Author: Merula
Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.

PLEASE READ: Just to keep the time line from getting confusing, let me point out that the beach conversation was Thursday, most of this chapter happens on Sunday and then we move to the Friday that Duo talks about at the end of his chapter. Okay? Hope that makes sense. I wanted to show you guys that Duo is trying like he said he was.

So, now, back to our Heero...

Afterwards + Part 14

I wasn't really happy with Duo's answer that we had found out 'enough' about him. We hadn't really found out anything beyond the fact that at the age of two he had been in a fire and someone had died to save him. On Sunday morning, I asked again if we should keep looking.

"No. I know enough, Heero. I'm content. It's your turn now."

"But we could still check the other colonies records, and then Earth's..."

"That would take forever." He snuggled down into my arms, tugging the covers tighter around us. "I'm happy with what we found, Heero. It's time to start looking for you." He glanced up into my eyes. "Unless you don't want to know..."

"I do." I looked at the clock. 9am. Since Duo and I had started using the bed for more than sleeping I had a harder time getting out of it in the mornings. It was too easy to stay curled up next to Duo's warmth. Duo laughed as if he could read my thoughts.

"Feeling too lazy to get out of bed?"

"Too comfortable," I replied.

"Mmm," he agreed, closing his eyes. "I could stay here with you all day."

"Don't tempt me," I told him. "You promised Wufei that you'd help him shop for Sally's birthday present."

"I did no such thing."

"Yes you did," I laughed at him. "You told Fei you'd meet him at noon, and you know it takes an hour to get to that mall. You'd better get up."

"I must've been crazy," he groaned as he dragged himself out of bed. "Going shopping with Fei? At a mall? He'll kill someone before the day is over."

"As long as it's not you," I got up and let Val out. She'd been patiently waiting at the foot of our bed for her lazy humans to get up and take care of her.

"You're coming with us, right?" Duo scrounged around for his clothes.

"I don't recall ever saying that I would." I replied loftily as I got Val's breakfast ready for her. "I was thinking..."

Duo pounced on me, pinning me back against the wall. "Oh no? You'd abandon me to a fate worse than death? I love you! Don't you care that you are sending me into the dragon's den without even a kind word..."

"The stage missed out when you didn't go into acting," I sighed, unable to resist my lover. "All right, I'll go. But you owe me for this Maxwell."

"I know it," Duo's voice shifted to a throaty purr and he rubbed up against me like a big cat. "I'll be very grateful."

"If you don't stop that," I told him conversationally, "we're going to be late meeting Wufei. Unless you're planning to cut your shower short."

"Spoilsport," Duo made a face and let me go. "It's a good thing I love you or I'd be very cross right now." He kissed me teasingly and headed for the bathroom.

I let Val in and she headed for her breakfast with enthusiasm. I sat down on the couch. The doubts that had plagued me since Thursday hadn't left. Did Duo truly love me? He sure said it a lot. Was he making up for lost time or trying to convince himself? I looked down at my chest, seeing the faint scars left behind. Was it my imagination, or had his hands lingered on those places when he said that he loved me?

I could curse myself for doubting him, but I knew my Duo. He wouldn't have called himself Shinigami if on some level he didn't believe it. Did he love me- or was it only because he thought I was strong enough to survive him?

Duo made it out of the shower in record time- the thought of an impatient Wufei waiting for us at the mall wasn't pleasant. I took my shower and got dressed. Duo came up behind me as I was pulling on my shoes.

"Forget something?" He teased as he pulled my hair back into a ponytail, twisting the rubber band with practiced ease.

"Thanks," I turned my head and accepted his kiss.

"Can't wait til it gets long enough to braid." I rolled my eyes at him.

"I'm not braiding it. I'd look stupid."

"No you wouldn't," he countered as he followed me out of the house. "I think you'd look great." He hopped into the car. "Of course, I think you always look great."

I had to smile. "I'm still not braiding it."

"You will," he informed me airily as I started the car. "You will fall prey to my faultless logic, great sense of fashion and outright pleading and you'll let me braid it."

"Okay yes, you do have a great fashion sense and yes, you know I can't resist your pleading- but faultless logic? Duo, I'd look stupid." I countered as we headed towards the freeway. "Not everyone can carry off a braid after all," I commented, trying to switch tactics.

"Flattery will get you no where." He laughed.

We managed to beat Wufei to the mall. I was grinning by the time we got there. Duo had, as always, kept me highly entertained in the car despite the drive.

"He's not here yet," Duo surveyed the entrance.

"We're early," I looked at my watch. "He'll be here in the next 5 minutes." Fei was punctual to a fault. I leaned against the wall near the door. "What do you want to do until he gets here?"

The expression of sheer mischief on Duo's face alarmed me.

"I have the greatest idea," he purred and stalked towards me. "We had to stop so suddenly this morning..."

"Am I going to like this idea? Is Fei going to hurt us over it?" I questioned as he leaned into me, pressing me up against the wall. Hadn't I been in this position once today?

"You'll like it. And Fei will learn to be on time." Duo kissed me then, not a casual 'public' kiss but deep and searching.

I should've protested. We were in a public place and Fei was on his way, but...

I can't resist when he kisses me like that.

It wasn't until we heard a: "Maxwell! Yuy!" that Duo finally let me go.

Wufei was standing beside us, an interesting expression on his face, cheeks slightly red. After a moment I realized that he was trying not to smile. "If you two don't mind, you did promise to help me today- remember?"

"You were late," Duo grinned. "I had to do something to keep out of trouble until you got here." Wufei rolled his eyes and turned to me.

"Many apologies Heero. Thank you for keeping him out of trouble until I got here." I had to laugh. Fei's tone was apologetic but the hint of a smirk on his face was too much to resist.

"Ah, he's never too much trouble..."

"I'm not six you know," Duo rolled his eyes, but he was amused too. "Did Sally give you a list?" He asked, changing the subject. He pushed away from me, but kept a firm grip on my arm as we headed into the mall.

"A list? Of course not. I'm supposed to know her well enough to know what she'd like," Fei groaned.

"Sally said that?" I asked.

"Yes."

"You poor, poor man."

"Don't sympathize with him Heero," Duo laughed. "It just means she's been dropping hints."

Duo managed, by careful questioning, to figure out what hints Sally was dropping. It was an easy task after that to find her gifts. We only had to make sure that Fei didn't insult any of the ladies who helped us out in the women's departments. At least some of his time with Sally had mellowed him, but he still growled over 'onnas that wasted his time'. Thank goodness for Duo's charm. He soothed several feathers that Fei had managed to ruffle.

We had lunch with Fei afterwards and he promised to let Duo know how Sally liked her gifts. Duo entertained me on the way home with the story of Fei and Sally's courtship, which I doubt was as amusing as he made it sound.

Though I could see Sally finally cornering Fei in the Preventers' break room with the demand that he either ask her out or quit frightening everyone else off. The expression on his face must've been entertaining to see.

Once we got home, I sat down on the bed to pull my shoes off.

"Tired?" Duo plopped down next to me and kicked off his sneakers.

"No- why?" That mischievous look was back on his face.

"Because," he launched himself at me, knocking me flat onto the bed. "Every time I got you in a good position today we had to stop."

"Ah," was all I managed to get out.

+

A week passed. Duo was affectionate, loving, everything I had ever wanted him to be. He told me that he loved me and most of the time it was easy to believe him. Sometimes though I couldn't help doubting him. I'd see the way his eyes lingered on my scars, or he'd tease me about being 'nigh invulnerable' and I'd start to wonder again.

Friday night we had opted to stay home instead of going out with my coworkers. Since we had started the physical side of our relationship only a week ago, it was far more tempting to stay at home in bed then go out dancing.

Duo was curled up on my chest, his hand stroking over the scars the bullets had left. Kelley's gun- and his. I wished I knew what he was thinking about. He looked up to meet my eyes.

"I love you," he said softly.

"I love you too," I replied, even as I doubted. His expression changed then, and he sat up straight, his eyes burning with something I couldn't classify. Anger? What had I done?

"You don't believe me," his eyes met mine and his voice was flat. "You know I don't lie, Heero! Why don't you believe me?" He continued before I could even think to speak. "I made damn sure to know how I felt about you before I said anything!"

"Duo-" I sat up as well, but he evaded my hand when I reached for him.

"I know I made you wait. I know that you have a hard time seeing your own worth- but Heero, it's hurting me to see the doubt when you look at me." His voice had dropped. "What do I have to do?"

I had to be honest with him. I could hear the pain in his voice; see it in his expression.

"Why do you love me?" I asked him and he blinked. "Is it because I'm-" I had to take a breath, my control was failing me. "Because I'm hard to kill? I know how many people you've loved that have died Duo. Do you love me because you think I'll survive you?"

I know I was a bit incoherent, but Duo understood. I recognized the expression on his face and inside, my heart felt like it was cracking.

I hadn't wanted to be right.

[part 13] [part 15] [back to Merula's fic]