Run and Hide + Part 5I went back to L2. Why not? It was home and I knew it better than anyplace else. It had one of my boltholes that held one of several of my alternate identities. I had put them in place during the war as a just in case. Each identity had a history- at least on paper. L2 had several of these identities waiting for me. I had left them in place even after the war ended- you never knew what was going to happen.
Plus, no one I knew was on L2 anymore. Hilde had moved to L3 months ago and I stayed away from the salvage business. L2 had changed a bit since I'd left, been 'reformed', which was a bit funny. There were tons of programs and crap to help the populace find a better life. Sometimes it even worked.
I landed a job teaching street kids computer skills at a school run by a few of the churches. I didn't think I'd be a great teacher, but I spoke the kids' language and could at least prove that these skills would be useful to them. Plus, all I had to prove to get the job was that I knew my way around a computer, the schools were that desperate for teachers.
My days were busy, between teaching classes and helping out the kids, I didn't have a lot of free time. At night though, I lay in my tiny single bed and stared at the ceiling. I missed them. Gods, did I miss them. Sometimes it was all I could do not to pick up a phone and call, just to hear their voices on the machine. I wondered how they were and worried about what they were eating. Neither one was a great cook. I hoped they were safe. I didn't just miss them either. I missed Thursday lunches with Trowa and hoped that he wasn't drowning in Quatre's world. I missed trying to make Quatre laugh and hoped that he wasn't overworking himself. I hated myself for missing Hilde's wedding and hoped Howard had taken my 'little sister' down the aisle.
They were my family and I wondered how I had ever gotten up the courage to leave them. I reminded myself that they were safer away from me. Happier too, I was sure. It was me who was a wreck without them.
About five months after fleeing Earth, I gave into a slight temptation and sent an email message to Trowa. It was after watching a news show on Earth politics that had featured a brief clip of Quatre and Relena speaking to the Earth's leaders. Quatre had been pale and even on TV I could see the dark smudges under his eyes. I could tell that something was wrong with him.
The urge to contact the guys got too strong to resist. I was lonely and longed for information- even bad news. I knew they couldn't trace it, and the address I used was on an Earth server. I picked Trowa since I couldn't think of a damn thing to say to Heero or Wufei that wasn't self- serving. Quatre looked so tired on the news and all I could think to say to him was to scold him to take better care of himself. Trowa was the easiest, so he got the email. I made it brief and breezy:
Trowa: Sorry I had to skip out on our Thursday lunches. I hope all is well with you and the guys. I miss you all very much. I saw Quatre on the news and he's looking really tired. Tell him I said to get some beauty sleep! :) Duo.
I sent it off and then didn't check the box for a while. I kept talking myself out of it, imagining what would be waiting for me. Or not. I mean- maybe they didn't care. Maybe they were so mad at me that they didn't even want to respond. That thought kept my fingers from the keys for days. I finally got up enough nerve and had to laugh when I pulled up the inbox. It wasn't empty. It was almost scary how many messages were waiting for me.
Duo- Where the hell are you? Quatre is tired because he's been worried about you! How could you just go like that? Wufei and Heero are a mess! They blame themselves for driving you off. No one was going to pressure you into anything- I swear it. They were just trying to help because they care about you. Write and tell me what's going on. Please. Or better yet, come home! We miss you too, you know! Trowa
Duo- Where have you been? We've been so worried about you! Is everything okay? Please let us know what's going on. We've missed you very much. It's not the same without you here. Heero and Wufei need you. Come back! Quatre
Duo- Damn it- write me back !!! Trowa
Duo- Wufei and Heero are VERY worried about you. We had to tell them that we heard from you. We couldn't keep it to ourselves. They want you to come home. We all want you back. Quatre
Duo, why did you leave us? We wouldn't have pressured you to join the Preventers if you didn't want to. We don't care what you are. We love you. We need you. It's not the same without you here. Please come home to us. Wufei
Duo- I swear I will hunt you down and strangle you with that braid if you don't WRITE BACK! This is not the time to STOP communicating, damnit! Trowa.
I told you that you were mine. I meant it. I don't care how far away you run or where you hide. You will always be mine.
Ah hell, I never should've sent anything. I reread the messages again wondering what to do. I couldn't go back. Not ever. But I couldn't just ignore these messages either. I really hadn't left them a decent explanation when I left the first time- I had to admit that. They did deserve more.
I sat in front of the computer and debated with myself. Should I or should I not reply? They were obviously worried about me. My conscience nagged and I began to type. Answer the death threats first.
Trowa: I'm sorry, but I can't come back. No one I drove me off- I left because I realized that some things about me will never change- as much as I may want them to. I've made a new life for myself and I'm content in it- except for missing and worrying about all of you. Please make Quatre and the guys get some rest. Trust me- it's better this way. I run and hide- but I don't lie. Duo
That was only slightly draining. Answer the rest. I owe them that much.
Quatre: I'm fine. Please don't worry about me anymore. Keep an eye on the guys for me and don't work too hard, all right? I saw you on TV and you looked exhausted. Take a long weekend with Trowa somewhere- I'm sure he needs some time with you. I miss you. Take care. Duo
Now for Fei. How could I explain this to him? I didn't want him to feel that he and Heero had been pressuring me. They had just wanted me with them, I could understand that- hell, I had wanted that too.
Fei: It wasn't the Preventers. It wasn't you or Heero. It's me- what I am. I never really fit in with the two of you. You are decent, honorable men who fought to help the colonies. I fought for revenge and it changed me. Believe me when I say I didn't want to hurt you. I love you and I miss you, but I know you'll be safer without me there. Take care of each other. Love always, Duo
And the hardest for last.... I remembered the first time Heero and I had slept together, how he had held me close and told me that I was his, no matter what happened after that. I was his, but he had Fei now too, and Fei was better- safer. But I couldn't lie to him either.
I am yours. Always. I know I can't escape that no matter what I do. I love you.
I sent the mail with a sigh. I was never going to check that account again, so I closed it down. I signed off through all the fail-safes and firewalls that protected my passage. There was a knock on my door as I was finishing up and I froze. They couldn't have...
"Mr. Howards?"A young girl's voice said tentatively on the other side of the door. I hid a smile at the name as I always did. It was still hard to get used to. I answered the door and raised my eyebrow at my neighbor's daughter.
"I know you teach over at the church," the young girl flushed at me. "I was wondering- my brother can get me a job at the company he works for if I learn some basic computer skills. Will the priest let me join the classes?"
"Of course. Meet me out front in the morning and we'll walk over together. Father Brown will agree. He takes everyone in that wants a shot. You'll have to work hard though."
"Oh I will!" She flushed and smiled at me.
"Great. I leave at 8, all right?" She nodded and vanished back down the hallway. I closed the door and leaned against it. I was needed here. I was needed to help these kids get off the streets, find a better life. It was a good feeling, but my heart ached.
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