Author: Elyndys
Pairing: will be 1+2+1/1x2x1; reference to past 1xR, R+1.
Disclaimer: I am not owning these characters, to use the Indian English construction.
Warnings: Part 8 has a very slight shonen-ai warning (ML: At flippin' last!). It is VERY slight though... but from here on, things can only get less slight... ^_^;; For future warnings see Part 1 and see individual parts. This is an AU fic.

Escaping + Part 8

'He knows...' The words that had struck him the second time he'd met Duo. His suspicion confirmed. No surprise. But still... he felt himself immersed in relief so great he felt giddy, elated, weak all over. He looked down to where his hand was still covered by Duo's on the table.

Duo made no attempt to take his hand back; neither did Heero, although he knew Duo would be able to feel the trembling that ran through: he looked back up to Duo's face.

The other man smiled. "Come on. Let's get out of here."

Dumbly, Heero followed Duo out of the restaurant and down the small street. It occurred to him to wonder where he was being taken to. He opened his mouth to ask, but before he could speak Duo began to explain.

"It's a nice night. There's some places in this city that I bet you've stopped noticing because you've lived here for so long. Thought you might like to see them again."

They kept walking through small streets Heero barely recognised. He wanted to speak, but couldn't bring himself to break the evening's silence. He could wait.

He did, until they came to an open space in the city: Duo stopped, leaning forward onto the low wall that surrounded the Peace Gardens [1]. Heero stopped beside him, but stood unsupported, hands in pockets.

"What can you see, Heero?"

Heero stared around himself. Trees. Lights. Fountains. It was true, he thought, he hadn't seen them for a long time. Physical beauty...

"I see something to remind us of what we achieved."

We? Heero wondered how specific that was.

"Because we did achieve it. Even though I thought for a long time we never would... but we did it. This sort of thing..." he gestured around him, "is meant to remind people how lucky they are, because it's something that's been created, not destroyed!"

Heero looked at the hand that rested on the wall next to his; the knuckles were white. He stared at Duo's profile: mouth a thin line, eyes harsh. He looked away again.

"But... being surrounded by it, people don't see it. Don't appreciate.. what we did for them!" Duo tuned suddenly, fixing Heero with a wide-eyed stare "People need reminding."

Duo's voice was quiet; Heero felt oddly disturbed: moved. He felt like he could reach out and catch the feeling -- without moving, he did, and fitted it within himself into a pattern it matched identically.

"What we're doing now... it's not about war and peace."

It took Heero several moments to follow the tangent.

"We're nothing to do with war anymore. It's over. We, you and I, we want to keep it that way. We don't exist in the same context as war, but we have done and we know we never want to again. People don't realise, they've not forgotten war but I think they've forgotten peace. They need to be... reminded."

The phrase struck Heero cold as stone, yet he turned his mind and understood it. He nodded slowly. "You're right. It's not that they don't know war is bad... but they don't remember how much peace is good." He felt an odd sort of despair flood out of Duo, and through himself. "Even this conversation... shows war follows us. Even when we don't even overlap with its sphere... It follows me every day." He realised he was shaking again, just a little, but he saw Duo see. But he couldn't stop -- and the words... fell from his lips... He didn't know why it suddenly happened that he was speaking them, to Duo, but he was unable to stop them. "I could forget it; peace is what I exist in. I accept it I want others to. They should. But they won't let me... Relena..." No, that was too much -- he bit his tongue. "Even though they don't know who I really was they just expect the same! They can't see through... It's all around me, I can't escape it..." Suddenly he looked back up at Duo, raw: "How did you know?!"

They stared at one another for a few minutes, then. Heero felt the anger drain away to nothing -- the anger he had first seen in Duo, and had spread to him, now dissipated. Heero took a deep breath.

Duo looked away, and then looked back at him from the corner of his eye. His voice was soft, but Heero heard. "I don't know." A short laugh. "Strange, that, isn't it?" He turned a little, took a step closer. "I knew you were different, Heero. The first time I saw you."

Heero was silent, listening. Duo stared ahead again.

"And I saw the gundam. And I knew... the person who piloted it would have to be..." Did Heero see a shiver? "...someone pretty special." The curl of a lip. "And I heard how they talked about you... Mysterious ex- mobile suit pilot and all round hero.." Another short laugh. Fixing Heero with a sympathetic look. "I can see what you mean... not letting you forget..." The last words almost a whisper. Then looking up again, a slight smile; looking back at Heero, another small step closer. Louder again. "But I knew. Just... by looking."

It wasn't until Heero turned around that he realised how close he was to Duo. He could feel warmth radiate; looked down at the hand still beside his on the wall. He thought maybe he should move away, but he found he didn't want to. Looking back up again at the gardens. "I knew about you as well." Turning with a small hint of amusement to look at the surprise on Duo's face. "You're the same as me."

Duo nodded, dumb. "You're not... afraid?"

Heero didn't respond. He wasn't afraid. He didn't often feel fear. Anger, surprise, but seldom fear. Now... he didn't feel any of those things. He wondered if he should. But he felt... like he was on the edge of something again, like he had done on the opening night of the summit. It was a warm feeling; Heero could feel his heartbeat. He hadn't thought he could ever meet anyone like Duo; thought he was the only one... He thought it a striking coincidence that Duo should work out Heero's past; but that coincidence didn't frighten him, it intrigued him. It felt...

He thought there were many things he should be thinking. Suspicion: but it was a plain thought, not attached to any feeling. Somehow, he accepted it; and he trusted his own feelings, so he was certain... It seemed strange; all the clinical thoughts that touched his mind, but he couldn't feel them.

Instead, he felt a hand on his. It was a little cold; but the touch was almost familiar. He realised he wanted it to be. He looked down at the hand ove his -- then up again into earnest eyes.

"I've understood you, Heero, since we met. In some way at least -- an important way. I'm understanding you now."

Heero felt Duo's hand move, gentle: a caress, almost, of the thumb, then a firmer grip.

"We'll escape the war. Let's do it together. We won't talk about it anymore."

Heero liked the implications. A person he could talk to, on equal terms, but with no expectations... Equal terms... But... "But that's all we know about each other. What else do we have in common?" A slightly bitter smile twisted his lips.

Duo's hand felt warmer now, and Heero felt a slight increase in the pressure it gave his own: again he suddenly realised their closeness -- shared warmth, he revelled in it.

"We can find out."

Heero saw Duo's eyes sparkle a little.

"Let's start again from the very beginning. I call myself Duo Maxwell. I'm about twenty five years old. I come from the L2 colony cluster. I've been a salvage worker, a soldier, a scrap dealer, a student and now a diplomat. I think there are lots of things that need to be done, and I think that I should be the one to do them."

Not said with pride or arrogance; more... a resigned adamance, an acceptance of a responsibility that shouldn't be wished on anyone else. Heero thought of something. "I knew all that already."

Duo smiled, straight at him. "Well, it was a good start then."

Heero smiled a little too. "I call myself Heero Yuy. I am around twenty five years old. I come from the L1 colony cluster. I was a soldier. I am now a detective. I'm pleased to meet you."

Duo laughed. "That's one more thing we have in common then." Heero realised that Duo's hand wasn't just resting on his anymore. Somewhere in his unconscious he had turned his hand, now palm to palm with Duo's, fingers interlaced. He stared at the point of contact again. Then looked back up, again, into Duo's suddenly serious face.

"Meet me again."

Listening to that clinical voice inside him, again, observing that it would be unnecessary; replying just the same. "Yes."

+

[1] More Sheffield locations. But this suddenly came to me and I thought how appropriate it was. It's a beautiful place, especially at night, and it... fitted.

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