[ dacia's note: mistakenly replaced the quotes in this part with apostrophes. deal ]

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

Afterwards + Part 9

Duo and I were working busily away on Friday afternoon, both of us conscious of the fact that in 2 more hours we could turn off the damn computers and enjoy our weekend. At least, I was. Weekends had definitely become more enjoyable with Duo around.

Duo had just gotten up to take a stretch break and grab a soda when the phone rang.

'I'll get it, Heero,' he told me and answered it. 'Hey gorgeous!' He greeted the girl on the other end. 'I suppose you want Frey?'

It always surprised me how easily Duo switched between my names. I had told him that I didn't care which he called me- he had known me first as Heero after all. He called me Frey when we were out in public or with my coworkers, Heero at home or with our older friends. He had laughed when I'd mentioned it and told me street rats had a dozen aliases. He could easily use two.

'Hey beautiful!' I heard Sophie greet him with her usual enthusiasm. I had to hide a smile. Duo wasn't terribly fond of the nickname Sophie had given him, though he was too nice to tell her so. I told him it could've been worse. Before I was 'handsome', I had been 'cutie'. He had protested that 'cutie' wasn't bad, and so, just to prove my point, I had called him 'sweetie' for a day. He had retaliated with 'cutie', but I was immune thanks to Sophie. Needless to say- I won that argument. 'Do I want Frey? Sure- are you getting rid of him?'

'You know I'm not,' he returned with one of his grins. 'So, to what do we owe the pleasure? Are you calling to yell at Frey- and if you are- can I listen in?'

'Nope,' she laughed back. 'I called for two reasons- first- Slim's is opening for the season next Saturday night.' The season meant summertime when all the tourists came to the coast. 'We wondered if we could put you down to go with us?' Her voice rose questioningly. Duo looked over at me and I nodded.

'We'll be there,' he told her.

'Great! Second- can I talk to Frey?' I had already gotten out of my chair, so I switched places with Duo.

'What can I do for you?' I asked her.

'Lee needs you to send him the RPG background for level 6. He's going to be working this weekend.' She raised an eyebrow at me as if daring me to comment.

'No problem. Work or home?'

'Home,' she answered with a grin. 'Thanks Frey! See you Monday, handsome!'

'Bye gorgeous,' I hung up the phone and went back to my computer.

'What's Slim's?' Duo asked as I sat down.

'It's a dance club. You'll like it.' I told him. He shook his head.

'It still astonishes me that you even go out and do that kind of thing.'

'Why? You've seen me.' I turned and looked at him.

'I know- it's just- you've changed so much since the wars. Sometimes it's hard for me to reconcile you with the old Perfect Soldier I knew.' He was staring at his computer.

'Is... that bad?' I asked hesitantly. He turned his head and smiled for me.

'Of course not. Just back then- sometimes I used to think that you'd end up killing me someday- I'd blow the mission or get caught and you'd kill me.'

'Duo- I wouldn't...'

'I know that now.' He got up from his chair and came to put his arms around my shoulders. 'You never would've. I could just kick myself for not realizing it.' He hugged me for a brief moment. 'I just- feel guilty about some of the things I used to think about you.' I laughed and the tension eased a bit.

'Will it make you feel better if I tell you that even though I loved you, I still sometimes thought that you were a complete idiot?' He yanked my ponytail and chuckled.

'That's not very soothing!' He pouted.

'Get back to work,' I tugged on the end of his braid. 'I'll let you beat me at Soul Caliber 10 later. That should soothe your feelings.'

'You sound like you loose on purpose,' he teased, going back to his computer. 'Quit trying to save face and admit that I can beat you fair and square.'

'Ha.'

A few hours later, Duo had wrapped up his work and I was in the process of sending in my logs. The phone rang.

'Three guesses,' I told Duo.

'I'll get it,' he grinned at me. 'I haven't had the pleasure in awhile.'

'Where's Frey?' Jack snapped the minute Duo answered the phone.

'He's on the computer, sending his logs in as a matter of fact,' Duo replied with a smile. 'Do you want to talk to him?'

'Not really,' Jack snapped back, and then changed his tone to one that made me wish he was close enough to punch: 'You know Duo, I really don't know what you see in that guy. I mean, you could have anybody...' Well, well, this was a first. Before I could get to my feet and do something that I more than likely wouldn't regret later, Duo answered:

'I doubt you'd understand what I see in Frey. It requires a sense of taste.' Duo hit the hang-up key. 'Twit.'

'Yes.' Download complete, I turned off the computer and got to my feet. 'If only he wasn't so good at his job.'

'He's not good at anything else- I mean that was just tacky! Hitting on me like that? I live with you! And it's obvious he thinks we're...' Duo paused and flushed.

'I know.' I went and pulled him away from the phone. 'Jack is not known for his subtlety. Remember the bathroom incident I told you about? Relax Duo, he won't try again for a week or so, at least.' Duo laughed.

'He tries it again and I'll give him the black eye.'

'What do you want to do tonight?' I asked him, slipping my arms around him in a careful hug.

'The same thing we do every Friday! Try and take over the Earth Sphere!'

'But I forgot to make a cunning plan this week.'

'Oh, in that case then, I want you to show me another one of those 'old classic' movies of yours.' Duo laughed. A week or so after he had moved in, Duo had asked me to show him The Wizard of Oz. It had become one of our little routines that sometime on the weekend I would show him one of the classic movies that I had collected.

'I think I have a good one for tonight,' I told him.

'Hey- that's what you said last weekend and I ended up crying!'

'It wasn't that sad!'

'No animal snuff movies either- something cheerful.' He instructed.

'Old Yeller is not an animal snuff film. Relax Duo. I have a good one- honestly.'

We made dinner all the while discussing my taste in movies. Then we sat down on the couch, plates in hand and I turned the movie on.

Duo was hooked in the first five minutes. He always was. In all honesty, I think I liked watching him more that whatever movie was playing. We finished eating and I took the plates to the kitchen while he made himself more comfortable on the couch. When I got back, he reached out a hand to me and tugged me down next to him.

I was delighted. Since I had started being more physically affectionate with Duo, he had too. He had always been affectionate- using the hugs and light touches that most friends use- but now he was more so. I had never realized before that Duo was affectionate because he craved affection himself.

We curled up together on the sofa and watched the rest of the movie. Afterwards, we took Val out for her walk. We talked about inconsequential stuff, mostly about the movie and it's lousy special effects. I protested that at the time they were state of the art, and Duo protested that they were still bad.

'You ever wonder about your parents?' He asked me out of the blue on the way back.

'Sure,' I told him honestly. 'But after what Odin said, I assumed they were dead.'

'So, you never went looking?'

'No. Did you?'

'No. I wanted to.' He sighed and hunched up into his jacket. 'But I figured it was pretty pointless. I don't even know if I was born on L2.'

'We could still look,' I offered.

'It would take ages.'

'So? What does that matter? It can't hurt to look.'

'Are we going to look for you too, then?' I had to think about that for a moment.

'Sure,' I smiled for him. 'Actually mine might be easier. I've often thought about researching space disasters.'

'Odin said space took everything from you-' Duo nodded, understanding dawning in his eyes. 'You're right, yours might be easier.'

'But we'll look for you first,' I stopped him before he could retort. 'You might have living relatives somewhere Duo. I know I don't- otherwise how would I have ended up with Odin?'

'All right,' he agreed. 'When do we start?'

'Sunday. We're seeing the guys tomorrow, remember?'

'I remember.' We reached the house and made our way inside. We got ready for bed, closing up the house and changing for bed. Duo was finished first as usual, since I always made one final round of the house before bed. I joined him a few minutes later and he turned off the light on his side of the bed. He rolled over towards me and snuggled into my side. Val jumped up onto the foot of the bed and settled into her usual spot.

'Do you remember anything about your parents?' He asked.

'No. All I remember is Odin and then J. How about you?'

'No. Just Solo and then the church. That's it.' He sounded sad again. I hugged him close for a moment.

'Not much of a childhood, hm?'

'No. You know how it is.'

'I do.' I told him and kissed his forehead.

'Mmm..' he murmured and snuggled closer. I was just on the brink of sleep when he spoke again.

'Heero?'

'Hm?'

'I wanted to tell you- I've never been as happy as I've been here with you.' My breath caught for a minute.

'Me too, Duo. Me too.'

[part 8] [part 10] [back to Merula's fic]