A/N: Howdy, folks, Aoe here... Shoori's way too busy to prepare her own updates these days, so here I am! You should be happy, I always post longer sections than she would. ;-) Anyway, here's a new chappie, some Duo/Trowa/Heero resolutionish stuff, and then some sexy Zechsie... I hear many of you are not feeling the love for poor Zechs, after what he did to Wufei. All I will say is...Zechs has his own issues. Big ones. If you guys knew what I do, you'd want to cuddle him, too. Okay, shutting up now, go and read and rejoice!
by: Shoori

I Know Who I Want... + Part 23

I'm half-asleep, alone in the huge bed, but I'm bought abruptly awake by a small sound from the front of the apartment.

The front door.

I glance at the clock - 2:46 A.M.

It must be Duo.

I hurriedly get out of the bed, quietly open the door, and steal out into the hallway. There's a dim light burning in the living room, and I hear the low murmur of voices. I move soundlessly down the hallway, stopping outside the opening into the living room.

Duo is standing next to the sofa, looking down at Trowa, who's blinking the sleep out of his green eyes. My shoulders sag with relief when I see him standing there.

He came back.

"... still up?" Duo is saying softly.

"I was working," Trowa replies, gesturing to the papers on his lap, and the stack beside him on the sofa. "I was dozing, on and off," he admits, rubbing his eyes with the back of one hand.

"Is there any pizza left?" Duo asks after a moment.

Trowa nods. "Two whole pies," he tells him. "They're both meatball and green pepper."

Duo half-groans, but the sound is amused. "They messed up the order?"

Trowa nods. "And notice, they didn't send two of my pie," he gripes, grinning.

Duo laughs. "Poor Tro-chan," he soothes sympathetically. "I guess we'll have to put a different place on the auto dial." He gestures at the papers surrounding Trowa. "Are you done with these for now?" he asks.

Trowa nods, and begins shuffling the papers into piles. Duo takes the piles and sets them aside, then looks hesitantly at Trowa for a moment. Finally he sits down on the floor in front of Trowa, one leg bent in front of him and the other stretched out to the side, moving him as close to the sofa as he can get. He leans into the piece of furniture, laying his arm down on the cushions next to Trowa. With a tired sigh, he lays his head down on his arm and closes his eyes.

Trowa stares down at the dark head beside him for a moment, then gently begins to stroke Duo's hair. He runs his hand slowly through Duo's wispy bangs, absently twining the chestnut strands around his fingers.

The single lamp casts a warm, golden light through the room. The shadows in the corners of the room are deep, but the two on the sofa are gently illuminated, the lamplight smoothing corners and angles into soft curves that blend into each other. My chest aches as I stare at the picture they make together.

Duo makes a small sound of contentment and nestles closer to Trowa, the top of his head pressing against Trowa's side.

They sit like that for a long time, not speaking. I stand in the shadows of the hallway, just watching them be together.

Duo breaks the silence. "I'm sorry I slammed out like that," he says, his voice muffled.

Trowa continues to slowly run his fingers through Duo's hair. "Ok," he says softly.

Duo lifts his head to peer up at Trowa, displacing his fingers. Trowa's hand slides down the back of Duo's head, and he lightly holds onto the thick braid that tumbles down Duo's back.

"Are you pissed at me?" Duo demands.

Trowa shakes his head in the negative.

"Is Heero pissed at me?" Duo presses.

Trowa shrugs. "He went into the bedroom after you left. He hasn't been out since," he replies simply.

Duo chuckles unexpectedly. "Poor Tro-chan," he says. "Everyone stamps off in a fit and leaves you all alone with a knee injury and crappy pizza."

Trowa smiles at him. "At least it was quiet," he says wryly.

Duo's grin fades. "Manage to get a lot of work done?" he asks, gesturing to the papers.

Trowa nods, frowning slightly.

"Good," Duo sighs, lying his head down again.

Trowa stares at the top of Duo's glossy head, a troubled expression on his face.

"Duo... Are you... ok?" he asks after a moment, his voice very hesitant.

"Me? Sure, fine," Duo assures him cheerfully, not lifting his head.

Trowa absently works his fingers through Duo's hair again, frowning. "Where... where did you go?" he asks, obviously trying to continue the conversation but not sure how.

"Just wandered," Duo shrugs. "Took a walk."

"Until two in the morning?" Trowa asks.

Duo lifts his head and quirks an eyebrow up at Trowa. "Don't believe me?" he grins. "You found me out." He sighs dramatically. "I hit the brothels. Got my fill of fast women and cheap beer." He pauses, scratching his head as though in thought. "Or is that cheap women and fast beer?" He shrugs. "Either way, it got old around two, so I beat off the ladies I hadn't gotten to yet and dragged myself out... "

"Idiot," Trowa interrupts him affectionately. "I better not catch you someplace like that... "

"Or what?" Duo interrupts grinning.

"You'd best never find out," Trowa advises him solemnly.

Duo grins, propping his chin on his arm. "Don't worry. I wasn't at a brothel," he assures Trowa, grinning.

"I know," Trowa replies calmly. "You're not into women."

"Not at the moment," Duo agrees affably, and Trowa swats him on the side of the head.

"Seriously, though, Tro-chan," Duo says, his voice has suddenly losing all its former joking quality, "You don't have to worry about anything like that. I will never, ever cheat on you again."

Trowa gazes silently into Duo's face. His eyes have a slightly guarded expression, but not the flat blankness they hold when he's really upset.

"I know I hurt you a lot when I did that," Duo continues, his voice soft but sincere. "I'm sorry."

I bow my head, unable to look at them. That was my fault - the event that still causes them both pain. The one they both regret.

"I'm not sorry that Heero is with us now," Duo qualifies and I look up at them again, some of the weight that had settled on my chest lifting. "Even if he is being an officious bastard at the moment," he adds.

I smile to myself. Thanks, Duo. It's amazing that something like that could make me feel better. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment.

Trowa smiles too at Duo's last comment, and reaches out a hand to lightly touch Duo's face. His fingertips glide across Duo's forehead, down the side of his cheek, lingering along the line of his jaw. Duo reaches up and captures the hand in his own and brings it over to his lips.

I watch them, imprinting the image of them together like this on my mind.

"I'm glad everything worked out the way it did, but I'm sorry I hurt you so much by going about it the wrong way," Duo apologizes hoarsely.

It may be the first time Duo has said that aloud to Trowa. He's written it, he's danced around it, but I don't think he's ever said it.

Trowa stares intently at Duo for a long time, his green eyes searching his face. Slowly, he nods.

"And I promise," Duo continues, "that I will never do that again. For the rest of my life, Tro, I swear, there will be noone but you and Heero."

Trowa smiles his small smile at Duo. "I know," he says softly.

I think I might be getting better at this. I sense all the meaning, all the feeling in those two small words. Trowa doesn't say much, but somehow he manages to pack a lot into a little.

"I'm not worried about that now," Trowa adds.

He did it again. One little sentence, and there's implied forgiveness, trust, faith in Duo...

Duo grins at him. "Were you before?" he asks.

Surprisingly, Trowa nods. "Not really that you were going to cheat on me," he qualifies. "I just... thought that one day you would leave me for Heero," he admits slowly.

Duo blinks at him, obviously surprised by that confession. "Why did you... "

Trowa shrugs. "You aren't subtle," he tells our lover dryly. "And it's not hard to tell when you're interested."

Duo sighs theatrically. "And I thought I was being so smooth," he mourns.

Trowa smiles faintly. "But like you said, it's all worked out," he says, with some difficulty. "And I'm not worried anymore."

"Good," Duo murmurs gently. "You know I love you?"

Trowa nods.

"Good," Duo repeats. "And Heero? And that's it?" he pushes.

Trowa nods again.

"Good," he says for the third time. He opens his mouth like he's going to speak again, sighs slightly, and lays his head down on his arm again.

"What's wrong?" Trowa asks. His voice is more sure this time.

"I don't like... not knowing what's going on," Duo says. He doesn't sound angry or petulant this time though. He sounds... unsure. "Especially if it's something to do with all you guys. How can I help if I don't know what's wrong?" he asks quietly. "And... why can't I know?"

Trowa sighs. "I don't think that there's a mission to keep you in the dark," he says gently. "It's just... there's things I've told you that I haven't told Wufei, or Quatre," he points out softly. "That doesn't mean I don't trust them. I just... am closer to you. So you know more about me."

"But today... Quatre knew. You knew. Heero knew. Wufei knew. But I... "

"I don't think everyone's as informed as you think we are," Trowa assures Duo. "I have no idea whatsoever why Heero was so angry with Zechs, and I don't think Quatre did either."

"Ok," Duo says after a moment. "But... you know something."

Trowa sighs. He's silent for a moment. "During the war... the last war," he qualifies, "After you came back, Wufei sat with me for awhile. He told me... about things that had happened to him during the Gundam Wars, things none of us knew about. Things I'd never suspected. That's what I know. I haven't told you, because... " Trowa sighs again. "He told me what he did to help me feel better," he explains quietly. "To help me see what was going on more clearly, with more perspective. It didn't, and doesn't, seem quite right to pay him back for that by spreading his secrets around. Not even to you, Duo."

Duo sighs. "You don't even tell me your secrets," he murmurs unhappily.

Trowa tugs gently on his hair, pulling his head up. "I'm trying, Duo," he swears, staring into Duo's eyes. "I... can't say things, sometimes," he admits hoarsely. "I really can't - I can't talk," he explains haltingly. "I'm trying to tell you about me. But I don't have the right to tell you Wufei's secrets. Neither does Heero," he emphasizes softly.

Thank you, Trowa. Put in a good word for me.

"I know," Duo concedes quietly. "I guess... I just don't like feeling... unnecessary. Useless," he finishes discontentedly.

Trowa frowns. "Why would you feel that way?" he demands.

"Wufei doesn't need me," he points out.

Trowa shakes his head. "Wufei needs you," he says quietly. "We all need all of us. I'm starting to realize that," he allows.

Duo sighs again. "But... I can't help if I don't... "

"Yes you can," Trowa disagrees. He sighs. "There's things about me that you and Heero know, and some things that Quatre knows, but Wufei doesn't," he says quietly. "It doesn't mean Quatre doesn't trust Wufei when he doesn't tell him my secrets, or that I don't trust him... It just... "

"Quatre knows your secrets?" Duo interrupts.

Trowa shrugs. "Some of them," he concedes.

"Did you tell him... "

"We were together for awhile," Trowa points out dryly. "He picked up on a few things."

"Yeah," Duo says flatly.

He looks away from Trowa for a moment, and I read his tension in the sudden tightness of his shoulders.

"Tro, can I ask you something?" he demands after a moment, his voice harsher than it's been since the conversation began.

Trowa nods slowly, encouraging him.

"Are you in love with Quatre?" Duo asks bluntly.

Trowa's green eyes widen, and he pulls back in surprise.

"W-What?" he stammers, astonished.

"Do you love Quatre?" Duo presses determinedly.

"That's two separate questions," Trowa points out.

"No it... "

"Yes it is," Trowa insists. "Do I love Quatre?" he repeats reflectively. "Yes, I do. He was the first person I ever loved, Duo," he admits hesitantly. "And he was the first person who ever loved me. If it hadn't been for him... " he shakes his head. "I might never have been able to... be friends with anyone. I wouldn't be able to be with you, or Heero, the way we are." He's silent for a moment. "I would probably have joined that Preventer unit that went out after the old mercenary units that were still in place in the colonies. Hell, I might have joined one of the mercenary units," he acknowledges. "That's all I knew. Quatre... showed me that there was more to life, and I will always love him."

Duo looks away, bowing his head. "So, do you want... " He begins, but falters, his voice thick.

"But," Trowa continues. "I am not in love with Quatre." He grasps Duo's chin and pulls it up so he's looking him in the eye again. "I am in love with you, and with Heero," he declares meaningfully. "There is a difference, Duo," he says softly.

Duo stares uncertainly at him, his violet eyes searching Trowa's green ones for truth. Trowa sighs. "Quatre and I weren't meant to be together," he says gently. "We tried, and it didn't work. Because I wasn't in love with him," he points out.

"Why did it end?" Duo presses, seemingly determined to torture himself.

Trowa sighs. "I was gone a lot - I was travelling with the circus. And every time I came home... It wasn't enough for us to just be together," he says slowly. "Like the three of us do - we get pizza, and sit around, and suffer through your stupid vids," he grins as Duo punches him lightly in the shoulder, "and just hang around. Together. Quatre and I always had to go out - a movie, a party, a premiere. And when we were alone together, it always had to be something new and romantic - a picnic, a bubble bath with candles, a... "

"Sounds awful," Duo says dryly.

Trowa grimaces. "It wasn't awful. Those things are fun... sometimes. When they're special. But it was all the time. We had to be spontaneous every moment of the day. When we made love... "

Duo flinches a little. So, to my surprise, do I. I guess I'm a little possessive too.

"... it always had to be different -a different position, a different scenario, a different room. Do you have any idea how many rooms there are in that mansion?" he demands.

"You did it with him in different parts of the mansion?" Duo interrupts, grinning.

Trowa reddens. "It was all him," he mutters, embarrassed.

"Which ones?" Duo presses.

"Lots," Trowa tells him flatly.

"Any of the ones we've been in lately?" Duo asks.

Trowa coughs uncomfortably, then nods.

"Which ones?" Duo grins.

"This isn't really the point of this conversation!" Trowa reminds him, exasperated.

"Right," Duo amends hastily. "Sorry." I have a feeling that that won't be the end of this tangent, though. Poor Trowa.

"It was never just us, together," Trowa resumes. "We never were relaxed together. We were always... putting on parts. I realized that, one day. And so I left."

"You just left?" Duo asks.

"Well, I told him I was going," Trowa qualifies. "I'm not a total jerk... "

Duo grins. "No, you're not," he agrees easily.

"He was upset... But I think, even then, he knew that I was right. That's why we're still friends," Trowa sums up. "We love each other, and we always will. But we're not in love."

"Ok... " Duo murmurs slowly.

"You made me a promise," Trowa tells him slowly. "You get the same one. You and Heero and the only people I will ever be with. You're the only ones I want. You're all I can handle," he adds, grinning.

I lean against the edge of the doorframe, marveling. This is the most open I have ever heard Trowa be. Duo and I should scream at each other more often, if this is what it does for him.

"We'd better be," Duo mutters, lifting his face to Trowa's.

They kiss deeply, slowly, gently. After a long moment, they pull lightly away from each other.

"Come on in, Mr. Top Security Clearance," Duo calls, not looking at me.

I start guiltily.

"All that stuff goes for you too, by the way," Duo says as I move into the room, standing next to him.

"How long did you know I was there?" I ask curiously.

They both look up at me now, identical scornful expressions on their faces.

Ok. They're both Gundam pilots. I'm an idiot.

"Sit down, Stealth Fighter," Duo orders, scooting over.

I sit down, moving at Duo's invitation into the circle of his free arm, resting my head on the sofa next to Trowa.

"Are you still mad at me?" I ask after a moment.

"Nah," Duo says, tilting his head up into Trowa's caress. He's stroking Duo's hair again, but this time the fingers of his other hand are moving through my hair. I close my eyes, shivering at the sensation.

"Although," Duo adds sternly, "You could learn to use a little tact."

I can't help it. It's probably tactless again, but I start to laugh. I open my eyes, and see Trowa grinning broadly, obviously trying to hold back laughter of his own.

Duo glares at both of us. "You guys are jerks," he accuses, with mock bitterness.

I laugh again, and lay my head back down on the couch. A moment later, Duo's head comes to rest next to mine, and Trowa's fingers resume their slow strokes through our hair.

We lay there like that for a long time, speaking only occasionally, just being together. I haven't felt so content since we left our island.

Maybe... maybe all this that we have to endure isn't going to be so bad after all.

**********

[cont]