By: Lyssira Miokii
Disclaimer: I don't own them any more than the next fanficcer. And if,
for some strange reason, law enforcement is singling me out, I say here
that I do not claim the rights to the settings or characters of Gundam
Wing. The words, however, are mine and if you take them....well you could
at least *tell* me first so I can brag, dammit!
Warnings: Sap. Slight Angst (arguing) Shounen Ai. Language. Probably the
oldest plot bunny known to man.
Pairing: 1+2+1, R+1 (1+R, if you look for it)
Spoilers: Yeah, buddy...many for the end of the series. Another after
the war fic.
Dedication: Many thanks to Lily, Faia and Presser for beta-ing and a bunch
of other people who volunteered. *glomps poor betas again*
The dinge of city smog and age clung to the brick of an ancient apartment
building on the far corner of a rambling street. It sagged, rather than
stood, against the elements, waiting for the day when the safety officials
would grow weary of its presence and demand destruction. Onlookers squinted
to see the few lights that glowed through its tarnished windows. The rest
were dark and empty -- corpse's eyes. In the dying sunlight the
building looked more like a veteran than any solider Heero had ever met.
Its opponent was far harsher than any man of White Fang or OZ. Time never
surrendered, after all.
Hands deeply buried in his pockets, Heero marched down the sidewalk, unconsciously
hunching his shoulders in defense. His hair -- uncut --
hung into his eyes, shielding their unnatural depth from the passersby.
Jeans two sizes too large hung low around his hips. A similarly ill- fitted
sweat shirt pooled over the waistband, hiding everything `private' from
view. His shoes were the same ugly, mustard colored sneakers that he'd
worn ever since his feet stopped growing.
On this street, he fit in. The thick stream of people he moved through
were not well dressed, though the odd businessman appeared here and there.
Heero seemed to be like the other teenage boys in that part of the city.
They weren't gang members, nor would most of them grow up to carry a briefcase.
He reached the entrance of the building with no mishap and less attention
from the people around him. They didn't notice that they unconsciously
let him slide past. None of them would remember him. If they'd known who
he was, they still wouldn't remember his face. He crossed the worn mauve
carpet covering the hall, studying the forgotten portraits on the wall,
followed by the reception desk that could've been called ornate once,
just as he did every time he walked through those doors. This was one
of many places that had come through the war - but far from unscathed.
Heero found it hard to imagine this place as happy and upper class, though
a few of the remaining tenants remembered.
He punched the familiar `up' button next to the elevator doors. It lit
up after a few minutes, in just as much disrepair as the rest of the building.
Somewhere above he thought he heard the rusty travels of the elevator
itself. His eyes drifted shut and he felt the tension of the day drain
out of him slowly. Searching for jobs and schools was more of a hassle
than he'd anticipated. After Dr. J's death, he'd discovered factual papers
for himself in one of the labs. Apparently he had a birthday, a birth
certificate, a social security number under colony L1X00082 and a bank
account accessible to him when he turned 18. Until then the government
would pay for his care under the impression he was staying with a reclusive
Heero allowed the corners of his mouth to twitch upward slightly. So much
for being a mad scientist with no care for anyone. But even with the money
and the identity, his quest for jobs was getting long and frustrating.
The fact was he had very little job experience. `Gundam Pilot' was not
something a normal person put on a job application. He had plenty of skills,
most of which were unnecessary in peacetime. And no one was going to entrust
computer work or flying a shuttle to a 15 year old kid.
Schools were just as bad. They wanted records of where he had been before,
who he lived with, his grades, his behavior record -- practically
a goddamn autobiography. Most things could be forged, yes, but it would
be incredibly easy for whatever facade he chose to present to slip. All
it would take was a phone call to wherever he claimed to be from. Computers
were so much easier to fool than people. . .
A solid weight stumbled into Heero from behind, destroying his balance
and his inner calm. His reflexes saved him from a fall, though he faltered
. A growl of frustration rumbled from his attacker, as Heero was spun
"Why don't ya watch where -- hey!" a familiar
Heero blinked, finding himself staring into a pair of equally familiar
blue-violet eyes that flashed from annoyed to stunned all in the space
of heartbeat. The same chestnut brown bangs hung over the same upturned
nose. The same lopsided mouth set in that heart-shaped face completed
a picture he hadn't seen since Libra shattered over Earth's delicate atmosphere
months before. The owner of the voice wore his favorite black cap, the
one he'd been wearing when he shot Heero upon their first meeting.
"Duo?" he asked, dazed at the sight of another pilot.
Deathscythe's former pilot grinned, settling his hands on the other boy's
shoulders, "What the hell are you doing here, Superman?"
"I live here." And you?
"I'm visiting an old friend," Duo said, "I thought I'd
pay him back for his help with salvage and all."
"Come into some money?"
"Yeah, Dr. G-"
"I know," Wing's former pilot looked away.
Heero could feel Duo studying him out of the corner of one eye. He shrugged
to himself, relieved when the doors opened, revealing the worn interior
of their transportation. A weathered-looking old man exited; Heero recognized
him as his next door neighbor. He gave Heero a nod and Duo a cursory glance
before shuffling off. The two boys stepped inside the metal box without
speaking, each pressing their separate numbers. Duo's destination was
three floors above his. He wondered whether he should be disappointed
He leaned against the elevator wall, eyes slitted. His one-time partner
waited casually, occasionally humming or checking his watch. His clothes
were more fitted than Heero's, all black and made of stronger stuff. The
trademark braid swung back and forth around his thighs, carefully trimmed
and bound. He stood taller than before. The worry lines they'd all accumulated
in their short lives had faded. Life was treating the American better,
by all appearances.
"How've you been, Heero?" he asked after the first few minutes.
"Really? Get a job?" Duo persisted, now outrightly searching
his face for some sign of . . . something.
The pilot of Wing Zero shifted his weight, "I've been trying to."
He smiled a little, "Yeah, it's kinda tough for guys like us, isn't
"What happened with you and -- "
Both boys tumbled to the floor as a scraping, screeching noise whistled
though the air and the elevator shook violently. The machinery groaned
overhead, like a giant burdened with some unreachable injury. The lights
flickered for several moments, alternately blinding them with brightness
and darkness. Duo gripped the bars for the handicapped until the elevator
finally came to a grinding halt. The lights wavered one final time before
returning to their usual brightness. Heero hauled himself to his feet
and met the other boy's eyes.
They were in deep shit.
Heero pried apart the crack between the doors, sweat sliding off his arms
like hot oil, muscles straining against the determination of the stainless
steal barriers. The veins stood out on his biceps, vivid on the reddening
skin. His face darkened from scarlet to nearly purple. He could vaguely
hear someone grunting, sounding almost pained. At first it didn't register
that is was him. His arms ached from the effort, but the doors weren't
budging a millimeter.
"Heero! Heero, c'mon man, give it up!" a hand grabbed
him by the wrist and wrestled him away.
He slid onto the floor, panting heavily. Despite this he managed a good
glare in Duo's direction. To his surprise, the braided boy returned it.
"That's a quick way to get yourself hurt," Duo snapped with
Heero shrugged, "It was worth a try."
"Not really," he said,"I think we're between floors. Those
things'll never open. Even if they did, they're pretty useless."
"If you're right."
Duo snorted but didn't comment. He picked up the phone next to the brass
buttons. An antique.
"Hello? Is anyone there? Shit...no one's answering," he flopped
against the opposite wall.
"We'll wait then," Heero closed his eyes and leaned against
The sweat cooled on his body, itching in places he couldn't reach on his
back. Duo wrapped his arms around his knees, resting his chin on top.
The Japanese boy didn't see the placid, almost innocent expression on
his friend's face. Instead, he studied the insides of his eyelids, counted
to 500 in his head and went through a series of mental exercises to calm
"I don't suppose you have any cards," Deathscythe's ex-pilot
"....." He didn't bother to look.
"Thought not," Duo sighed again. He stretched his legs out,
letting them rest against the far wall.
Silence reigned for another few counts to 500.
"Where have you been?"
Heero asked slowly, eyes still closed.
Duo blinked, "Huh?"
Heero repeated his question.
"Oh, me?" the black-clad boy grinned, as if there had been anyone
else in there with them, "Here and there, I suppose."
"Ever go back to space?"
"For while. It's really messed up still. Hilde's taking care of things
while I get my head on straight." Duo's eyes brightened as he thought
about the colonies waiting for him, "I'll go home, soon. You?"
One eyelid opened, "If I had a home I knew of, I'd be there."
For a moment the braided pilot looked surprised. Then he smirked and shook
"It's not necessarily something that gets dropped into your lap,
you know," Duo said.
"It's not something I'd know where to look for, either."
Heero gave up on counting and stifled a sigh.
"Whatever happened to Relena? That's welcoming you with open arms
if I've ever seen it," his companion said.
"Relena needs to figure things out for herself. With me there, she'd
want them figured out for her," he replied, crossing both arms in
front of his chest, "Not every girl is as independent as Hilde."
Duo laughed, "Maybe, but you haven't seen her cook."
"She risked a lot for that Libra information. The rest of us never
got a chance to thank her."
"She'll be thrilled to hear you remember. She never met you or Wufei,
but she stills thinks of you guys as friends," Duo shook his head.
"I wouldn't forget something like that. She was very brave. That
was more than I'd ever have expected out of a civilian," Heero said.
The girl he remembered was limp on the hospital bed, bandaged with IVs
running into her arms and mask helping her breathe. Relena had talked
"That wasn't brave, it was stupid."
Heero's eyes snapped open and he fixed his full attention on the boy sitting
opposite him, "What do you mean? You took greater risks than that."
"She shouldn't have had to," the braided boy growled.
"It was necessary at the time. No one else would have been able to
get that disk to us."
Duo's expression darkened to a glare he never could have pictured, "I
Their staring contest lasted several more counts to 500. The American's
violet eyes bored into blue, almost punishing as they burned. Heero returned
the look calmly, comfortable with the expression. It was standard for
him, after all. His mouth, not used to smiling, easily lapsed into the
thin, stubborn line. His eyebrows hung like dark storm clouds over Prussian
blue seas. Not a hint of any inner thoughts leaked into his face or posture.
"You're being arrogant," he informed his comrade.
"What?" anger melted to utter disbelief. Duo's face had always
been an open book.
"You can solve the worlds problems? If you fight, no one else should
have to?" Heero grunted, "You know, you're worse than Quatre."
Silence. Duo's fists were tightening and loosening.
"What about you? I don't believe I was the one halfway into Earth's
atmosphere with my big, mean beam rifle, ready to save the world or fry."
"I did what was needed."
The other boy snarled. "Bullshit. You got cast the hero and you played
the part like a champ."
He blinked, "Did I take that from you?"
The elevator slipped from its jammed position, trembling madly. It raised
itself, dropped and raised. It slid up and down the cabling erratically,
as if it couldn't decide on its destination. Both boys lay flat on the
carpeted flooring. For a moment Heero wondered if it was going to let
go completely and plummet to the basement. They were seven floors up.
Instead, the machine screeched like an animal in pain and stopped once
Duo's face was a pale green when he spoke again, "This is not cool.
I'm gonna be sick. . ."
Heero moved closer to him, "Put your head between your knees."
He obeyed, breathing deeply, trying to quell his rebellious stomach. Heero
crouched next to him. He rested a steadying hand on Duo's back, rubbing
in small, soothing circles. The braided boy leaned against him, many minutes
passing by before he lifted his head to look his comrade in the eye. He
"Never thought you'd end up here, eh?" Duo smiled.
"I didn't know you got motion sickness."
"Funny, neither did I," he said, using the wall as a support.
Heero had no response for that. He stared at the floor, listening to the
not-quite silence. Air hissed through the vents. He and Duo breathed softly.
But the elevator radiated quiet.
"Let's see if those f***ers downstairs have woken up yet," the
L2 pilot picked up the phone again. A few minutes later he slammed it
down. Heero continued to say nothing, instead finishing another count
to 500, this time in a mixture of English and Japanese. His companion
focused his attention on exploring his pockets.
"So. . .," Duo fiddled absently with a set of keys, "How
are you anyway?"
"Give me a break here, ok? We both know we're bored."He switched
the keys for a wallet. It overflowed with receipts and crumpled dollar
bills. He sorted through them while he spoke, smoothing out the money
and organizing the receipts by date. A small stack of photographs tumbled
out of their cracked plastic slip. Heero picked them up before the other
The first showed Hilde, striking a pose for the camera and laughing at
whatever Duo had said. Next was Quatre, obviously caught unawares after
a night of heavy partying. His hair stuck up in all directions, his shirt
hung off one pale shoulder and his mouth stretched in a huge yawn. Then
came Trowa and Wufei, both reading in the library, both with the exact
same posture, expression and book. There were two newspaper clippings:
a shot of Relena with a group of Preventers and one of Howard overseeing
scrapping the remains of Alliance MS.
The sixth and final picture was of Heero.
"Hey, have you seen my pictures -- oh,"Duo interrupted
himself. He accepted the photographs quietly, tucking them back into their
"Where'd you get it?"
"Your girlfriend," he said.
"You asked Relena for it?" Heero blinked.
Duo nodded, "I knew she'd have a good one, too. The ones Quatre showed
me had you in that school uniform she gave you to wear. Nasty looking
things, I might add."
The Japanese boy grunted.
"So I asked Relena and she showed me an album-full. She's got it
really bad for you."
"She's not my girlfriend," Heero said.
"Tell her that," Duo tucked his wallet back into his pants.
From the other pocket appeared a handful of change, two gum wrappers,
a tootsie roll and a lighter. He proceeded to count the change.
"Why are you so interested in my relationship with Relena, anyway?"
The braided ex-pilot looked up from his quarters, pennies, nickels and
dimes. "You seemed to like her, that's all. I thought you could use
some encouragement since you don't usually talk to girls much."
Heero's glare deepened.
"Jeez. . .the least you could do is ask her out or someth --
Once again the elevator dropped and surged, as if it had suddenly gained
the will of a living thing. This bout of rising and falling lasted less
than a minute. Before boy either could think, it settled back to its original
jammed position. Duo leapt to his feet the moment it *did* stop and kicked
the doors. He pounded on it furiously, taking out his frustration on the
already abused metal. He was red in the face by the time he finished.
"Would you just move already, you stupid piece of shit?"
Heero regarded him cooly, "It's only been thirty minutes, you know."
"It seems a lot longer with you in here," Duo said.
"The same could be said about you."
"Well, it's a little late for you to take back saving my life. But,
if you want to, you're welcome to try," Deathscythe's former pilot
Heero counted to 500 in French.
"I never said I regretted that," he said.
"Thanks." Duo snorted. He shoved his possessions back in their
place. Neither said anything. They might not have spoken ever again, had
the phone not rung after ten minutes. The braided boy snatched it from's
"Excuse me sir, there are residents complaining that the elevator
is being held up. Do you have a probl-"
Heero watched idly as the vein in Duo's forehead started pulsing.
"Yes we having a fucking problem. Your elevator has
been jammed for the past forty-five minutes. We're stranded, you
stupid bitch!" Duo interrupted, his eyes blazing violet.
"Sir, please calm do-"
"I won't calm down. You're going to get maintenance
to fix this goddamn thing or I am going to-"
Heero snatched the phone from his puce-faced companion, "We'll wait
for you to assemble a team for repairs, miss."
"Right away, sir," the young woman replied.
Duo stood less an inch away from his comrade, staring him in the eye despite
the height difference, "I could kill you for that."
"Isn't it a little late for you to take back saving my life?"
Two deceptively slender hands rested on each side of his neck, "No."
Heero's heartbeat throbbed beneath his fingers.
"Taking your frustrations out on me isn't going to solve anything."
"It'll make me feel better." Duo squeezed lightly.
"Go ahead. I've never minded dying for a good cause," Heero
Fury flashed across the shorter American's face. "Yeah, I'd forgotten
that. Always the savior, eh?"
"It's fitting for a worthless life."
"You aren't worthless."
The Japanese pilot pulled Duo's hands away from his neck. "And you're
not the God of the Death."
Duo stared at him for a long time before stepping back and standing as
far away from Heero as possible. Wing Zero's former pilot closed the space
between them with two long strides. Before Duo could do anything, he was
pulled close to the other boy. Real silence loomed over the two. Even
the air conditioning was still. What had happened didn't register immediatly
in the American's mind. Heero was hugging him. Duo blinked..
"Hee--wha -- are you -- ?" He rested his cheek
against the soft fabric of his friend's sweatshirt.
When he was released, Duo discovered he no longer had the will to stand.
He slid to a stop on the flooring of the elevator.
The elevator sprung to life one final time, finishing its ascent to Heero's
A team of repair men were gathered in the hallway when the doors opened.
Most of them were middle-aged men sporting salt and pepper mustaches and
beer bellies. They parted for the two boys, one of whom jumped to his
feet when the light of the corridor poured into the dim little box. They
laughed at the pair's eagerness to leave, asking if they were all right,
what had happened, etc. One glanced at his watch and the inside of the
"Man, you guys must have been bored in there."
Duo and Heero looked at each other and shrugged. They left the repair
men at the elevator, where they proceeded to examine its gears and cables.
Heero led the way to his apartment door.
"Hey man, where are the stairs?" the braided boy asked.
"Why -- Oh, I forgot. They're at the end of the hall, past
the double doors.""Thanks. I still gotta visit that friend."
He smirked, "You know this other guy I knew in the war lives here.
Somebody named him after Heero Yuy. Weird guy."
"I thought I'd drop in on him later," Duo grinned. He leaned
in close to his companion, so that his lips barely missed Heero's cheek.
Then he spun around, resting his hands behind his head. He waved. "C-ya
later, man. That was some ride, wasn't it?"
Heero stuck his key in the door, remembering the warmth on his face for
a moment. Then, he stepped inside. There were things to do. Hopefully
he could find a new apartment soon, maybe on the colonies. He needed a
job and an education. And he had an old friend to call, by the name of
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