Author: J. Strahan
Pairings: 1+2, 2+1
Rating: PG
Warnings: shonen-ai, angst, sap
Disclaimer: Characters not mine, Fic is.

A Portrait

Duo packed up what little he had, and stood in the doorway or the bedroom, watching Heero type furiously on his laptop. He still hadn't told his companion and his plans but he had to now, while he still had the courage. He was sick of loving Heero from afar. "Heero?"

"..."

"I... I'm leaving, Heero."

Heero immediately froze, then spun around to study Duo's face, his deep blue eyes narrowed. After a few seconds he responded. "What did you say?"

Duo lowered his head so his baseball cap covered his eyes, so the other boy couldn't see. "I'm leaving. I can't stay here any longer... You know how I... but... you don't.... Forget it. I have to go." He turned, his head still bowed, and headed to the door, where the bag containing his possessions leaned against the door frame.

He was stopped from behind by strong hands on his shoulders. "Don't."

The American boy shrugged Heero's hands away. "I have to. I have to sort my life out." He continued to the doorway, where he swept up his bag midstride.

"Don't..."

As he opened the front door, he dared a sidelong glance behind him, and his resolve nearly evaporated. The Japanese boy stood motionless a few paces behind him, one hand still slightly outstretched towards Duo, slowly withdrawing. His face was blank, except for his eyes, which held an emotion that he coudn't identify. Never had he looked so forlorn.

"I'm so sorry, Heero, I have to do this." Duo took a deep breath and turned away, the door clicking as he shut it behind him. He hated having to do this, knowing he was the only friend that Heero had, but Duo wanted more than friendship, and he wasn't getting it being Heero's roommate.

Heero's words went unheard. "I need you, Duo. Don't leave me..."

+

8 Months Later Duo knocked on the door to Heero's apartment. No answer. "Hey! Heero, you here? Hello?" He rapped his knuckles on the door again.

When there was no answer again, he opened the door. The room was empty. "Hello?" he called, glancing around as he laid his bag on the table near the door. Everything was exactly the way it had been the day he'd left.

He heard footsteps coming from... somewhere. He walked through the living room and turned into the hallway. He froze, as did Heero, who was halfway down the hall, facing him. For half a second, the Japanese boy stood in shock. "You... you came back..."

A smile spread across Duo's face, and he relaxed into a more comfortable stance. "I sure did, didn't I?"

Heero didn't answer. Instead, he stepped toward Duo, not pausing when he reached him, but pushing Duo slowly back into the living room. When they reached the center of the room, he stopped, his face mere inches away from the other boy's, glaring at him. "You're back."

Duo, who was more than a little bit confused, let a sheepish grin out as he replied jokingly, "Well, what d'ya know! I am!"

Heero's hard gaze didn't waver. If anything, it became colder. "What do you want, Duo?" he ground out.

The grin faded, and Duo searched for words. "I came back for you, Heero... I told you I would--"

Heero countered, his voice icy. "You said nothing of the sort, Duo. For all I knew, you had walked off the face of the Earth. It took months for me to get you out of my head, and when I finally do, you think you can just walk back into my life? So you can ruin it again? I'm better off without you, old friend." he snarled furiously.

"Please, Heero, just hear me out--" Their reunion wasn't going at all like he's planned.

"Shut up, Duo. It was you that left me. It was your decision. Now leave me alone!"

"But--"

"Get out. NOW."

Duo just stared at his former best friend. Was this really happening? The longer he stood there, the more sure he became. Heero wanted him gone. "If that's how you want it." He exhaled slowly, and looked away, eyes burning with tears that he couldn't shed. He turned and hurried out the door. So much for telling Heero how he felt.

Heero's eyes remained on the door for a moment, then closed. Had he just thrown Duo out? After waiting so long for him to return? After dreaming of this day for months on end?

He opened his eyes again, and they fell on the bag on the table by the door. He opened it, and looked at the contents. A change of clothes, a wallet, and a sketchpad, which he pulled out. He padded over to the kitchen and sat on one of the stools by the counter. After staring blankly at the book for a moment, he began thumbing through the pages. The first page was a pencil sketch of a German girl. His mind labeled her as the ex- OZ soldier, Hilde; Duo had told him about her while the were on Peacemillion. She was lying on a beat-up sofa, a can of soda in her hand. He went to the next page. It was a sketch of an older man and Hilde sitting on the hood of a battered old car in a junkyard. Both were done very well. The next page was a portrait of Duo himself. it wasn't nearly as good as the others, but nevertheless a good sketch.

The next page was of Heero himself. He was half-sitting, half- leaning on the railing of the salvage ship where they had first stayed together, arms folded, glaring out at the water. He smirked as he saw the wrench-split on his leg. Either it had been drawn back then, or Duo had a damned good recollection of details.

The next was himself standing on the platform just outside of Wing's cockpit, self-detonation trigger in his hand. He turned the page and saw himself once again, this one being a close-up profile of himself with his eyes shut, kissing the barrel of a handgun. Each one was better than the last, he thought to himself.

The next...

As he was turning the page, the door opened again, and Duo stepped inside, his face solemn. "I forgot my..." He stopped talking when he saw Heero looking through his sketches, panic crossing his face, then flustered anger. "What do you think you're doing, going through my things!? I've been gone for two minutes, and you start digging through my belongings!"

He stalked over to Heero and reached for the sketchpad, his face flushing pink.

Heero quickly pulled it out of the other boy's reach and looked at his ex-partner. "If you've been drawing me, I think I should be able to see them." he said coolly.

"But...! Just give that back!" Duo sputtered.

"I will. When I'm finished looking at it."

Duo lunged for the book, only to have it pulled away again.

"Is there something in here you don't want me to see, Duo?" Heero asked, opening to the page he'd stopped at.

"Yes! No! I mean... oh God..." He knew quite well that he wouldn't get it back until Heero was through with it, so he sank into a chair, buried his face in his hands, and waited for the worst.

It was a sketch of him and Duo, back to back, hands intertwined. Heero looked at it for a moment, looked at Duo, then returned his gaze to the book, turning the page. There was no way that Duo could feel the same way about him, was there?

This one was of Duo and himself again, both were facing forward, but he was behind Duo with his arms around the other's waist, and his head on Duo's shoulder. Duo had one hand on the arms around his waist, the other was buried in Heero's hair. Both were smiling. Maybe there was a chance.... He turned the page.

He and Duo were lying in a bed, the blanket pulled up to cover everything below the waist, but both were shirtless. He was asleep on his back, Duo on top of him, head on his chest, their arms wrapped around each other. He looked at it is surprise for a moment, then turned the page. It was blank.

"Duo."

Duo's head raised, but he wouldn't look at Heero. "Yeah?"

"Will you stay?"

The American's head jerked up, and their eyes met. "What?"

"Will you stay with me, Duo?"

Duo blinked, unbelieving. "You want me to?"

Heero pulled the other boy up from the chair and into his arms. "I should think that's obvious."

A smile crept across his face, and he tilted his head forward until his lips were just touching Heero's ear. "Then I will. As long as you want me to, Heero, I'll stay."

~Owari~

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