Author: Merula
Disclaimer: Gundam Wing is not mine.

Run and Hide + Part 16

"Duo," Heero's voice was hoarse, but it was unmistakably him. "You didn't think I forgot my promise?" I closed my eyes, my fingers tightening around the tiny transmitter.

He was alive.

"Heero..." was all I could manage at first. I felt Sally's hand let go of mine and her arm slipped around me instead. "You're okay?"

"A bit bruised," he chuckled for me. "I'll be fine. Better off than some. Relena broke some ribs in the crash, some of the others have broken limbs."

"Nobody died?" I had to ask.

"No." Heero assured me gently. "We're being transported to Sank. I'll be back up there as soon as the hospital clears me, okay?"

"What about Relena?"

"Once she's back in Sank my mission's over remember? She'll be fine, she has tons of guards there." He dropped his voice. "In fact Duo, she ordered me to go once I could. She knew you'd be worried." Relena was my new favorite person.

"Tell her thank you."

"I will. I have to go love, but I'll see you soon, okay? I love you."

"I love you too." I handed the receiver back to Sally. She took it with a smile and spoke into it, apparently talking to Noin again. I closed my eyes, letting the happiness wash through me. He was alive.

"You okay now Duo?" A hand touched my knee. I opened my eyes. Quatre was kneeling in front of me.

"Yeah," I smiled for him and yawned. "What time is it?"

"Early Sunday," Quatre nodded towards the window. "Why don't you go get some sleep Duo, okay?" I was tired.

"Okay, but don't let me sleep too long. I've got classes on Monday."

+

I did sleep for a long time. Emotional stress will do that to you. I still wouldn't be totally content until Heero was where I could see him again, but I would manage okay until he got here.

Trowa came in to wake me up Monday morning. I managed a quick shower and was happy to see that Quatre had gotten me some fresh clothes. Quatre was already deep in meetings by the time I was heading off for school.

"You need a lift?" Wufei asked me as I scurried through the main room.

"Sure," I grabbed a bagel off the table and grinned at him.

"I'll be right back," Fei kissed Sally's cheek and followed me out the door.

It wasn't until we were in the elevator that I realized that now was probably a good time to give Fei the long explanation of why I left. I mentally braced myself as I followed him off the elevator and to his rental car.

"What's wrong Duo?" Fei asked me as I buckled myself in.

"Huh?"

"You're frowning," he raised an eyebrow at me. "Heero will be heading back up here this evening at the latest. You aren't worried are you?"

"Of course I am," I met his eyes for a moment. "I won't be okay until I see him."

Wufei nodded, his eyes on the road as he backed the car out. "I understand Duo. I'm looking forward to seeing him myself."

"Do you- see him often now?" I asked and then mentally smacked myself.

"Not really." Wufei glanced at me. "Once I left the house we didn't spend a lot of time together. It was too painful. I called him occasionally after a while, but that's really been it."

"I'm sorry Fei. If I hadn't run off..."

"I might not have found the courage to leave." Fei's voice was soft. "Heero and I tried to make it work after..." he stopped and shook his head. "Correction. I tried to make it work. Heero simply closed himself off. We fought all the time- well, I yelled and he froze me out. It affected our work, it changed everything."

"I'm..."

"No. Quatre and Trowa explained to me what reasons you gave for your absence. I myself saw how you reacted when you thought Heero was dead. I can not blame you for wishing to keep us safe, even though I think you ran because you were feeling left out. And that I cannot blame you for either. We should've noticed- the signs were there."

I made myself the outsider- that's what Heero had said. "I should've said something," I protested.

"Mistakes were made on all sides," Fei agreed. "But, hopefully we can now say that it all worked out for the best. Heero and you have found each other again. You both seem willing to try to make this relationship work- and I for one, hope that you do. I have Sally now, and nothing can make me regret her."

"I'm glad to hear you say that Fei." I smiled at him as he pulled up in front of the school. "I think you two were meant to be."

"Even as I think you and Heero are. Promise me that you will work on keeping your relationship with him intact, and I will be content."

"I promise it." I reached out and hugged him tightly for a moment. "Friends?"

"Always," he let me go and grinned. "Now don't you have work or something?"

"Yeah, yeah..." I unbuckled my seatbelt and opened the car door.

"One of us will be by for you at the end of the day. You have an evening class right?"

"Finishes at 7," I told him. "Thanks Fei!" I hopped out of the car and headed towards the school.

Classes went normally, and it was a relief. I had to focus on my work, not on the clock, so I managed not to go completely crazy waiting to get some word from Heero. If I hadn't been at school, I would've been a nervous wreck.

My evening class went quickly and as the last of the students filed out the door and I grabbed my things, a familiar voice made me stop in my tracks.

"Miss me?" Heero stood in the back doorway of my classroom, grinning.

A moment later I had thrown my arms around him, reveling in the feeling of his body against mine. He was alive. He was here with me.

"Oh Duo," he murmured into my ear, and I realized that I was shaking. "It's all right love." I just clung tight to him and let the sound of his voice wash over me.

"Have you seen the others?" I pulled back a bit.

"Of course. Sally and Fei had to head back home, but I did see them for a few minutes. Quatre and Trowa want to see us for dinner in a few days. But right now, we can go home."

"You're really sure about this?" I asked him. "It's a big change."

"As long as you're with me, I don't care what we do," he told me and took me home.

+

Relena was as good as her word. Our school got more funds. We were able to reach more kids, help more of them develop needed skills. Heero was an excellent teacher and did very well with the students.

After six months of living in my dinky apartment, Heero suggested that we take our share of the funds from the sale of the old house and buy one on L2. We found one not far from the school. It's smaller than our other house, but we don't need as much space. The school doesn't care about our private lives, though we do try and keep it somewhat discrete. It's more like an open secret among the students and staff.

Fei and Sally had their baby. She's a sweet little girl with her mother's determination and her father's stubbornness. They all come and visit sometimes.

It wasn't an easy thing for Heero and I at first. He didn't like for me to be out of his sight for too long, and I chafed a bit under his constant supervision. We had some hellacious fights, and more than once it was only my promise to him that kept me there. I sometimes think the same was true for him. He let up eventually, though I still have small panic attacks if he takes too long at the store or runs late getting home and he still wanders by my classroom more than once a day to check on me.

Even though it all worked out okay, I realize that I never should've taken my motto to heart so well. The 'what ifs' haunt me still.

Shinigami sometimes surfaces in my dreams, but he has not come out to play again. I hope he never does.

If something happens to Heero then I will keep my promise to him. I promised to stay by him always, no matter what.

And I will.

end

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