by Ais

Written for Ashura's Bob Dylan Songfic Contest... Based on the song "When The Night Comes Falling From the Sky" by Bob Dylan

Note: The lyrics are mostly from Duo's perspective but there are parts where it's from both of them at once so just keep that in mind.

MAJOR THANKS to Ashura for doing this contest in the first place and also for being so understanding, and Mairead, for being WAY MORE of a beta-reader than I ever could have hoped for. ARIGATOU GOZAIMASU!!! ^_^v


^^flashbacks^^
lyrics
thoughts

Nightfall

Look out across the field, see me returning
Smoke is in your eye, you draw a smile
From the fireplace where my letters to you are burning
You've had time to think about it for awhile


Heero glanced out the window, sick of staring blindly at the poisonous fire. Idly, he wondered where he was right then. He looked back to the orange flames and tossed another sheet on the fire, watching as the white lined paper curled and burned black and red beneath the flames. The messy handwriting disappeared within the smoke almost symbolically. Disturbingly, Heero felt almost as if while he watched the letters burn, some part of him cried out from the dark hell that had encompassed him since he'd heard. Since he'd learned that....

A quick shake of his head, and Heero was certain he had stopped himself from going down that dangerous track of thought. There was nothing down that way but fear, betrayal, shame, anger, and.... Well, pathetically enough, still care, sympathy and concern.

His heavy gaze slowly fell down to the letter in his hand. From somewhere deep inside him his emotions shrieked to the surface of his thoughts. Resisting the urge to close his eyes, Heero let them run their course within his mind, the maelstrom raging forth in a torrent of desperation, hope and confidence. Narrowing his eyes the slightest bit, Heero looked up again to stare at the fire until he no longer saw the flames but a mass of burning, destructive sparks and shadows. No emotion touched his face, his pose as still as a tragic statue frozen forever in time. However, inside he was being ripped and shredded with scattered thoughts and half-formed passions that were so intense they screamed for his attention and shattered all his control with banshee-like wails. This was how Heero lived his life; impassively cold on the outside, and dangerously extreme on the inside. Long ago he stopped asking why and just listened to the whispers and screams as he let his emotions run their course. Then, when Desperation dwindled and died, when Hope cracked and broke beneath the rancid weight of Reason, when even Confidence faltered and ruptured.... THEN he made his decision, certain that he had already accounted for all sides of the situation and was reacting accordingly and appropriately.

And yet....

The fire blazed as another sheet was thrown in, lighting Heero's golden features in a soft glow that made his eyes seem less emotionless, less withdrawn, and more....

Humbled.

Degraded by something far greater than he, far purer than he could ever hope to understand. Something that reached within him when he thought he had long ago lost any and all hopes of redemption.

Salvation.

A hope for a new life that Heero had never dared reach for....

Laughing violet eyes shot through Heero's vision and for one terrifying moment he felt like he was plunging into the flames, no longer completely grounded in reality and instead twisting, flailing, stumbling, dying in an explosion of severe emotions and almost tangible pain. Desperately, Heero pulled himself in again, shoving at the flood with all his energy until, traumatized, he found himself back in the empty cabin, the crackling of the fire his only companion. He was still in the exact same position, never having even flinched despite how close he came to losing himself.

Again.

All because of those damn violet eyes, that frustratingly happy smile, that versatile voice....

Duo.

But not just `Duo'... something more... always something else....

Duo: a comrade, a confidante, a companion. A... a friend. A best friend.

A want.

A need.

A sympathetic soul. A keeper of his better moments. A smile in the bleakness, a comforting hand in the nothingness, a light in the ever-present darkness.

Duo.

It wasn't so strange that the American got to him, really. What was surprised Heero was how. His eyes watched the flames twist and converge, but his mind withdrew to focus on that mission a little over a year ago, when his world had started to change....

^^ Heero suddenly stopped dead in his tracks, halting in the middle of a sprint. To this day he still wasn't positive why he had quit running, why he turned to glance at Duo then behind them, as if searching for a follower he knew couldn't possibly exist.

They hadn't been discovered yet.

Duo took a few steps before stumbling to a stop and looking behind his shoulder in surprise. "Heero! C'mon, what're you doing? We need to get out!"

Heero simply stared at him, wondering himself with growing panic why he wasn't moving, but not allowing anything to cross his face. Almost always, Heero had discovered, the illusion of complete control was as important as the actuality. If Duo thought Heero, with the reputation for being a Perfect Soldier, had stopped for no reason at all, and furthermore couldn't get his legs to move right then for all the control in the world.... Well, maybe his faith in him would be shaken. No, not maybe; it WOULD. And it would be too hard to regain that trust once lost.

He didn't need an uncooperative co-worker, that was certain.

So instead he just stared hard at Duo until the American bewilderingly trotted back, looking quickly through the shadows. He saw nothing, and for good reason. Heero knew there was nothing around them, probably not for miles of endless, labyrinthine hallways.

But he still couldn't make his legs move.

"Heero, knowing you, you've got a perfectly legit reason for stopping, and are gonna kill me for this.... But since I don't see anything or anyone, I'm gonna make you go, k?" Duo said right beside him, not touching him but standing within hitting range. The act gave Heero that much more control over the situation and something about that made him feel grateful, though he wasn't sure why. Shouldn't he feel like Duo was humoring him? Pitying him...? But instead, it felt like he understood, somehow, even though Heero himself didn't.

So he didn't move when Duo nodded to himself and dragged Heero's arm over his shoulders. Heero complied and followed as Duo tugged him along, slowly quickening their pace. Soon, Heero's legs were listening to him again, and he calmly removed his grip on Duo to run beside him.

Hallways, junctions, secure or open doors, they all breezed by with little difficulty, but something was still nagging at Heero. Something completely foreign but somehow he trusted it. "This way," he spoke abruptly, his voice the monotonous tone that so many wrongfully thought was emotionless.

He had emotions. He simply had expert control over them, so they never broke the surface.

Follow your emotions.

He always followed his emotions, but not spontaneously like most. Instead, he watched their movements, their undulating waves that broke apart against each other until the sea was once again calm.

And that's when he'd act.

So he waited while they ran, trying to follow the panicked twist of his feelings, but unable to understand what was happening. He sped up, watching in vague satisfaction as Duo did as well, and forced himself to think harder. Finally he came to the conclusion that there must have been a logical reason for his sudden stop before.

So he stopped again.

Duo skidded to a halt and turned around with a mixture of annoyance and confusion. "What NOW?" he asked plaintively, though the business part of him seemed to truly be wondering.

"We missed something. The mission is incomplete. We need to finish," Heero told Duo in a tone that may be considered cold or lifeless to others, but was simply the act of a person well versed in dispassion.

Duo shook his head immediately, "Ohhhh no you don't, Yuy! I ran most of this mission, I know we got everything! Trust me. I rechecked it all over while you were hacking and I know for a FACT that it's all good. You're probably just being a perfectionist...."

Heero was surprised. Not that Duo would protest, he had expected that, but that he didn't question the fact that Heero wanted to go back. Instead, Duo simply wouldn't accept the reasoning. Something about that bothered Heero, but in a good way. "Mission parameters have been altered," Heero intoned seemingly uncaringly, turning his back on Duo and barely glancing over his shoulder, "I am returning to see it through." He began to run back down the hallway, toward where they had just left. He fully expected to hear Duo's steps falling in place by his, and the cursing and berating the American would treat him to the entire way.

Instead, he was met with a snort down the hallway, and a flippant, "Fine! Go back! See if I care. But I, being the good soldier that I am, not PERFECT mind you, but good, am going to return these before we lose `em! Sayounara, Yuy-san! See ya back at the safehouse!" Heero stumbled and looked over his shoulder in complete surprise just in time to see Duo wave the disks at him with a cheeky grin, then disappear down the hallway.

Heero blinked as he turned around and continued to run, wondering why that unexpected turn of events bothered and yet pleased him.

He was supposed to be the Perfect Soldier. Whether or not he actually qualified for the position was beyond the point; everyone knew it, everyone believed it, and therefore it was reality to many.

But apparently not one Duo Maxwell if he felt the need to abandon Heero who allegedly knew everything about battles and infiltration. The lack of trust was both disturbing (if Duo didn't trust Heero to make correct decisions how would he ever follow him in the battlefield sufficiently?) and strangely comforting (Duo called him a perfectionist, not Perfect. Duo thought of him as human....).

Heero approached the hallway where it all started lost in thought, until a bullet whizzed past his head, snapping him back to the reality of the situation. Dodging to the side, he abruptly ducked and sprinted through the confusing maze of hallways. Dozens of blurred doorways shot past him on either side until, when another stray bullet nearly grazed his ankle, he decided to try another strategy. He ran down a hallway on his right, ducking into one of the rooms and leaning against the closed door to slow his heartbeat down. Glancing quickly around, he noted that luckily the room he chose was completely empty. A few seconds passed before he heard the soldiers run past his hiding place. A smirk found its way to his eyes as he waited a full minute then, detecting no new noise, he slipped into the war zone again. He paid more attention this time, running so fast his feet barely seemed to touch the ground. He was just approaching the first hallway when he heard footsteps behind him. He pivoted, dashing down a different hallway and concentrating on moving even faster than before.

He breezed past some surprised soldiers down one of the hallways, rewarding Heero with a trail of shouting voices and an occasional bullet that ricocheted off the floor and walls around him. Another bullet would have hit him in the back if he hadn't dodged down a new hallway at the last second.

The shouting continued but slowly it died away. Heero slowed his pace slightly and was just considering forgetting the oddity and returning later when he heard a noise that caught his attention. Slowing, he looked around just in time to see partitions shut off his section of the hallway from everywhere else. Heero stopped completely, surveying the room for escape routes. Oz had never used this technology before, which immediately set his nerves on edge. But before he had a chance to consider his predicament any longer, valves appeared in the walls, spraying gas out in dense clouds. Heero covered his mouth, already searching the walls for weaknesses, but it wasn't long before even his body couldn't stand up to the stress of the gas after all that running. His eyes slid closed, too heavy to stay open any longer, as his legs faltered and failed him. Quietly, Heero felt himself fall to the ground even as he lost consciousness.^^

Heero watched another letter go up in flames, idly waiting for the smoke to obscure the words before tossing another in. He was running low on letters. Duo had managed to find him at every switch of venue over that year of protecting Relena, leaving a new pristine envelope everywhere he turned.

Heero still wasn't sure how Duo managed it with all the security systems and misleading trails he left when he tried to disappear for a while, but somehow the braided pilot managed it. Each letter tore a new hole in Heero when he read them, yet somehow he found he looked forward to seeing the pristine white envelope inconspicuously settled somewhere within his rooms, with large and messy letters proclaiming "You" or "He" and no return address.

When they were friends, good friends, before everything got confusing and hurtful, Duo used to tease Heero relentlessly. "Even your code name is boring," he'd snicker, "He You. That's all you are... no name... just a `he' and a `you', Heero Yuy...."

Heero watched as one of the first letters made its way to the fire and looked down in mild surprise. Only one left; the very first letter he'd found.

Duo's scent still managed to make it's way from the paper and suddenly Heero began to remember the rest of that night when his world had started to change.

^^ Heero awoke in the prison cells, angered that he'd let that soldier get the best of him, but not overly worried. He would be able to escape without a problem, and if he couldn't, then the appropriate procedure would be followed.

He would die before he helped the enemy win their war.

It seemed like forever but in reality probably only 15-20 minutes passed before Heero heard it. Cursing. Panicked shouts.

Explosions.

Heero tested his manacled wrists but they weren't giving and he frankly didn't care as the moment passed to relief at the knowledge that someone was there to help him escape. The door swung inwardly with amazing force and standing in the doorway, silhouetted by the flashing red of the alarms, was one Duo Maxwell, cockily holding a gun toward the ceiling.

"Yo, Heero! Maybe you feel like a vacation and all, but isn't there a better place to go?" He looked around the dingy cell with an amused grimace as he quickly approached the relieved and partially confused Heero. "Like, Bermuda? Bahamas? Somewhere else?" He was grinning and his voice was still amused, but there was nothing playful about his smooth, professional fingers working at the locks of Heero's restraints. A few moments later and the manacles disappeared to be replaced by Duo's warm, comforting, yet firm grip. He dragged Heero out of the room, who allowed the action only until they were out of the cell and he was fully in control of his body again. Together, they sprinted through the halls as fast as the hurried winter wind.

"So," Duo managed to hold a quiet conversation between the ducking from the guards and running toward their freedom, "Find what you were lookin' for?"

Heero was about to answer `no' immediately when suddenly he realized something. Why he had stopped running.

Some part of him had realized that the other 4 Gundam pilots were probably going to be the only friends he could afford in the war, if he could afford any. And though he shared commonalities with the others, it was Duo who seemed determined to surprise Heero at every turn and force him to look at the situation.

He wouldn't have referred to Duo as anything but a co-pilot before because, though he knew the others were the only candidates for friendship, he didn't believe any had reached that level yet.

But somehow, that same small part of Heero that realized the other pilots could be more than fellow faces on the battlefield, that had also recognized Duo's potential... that small part had wanted to test Duo.

A soldier would have followed his superior, no matter how crazed the action seemed.

A companion would have ignored the stupidity to continue the journey.

A friend would have returned to help.

A small smile formed in Heero's eyes without his realizing it as he looked seriously at Duo and said in an important tone, "Yes. I did."

Duo glanced over, startled at Heero's reaction, but immediately a sincere smile split his face and brightened his eyes. "I'm glad," Duo said warmly.

That was all they said for the rest of that mission.^^

Back then, the incident that started a strong friendship, Duo hadn't trusted Heero but he believed in him. He knew Heero was doing something stupid and he chose to complete the mission for Heero, who couldn't do it on his own. But he had returned.

The fact that Duo could carry out the mission first but still return to Heero was extremely important. It helped both sides of Heero's control: the alleged Perfect Soldier, but also the confused and emotional side that supposedly didn't exist despite the fact it ruled most of his actions.

But sometimes even his emotions failed him....

^^ Three months had passed quickly for Heero after his brief imprisonment by Oz. He and Duo had slowly become closer friends, as well as more efficient partners in the war. One night after Heero returned from a mission he found Duo sitting on his bed in the dorm room they were currently staying in.

"Hi, Heero," Duo said in an unusually subdued tone when the Japanese pilot entered. Mildly surprised and possibly concerned, Heero simply nodded slightly at Duo and moved to his side of the room.

He could feel Duo's eyes on his back as he dutifully sat down and opened his laptop. The American's gaze was burning a hole in his concentration and making him progressively more nervous. Why didn't he look away? Duo usually wasn't this reserved....

Almost as if Duo heard his thoughts, the American shifted on his bed and spoke pensively into the silence, "Hey, Heero... I've been thinking...."

Heero glanced sidelong over but didn't deter his attention from his mission report. He didn't answer, but then he rarely did, and he assumed Duo would continue whether or not he spoke.

He was right.

"I guess this may seem out of nowhere to you but it's been on my mind for awhile so...." Duo trailed off again, his voice quiet and almost... timid?

Heero stopped typing at the thought. Duo acting timid was EXTREMELY strange. Judging this to be more important than he'd anticipated, Heero took the time to turn in his seat and regard his friend, silently urging him to continue.

Duo glanced up, briefly making eye contact before he abruptly looked down at his hands where he toyed with his braid's end. "I don't lie, and I hate holding things in, so I'm just going to be blunt." Apparently gaining his courage back, Duo looked up and took a deep breath, holding Heero's startled gaze with a strong, almost defiant expression. "I like you, Heero," he stated, his tone holding no doubt, "I mean, really like you."

Heero blinked in surprise. Confusion swirled darkly through him, almost drowning out his own voice asking in muted doubt, "Nani?"

Duo narrowed his eyes in determination and continued, "I like you more than a friend, Heero. A lot more. And... I think you should know."

The confusion surged into a mixture of fury and terror that was so intense it almost stained his vision a deep blood red. He was furious with Duo for bringing the subject up, for demanding more from Heero when he had finally come to grips with him being a friend. He was terrified of going that extra step, of having a bigger liability than even a friend was, and also frightened because he didn't even know what he thought about the subject. He should have been denying the thought immediately, he shouldn't even have to consider what Duo meant to him! Why had he pushed it? He had just gotten a friend and now that friend already wanted more!

Heero didn't know whether to yell at Duo or ignore him, but the pilot of Deathscythe was beginning to look more and more apprehensive as the silence thickened in the heavy atmosphere. Somewhere deep inside, Heero didn't like seeing Duo that unnerved, because he was his friend, regardless of what Duo wanted....

"You are... a friend, Duo," he managed though even admitting that much aloud was making Heero nervous, as if somehow saying those words would put him in a position to choose between the mission and Duo. Unfortunately for Duo, Heero knew what the answer would be. Why didn't Duo just stay quiet for once? WHY did he have to push it? Heero struggled with how to explain the rest of his thoughts, but everything was too chaotic, too jumbled and intensely confusing for him to understand right then why he wanted to say something more, let alone what it would be.

For one long, heavy moment, Duo watched Heero, who was staring back with unfocused eyes. Abruptly, Duo smiled and nodded, though Heero noticed some sadness to the expression. "I'm going to bed. Night, Heero."

Heero paused, taking this as an easy way to regroup his emotions and try to explain what he felt at some later point. Nodding and immensely satisfied with that solution, he turned back to his laptop. "Oyasumi,"(1) he calmly replied, immediately continuing his report.

Quietly, Duo watched Heero for a few more heartbeats before he suddenly laid down, turned over and promptly seemed to fall asleep.

Only two hours after his friend was lost to the conscious world, Heero received an extended mission to protect Relena. He took the time to leave a quick note for Duo to find in the morning before he packed all his belongings into a duffel bag and disappeared into the night. ^^

A piece of wood in the fireplace suddenly popped loudly, bringing Heero back to the present. Still somewhat removed from reality, he looked at the flames and found himself wondering at how powerful they were and yet how nothing could come close without getting burnt.

At the thought, Heero's eyes fell to stare at the paper before him. The first letter. The beginning of several that had only added weight to Heero's confusion and doubt, leaving him bereft of any sense of understanding.

Heero sighed softly.

Sometimes, before and especially after Duo's confession, Heero had felt so attached to Duo, to his smile and laugh and comforting arms, that he ached when he wasn't there. Sometimes Heero wanted nothing more than to just see him, regardless of why or when or how, just as long as he could touch his friend with his eyes, and maybe even get a glimpse of the boy hiding in the shadows behind that brilliant grin.

This was one of those times.

And as Heero stared blindly at the letter he found himself looking up, past the fireplace, gazing out the window as he searched the lazy twilight world outside for an answer to his dilemma.

Belief.

The word suddenly breathed through his mind, cutting through his thoughts and centering on his heart. With a startled blink, Heero realized that what held them together was their trust and belief in each other. Duo believed in Heero to make the right decision, and Heero trusted Duo to understand when he couldn't choose the correct path.

Idly, Heero looked down at the letter in his hand again, flipping the envelope over as he regarded the front. `You,' Duo's handwriting scrawled messily. As he had countless times before, Heero found himself staring at the upper left corner where the return address should be, finding nothing but emptiness.

Empty.

Yes, that was a good word for how he'd read the letters Duo sent. Empty, and... aching. As if he'd lost something that he hadn't even known existed until it was gone....

He always looked forward to the letters, knowing that just for those few moments he was with his friend again, his eyes smiling at the jokes Duo blurted and the enthusiasm he had for the little things that Heero rarely noticed. Everytime he saw a new envelope, something in Heero rejoiced and surged forward to examine everything about it, while another part retreated further and further inside, hurt and rejected at how happy Duo was without him, and yet angry at himself for even thinking of that. Duo was his friend. Duo was a liability. It was bad enough the baka found him, he shouldn't let anything he had to say bother him.

But every letter did. They all spoke of happy days, everything going on as normal, the regular mishaps colored brightly in Duo's infectious tone.

Never once did Duo say he missed or even ever thought of Heero.

Never once did he imply that Heero meant anything to him anymore after that night.

Never once did Duo leave a return address to invite Heero to reply.

Soon it was painful to see those letters, hurtful to read those content words and know that Duo had forgotten him so easily.

Because Heero hadn't forgotten him.

6 months into his mission with Relena, Heero had finally realized what Duo meant to him, what he was trying to say that one night....

`I like you too, Duo,' he should have said, `I really like you. The way you smile. The way you laugh. The way you support me all around. The way you make me feel... content.... The way you can stop all my emotions from beating at me everytime you look at me with that expression that says you understand. You understand completely....'

But he didn't say it when he had the chance, and he wasn't sure he ever would have another.

That was why he was here, though.

Heero had just finished his mission with Relena a little over a month ago, and the last few weeks he was stationed alone in this rustic cabin. He didn't bother hiding his trail from Duo, and somewhere deep inside, Heero desperately hoped that Duo would return...

...Because Heero didn't know how to return to Duo....

Well, I've walked two hundred miles
now look me over It's the end of the chase and the moon is high It won't matter who loves who
You'll love me or I'll love you
When the night comes falling from the sky


A noise startled Heero out of his thoughts and he looked up just in time to watch Duo close door behind him as he stepped inside, violet gaze staring deeply into Heero's cobalt eyes. Without realizing it, Heero dropped the letter that had been in his hands.

Slowly, a relieved smile reminiscent of that mission lit the generally dispassionate gaze and, relieved as well, Duo smiled quietly back as he entered the room and closed the door behind him.

"Hey, Heero," Duo said almost timidly as he slid into place at Heero's side on the wooden cabin floor in front of the soothing, crackling fireplace.

He looked at Duo for a long moment, suddenly unsure of what his emotions wanted him to do. Inside he was full of a chaotic, living, breathing storm. It washed away his thoughts and pressed painfully against his heart.

He was happy to see Duo.

He was afraid of losing him again.

He was ecstatic he'd returned.

He was angry that Duo hadn't trusted him.

He was--

Suddenly it didn't matter anymore what Heero wanted because Duo took the initiative. In an abrupt display of affection, he threw himself at Heero and wrapped his arms around his shoulders, burying his face in his upper arm. "I missed you, He," he murmured softly into Heero's skin.

The Japanese pilot blinked once before his emotions suddenly all screamed for the same thing. With deliberate calmness and certainty, he pulled Duo in for a strong hug. Returning a hug was unassuming. Returning a hug wouldn't push Duo away again... right? "You left," was his answer, but in those two words all his emotions shrieked to the surface, leaving his voice soft, breathy, and wavering. You left me alone... why?

"I... I know...." Duo replied in a subdued voice.

Heero tightened his grip on Duo before reluctantly pulling the American's warmth away from him. He kept his hands firmly on Duo's shoulders but held him at arm's length so he could clearly see him.

Duo looked away uncomfortably under the scrutiny, somewhat nervously licking his lips. His hands were clenched in fists, his skin paler than usual, and slightly sunken in. His hair was a mess, including the prized braid that was currently lumped ridiculously against his back. His clothes were dirty and his skin was covered in a fine layer of dirt.

Heero took all the details in and categorized them within seconds before he looked up at Duo's face with a heavy gaze until the trapped amethyst eyes looked back at him with a slightly haunted expression. Heero squeezed Duo's shoulders encouragingly but spoke only one word.

"Explain."

I can see through your walls and I know you're hurting
Sorrow covers you like a cape
Only yesterday I know that you've been flirting
With disaster that you managed to escape


Duo stared at Heero, caught in his strong gaze, and found himself babbling almost without realizing it. His words broke through the silence of the room quickly, shakily and yet confidently, as if he had to say this all, right now, before he could forget anything or lose his nerve. Before his mind had a chance to stop him.

"We were friends, Heero. Really good friends. And I felt really important having you there, like it didn't matter anymore if people knew anything about me `cause you cared about all the stuff I wanted you to, and didn't care about the rest of the shit that came with it." Duo averted his eyes to the fireplace.

"So I thought I should be honest. When I realized you meant more to me than a friend, I started to think maybe you felt the same. I was analyzing every move you made, wondering if it was a `friend' act or a `more' act, and it was driving me crazy! So... you know... I told you... and.... I mean I understand that you had a mission and were busy and all but you suddenly didn't seem to want anything to do with me...." Duo hesitated then looked back at Heero with truth shining from his eyes.

Heero was unsure how to respond so he stayed silent as he waited for Duo to continue. After a few moments, Duo ran his fingers uncomfortably through his bangs then pulled his braid in front of him to idly stroke.

"I watched over you for awhile, keeping my eye out for broadcasts that might have you in the background, doing idle check-ups. I knew something was bothering you, it's kinda hard for me to ignore that anymore. But I was still angry with you, and hurt, and confused. And to top it off, the person you'd run to was the last person I wanted to feel jealous of. The fact that I couldn't help the envy only made me feel more guilty and angry with you for forcing me into those emotions, even though you didn't. So I decided I'd get back at you... sorta...." He watched the fire crackle and pop and smiled faintly as he finally realized what was in there. Slowly, his eyes slid to regard the first letter that was still lying on the floor in front of Heero. He moved away from Heero long enough to gently pick it up and examine it with a quiet, almost fond, expression as he spoke softly. "So I mailed you those letters, and sometimes sent them to Relena to give to you. Talked about my day like nothing had changed since you were gone, like it didn't matter to me at all whether you lived or died." Duo glanced sidelong at Heero, "I didn't really lie," almost immediately he looked away again, "But I didn't tell the full truth either. I mean, yeah, I was doing all that stuff. But I missed you. More than I thought I'd ever miss anyone. And... it scared me.... I kept thinking you could die anytime and I'd have no say in it. I know we're soldiers, Heero, but behind that we're also people... maybe even children... and the child in me kept thinking... you'd...."

Duo trailed off as he unseeingly dropped the letter to the floor again, staring at the fire for one long moment. Heero stared at Duo with a million thoughts running through his mind. Duo didn't hate him still, but he was confused on if he still liked him or not. He was still leaning against him, so he must, right? And he spoke of being afraid that Heero was going to die... but was Duo back only because he didn't want Heero to die before he could say a few more things, or was he back because he still liked Heero?

One thing was certain to Heero: he still very much liked Duo....

Suddenly, he looked back at Heero and the importance in his gaze made the Japanese pilot stop everything he was doing and just stare back. It was almost as if words passed from Duo to Heero without being said....

[cont]