+ Chapter 11 (cont)
SENT: AC197 JUL 08 1926hrs
SUBJECT: Hey Gorgeous!
How are you and your Prince UnCharming? *grin* Did you manage to
get a formal proposal from him yet? Just present it as a mission. You
know him, he can't refuse.
I hope you got the postcards. I wasn't sure where to send them, so they
went to your office. Did Heero like his?
I should be coming home soon. Just waiting to hear from Quatre and
make sure his offer of a place to stay is still open. See you soon!
Hugs & Kisses
OH! Tell Heero to send me his new contact details. I have to get a new
e-mail address too; I'll let you know when I do.
"He loved that four-x address," Heero muttered. "It's the
name of a beer in Australia, I think..."
"Heero? Do you want to see these? They're getting worse," Relena
"No," he said, glancing up briefly at her. "I can hear.
Duo sent us postcards, by the way."
Relena winced. "He sent them here?"
"All the mail sent to me at the Ministry goes through my secretary,"
she said tiredly, waving her hands in a throw-away gesture. "I think
we can guess what happened to them."
Heero nodded again, clicking on the next mail. "Ah. He sent us an
electronic postcard, too; a photo of Uluru. 'Here's a picture of that
big red rock in the middle of Australia. I had to test my new e-mail addy
anyway, and this is one of the big tourist things Down Under, so... I'm
down here toasting the end of xxxx.com with XXXX beer! Mail me, 'kay?'"
Relena smiled sadly, then nodded to Georg. As the next call played, Heero
clicked his way through the next few messages -- brief updates
on where Duo was and what he was doing -- then stopped as he came
to a longer one.
SENT: AC197 AUG 20 1714hrs
Hi Relena, Heero,
How are you? I haven't heard from you. Is everything OK? I suppose
you're both real busy.
Did Quatre tell you about the close call? Next time, I pilot the
shuttle. If I'd been flying, I'd still have my laptop, instead
of a bunch
of pieces. It's a bad day when Shinigami has to use an internet cafe.
Well, gotta go. Do you have room for me to visit?
P.S. You REALLY need to get a new secretary, Relena. The one you've
got is very rude.
P.P.S. HEERO! Send me your contact details!
He sounds worried in this one, Heero thought, frowning. Worried,
and trying to hide it from us... and what's this about a close call?!
His train of thought abruptly cut off as he heard Marie Reynard's raised
voice from Relena's terminal.
<<You might as well give up! I don't care what sort of handout
you're after, and I don't care what sob story you've got to tell.
Miss Relena doesn't associate with worthless bums like you!>>
"Shit," Relena said conversationally. "That bitch."
When Heero looked up, Relena was looking calmly at the screen; the only
outward sign of emotion was a whiteness around her lips as she pressed
them tightly together, holding back further comment. Georg, however, was
"That sucks," he burst out angrily. "I'm amazed
she passed the security checks. There should have been something
in there to tell us she was such a bitch!"
"I don't think being a bitch is normally considered a security
risk, Georg," Relena said in a tightly controlled voice. "It's
not something the checks look for."
"You know what I mean, ma'am," he grumbled.
Heero opened the last message.
SENT: AC197 SEP 15 0342hrs
I still haven't heard from any of you. Did I do something wrong? I'd like
to come home, but I'll need a place to stay... just for a little while.
you put me up? Just until I find something else?
I'll be at the Blake's Port Motel on L1 for another four days. Please
me if I can stay with you. Call any time. I don't sleep much.
Heero stood up, turned around, and slammed his fist through the wall panel
behind his chair.
"Heero! What's wrong?"
"Mr Yui, are you--"
"Read it," Heero spat out, pulling his fist back for
"...Oh. Oh no," Relena moaned, pressing her hand to her mouth
as she read and Heero methodically demolished the panel behind her.
"Mr Yui, you're bleeding!" Georg protested.
"I know." *CRASH!*
"All he wanted was to come home. All he wanted was to know if he
was welcome... but because I was stupid enough to hire that opinionated,
stuck-up bitch, he thought he didn't have a home to come
Heero curiously examined his torn knuckles, turning his hand and watching
as a trickle of blood ran down to his wrist.
"What do we do now?" he asked quietly.
* * * * *
It took hours for Duo to finish his story. He never really stopped crying
as he talked; his words were interrupted by sobs, and several times he
broke down completely and couldn't continue until Wufei soothed him. Towards
the end, his voice was so ravaged by coughing, crying and talking that
it was reduced to a raspy whisper, but Wufei never considered telling
him to stop. Duo needed to get it all out... and Wufei needed to hear
He started at the very beginning, with Solo.
Wufei listened intently as Duo told him everything, including things
he'd never told Heero. He went on from Solo's death to the destruction
of Maxwell Church, and to all the things that happened to him on the streets
before and after those happier times. He talked about what had happened
to him during the war; some of it Wufei already knew, but there was more
-- things that Duo had hidden so well that even Quatre hadn't realised
anything was wrong.
"And then we won," Duo whispered, "and I thought maybe...
maybe things would be OK. We'd all made it through the war alive, and
it looked like we all had a chance to be happy. Trowa and Quatre had each
other. Heero and Relena were working it out. And... I..." He swallowed,
turning to press his face into Wufei's chest.
"I screwed up again," Duo continued, voice muffled. "I
screwed up, and I thought you hated me, and I ran away like a coward.
I just... I was only going to stay away for a little while. I needed to
spend some time alone, so I could get things sorted out, and... so the
others wouldn't find out. I didn't want them to know. Heero woulda got
mad. Quatre and Relena woulda been upset. Trowa... I dunno about Trowa.
Something. I didn't want them to fuss, and I didn't want them blaming
you for something that was my fault."
"It wasn't your fault," Wufei murmured, blinking back
tears of his own and tightening his arms around the boy lying cradled
against his chest.
Duo continued as if he hadn't spoken. "And when I got myself to the
point where I figured I could come back... I couldn't. Nobody would talk
to me. Nobody would return my calls or my e-mails... I couldn't even leave
messages for Heero; all his numbers had changed. And then everything started
going to shit.
"I was starting to think maybe I should hack into Relena's system,
or Quatre's... bypass all the damn secretaries and talk to them direct...
and then there was a cargo accident on the shuttle I was on, and I didn't
have a laptop any more. I tried anyway, from a public terminal, but without
the stuff built into my laptop I couldn't get through. The security was
too good. I was so glad I still had my CDs at least, but half of them
got smashed when some idiot drove over my bag in a carpark, and then my
hotel room was broken into when I was out and they took the player and
the rest of my disks. I didn't even get reimbursed for them, 'cause the
hotel said I musta left the door unlocked. They threw me out when I argued.
"Then my money started to run out--"
"Why?" Wufei asked, gently stroking Duo's back. He was pretty
sure he knew the answer, but wanted to hear it from Duo's mouth. "You
got so much money from OZ during the war. What happened to it?"
"I gave it away," Duo said matter-of-factly. "They needed
it more than I did."
"...Kids. Charities. Everyone, really. They deserved it." There
was a short pause, then Duo continued. "I started getting sick, and
I wasn't sleeping much. The last of my money just kinda disappeared. And
then Relena's secretary... I gave up. I thought that was it. I thought
there wasn't anything left that could make me feel worse..." He started
to sob again. "I s-started hiding. I mean, really hiding,
not just messing up my trail for fun or b-because it was a habit. I d-didn't
really think anyone would l-look for me, n-not after so long, but... I
w-wasn't taking the chance. I didn't w-want to see them any more, except
sometimes when I wanted to t-tell them what I thought of them. I n-never
wanted it enough to try c-calling again, though. And then... I...
"I finally went back to L2. I d-didn't want to, but it was
n-nearly the anniversary, and... I n-needed to pay my respects. And I...
I got mugged. They g-got me in an alley, and I tried to fight, really
I d-did, b-but I just wasn't strong enough any more... and..."
Duo started to cry in earnest, clutching desperately at Wufei's T-shirt
and his own braid.
"They took my cross, 'Fei. The cross Father Maxwell gave me.
I thought nothing could hurt worse than what had already happened, and
then they t-took my c-cross... Everything goes, 'Fei! Everything
I get, I lose again eventually. Everyone I c-care about dies or leaves
me. I don't know what I did to deserve it, but I musta done something...
otherwise why wouldn't I get to keep just one thing? Just one?
And now I'm so scared because I don't know when you'll be taken
away from me again..."
"I won't, Duo," Wufei insisted fiercely, tears running
down his face as he held Duo even closer. "I won't. I promise.
I'll stay with you as long as you want me to."
"But... I can't... I can't even watch you walk out the d-door without
"I may leave to go shopping, or to go to work... but I'll always
come back. I promise, Duo."
Duo eventually cried himself to sleep, curled up against Wufei's chest
and cradled in his arms.
There must be some way to explain what happened so that Duo no longer
thinks it was his fault, Wufei thought, slowly stroking the sleeping
boy's hair. The first thing to do, obviously, is to find out exactly
what did happen. I know what happened to his messages to Relena...
but what about the others? Why did Heero change his contact details?
I don't remember an explanation; he just e-mailed me one day with his
new numbers, from his new e-mail address, and I never asked why.
He sighed, carefully shifting around in preparation for standing up. Even
then, it won't explain why it took eight months for them to think about
looking for Duo. Even if they thought he was keeping in touch with me,
why didn't they ask me about him sooner? Why didn't they wonder why I
didn't mention him? He carefully stood up with Duo in his arms, wincing
as various muscles protested the movement after sitting still for so long.
How can I explain this to Duo when I don't understand it myself? And
can I really expect him to forgive the others, when I don't want
We'll have to work something out, Wufei thought, carrying
Duo towards the bedroom. Duo's lost too many families.
He gently settled Duo onto the futon without waking him, then hesitated.
Damn... the washing's still in the dryer downstairs. Can I leave him
for five minutes to go get it? I really don't want him to wake
up and find him alone in the apartment... and he's certain to have
nightmares tonight, after dragging up all those bad memories. If one starts
while I'm gone--
Duo whimpered softly, pulling himself into a tighter curl, one hand clutching
at the neck of his T-shirt. The other hand started patting over the blankets
on the empty side of the bed.
Screw the laundry. Wufei pulled the covers back and slid carefully
into bed beside Duo, holding him close.
 'begrepen' = 'acknowledged'
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