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

Please don't get mad at me for the Hilde/Relena thing in here. I know MANY couples who are like this and they do exactly what Duo says they do. Warnings: In the great forest of life, all I have to offer is the sap.

Afterwards + Part 10

Saturday morning I woke up early. Duo liked to sleep in on Saturdays, not to a totally late hour, no more than 9 usually, but still too late for me. It was easy enough for me to slide out of bed, feed and walk Val and then come back to curl up on the couch with the newsreader or a book until he woke up.

There wasn't anything too interesting on the newsfile, so I contented myself by staring at the end of Duo's braid and thinking about how easily he had managed to fit into my life. Our routines had settled quickly, he got along with my friends; it was if I had just been waiting for him to come along and step into my life.

My friends had accepted Duo with minimal teasing on their parts. I will never forget the look on Sophie's face when I brought him out with me that first night, but all she did was whisper 'good choice, handsome' in my ear. Duo, of course, got on famously with all of them. He had them eating out of his hand in no time.

I was glad. Duo was a social person and I didn't want to take him away from any of that. He laughed when I mentioned something like that and said that I had forgotten what the others were like.

I had forgotten, but I think they had also changed. Quatre called every few days- or we called him. Busy or not he always had time for us. He spent a lot of time on Earth and usually made time to see us whenever he could.

Of course, where Quatre was, Trowa was as well. Trowa didn't talk much on the phone, but the man excelled at sending email. We could count on at least one email from Trowa everyday, usually with some kind of funny incident, joke or story included. Duo said that Quatre had helped Trowa get a sense of humor, but I disagreed. I remembered Trowa laughing during the war and I said so. Duo said he didn't see anything funny about my self- destruction and told me that Trowa and I must have 'warped' senses of humor. That I could agree with.

Wufei also called, or we called him, about once a week. He emailed as well, though not as frequently as Trowa. Wufei managed to come along occasionally when we met Quatre and Trowa, and he'd always bring Sally with him. Out of all of them, Wufei was the one I could see the most changes in, and I was glad of it.

Hilde and Relena traveled everywhere all the time. Relena's job called for it, of course, and she went wherever she was needed. Hilde was getting to the point where it was uncomfortable for her to travel, so she was staying close to home. We got emails and phone calls from the both of them fairly frequently.

We were supposed to see the pilots this afternoon for a late lunch and then play something that Quatre had called 'putt-putt'. Duo called it minigolf and said that it would be fun. I looked it up and had my doubts. It looked like a kid thing to do, but then it fit in with my real-world research, so I had agreed.

I was flipping through a bunch of 'human interest' stories when Duo finally stirred. Once I got out of bed he had a tendency to burrow deeper under the covers, usually with only his braid left showing. He woke up quickly, we all did- a remainder of our time as soldiers.

"Morning!" He said cheerfully as he stretched.

"Good morning," I smiled at the picture he made. "I was wondering if you were going to wake up today."

"Ha ha. Is that tea?" He gestured at the cup I was holding in my hand.

"Coffee actually."

"Any left?"

"Of course. Want some?"

"I'll get it." He tumbled out of bed and headed towards the kitchen. "What time are we meeting the guys?"

"One, so you have plenty of time to get ready. It's only nine."

"You make it sound like it takes me a long time," he made a face at me. I grinned back.

"I'm not the one that spends an hour in the bathroom." I teased.

"I do not!" He grinned back. "Fifty minutes tops!" I rolled my eyes at him as he walked back over, coffee cup in hand. Instead of sitting down at the other end, as I had expected him to, Duo nudged me away from the arm of the sofa that I had propped myself against and slipped in behind me. He tugged me back down so that I was leaning back against him and looked over my shoulder at the reader.

"Anything interesting?"

"Nope. All quiet. Just 'interest' stories, no big breaking news." I flipped through a few of the more interesting ones for him.

After awhile I turned off the reader and put it and my coffee cup down on the table before returning to lean on Duo. "Are you looking forward to today?" He asked me.

"I still think handing Wufei a three foot long piece of metal is a bad idea." I told him. "Promise you won't aggravate him?" He laughed.

"I'll do my best. But don't worry. Sally is going too. If anyone can keep Wufei calm, it's her."

"Are you sure?" I slid down until my head was on Duo's leg, so that I could make eye contact with him. "Are you forgetting the pool incident?"

"Well, she was right, he was being annoying."

"Duo, she hit him with her pool cue. Repeatedly."

"Hm, maybe you're right. Who decided that minigolf would be a good idea?"

"You and Quatre. So if anyone gets injured, I'm holding the two of you responsible."

"Us? If Wufei goes into a rage you're the only one that has a chance of getting the club away from him."

"True. But Sally is a different story." Duo groaned.

"Good point." He ruffled my bangs. "In that case, we need to have a plan."

"Easy enough."

"You have one already?"

"Yes. We run like hell." He leaned down and kissed my forehead.

"Works for me. Now, as much as I love being your pillow, you need to move so I can go shower."

"Okay," I sat up and picked up one of my books. "I'll see you in fifty minutes." Duo yanked my ponytail and made a face.

"Great, I never should have said that. Now you'll time me."

"Yep."

+

"Things going well?" Quatre asked me as we stood by the tee mat waiting for Trowa to take his shot at getting that dratted little ball through the door of the windmill at the right moment. Wufei, Sally and Duo were already down on the green below, waiting.

Fortunately the minigolf was not crowded, so we weren't holding anyone up as the six of us played. It was more enjoyable than I had imagined, since despite the huge amount of physics that all of us knew, we still were having trouble getting the ball into the hole.

"I think so," I answered Quatre after a moment. I looked to where Duo was standing down on the next level and smiled. He was telling Sally something that required a lot of hand gestures. Trowa swore. He had missed the windmill's door and his ball had gone down the other chute. Quatre took his place on the mat.

"Duo's happy," Quatre told me as, without any preparation, he swung at the ball. It easily rolled through the open door and took the hole in one chute to the green. How did he do that?

"Hn." I said as I put my ball on the mat. Quatre was not fooled.

"You know he is."

"I know he is," I repeated and met Quatre's eyes. "Don't push."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Quatre gave me his best angelic look and strolled down to the green. I rolled my eyes at his back. Duo caught my expression and raised a questioning eyebrow. I shook my head at him and took my shot.

"What was Quatre talking to you about?" He asked me as we stood waiting for Wufei to make his shot on the next hole. Wufei gave us a glare over his shoulder and I moved close to whisper in Duo's ear.

"Just asked how it was going."

"Did he?" Duo's eyebrow went up. "What did you say?"

"I told him not to push." Duo looked past the mini-volcano at where Quatre was standing with Trowa and Sally.

"Would you two stop whispering?" Wufei snapped. "Really Yuy, I was hoping you'd have a quieting effect on Maxwell, not that he'd teach you to chatter."

"Oi Fei! That's harsh!" I told him in my best Duo imitation. Duo cracked up, and Wufei looked like he couldn't decide to laugh or hit me with the club. I had been loud enough that the other three had heard me. Trowa was grinning and Quatre and Sally were giggling. Duo topped it off by giving me a glare and snapping:

"Shut up baka!" He imitated me better than I did him. That made Sally and Quatre giggle harder. Wufei rolled his eyes and turned back to the green.

"Can't you two figure out someway to be quiet for a minute?" Duo's eyes gleamed and before I knew it, he had tilted me over his arm and kissed me. Wufei glanced back at us and hit his ball into the water.

It was a brief teasing kiss, but it was enough to make me grin at him. Quatre applauded and Sally joined in.

"Unfair tactics!" Wufei complained.

"Hey, all's fair in love, war and mini-golf!" Duo proclaimed and placed his ball on the mat. "It's not my fault you got distracted."

Needless to say, the rest of our minigolf game was made up of attempts to distract the other players. It was a great afternoon.

+

Duo was already in bed by the time I finished locking everything up and joined him.

"Have fun today?" I asked him as I pulled my rubber band out of my hair and lay down beside him.

"Yep." He curled up next to me as he always did, one arm across my chest, his head on my shoulder. "Especially when Wufei made that comment about Sally's bad shot and you challenged him to a duel."

"I won too," I reminded him with a grin.

"Only because Sally made that crack about giving a kiss to the winner."

"Even though she didn't," I complained.

"Good thing she didn't. Wufei would've killed you."

"Maybe," I smirked. "But wouldn't it have been worth it to see the look on his face?" Duo laughed and propped himself up on his elbow.

"Yes, though I wouldn't have liked losing you." A shadow replaced the laughter for a split second. Then he bent down and kissed me.

He lingered over my mouth asking me silently to allow him access. I opened my lips and let him kiss me deeply. I slid one arm around his waist, my free hand going up to clasp his neck. I didn't want to let go. Gods, no.

But when he showed the first signs of retreat, I let him go. He was flushing, but he met my eyes easily.

"Thank you," I told him, letting my fingers play with the end of his braid. He put his head down on my shoulder.

"Thank you," he told me. "I know this isn't easy for you, but I'm still..."

"I know," I cut him off, cradling him against me. "You know that I will take whatever you give me, Duo. It's more than I ever expected- more than I dreamed already."

"You deserve more," I couldn't see his face, but I could hear him struggling over the words. "Better than..."

"No. You're what I want. I've always wanted you, Duo, from that first moment on the submarine." He moved quickly then, moving to look into my face.

"I shot you." He said unbelievingly.

"So? And why do you think I was so distracted that you managed to shoot me? You knocked me completely off-balance." He saw the truth of it in my expression

"That long? You wanted me that long ago?"

"Yes." I reached up and smoothed a strand of hair off of his face. "You are handsome Duo, and I wanted you for that reason alone at first. Then I got to know you. Your friendliness, your determination, and all the other things that make you Duo, made me fall harder." He kissed me again, longer and more lingering before he put his head down on my shoulder.

"I'm so glad I decided to wound you and not kill you," he said softly in the dark.

"Me too." I chuckled for him, trying to lighten the mood. "Can you imagine what Relena would've done to you if you had?" He groaned.

"Oh gods. She would've ripped me apart with her bare hands."

"Yes. She wasn't a pacifist yet, after all."

[part 9] [part 11] [back to Merula's fic]