Is it just me or are these things getting shorter? Gomen!
by Anria Chiou Lalumin

Past Encounters
Part Five: Japanese Lessons

Duo stared through the slits in his full-face visor at the charging cavalry. The enmity between BG and BR had erupted into full-blown war now, with pitched battles like these almost commonplace. This wasn't a full-blown battle, though; only one unit of cavalry from each organization battled. Twenty warriors, although only Duo among this lot was a full-blown knight, as declared by his shield. It wasn't his true shield, from Duke Maxwell, Knight of Yeltneb. Instead it had a scythe on it over black bat wings, a skull shown in the apex. It presented an ominous picture, and was meant to.

His horse, Death, danced under him. Scythe had died in another battle like this one some time ago. He had never met Heero in battle.

This reflective point brought back a wash of memories, as it always did. He had thought about Heero a lot since they had parted. An awful lot. And though all it brought was pain, Duo couldn't seem to stop. He missed Heero like a drowning man misses air. He had even gone back to the house once, but no one had been there, and Duo had fled when his courage deserted him.

He had thrown himself into his work as a BR warrior with ever-increasing fervor. He didn't want to die. He just knew that if he exhausted him during the day, he would have a dreamless sleep. And for Duo, with his over-active imagination, to have too many hours a day to himself was not good. He worried about why he hadn't met Heero in combat at all. Surely with all the battles they should have met before now.

While he was worrying over this, the BG charge struck, and Duo cursed himself for his absent-mindedness. He barely parried a sword thrust in time.

Now he threw himself into the fight, cutting and hacking until all the opposition bar one was dead. He vaguely noticed that his companions had all been wiped out, too, but his main attention was focused on his opponent.

All the other warriors had been children compared to this one. Duo had to use every ounce of his skill simply to respond to the complicated moves, and sensed the other man had to do the same. Both were equally matched.

Duo began to tire of it after a while. Raising his shield to block any thrust the man might make, he raised his sword so the tip was pointing to the sky, a universally recognized gesture that meant, 'you're tired, I'm tired, let's take a break'.

Duo added to this verbally as well, saying "Neither of us is going to win -- let's mark the fight a draw, eh?"

The other knight had stilled at the first sound of his voice, neither copying Duo's gesture nor attacking. Then, over their harsh breathing and that of their mounts, the other knight whispered, "Duo?"

Duo's eyes went as wide as they could, and he slowly lowered both shield and sword. Not caring about the blood on the sword, he sheathed it and clipped the shield onto his saddle, yanking his visor up as his opponent did so.

For long moments all Duo did was stare at him, drinking in the sight of his Heero, chestnut bangs plastered to his forehead with sweat and intense Prussian blue eyes staring into his. God, he looked just as good as he remembered. No -- better.

"H-how have you been?" he asked, then bit his lip at how lame that sounded.

"Fine... You?"

"Fine..."

Silence fell again.

"Heero -- " At Duo's kick, his mount moved forward, placing him next to Heero, their thighs pressing together through plate armor. Duo's gauntleted hand landed on the metal covering his former lover's thigh. "I missed you," he blurted. "I really missed you."

Silence. Then, "Me too." Barely loud enough to hear.

Before he could think what a stupid move this was, Duo lunged forward, almost slitting his throat on the metal edge of the helm, and kissed Heero fiercely. Heero responded instantly, his arms clamping powerfully around Duo's metal-clad torso even as Duo's slid around his.

Hugging in armor is not comfortable, but neither wanted to let the other go for a moment. When they finally did let go, both panting and their lips slightly swollen from the force of the kiss, they looked at each other and saw their enemy's colors on the surcoat each wore. And knew that they would have to part again.

Reluctantly, both removed their arms from each other. Seated on their horses, who were taking this very well for animals trained to kill in battle, they stared at each other.

Then Duo shut his eyes, swallowed, and tried to force himself to say what he had wanted to for a year. He knew he would probably never get the opportunity to say it again, and he wanted to more than anything. It was just hard to get the words out when Heero sat there in a blue and green surcoat.

He opened his mouth, and nothing came out, so he shut it again. This went on for quite some time before Heero finally said, "Whatever it is, just say it, baka."

Duo half-smiled. "I still don't know what that means. Or any of the other words in that weird language of yours, although I liked your language lessons."

"Pillow talk in Japanese," Heero automatically corrected.

"Yeah, well... In plain, ordinary English," Duo began, "what I want to say is... What I need to say is..."

"Well?"

"I -- I love you, Heero," Duo got out in a rush, his voice turning hoarse. "I really, really love you. You and nobody else, ever."

Heero stared at him out of Prussian blue eyes for the longest time. Duo began to sweat in his heavy armor, thinking Heero was likely to hit him now. Then his former lover closed his eyes, swallowed, and said, "Aishiteru, Duo."

Before Duo could open his mouth to ask him what that meant, he had kicked his horse into a gallop and was riding away at top speed.

[part 4] [part 6] [back to Anria's fic]