Disclaimer: Duo and Heero and the rest of the GW gang aren't mine. This
story is. Nuff said.
See Part 1 for warnings
************ Time passing or scene change
*~*~*~*~*~* Major POV shift
Marriage + Chapter 14
It hadn't taken long at the
reception for Duo and Heero to end up being drawn in different directions
as various acquaintances offered congratulations. Spotting Howard, Duo
gradually made his way through the crowd to speak to him, intending to
offer his congratulations on Howard's new position as spokesman for the
Spacers' Association along with his thanks for the Association's promise
of support for the Preventers when budget matters were next raised. Before
he had a chance to say anything, however, Howard clapped him on the back
and said, "'Bout time ya finally made a move. Ya know I hate to say
'I told you so', but I told ya that first time ya dragged him back to
the ship all banged up that he was a keeper!"
"What the hell are you talkin' about Howie?" demanded Duo.
"Oh come on now Duo, don't play dumb with me. Ya might have denied
it back then, but I knew ya were well on yer way to fallin' - and fallin'
hard - for that sullen, beat-up soldier the minute I saw him limp his
way across the deck with you hoverin' over him, fussin' like a mother
Faint flashes of memory starting to come back to him, Duo paled as Howard
continued, "Ya said ya weren't 'bout to start somethin' 'cause prob'ly
neither of ya'd last more'n a few months of the war, but I never could
figure out how come ya never did nothin' when it ended with ya both still
in one piece."
Howard was still talking, but Duo wasn't listening. Starting to shake,
he made some sort of excuse and slipped off through the reception. Ducking
into Quatre's study, he locked the door and sank into a chair while the
long-buried memories washed over him.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ *Flashback Begins* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Standing a short distance away, Howard and Duo watched as the silent boy
worked on his damaged suit.
"He's gonna take a lotta work ta salvage, Kid, but I think ya found
a real keeper there. Strong, determined, dedicated, and while I'm not
much of a judge of male looks, I'd say he's pretty easy on the eyes too.
Ya certainly can't keep yers off him anyway!" Howard laughed,
poking Duo in the ribs good-naturedly.
Sounding uncharacteristically bitter, Duo answered, "No, I can't,
for what little good it'll do me. You know as well as I do, Howard, that
the odds are one or both of us will be dead within six months. Whoever
it was that said, 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have
loved at all' obviously never experienced the losin' part." His eyes
clouded momentarily, remembering the agonizing loss of first Solo, then
Father Maxwell and Sister Helen. It didn't pay to let anyone get too close
- losing them hurt too damn much. Voice firming with resolve, he swore,
"Not gonna happen, Howie, no way, no how." Tossing the jester
mask back in place in response to Howard's concerned glance, he added
jokingly, "Besides, he's probably straight anyway!"
Howard just shook his head, "Keep tellin' yerself that Duo, and ya
just might start believin' it."
'I hope so, Howard. I sure as hell do hope so.'
Sitting on deck watching the stars, Duo wasn't the least bit surprised
to hear Howard come up behind him.
"Ya DO realize where he's plannin' on gettin' those parts
from, don't ya Kid?"
"Not plannin' on stoppin' him?"
"Nope." 'The sooner his suit's fixed, the sooner he'll be gone.
Less time to get attached that way,' Duo thought morosely.
"'S yer suit and yer life, Kid, but I still think yer makin' a mistake.
I told ya, that one's a keeper.." Howard's voice trailed off as he
strolled away, leaving Duo to the stars and his thoughts.
Softly, he muttered, "He's just a friend and he's probably straight
anyway. He's just a friend and he's probably straight anyway. He's just..."
Wiping his brow as he watched his cobalt-eyed friend go in for a shot
at the basket, a quiet little voice tried one more time to raise a forbidden
thought. Without even consciously thinking about it, Duo slid into a far-too-familiar
mantra, 'He's just a friend and he's probably straight anyway. He's just
Screaming in horror, Duo watched as Wing self-destructed, over and over
again, and his friend was flung to the ground. Jerking upright in bed,
a half-choked-off scream still on his lips, he pushed his bangs back from
his face and repeated, shakily at first, but with growing conviction,
"No regrets. Didn't miss out on anything. He's - no, he WAS
just a friend, and he WAS probably straight anyway. He was just
a friend and he was probably straight anyway..."
Speaking to Howard for the first time since Wing's self-destruction, Duo
said firmly, "Of course I'm alright, Howie. I mean, sure, I'm sad
he's gone and I miss him, but it's not like I didn't expect any of us
to end up dead."
"No regrets then, Duo? Not sorry you never tried for more?"
Howard asked with a concerned look.
"Regrets? What for?" Duo asked, genuinely puzzled. "Howie,
he was a friend and he was straight anyway." Subconsciously,
he automatically silenced that tiny little voice of protest.
~~~~~~~~~~~~ *Flashback Ends* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
'When Heero self-destructed, it didn't matter that it still hurt like
hell losin' someone I considered a friend, I was sure it woulda
hurt even more if I'd been any closer to him. By the time he showed up
alive, I'd stuffed even the faintest hint of attraction to him so far
down in my memory and buried it under so many iterations of "He was
probably straight anyway" that "probably straight" had
become just "straight" and my conscious mind refused to remember
any of it...
'But... did I really just consider him a friend? Or was it more?
I wasn't in love with him...
'But I might have been startin' to fall in love with him...
'Dammit Duo, you've been fuckin' lyin' to yourself for over three
years just because you were too damn immature to face the fact that you
were startin' to fall in love with him after promisin' yourself you wouldn't
let that happen because losin' him would be too painful. Since you still
ended up with all the pain but none of the good to balance it out, you
convinced yourself that you hadn't wasted an opportunity because it was
impossible to begin with since he was straight. And so you wasted even
more opportunities.' And looking back over his memories of the
past three years with newly opened eyes, he realized just how many
opportunities he had blindly ignored. How many hints, from subtle to blatant,
Heero had dropped only to have him continue along completely oblivious.
That Heero hadn't given up on him and moved on was a minor miracle.
'If I was startin' to fall for him back then, how do I feel now?
If something were to happen to him today and he died, would that be worse
than when I thought he had before?' Cautiously, he took a quick peek at
that possibility and quickly slammed the door to that part of his
imagination back shut again. 'Fuck. Baka, you're not just fallin'
in love with him now, you are in love with him, and probably have
been for quite a while.' Duo dropped his head down on Quatre's desk with
a thump. So that's what that little voice had been trying to tell him
for the past couple of weeks, only to be determinedly ignored. 'I've gotta
stop runnin' and hidin' where my emotions are concerned. That's what got
me *into* this mess startin' three years ago.
'Okay, so you've been a complete baka and wasted way too much time. You're
married to him now, at least till his "parole" time is
up and Relena can't even try to use the Preventers' budget as a
hold over him.' Duo's thought process jerked to a halt on that thought.
'I'm married. Married to Heero, my best friend, my partner,
my lover... the man I love...
'Yeah, sure Maxwell-Yuy, but you married him under false pretenses.
This marriage is supposed to be part of a plan, a plan where his best
friend rescues him from Relena, with a healthy sex life as a side benefit.
Love was never part of the plan. Shit.
'Okay, this is not an insurmountable obstacle. You can do this,
Duo. All you have to do is make him fall in love with you. Right. No problem.
Now where the hell do I start?!'
Suddenly realizing just how long he'd been gone from the reception, Duo
hurriedly stood, unlocked the door, and ducked back out of the study.
One quick sidetrip to persuade Howard not to mention any of this to anyone
else, then he'd find Heero and... Well, he'd think of something.
[chap. 15] [back to CalicOcat's