Author: Maldoror
Rated PG-13 for a really silly story line, a tendency to 1x2, and a rather stomach-churning suggestion in the next chapter
Disclaimer: Do you have to make me repeat it? It's bad enough I don't own them and make no money off of them and have no rights over them whatsoever, do you have to make me sing it as well?
Talk about singing, I don't own anything to do with Simon and Garfunkel's 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover (yeah, chill man, I know she's not your lover - "THANK you!")

50 Ways To Leave Your Lover ("But she's NOT my lover!")
The Problem

"Buddy!" Duo shouted as he burst through the door. He grinned at the gun that had jumped towards his head. "Wow, major flashback. Just like old times, uh?"

Heero stared at him for a second then twitched the gun away. "Duo?"

"The one and only Shinigami, partner." Man, Qat' was right, you do look terrible, Duo added mentally. But wasn't about to say it while the gun was still waving around.

Heero was standing in the middle of his spartan office, staring at his erstwhile partner with eyes a bit wide, the only sign of surprise at seeing him after nearly a year without much more than the occasional e-mail. Heero looked very tired, slightly disheveled in his black Preventer's uniform, and very, very edgy, Duo noticed, since he'd apparently completely forgot about the cannon still loosely pointed at him. Or maybe he was remembering all the pranks Duo had played on him during the war. Duo's grin tried to become even more disarming. It was tickling his ears now.

"So, how's life?" Please don't kill me.

"What- what are you doing here?" The gun was finally lowered.

"I need an excuse to see my old war partner?"

"No, no, I guess not... I'm... sorry."

Duo went and leaned quickly against the desk in case he fell down. "Say what?"

"I'm sorry I never came to see you on L2. You kept inviting me this past year but... things are complicated here."

"Really? Do tell." Duo sighed. He didn't really want to hear about it, which was why he'd never tried to come and see Heero either. From the sound of things, the amount of sugar in Heero's romance was enough to give cavities to every street rat on L2. But seeing Heero so... so worn and disarmed, and actually apologizing for something...

The phone rang.

Heero had his gun pointing at it in a flash. Ok, disarmed was probably not the right word.

Duo had been working for Hilde (aka the Slave Driver) for the past year and had picked up some automatic reactions to phones ringing, especially when he was being distracted by men waving guns around. His hand snaked to the phone without conscious volition.

"Hello, Maxwe-"

"Choto matte!"

Duo winced. He made an ‘oops sorry' with his lips. "Sorry, say again?" He said into the phone.

He blinked.

"Relena? Is that you? Hey, Duo Maxwell here, long time no-... er, he's-"

"I'm not here! I've not been here all morning!'

"Erm lemme check-" Duo hedged. He mouthed ‘I don't lie!' but Heero had continued his furious hiss.

"I'm nowhere in the building! I don't have my cell or pager, I don't­ I don't exist, ok?!"

Duo's mouth hung open for a few seconds until several sharp questions from the phone brought him back.

"Erm, ‘Lena, sorry, he can't come to the phone right now, he's, er, having some sort of existential crisis. Call back later, ‘K?"

He hung up neatly without waiting for an answer and was faced with a furious scowl that made the end of his bangs frizzle.

With a snarl Heero leapt for the phone and punched a number (instead of Duo, for which the later was thankful).

"Une, code R."

*Oh god not again.*

"I'm leaving while I can."

*(Sigh) OK, see you tomorrow.*

Duo stared at Heero's back and ran after him before the door quite managed to close.

"Whoa, what's up, problems with the missus?"

Heero glanced at him as he walked swiftly down the hallway. "No, for former enemies, Une and I work well together."

"I meant with the sweetie-pie. Relena." He added as Heero looked at him puzzled.

Soldier-boy has not lost any reflexes, Duo thought, dazed, as he realized he was suddenly up against a wall, with his head ringing slightly and Heero shaking him by the trademark black shirt.

"She's not my swee- my lover!"

Duo was left staring at Heero's back again, and barely managed to follow him as he dodged down a fire escape.

And so the whole story came out...

+

"She's stalking you?"

"Yes, she spends every minute she's not working trying to ‘be with me'. She's not allowed in the Preventer buildings, and she doesn't always know where I am, but when she finds out she starts trying to follow me. Hopefully she doesn't have one of her people on the back alley of the building. She has a whole team of aides to keep an eye on me." They'd landed on the ground after running down the fire-escape. Duo's head was spinning, and not only from the long, corkscrew stairs down. Not lovers! He'd been avoiding them for a year, based on all the rumors, and they weren't...

"But you're still her bodyguard."

"Hn. Head of security now. Well, that's not too bad actually, she's all business while she's working. The problem is that I'm always in the same town and often in the same hotel, if I can't sleep at the local Preventer HQ. Makes her hard to avoid."

"Can't Une post you to Mars or something?"

"Relena has a lot of swing in politics, and has made various threats. Like giving it all up to follow me if I leave."

"But Une-"

"The thing is, Une has decided there's only so much we can do about this. Relena is central to a lot of peace movements and deals. She needs to stay in politics. And keep her image intact."

"But this is weird, man!"

"Her whole family was killed, she saw her foster father die, she's been a prisoner and threatened several times, she's been in the midst of many battles and has survived a war... Une says that if her obsession with me is the only way her trauma is expressed, it's a small price to pay."

"Well that's damn easy for Une to say, you're the one paying it!"

"That's what I said. So she reminded me about the war-crimes tribunal."

"What war-crimes tribunal?"

"Precisely."

"Oh, she so can't hold your war record over your head!"

"I thought that was pretty ironic too, coming from her, but there you go. Until Relena gets tired of chasing me, I'm just going to have to stick it."

Heero dodged out of sight as two people, a man and women in business suits, circled the building looking around. Duo had wondered if the pressure had made the perfect soldier paranoid, but he was starting to reconsider. They did look like they were searching for someone.

"So you have to leave your lover-"

"She's not my lover!"

"O-kaaay, you have to get Relena to give up on you. That shouldn't be hard." Considering you're as friendly as a scorpion and about ten times as deadly. "Did you talk to her about it?"

"Duo, do you even know the meaning of the word ‘obsession'? I know it's got more than two syllables, but-"

"Hey, be nice now, I'm trying to help!"

"Help?" Heero was walking swiftly down the crowded streets. People moved out of the way ­or sometimes dived for the street or into dumpsters- at the sight of his scowl. Duo was following, dodging the people who'd let his friend pass, as well as parked cars, traffic signs, mailboxes, hydrants and occasionally the gutter, trying to keep level with Heero.

"You can't help, Duo. No one can help."

"We could have at least tried, if you told us what the problem was! Everybody thinks you two are an item! They think it's sweet the way you two are always together!" Heero winced. "Quatre mentioned you looked a bit peaky and might be having girl troubles, that's why I wondered if you were really having a fairy-tale romance. I didn't imagine I'd wander into a stalker horror flick when I came here though! So I gather you talked to her?"

"I talked to her, I talked to her friends, I talked to her foster mother ­she feels very sorry for me by the way- I tried everything." 

"Well did you try writing her a letter?"

"A letter? I told her to her face I want nothing to do with her, why would-"

"A letter makes you sound colder, less defensive, and it's harder to work your own interpretation into it when it's there in front of your face, instead of in one ear and out the other."

"I wrote her an e-mail."

"Hmm, let me guess. I'll kill you?"

"Yeah, except that one bounced off the security program I'd installed on her e-mail server to scan for death threats. So I sent a second, longer one."

"Which said?"

"'Leave me alone, or else'."

"Yeeees. Ok, what about the green-eyed monster?"

"Her eyes are blue."

"I meant, how about telling her you already have a girlfriend?"

"She knows every inch of my life, she wouldn't buy it."

"How about pickin' up a little fling then, nothing serious but-"

"Baka! I already have two crazy women after me, I don't need-"

"Whoa, two?!"

"Yes, that secretary at HQ, Carol, Karin, something."

"How do you know-"

"She comes by ten times a day asking me if I want coffee!"

"Maybe she just wants to know if you want coffee."

"I don't DRINK coffee. And yes I have told her that!"

"What after-shave do you use?"

"Why, is this some other kind of plan?"

"No, no reason... Ok, what is Relena most scared of?"

"Not me, that's for certain."

"Scandal! She likes her little image of queen of the world."

"So?"

"So make a big scene in some public place!"

"I don't like making a display of myself!"

"Yeah but I'm starting to think you like Relena a whole lot less."

"... A big scene, like... breaking a table in a restaurant with my fists?"

"(Sigh.) Yeah, I guess that might work. You can throw in a lot of yelling too."

"There certainly was a lot of yelling, though I didn't stick around for it."

"Wh-what?"

"Restaurant. Political rally. Ran out of chairs."

"... and so you broke a table?" Damn, his temper has not improved!

"She tried to sit on my lap. I swear Duo that if that smile actually reaches your lips, I'll break your spine as easily as that goddamn table."

"OK, time for the big guns. Lemme see. I know it's a bit extreme, but... "

Sharp glance.

"Well, you could tell her you're, erm, now remember, this is just a ruse, so don't kill me, but maybe you can tell her you're gay?"

"I am gay."

Bo-ong.

Heero turned back with a snarl and a glare at a recumbent Duo, and then he glanced at the Stop sign still vibrating under the shock of the full frontal tackle the braided man had involuntarily subjected it to.

"Wh-wh-"

"Look where you're going, baka! We need to keep moving! She'll be circling the streets around the building by now."

"Bu-but-you-"

"Yes I told her that too, and she said that love shouldn't be a matter of gender. I told her in my case it was, and she said that I was a bigot and she would help me get past that."

"Man... you er you really are-"

"Any other bright ideas? That won't get me a sentence for first degree?"

"So are you seeing someone?"

"I don't think that would work; if I rub her nose in my relationship that would just make her jealous as well as obsessed-"

"... so you ARE seeing someone-"

"-and I refuse to subject anybody to that kind of stress."

"So you're NOT seeing someone."

"How can I see someone when I can't go anywhere without running into her or one of her people? I spend my time ducking behind cover instead of making acquaintances! And I refuse to get interested in anyone I work with. I've got enough problems. Any other bright ideas?"

"... I'm sorry my head is still spinning... You tried a restraining order?"

"I wanted to. But Une buried that before it could fly, because of the scandal."

"Erm... fake your death?"

Glare.

"OK too extreme. Did you try sleeping with her?"

Duo slammed into a rigid, well-muscled back as Heero screeched to a halt.

"What??"

"Well you know, some girls, they call it romance but really when you get down to it they lose interest after the high point is reached and-"

Old stony-face actually looked nauseous. "... maybe I could fake my death... we have a witness relocation program... "

"Let's not panic yet. Have you tried developing a habit she finds repulsive?"

"Like, for instance, being a terrorist?" Heero started walking again, his scowl acting like a cattle-prod to the people on the streets who were foolish enough to get in his way.

"... OK yeah. Well actually, no, you see, that's something she thinks she can ‘save' you from, in her romantic little mind."

"Her demented little mind."

"Maybe if you stopped taking a shower for a few weeks-"

"It wouldn't work."

"I'm almost afraid to ask how you know."

"I ran into her just as I was coming back from my last undercover mission. My clothes were in tatters, I hadn't washed for a week, hadn't slept in three days, hadn't eaten in two, and I'd just slogged through a sewer."

"... What did she say?"

"That she understood why I neglected myself, that it was obvious I didn't take care of myself when she wasn't around, that she would take care of me from now on. And that she'd got Une to agree to no longer let me take undercover missions."

"... I'm surprised you didn't clock her one."

"I did."

"And?"

"She forgave me."

"I've known tattoos that were easier to shake off."

"Hn."

Duo looked at his friend as they dodged down an alley, across a street and into a small park.

"Right, well, time for the Extreme Measure I guess."

Heero finally slowed and glanced around suspiciously. No one was around. He relaxed a fraction and leaned back against a planter. He didn't have much hope for Duo's extreme measure, despite the capitalization, but he was willing to listen. It was nice to see him again. Just listening to Duo somehow lifted his spirits, though this wouldn't be visible on the perfect soldier's face.

He'd... missed the baka. He would have liked to visit him on L2, especially after he'd heard that he was only employed by Hilde and not-... but that would have been complicated, since Relena would have followed him and... He sighed.

"So what's the extreme- sorry, Extreme Measure?"

Duo was uncharacteristically serious, eyes resolute, jaw firm, shoulders squared. He looked like he'd been handed a particularly arduous mission, one that would cost him both physically and mentally. Heero felt a touch of sudden anxiety.

"First, you're gonna promise me not to kill me for any part of this plan."

"Erm-"

"Promise?"

"Very well." How could it be worse than what he was going through with Relena on a daily basis?

On the face of it, it certainly was. Heero found himself flexing his hand on his gun at several points during Duo's explanation.

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