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

Um... not much in this chapter- just a conversation and some- other stuff. WAFF and sap warnings. In the great forest of life, all I have to offer is the sap.

Afterwards + Part 8

The next morning, while Duo was in the shower I made breakfast and prepared his lunch. He did the same thing for me on Monday mornings when I was the one going into work. We fell back into our routine over breakfast, talking about our plans for the day and the headlines on the newsfile.

Duo picked up his satchel and keys and headed for the door. I followed him and put my hand on the doorknob. He turned a bit and blinked up at me. Usually when he headed towards the door, I headed towards my computer. I was going to break the routine this morning. After last night's talk, I knew I needed to show him that I was happy to have him with me.

"Have a good day." I slid my free hand around his waist and tugged him towards me. My lips brushed his cheek in a brief kiss and I whispered: "I love you. Call if you're going to be late." He gave me one of his brilliant smiles as I let him go and opened the door.

"I will. See you tonight." He bounded down the stairs, waving his hand in the air. I closed the door after him and set to work.

That night Duo came home at the usual time. To my surprise and delight, he walked over to me and brushed his lips over my temple. "Did you miss me?" He asked lightly.

"I always miss you when you're gone," I told him honestly, looking away from the monitor for a minute. "Dinner's almost ready. I just have to send the logs off to Jack."

"Don't forget that," Duo laughed. "That guy is a psycho when it comes to your logs." I raised my eyebrow at him and he winked back.

"Anything exciting happen today?" I asked him when I had finished, joining him in the kitchen. He was setting the table.

"Well, let's see. Sally sent me an email complaining that Wufei is being too stubborn. Wufei sent me an email complaining that Sally is being too stubborn. Noin sent me an email complaining that both Zechs and Wufei are being macho jerks. Relena sent me an email complaining that Hilde is getting awfully bitchy and Hilde sent me one complaining about her feet. Oh, and I went over a bunch of unsolved cases and sat in some boring meetings."

"Do the Preventers realize that you are acting as an unofficial counselor for so many people?" I smiled at him.

"Nope, but I should say something. Maybe Une will give me a raise." He finished setting the table as I pulled dinner out of the oven.

"So, what advice did you give them all, Dr. Maxwell?"

"The same things I always say. It's not like it matters- they just want someone to complain to." I dished up the casserole and handed him his plate.

"And you always listen." I told him as I sat down.

"Yep," he lost his smile for a minute.

"What Duo?" He gave me a searching look.

"I was just thinking- here are all these people that tell me everything- and the one person I want to talk to me the most, never really does."

"You can't mean me," I met his gaze, surprised by the flash of hurt I saw in his eyes. "I talk to you all the time."

"But not about big things." He leaned over the table. "That night- when I listened to you talk to Quatre I realized that you had never talked that way to me. Like you didn't plan out every word before you said it- it was exactly what you were feeling."

"I talked to you like that last night," I told him, a bit uneasily.

"Yes- but for a minute there I thought you were going to tell me that it was nothing- just a stupid dream." I flushed, since that was exactly what I had thought about. "That night with Quatre- he just asked and you told him everything." He sounded kind of sad- almost wistful and I realized that here was another thing I needed to fix.

"That's because- he had listened before." I put my fork down. "He- it was years ago- but one night I was- really upset. Quatre felt it and came to talk to me."

"So, you trust him?"

"Yes," I met his eyes. "I trust you too, you know."

"I know." He looked back at me steadily. "Can you do something for me?"

"Anything." He smiled faintly.

"Can you try to talk to me sometimes, like I'm Quatre? I just- I know there's a lot of things about you that you don't tell anyone. Like Odin Lowe. Or how you met J. You know- things like that. You can pretend I'm Quatre."

"You aren't Quatre," I told him, reaching a hand up to brush a piece of hair from his cheek. "You're Duo. I wouldn't tell Quatre those things, but I'll tell them to you." His smile brightened a little. "Will you tell me a few things too?"

"Like what?"

"All the things about you that you don't tell anyone." His eyes met mine understandingly.

"It's a deal." He grinned at me, and the moment was over. "We'd better eat before it gets cold. How did work go today?"

So we talked about work, our plans for the weekend, and our guesses as to whether Hilde was going to have a girl or a boy all through dinner.

Afterwards though, instead of joining Duo on the couch to watch TV I went over to my closet. I bent down and found the box that I had put down there ages ago. Duo was sitting on the couch, watching me. He hadn't turned the TV on yet.

I got back to my feet, the silver detonator in my hands. I walked back over to the couch and instead of sitting on my side; I sat next to Duo, pulling him close to me. I put the detonator in his hands.

"A detonator?" He said, in a questioning tone.

"It's the only thing I have to remind me of Odin," I answered. "I took it out of his hand when he was dying and completed his last job." Duo turned the detonator over in his hands.

"You said that he died when you were seven?"

"About that, yeah. I'm not really sure how old I am. I don't even know how I ended up with him, but it was a good cover, having a little kid with you. No one suspected a man traveling with his son."

"Did you help him?"

"Yes. He taught me how to fire a gun, rig explosives," I paused, "kill someone quietly... Odin was a through teacher. After he died, J found me. He was delighted that I already knew so much."

"And I thought my childhood sucked," Duo frowned.

"Odin wasn't a bad man," I said softly. "When we were on his last job I think- I think somehow he knew he wasn't going to make it. He told me that after it was over I could go to school- live a normal life. He had taught me enough so that I could survive." I smiled at the thought. "I don't think J was what he had in mind for me."

"What was his last job?" Duo asked quietly, leaning back against me, his head under my chin.

"Taking out an alliance command center- and the general in charge of it. He failed to get the general. I blew up the center." I touched the detonator gently. "Odin told me, right before we went on that job that I needed to follow my emotions. He said you never knew when some fool was going to change the future- so if you did what your heart told you, then you wouldn't ever regret your actions."

"That is a good piece of advice." Duo smiled. "What did J think about it?"

"J always gave me choices even though I think he wanted me to be more logical in my thinking rather than just trusting my feelings. He's the one who gave me the name 'Heero Yuy' right before I left for Earth. Ironic really- since Odin was the one who assassinated him." Duo froze in my arms.

"Odin killed Yuy?"

"I think so. I studied the attempt later. It had his signature all over it. I think that was what he talked about when he said any fool could change the future. That was another reason why I didn't want to keep his name." Duo sat silently for a moment.

"What did J call you before?"

"Hm? I didn't have a name before."

"Odin didn't call you anything?"

"Son, if other people were around, Kid, if not."

"Did he ever tell you anything about yourself?"

"Only that space had taken everything away from me. He never explained that statement either." I shrugged.

"Sounds like a real enigma." Duo turned the detonator over slowly in his hands. "I don't know anything about my family either. I just remember the streets. Like you, I chose my own name." He smiled faintly, fingers tightening on the detonator.

"Really? I always thought 'Duo' was unusual. Why'd you pick it?"

"I had a friend named Solo. He and everyone else I knew died in that plague that hit L2." He shivered.

I hugged Duo tightly against myself as he continued to talk. "Solo... died in my arms. I didn't have a name then- just whatever I felt like calling myself. I told him that I was going to live for both of us, so I was Duo. Two instead of one." I kissed his temple, his cheek and his ear comfortingly, as if he were that child still. He tucked himself tighter against me.

"And the Maxwell?"

"I stayed at an orphanage with Father Maxwell." Duo shivered harder in my arms. "I can't... I'll tell you about that later, okay?"

"Okay," I agreed. We had time. I held him against me, my lips caressing his neck gently, just barely tasting him. He shivered.

"That- feels good," he murmured to me.

"It's supposed to," I told him. I felt his body relax suddenly and he leaned his head back to rest on my shoulder exposing more of his neck and throat to my mouth. "Does this- bother you?" I asked him quietly.

"No," I felt him take a deep breath. "I like it." He turned his head and I felt his mouth on my chin. I took in a shaky breath. "What do you think?" I turned him slightly in my arms and claimed his mouth. He opened his lips for me and I tasted him, tangling his tongue with mine.

I pulled away after a time, knowing that if I continued I'd want to taste all of Duo, which I was sure he wasn't up for yet. His eyes blinked open, and he looked slightly dazed. I had to smile.

"You okay?"

"I'm great," he smiled back at me.

"Didn't feel 'brotherly'?" I questioned with a grin.

"Absolutely not." He shook his head decisively. "Don't think we have to worry about that."

"Good." I let him go reluctantly and reached for the remote. I didn't want to push. I turned the TV on and leaned back against the couch. Duo curled up next to me and put his head on my shoulder.

[part 7] [part 9] [back to Merula's fic]