7] Even if he is Relena's servant, I still like Pargan. So in this fic, I relieved him of the torture of having to serve Little Miss Priss.

[part 13] [part 15] [back to Anria's fic]