Author: Maldoror
see chap. 1 for warnings, notes, disclaimer


//THIS// is Heero's entries on his laptop.

Trial and Error + Chapter 15

In the instant he saw Shinigami reach out to grab him, Heero had dropped his guard and closed his eyes fatalistically, knowing he deserved everything Duo could dish out and more.

So it took him a second of utter confusion to realize that the attack wasn't exactly what he expected.

Heere's eyes flew open to a close-up of Duo's bangs brushing his face, tickling his nose... and then he realized what the warm pressure on his lips was. But it didn't make any sense...

...Duo tilted his head, sending shivers of sensations ghosting over the slightly open mouth he had at his mercy. Heero's hands - without any instructions from him and against all standing orders - reached up to touch, just to touch Duo's arms as they held his shoulders...The lips were warm and firm against his own and Duo's hands seemed to generate low electrical currents where they grasped him, tingling and teasing, and Heero's entire body seemed to know exactly where Duo's body was and how close and how the air between them was warming up with their shared heat...It was completely illogical but Heero's last coherent thought was, logic was overrated...

Tension ran from Duo's arms to Heero's hands and jarred him from his pleasant state of non-thinking. Duo slowly leaned back. Heero, reluctantly returning to reality, took in the sight of a pale face, the worried look in blue eyes, the twisted half-smile.

"This...will be the bit where you shoot me I guess." Duo croaked.

Heero gave his right hand a frightened glance, but no, he hadn't drawn his gun this time. It was safely in its holster, and his hand was cupping Duo's arm gently, as if handling an explosive charge.

"Why did you do that?" He whispered, looking at the worried face of his best friend. His voice was soft, like a child's.

"I...I'm sorry." Distantly Heero realized that, for someone who'd never to his knowledge apologized before, Duo was now doing it a lot. "That was selfish of me, I know - I thought you loved Daniels and that meant you could love someone - just not me but I could accept that- "

- Heero's mouth opened - the whirling mass of confusion his mind had become was throwing up an interesting point and lining it up with another interesting point and a few other things he hadn't considered -

"- but then it turns out you weren't in love with the bastard so you probably don't really know what love is yet and so you probably do feel like shooting me now, or punching me and then calling the guys from the funny farm, I know you don't really understand this emotional stuff, and you're probably better off actually 'cause it's a bitch, trust me -"

- Heero swayed slightly as his brain spun wildly, connecting a whole lot of other dots together into a comprehensive, if barely believable, picture -

"- but I had to let you know how I feel about you because if you ever actually do think you might fall for someone one day then I want you to know I'd really want to be that guy, and I'm not going to stand by anymore and have some other Daniels come in and steal you away without at least letting you know that you have a choice but that doesn't mean you actually have to pick me of course there's no obligation it just means you do have a choice and I just want you to be happy and all and so do the others and that's why -"

The complete picture that had hit Heero with a pair of brass knuckles had paralyzed his vocal cords and the small shakes he'd been giving Duo to interrupt the flow weren't being effective so he followed a hunch and gagged the open mouth with his own, which proved quite efficient in stopping even Duo Maxwell from talking.

Common sense took another coffee break - a long one, double-cappuccino with extra cinnamon on top and a bun to finish, roughly that long - but Heero leaned back when he felt Duo stiffen under his hands again. Once more his arms had completely bypassed the chain of command and had taken upon themselves to curl around Duo, tugging him close, and now every inch of Heero was informing him of the way Duo's body felt against his and it was very distracting.

Duo's face was vastly improved. The horrible pallor had disappeared, replaced by a slight flush. His eyes were wide with shock but no longer bright with pain, and his mouth was open in a small 'o'. A strangely distracting, very tempting little letter...Heero tore his gaze away to look into Duo's eyes.

"Why did you do that?" Duo echoed Heero's earlier question, looking completely stunned. Apparently his reflexes and reasoning abilities had joined the rest of Heero's intellectual capacities for lunch.

"No reason." Heero said, a bit ruefully. Duo's eyes looked haunted and uncertain, so he explained, what there was to explain, and that wasn't much. "I finally got it. This love thing. Why it didn't make any sense and fit into mission parameters. It's not supposed to. It's like schizophrenia. It puts you into a different mind frame, one that makes absolutely no sense from the outside but it has this strange internal logic that completely overwhelms you and you're - why do they bother writing books about it? You can't put this into writing. It just ends up reading like that awful bullshit Relena lent me, and it doesn't-"

"What are you saying?" Duo's voice was pitched several notes higher than his usual baritone.

"I think I love you, Duo." Heero said simply - as Duo had said, might as well get it out in the open. It was only a few words but it made Duo flinch. He was probably confused - Heero was and had been for ages now. "In fact I'm sure of it, but I also know it doesn't make any sense, that I can't even explain what that means, much less give you reasons for it. Then again you say you love me - at least that's what I understood - and I'm about as unlovable as they come so you should agree it's completely illogical."

"...huh..." Duo's eyes had gone a bit glassy but then they suddenly focused. "Say that again?"

"What? I'm pretty unlovable, Duo, I was a trained killer before I was eight, I-"

"Before that." Duo whispered, eyes focusing on Heero's lips.

"What? I love you?"

"Huh-uh." He felt Duo shudder again. For some reason, despite his rather brutal invasion of Duo's personal space, something which Heero was normally very sensitive about, his arms had refused to release the braided man. He was really going to have to go through some serious retraining after all this. It was bad enough his emotions didn't obey him; he drew the line at his body.

"Right...just wanted to be sure I wasn't hallucinating." Duo muttered. He seemed to be relaxing. A lot. Except for the two strong arms curled up around Heero's neck that inexorably pulled their lips together again.

Reason, common sense and all the higher brain functions were starting to pack their bags, feeling an extended holiday coming up, when an abrupt, strangled cough broke through Heero's new form of zen-like meditation.

There were two huge eyes and a gaping mouth at the entrance to the rose arbor, with Wufei somewhere behind them.

"What the-...Maxwell, we said, 'put down that hammer and go see if Heero's okay', we didn't say go and give him mouth to mouth resuscitation - what the hell are you two doing?!"

"What's it look, like, Fei?" Duo growled, his arms curling further around Heero's shoulders and pulling the latter to him possessively. "Why don't you come back when we're finished - say in a month or two?"

"But-but-but-"

"I already said that. Oh yeah, the mess. Don't worry about the rat-bastard, I mean, Daniels. Heero doesn't love him - I'm sure there's a perfectly good explanation for all this crazy stuff and one day I'll be curious to hear it-" Heero tensed "- but right now I don't care because - can you say it again?" Big blue eyes plunged into his.

"I love you, Duo." Heero said, and watched completely puzzled as Duo's face relaxed, his pupils dilated, and he blinked slowly like a cat being scratched; it was an almost alarming reaction to a few simple words that were in every book, song and cheesy Valentine's Day card Heero could remember. He didn't understand this reaction at all, it was like a shot of morphine or something. He prodded the remains of his analytical processes that weren't buzzing and sparking and stuttering to a stop. The only thing that came back was that this would require further observation and experimentation. A lot of experimentation...

"Right." Duo purred. "I hope you don't get tired of saying it because you only have a few years' worth of them to catch up on and I'll get you to say every one of them. Shinigami always gets his due. Now where were we-"

"You-what?!" Wufei shook his head sharply. "But- we thought-"

"Wufei? Bit of privacy?" Duo snapped over his shoulder. "Come on, I never barge in when you and Relena are kissing, so how about you return the favor?" He leaned back in for another kiss but Heero was suddenly a bit distracted.

An interesting little silence curled around the arbor for a few seconds, sharpening a knife with studied nonchalance.

"Erm Heero?" Duo's eyes hadn't left his but Heero felt Duo's attention had shifted a bit. "You- er, say it again?"

"I love you, Duo." Heero said, a bit automatically.

"Good. So you wouldn't let him kill me, right?" Duo moved slowly in Heero's arms until the latter was between him and a lit fuse, rapidly counting down to zero.

"Maxwell...." It was a hiss. It was somehow a lot worse than the usual angry shout.

"Hey, hey don't get mad at me!" Duo put in quickly, though he was still sheltering behind Heero. "This was the plan, right? You'd keep dancing around Heero and try not to let him know you were romancing his lil' princess, but as soon as Heero finally found someone, then you and the others could get on with your lives, which in your case means finally moving in to that fancy room Relena's been preparing for absolutely ages somewhere in the west wing of the palace and if she pampers and wall-papers that thing one more time you won't get in through the door anymore."

Heero made some inarticulate sound in his throat and Wufei's attention centered on him.

"Anyway, this is not my fault! If anything it's Relena's!" Duo continued, oblivious. "She was the one who decided to force the issue! I swear, when I thought about Daniels I was ready to make her swallow those bloody romance novels until she choked! We were supposed to let Heero get to this stage by himself, and I just know she's been trying to feed him clues about you two for ages now! How a guy should really not live with a bunch of room-mates but move in with his girlfriend who just happens to live in a big palace and employs him as a bodyguard, and-"

"Maxwell shut up." Wufei snapped. His face was a funny shade of pewter, and he seemed to be having problems looking at Heero. "Yuy, I-...I didn't know if you'd approve or not, if maybe you'd even be angry... I know Relena is like a sister to you-...I didn't want to do anything without your permission but we didn't think you'd understand."

"Roses." Heero said numbly.

"...what?" Wufei's eyes flicked around the arbor then returned to him cautiously, as if he was afraid Heero would grab the said flower and start beating him with it. Duo shifted to look at Heero with some worry in his eyes as well.

"Roses. There's a white rose bush in our garden. Back home. There aren't any here." Heero felt a tiny portion of his control return at the resolution of that inconsequential puzzle.

"Heero, you okay?" Duo's hand was gentle against his cheek. "I know it's a bit of a shock. Relena was so worried about how you'd react, what with this sort of unspoken agreement you guys had about her staying single until she was older and all, but don't be mad at Wufei. As you said, love doesn't have to make sense-"

"Working together. Opposites attract. Fighting doesn't mean you're not in love."

"-although I like it when you make a bit more sense than that. Heero? Erm, buddy?"

"...I'm okay...I...this is a good thing, I guess...takes care of both Wufei and Relena, though I didn't have her on my whiteboard."

"Maybe we should take him inside. Give him a glass of water."

"I'm okay, I'm okay...how long-...?"

"Few months." Wufei muttered, talking to the arbor's paving stones, who'd not had this much attention paid to them in ages. "Actually, since shortly after I started working here. We had a fight. Erm, another fight. A rather big fight. It sort of just...happened."

"Oh...oh. Okay." Heero found himself nodding like an idiot. Then he stopped as another thought struck him. It was as if this infection called love that was eating away at his brain was compensating the destruction of his analytical capabilities and emotional restraints by lifting the veil on a different side of people, one that he'd never seen before, though it had been right in front of his face. Suddenly a lot of things were very different and yet very obvious.

"Trowa...Trowa doesn't actually love you, does he?" He asked, turning slightly towards Duo.

"What?! Trowa? Whatever gave you that idea?!"

"...I can't remember." Heero shook his head slightly, as if trying to shake the reason out from between his ears. He'd thought Trowa was in love with Duo because...because he couldn't see how Trowa could not be in love with Duo. "He's lonely though. Er...right?"

"Well only when Quatre is away." Duo said, looking at him with a worried air. Then the heart-shaped face scrunched up. "Dammit! I wasn't supposed to talk about that either!"

"Why not?" Wufei growled. "You might as well, you've apparently spilled everything else we weren't supposed to talk about. Why did OZ ever bother interrogating you, Duo? They should have just let you shoot your mouth off and you'd have spilled everything they'd wanted to know plus a considerable amount they didn't."

"Hey be nice Wuffers! I'm the guy who's been covering for you when you nip out to go and smooch with Relena - and take her flowers apparently, hmm? You didn't think I'd let that one slip by me, did you?"

"Maxwell!"

"Trowa...and Quatre..." Heero muttered, bringing both their attention back to him. "But...they...can they really be together- like that?"

"Damn didn't Sally have The Talk with you?" Duo frowned. "You see, when people fall in love, they want to -"

"No I meant-...Why didn't any of you tell me anything?"

Duo and Wufei exchanged glances, and then dropped their eyes to stare at the paving stones, who were thinking of taking up show-business to money their natural charisma.

"If you and Relena were-....and Duo...and Quatre and Trowa never said anything, they don't even share a room-...why are you guys all living together, pretending like nothing is going on? Why didn't you all leave?"

"We didn't want to."

The soft voice was not Duo's or Wufei's, it came from behind him. Quatre and Trowa had walked up in silence, possibly some time ago. They were holding hands, almost gingerly as if they weren't used to the gesture out in the open. They hadn't been the only ones to approach. A soft patter of feet and Relena ran past them and threw her arms around Wufei, who looked at once rather pleased and completely mortified.

"...why not?" Heero made one last attempt to make a stand for reason and logic, though the way Duo was hugging him tightly made them seem rather unappealing right now.

Quatre looked mature and serious, though the slightest smile played on the edge of his eyes. "We left to live our lives in the colonies after the war ended but...we realized it hadn't ended for one of us. We're not blind, Heero. Or did you think we didn't notice that the only time you left Relena's side was to come and stay with one of us?"

I wanted to make sure you were all safe, in case there was a new war...Heero thought it but didn't say it. He was suddenly not so sure of that himself.

"I thought you were going to have a nervous breakdown." Relena said in a small, miserable voice, her face buried against Wufei's shoulder. "You were traveling so much, you were so tired...I know you're tough but even you were getting to the end of your rope...you just couldn't seem to stop, you were spinning wildly between protecting me, peace, your friends, like you couldn’t find anything to actually live for...I didn't know what to do..."

"So we agreed." Trowa said simply. "You're family, Heero. We couldn't leave you lost like that. Quatre bought the house and we all moved in, as soon as our different businesses were taken care of."

"No one had to, I told everyone I could give you a home by myself." Quatre pointed out, to hear a series of snorts. Even Relena scoffed.

"As if that was going to happen, Winner." Wufei snapped. "Heero is a friend to all of us, and it would be dishonorable to leave a comrade in need."

"Plus look what you got out of it!" Duo teased the Chinese Preventer who was holding Relena close while trying to pretend he wasn't.

Duo's arms were warm and firm around Heero's shoulders, anchoring him as everything he'd ever believed was turned neatly inside out.

"It wasn't a burden. Actually it was fun." Trowa said that last word with a small, surprised smile. "I think it wasn't easy for any of us to adapt to a life without war so quickly. Our group was a refuge for us too. And when we saw you settle down so well, adopt the house as your first-ever home, rely on us and accept us as friends, and start to live, to grow -...it wasn't a burden at all."

"Although we were maybe beginning to wonder when you'd be ready to leave the nest." Quatre dimpled. He suddenly looked happier than he had for a long time. "We didn't want to let you know about us getting together, we didn't think you'd understand, we were afraid it would make you feel excluded, cut off from us. We were hoping you'd be able to able to understand that feeling someday, share it with someone. Some day soon! It's fun all living together but we have to grow up eventually. Don't worry, we're not moving out." Quatre must have felt the flash of pure, unreasoning terror that had made Heero suddenly grip Duo to him like a life-line. "But it's about time Trowa and I moved into our own set of rooms, and...maybe leave the other part of the house to another couple. Well, let's not jump the gun."

"I don't mind." Duo muttered against Heero's neck "Let's jump all the guns we want. Hell, I can scramble over a Vulcan missile launcher if I get a good run at it." But Quatre ignored him.

"Wufei might be moving out soon - you gathered that, right? But he'll still be close by. Nothing much is going to change. We're still your friends. We're still here for you. Nothing fundamental will change, just the little details."

"Little details like a certain Agent Daniels tied to the radiator in one of the conference rooms." Trowa suddenly pointed out. "Did you guys cover that bit before Quatre and I got here? I'm rather curious about that, after having to pick up pieces of Duo all over the house for the past week."

"Yes, what on earth was that about? Do we have to beat him to within an inch of his life or not?" Quatre sounded puzzled.

"No beating." Relena said firmly. "No scandal, peace is still too important to compromise over personal revenge. Whatever we do, it mustn't leave too big a mark."

"Do we have to do anything? I swear I don't understand anything about your behaviors these past few days, Yuy!" Wufei barked. "Did this man seduce you and break your heart or not?"

"Yeah, we never did get to the bottom of that." Duo said, lifting his head away from Heero's shoulder. "What was all that about?"

Heero looked around the circle of his friends - the walls that had sheltered him from the huge unknown that was a life without war, and let him adapt at his own pace, until he was finally ready to step outside on his own.

"...Duo?"

"Yes?" Bright blue eyes plunged into his own. Duo was looking at him in that serious but strangely tender way that Heero thought he could get very, very used to.

"...I love you, Duo." Heero didn't know much about the strange new world he'd entered, but he had the feeling that those simple yet cryptic words were a bill of safe-conduct that would get him out of this and other trouble in the future, as long as he was not afraid to say them and mean it.


//Operation Equations

Mission Duration: 18 days 12 hours

Mission cancelled.

Mission premises were false. There was only one Gundam pilot who needed help adapting to peace.


New mission: Operation 1x2

Objective: Insure future happiness of Gundam pilot 02, who put up with a lot of shit from me in the past two years without me realizing it.

At one point I'll have to come clean about the whole HD mess, at least with Duo. The others listened to my very brief outline of the events of the past few weeks and have accepted my apology - actually they seemed to find the whole thing very funny in retrospect. But I think Duo will want a bit more information. I just need to wait for HD to move back to New Zealand - I was afraid at one point that he might try to get back at Duo, but apparently being tied up and having four Gundam pilots and RP deciding what to do to him after he hurt their friend is an experience he is unwilling to want to repeat; in fact I've heard he's gotten into the habit of ducking nervously whenever he sees a braid or someone under the age of eighteen. RP bought him a ticket and guaranteed him a place in Preventers in New Zealand on the condition he left before his jaw healed and he leapt at the offer.

So I'll tell Duo the whole story when he's in a good mood (memo: kissing seems to put him in a good mood) and then I'll get ready to dodge until the wrath of Shinigami has passed.

And then I'll get on with the rest of the mission.//



In the attic of a big old house, a cracked and yellowing whiteboard rested against a utilitarian bed, an empty metal clothes-rack and a few other items. It held arrows and shapes and symbols. There were four symbols in the middle, set in a square. A black marker had added a few arrows, connecting 3 and 4, and 5 and a newly added RP, correcting the diagram. A red marker had added a 1 to the drawing, with a big sloppy arrow connecting it to 2. The extra symbol was in the centre of the protective square, where it had always been.

Since it turned out, after further investigation and a bit of recrimination, that the red marker was, in fact, permanent and not even meant for whiteboards anyway, that had pretty much shortened the whiteboard's life to this one mission.

But that was all right. It was no longer needed.

- OWARI -

[chap. 14] [back to Maldoror's fic]