by: Shoori

The Beginning's End + Epilogue

I’m jarred into alertness by the sound of Duo’s voice. He’s whispering, but I’m a light sleeper.

"Wha’sa’matter?" That’s Trowa. He’s generally a light sleeper too, but it sounds like he’s having a little trouble waking up.

Duo whispers again, and Trowa groans. "Duo, it’s six a.m.," he protests softly. "There’ll be plenty of time for…"

Duo interrupts with a hiss, and Trowa sighs loudly. Duo shushes him. Trowa continues grumbling, but more softly, and I feel the bed move as their weights are lifted from it.

The door to the bedroom closes softly behind them and I allow the smile I had to hide while I was pretending to be asleep spread across my face as I open my eyes, staring at the dimly visible ceiling.

I’m still not completely used to sleeping with them. Not that I dislike it - it just still surprises me every night when they lay down next to me, and everyone morning I’m amazed to wake up and find them with me.

It’s not a shock or anything, just a pleasant surprise, every day.

I stretch, lacing my fingers together and resting them behind my head as I contemplate the events of the past year. It’s the kind of day for reflecting.

There’s been a lot of changes.

Another war, after such a prolonged period of peace, really shook a lot of people up. There’s been a lot of increased focus on organizations like the Preventers, with the whole world clamoring to shore them up and be sure we’re never blindsided like that again. From the few terse, densely coded messages we’ve received, we’ve gathered that a lot of Preventer control - even the ceremonial control - is being wrested away from the Sanc Kingdom.

Glad I’m not there.

I wonder idly how much actual progress toward the proposed changes has been made. Probably not much. Bureaucracy moves at a snail’s pace, and the ten months since the end of the war has probably given them barely enough time to form committees to investigate the process of looking into making changes.

Still glad I’m not there.

Actually, though, I’m not totally sure exactly where I am.

After the war ended, and Trowa and Duo and I finally came together - an event that still awes me - the doctors were amazed by Trowa’s progress. He was ready for skin grafts in less than a month, and ready to travel only weeks after that.

Since then, we’ve all been living off of Quatre.

I refused when he first made the offer. So did Trowa. I mean, Quatre has tons of money, but we didn’t want him supporting us. It seemed wrong, somehow.

Then Duo pulled us aside and pointed out a few things.

One, I was probably persona non grata around the Sanc Kingdom right about then, so trying to return to my Preventers position there while the whole force was in the middle of a massive reconstruction probably wasn’t that good an idea.

Two, despite his amazing progress, Trowa wasn’t going to be swinging from any trapezes any time soon.

Three, he, Duo, was kind of ‘between jobs’ at the moment.

Four, even though we were broke, Quatre wasn’t, and we’d all just been through this whole trying experience realizing how important we were to each other, so didn’t we think it would be just a little bit assy to refuse Quatre’s help when he offered it?

And Five - which was the clincher - didn’t we also think it would be nice to have a little time to rest and recoup - by ourselves?

After that, Trowa and I realized…hell, Quatre has a ton of money. We’d share it with him if the situation were reversed…what the heck.

So, for the last eight months or so, the three of us have been staying in a gorgeous house on a small island somewhere on a very warm, sunny part of Earth. There’s our house, and ten miles away on the other side of the island there’s a small village where we go occasionally to replenish our provisions. Quatre gave us a huge chunk of cash (which we’ve barely even begun to eat into) so that there would be no electronic record of monetary transfers to us, smuggled us on-planet and shipped us to this island by the most circuitous of means. I personally thought he was getting a little carried away, and that he’d read too many of the mystery thrillers that Trowa devours, but his elaborate methods seem to have worked. We haven’t been disturbed at all.

And it’s been wonderful. I mean, it hasn’t all been moonlight and roses. Sure we’ve had great times…days spent on the beach, long, quiet dinners, nights together…But they were a long time in coming. Right from the time we moved into the house, Duo insisted that we all share the huge bed Quatre had thoughtfully provided. Noone had to do anything, he was quick to establish, but we needed to be together. Needless to say, Trowa spent his nights hugging the outer edge of the mattress and for months, we woke every night to him screaming and thrashing in the throes of a nightmare. We’d spend hours soothing him until he finally dropped back off from exhaustion, only to have the cycle repeated two or three hours later.

But despite our chronic exhaustion, Duo had plans for us, and I’ve discovered that Duo with a plan is a hard thing to cross. After initiating his bed-sharing program, he declared that we all had to set ourselves into patterns of open, healthy communication. There couldn’t be any hiding things from each other. We had to be open, and share. So, every day, each of us has to ‘communicate’ something we don’t like to talk about to the others. It made Trowa really angry for a long time - he’d try to refuse, accuse Duo of being polluted by women’s magazines…but Duo was implacable. Gradually, we all began to share the accumulated pain of a lifetime with each other. I’ve heard things I don’t really like knowing…but that I needed to know. There’s still some things hidden, some things we haven’t discussed - Trowa still refuses to so much as mention Barton’s name - but we’ve made progress. We’ve built - and are building - trust. That isn’t something that is completed in a month or eight months or a year, not with so guarded a group as we, but it’s growing.

Maybe we’ve already managed to establish more than I give us credit for, though. After all, we now do more than sleep in the same bed. I don’t know how long I thought it would take for Trowa to allow us physical intimacies, but I was surprised when a few months after we got here he slowly began to relax with us, letting Duo wrap his arm around him, holding our hands when we walk on the beach, resting his head on my chest as we lay on the sand beside a driftwood fire at night. That progressed to more - touching, kisses, caresses…And almost two months ago, the three of us made love for the first time.

I grin at the ceiling. And we haven’t stopped since.

Ok, so everything’s not perfect. None of us like our daily confessional much. It still makes us edgy. Trowa is still very self-conscious about his back; though Duo says it looks a thousand times better there are still a few bumps and ridges and scars from lashes that went particularly deep. He still wears a T-shirt at all times, even on the beach, but that might have as much to do with his tendency to get sunburned as anything else. I just darken, Duo has turned a beautiful golden brown, but if Trowa forgets to put on what Duo calls his SPF 9000, he pinkens in ten minutes, reddens in twenty and burns to a crisp within a half hour. Anyway, he doesn’t like to have his back exposed and doesn’t like to be touched on it, though he won’t pull away from us if we do, which Duo tells me is amazing progress.

No, it’s not perfect. But it’s damn close. I have never been so relaxed in my life. I know they feel the same way. They smile - both of them - all the time. And they’re true smiles - you see them in their eyes, not just on their lips. We’re always together…laughing, talking, touching…

I grin again, hearing the noise drifting up the stairs even through the closed door. There’s a crashing of metal, Duo’s voice is raised in protest, and then there’s an ominous silence. Even as the world struggles to find ways to preserve their peace, I am finally at rest. I have found mine.

I hear their footsteps on the stairs, and I hastily lower my arms and close my eyes, feigning sleep again.

The door opens quietly. There’s no sound. Then Duo whispers, "He’s still asleep? Do you think we should wake him up?"

"He’s awake. He’s been awake since we got out of the bed," Trowa says in his normal tone. I grin, opening my eyes, to see him smirking at me. Duo is holding a tray, on which I see a vase with a single rose, a white…paper towel…a glass…and a plate holding something I can’t quite identify, with a small blue candle in it.

"Happy birthday, Heero," he says quietly, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he grins at me.

"We’re supposed to sing it," Duo hisses at him from the corner of his mouth.

Trowa grins at him, then turns and moves toward me. He seats himself on the bed, his back against the headboard, and motions to me. Grinning, I move to lean against him, my back against his chest, his legs on either side of me. He bends one leg toward his chest, bracing his foot on the mattress, and I rest my elbow on his raised knee. His arms slide around my waist and I feel his lips on the side of my neck. "Happy birthday," he whispers again.

I turn my head to smile at him, and catch sight of Duo, grinning smugly at us. I raise an eyebrow at him and he hurries to join us, making sure to balance the tray while inserting himself carefully into the small huddle made by my and Trowa’s bodies.

"Now we sing!" he announces cheerfully.

I almost laugh at the contents of the tray. There’s the rose, the towel, a glass of orange juice…and a bagel with the merrily burning blue birthday candle stuck in it, dripping wax on the cream cheese.

"We tried to make you an omelet, but someone forgot to turn the heat down," Trowa tells me, the amusement in his voice taking the heat out of the veiled insult.

Duo loftily ignores us both and starts to sing, Trowa resignedly joining in.

I try to swallow past the lump in my throat as I stare at that little candle, their voices ringing in my ears. I feel Trowa’s arms around me, Duo’s pliant form in my arms…I feel warm and content and happier than I ever have been.

Trowa’s even alto never wavers, but Duo’s mock falsetto warbles all over the scale for the last few notes.

"…dear Heero,

Happy Birthday to you!"

I love that song.

~Owari~

[part 21] [back to Shoori's fic]