Nightfall (cont)

I can't provide you for no easy answers
Who are you that I should have to lie?
You'll know all about it, love
It'll fit you like a glove
When the night comes falling from the sky

"I don't understand myself," Duo finally said aloud, almost seeming to repeat what had just passed between them, "So I'm not gonna lie to you by trying to explain some stuff." Duo pressed his left hand over Heero's left hand, still holding Duo's right shoulder.

"But I DO know that we need to stick together, Heero... `cause being apart was killing me and I know you weren't too happy yourself...." Duo puffed some of his bangs from his eyes in a soft, relieved sigh, as if he had been wanting to say all that for a long time but was unable to word it right, unable to understand enough to convey the importance of the message.

Heero forced away the thoughts and stared at Duo with slowly softening eyes that were on the path to childlike delight. He paused a moment to listen to his emotions again, but all he was feeling was a strong swirl of confusion. "You waited to return," he finally said quietly, "Why?"

Duo sighed, patting Heero's hand. "I... well, shit, Heero, I was afraid." He grimaced. "If you can tell me having such a good friend doesn't scare the shit out of you sometimes too then you are definitely stronger than me. And then I wanted more and you didn't so... I guess I didn't think you wanted me around...."

Now he was feeling a little less Confused... his mind was being overcome with Understanding... Compassion... Contentment, but too strong... much too strong...! Heero glanced away from Duo's burning eyes and nodded slightly. "It scares me," he acknowledged.

Duo managed to look only mildly startled--not that Heero would reveal his emotions to him since he was used to that after their friendship, but by the tone of Heero's voice. It wasn't sad, it was almost... happy.... Proud....

"Why...?" Duo ventured, unable to form a more coherent reply.

Heero looked back at Duo with eyes that were definitely smiling now, though a tad tragically. Urgency welled up from within him, bringing with it the Confidence and eloquent wording that he needed to speak what was on his mind. "It scared me that I would care about anything beyond what was necessary for success and survival, but at the same time I was pleased that I had found someone who would be so important to me that I would feel that emotion for anything other than my mission or myself. I was... honored... to be known so truly by another...."

Duo looked at Heero with the most stricken expression he had ever allowed to the surface, and suddenly pushed away Heero's arms so he could hug his friend again. "Heero... you... you're being too...."

Contentment rolled calmly up from within again, filling every part of his body, fulfilling him in this simple motion of friendly bodily contact. The thought of this leaving, of this never, ever being there again to comfort him, suddenly brought Terror up Contentment's heels. The two battled for a few moments, suddenly rushing Heero's thoughts away into an Emptiness that pulsed and breathed with malevolent Dispassion. "You left me," Heero said softly, lost, into Duo's hair. Duo's hair. The scent... so intimate by then, something he knew by heart, could recall at a moment's panicked notice.... Contentment. It smelled like Home. Heero felt Happiness rest quietly against his satisfied heart. Heero tightened his hold on Duo. "But you came back. So you deserve everything." That's right. Duo came back. Duo would always come back for him. He would always understand when Heero couldn't figure everything out in time to make the right decision. Duo was a Constant. Duo was Contentment.

Duo buried his face further in Heero's shoulder, feeling his heart expand achingly at his friend's words. Do I? he thought distantly, disoriented, DO I deserve everything? Do I even deserve anything...?

I can hear your trembling heart beat like a river
You must have been protecting someone last time I called
I've never asked you for nothing you couldn't deliver
I never asked you to set yourself up for a fall

Duo listened to Heero's heartbeat as it thundered calmly from Heero's chest into his own. He felt the aching that used to accompany tears well up from within, but not even a shine accompanied his amethyst eyes.

He had cried all his tears long ago and watched them soak into the blood stained ground. There was nothing left to pull those soothing drops from within anymore; only the ache that should have been followed by a river, a flood, a storm, and ended with peace.

Instead, the ache.

Only the ache.

Heero's heartbeat was comforting him and slowly, gently, he loosened his death grip on his friend. He brought one hand to his face as if brushing away tears though he knew damn well that nothing would be there. Taking in a deep breath, he pulled away and stared into Heero's compassionate gaze.

"He...?" Duo asked, reverting to Heero's nickname, "What were you...?"

He didn't even need to finish as Heero calmly explained.

The emotions retreated for a moment, having no part in this kind of conversation. "I received a mission to protect Relena Peacecraft," came his calculated voice as it spread through the quiet room, "and was told it was of the utmost importance. It occurred to me that I would perhaps not be returning and so I decided to explain that I would be away for awhile and that you shouldn't worry. But when I tried to form the words, they came out wrong. I hadn't realized I implied I wanted nothing to do with you, that I was leaving you for Relena, but I imagine you understood the message that way...."

"Heero," Duo interrupted in a weary tone, "all your message said was `R more important. Not returning.' All I could think was I'd asked too much and fucked up even our friendship. Why else would you run to Relena so abruptly, saying you wouldn't be back? I knew what you meant. You didn't mean you wouldn't return from the mission. You meant you wouldn't return to being my friend." His accusation hung heavy in the air, pregnant and waiting for an answer.

Confusion. Denial. Heero frowned slightly, deciding to avoid the allegation and instead focus on the cause. "That wasn't the entire message," he protested, "That was only the first. The second explained everything."

Duo sighed tiredly, rubbing at his eyes. "Well I obviously didn't get it."

Caught. Sheepish fault. HAD he ever sent those last messages, or did he eventually talk himself out of it...? Heero paused then looked away guiltily, "Because... I didn't want you to...."

Duo looked up in surprise. "What?" he asked immediately, more harshly than he had intended.

Shame. Sadness. Fear... no, Terror. Terror for something he couldn't control.... Heero was now the one avoiding eye contact but eventually Duo's burning gaze broke him down and he looked back. He was nervous, his eyes pleaded, and scared. "I... it occurred to me that you may do something rash. We had become good friends and I knew you would always come back for me, in the end. I didn't think that sounded very healthy considering you could attempt to come back as a friend one time when you should have stayed away as a soldier," Heero paused then added, "And... you were too nice. I didn't know how to handle it...."

Silence encompassed the room as the two stared off to distances only they could see. Perhaps 2 minutes passed for the rustic clock situated over the fireplace, but for them, it was an eternity.

Confusion. "Didn't the message end in `Miss Y'?" Heero commented almost as an afterthought.

Duo actually slightly blushed. "Uhh... yeah...." he offered sheepishly.

Surprise... more Confusion.... Heero looked at him incredulously. "You know the code, Duo. You made it up. How could you forget `Miss' for Mission and `Y' for Yuy? You made jokes about it for weeks!"

"Erm..." Duo stalled as he rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment, "Simple. I... didn't forget entirely. I think maybe part of me wanted you to be an asshole so I could stop liking you, so I... read the message but didn't understand that part...."

Heero's emotions stilled in shock, leaving him to simply look even more incredulous as he stared at his friend. The confusion was plain to see in his bright cobalt eyes but avoidance was written all over Duo's amethystine gaze. Patiently, Heero waited for Duo to explain, like he always did when they came to situations like this.

I saw thousands who could have overcome the darkness
For the love of a lousy buck, I've watched them die,
Stick around, baby, we're not through
Don't look for me, I'll see you,
When the night comes falling from the sky

Duo sighed heavily and scooted away from Heero till he was leaning against the worn couch. He stared into the flames again, speaking slowly and in the tone that Heero had come to realize meant Duo was being extremely serious, and whatever he was saying was more important to him than breathing. Something was obviously weighing on Duo's mind.

"Have you ever had friends before, Heero?" he asked in a distant, too-old tone. He didn't wait for Heero's reply, didn't even look over. He knew the answer would be `No, Duo. Not before you.' He knew it as well as Heero did. "Well, I have," Duo clarified as if Heero HAD spoken those words aloud, "and it sucks. You get to know someone, start to care for them, make promises to each other, and--BAM--they go and leave or die on you. The second you're remembering their scent, or their face, or you can mimic perfectly their mannerisms... THEN you know you're in trouble. `Cause they're like breathing to you. They're like living and dying, being part of their life until you become it, and nothing else matters but them. And their happiness. And their smile," Duo looked over at Heero meaningfully, "no matter HOW buried it may be."

Heero calmly watched Duo as the American looked away again. Heero was allowing him to set his own pace as he told him what he needed to know, to understand. He let his own emotions wash over and through him like a turbulent, never-ending ocean. He didn't want to be distracted as he listened to Duo speak so he decided to ignore them until after the conversation.

Duo, meanwhile, was looking off in the distance as his voice came from far away. "It's like a drug... needing them... wanting them around so you can tell jokes, make stupid comments, maybe just be yourself, no matter how different your real face may be from what people think." Duo sat up straighter, his eyes saddening. When he spoke again, his voice was harder. "And when they leave you, it's all anger, betrayal, and hurt. And a pain deeper than any torture your enemies could shove on you because this time... THIS time it's within to without. THIS time it isn't superficial. THIS time it's not lethal to your body, but to your soul."

Duo's haunted gaze made its way to Heero's strengthened eyes. For a moment, the expression that covered Duo's gaunt face was too much and Heero shivered just as Duo spoke. "It's like a poison." His voice was soft, clear, and undeniably lost. "Like a disease that starts at your heart, and moves through your body faster than thought. Like a thousand little pinpricks of death that shoot through you until you're so weary and exhausted you want to give up too, give up your life and everything just so you can rest." Duo sighed heavily. "And then life comes and kicks you in the ass, tells you to get your shit in a row `cause you have a long way to go before you can be free."

Heero watched Duo's expression turn bitter and full of self-loathing. "I've seen hundreds, Heero, HUNDREDS, who have reached out to me slowly die. I've watched them from afar, or held them in my arms, or stood at the graveyard of their last stand just in time to feel their spirits wash around me...." Heero felt sadness well up from within, and sympathy. But stronger than the others was a sudden intense Protectiveness.

"And it wasn't once either, Heero. Each of them... a thousand times a night.... I imagine I was there... or I re-listen to their words, their chokes and finally their last breath." He frowned almost angrily, almost afraid. "And it was enough that I did that for a long time. But... then we became friends. And when I went to sleep with you nearby, they weren't as loud, their deaths not as vivid, the stench of blood somehow muted from my senses. Soon I was getting used to the nightmares disappearing, and when I realized that I realized you were more important to me than I thought." Duo looked at Heero pleadingly, frightened. "It scared the shit out of me. I didn't know what to think--I was fighting to keep that shit from happening to others, but I used to think I'd need that pain to keep going... to remind me.... But the more I stayed around you the more I knew I could be different, could find something else to support me.... I was afraid of what might happen but I didn't want to lie, so I talked to you right away. When you said no I thought it was my fault... but I still couldn't deny my feelings. I guess it was like you were one of those lost friends to me then... a thousand little deaths..."

For one long, eternal moment, Duo stared into the distance, his expression guarded and carefully blank. Heero knew from experience that Duo was feeling overwhelmed in emotion right then, so he decided to wait for his friend to continue. Still, confusion trapped his heart in a frenzied beat powered by the abrupt fear at the thought of Duo in pain. He knew he should say something, do something, to bring Duo back, but he had no idea what he was supposed to do. He sat there, completely silent, caught in a trap of his own hesitant fears, knowing Duo could be hurt far deeper than he'd ever know... maybe he'd never know until it was too late, until he or both of them were dead in the war or beyond.

Heero was startled to feel terror well up from within at the thought of losing someone who understood him so well, who had become so important to him, but before he could react, Duo was speaking again.

"Do you feel it, Heero?" Duo finally asked in a soft voice that was so full of mixed emotions it pulsed through the air to rest against Heero's skin like a second heartbeat, "Do you feel it when I leave you? When I'm not there? Does it hurt?" He turned slowly to regard Heero with eyes that were too old for his few years of existence.

"Yes," Heero replied softly, lost. He didn't even have to think about it; he knew.... He knew without Duo, something of him was lost.

Something was destroyed.

Duo nodded but he still seemed slightly detached, as if the emotions were too much for him to handle all at once. He slowly looked over and caught Heero's eyes with a heavy, striking gaze. "And does it eat at you, not knowing what I'm doing? Where I'm going? Who I'm with? If I'm even alive?" His voice was soft, but the emotions behind were making his voice turbulent with pain.

Heero shook his head slightly to himself. How could Duo even question that? He needed Duo! Why couldn't Duo understand...? It was too hard to say right... but... he had to let Duo know....

"Yes," Heero finally acknowledged decisively, hoping the strength and confidence would speak the words he couldn't seem to form. He knew what he wanted to say; he could breathe the thought in his mind. But everytime he tried to say the words aloud, they faltered and changed.... "Yes," Heero said again, almost as if daring Duo or, more likely, himself, to deny the agreement.

"Yeah," Duo said softly, mournfully. "Yeah... it's the same for me.... Only worse. `Cause I know what lies down this path. I know when you die I'm gonna freak and close myself off and not want to breathe again." Heero was surprised at the answer because he felt like Duo was speaking words he needed to say. "So you left and I was pissed at you, but even angrier at the part of me that was happy. The cowardly part that said I could call you a bastard for the rest of my life, then, and not CARE when you died, or if you died, `cause you were an asshole. A defector. A traitor to my friendship...." Duo sighed and completely wilted against the couch's hard surface. Heero paused only a moment before he scooted over so he was sitting right next to Duo, who looked up with a deep emotion that Heero couldn't place. "So I tried to hate you, loathe you with everything in me, even though I knew you were just doing your job. Even though I knew you probably thought you were helping me...."

Heero hesitated, almost afraid to hear the answer to the question that breathed in his mind, but unable to deny it. "So why did you return?" His voice was soft but strong, and he hoped the support was helping Duo because right then everything was still too much for him to understand and react to.

Duo glanced up through the shadow of his bangs, the light shining amethyst sparks off his eyes and crowning his pupils in glowing white the only indication that he was watching Heero at that moment. "I'm not entirely sure... maybe I just wanted to see you. I didn't want to worry if we were friends or not, even though I know we won't be more. I guess I just can't leave you."

In your teardrops I can see my own reflection
It was on the northern border of Texas where I crossed the line
I don't want to be a fool starving for affection,
I don't want to drown in someone else's wine

Heero felt a thrill travel from the innermost depths of his being to his skin in a tingling sensation. A smile was finding its way to his eyes when Duo spoke again.

"I told you what I wanted, and you didn't need it. I understand that. But are we still friends, Heero? I wrote you those letters but you didn't bother replying--"

"There was no return address," Heero countered pointedly, still confused about that point and afraid that, though it seemed Duo still cared for him, that somewhere deep inside he didn't. That he was saying goodbye now instead of hello.

Duo frowned. "I wanted you to be happy, Heero. I thought if I wrote you so you knew I didn't forget about you that I'd be helping any part of you that was maybe upset at being away from me.... Besides, you're so good on the computer--how hard would it have been to send me a message at some point during that year just to say `Hey Duo, got your messages, thanks'?" The question hung in the air for a moment before Heero found his voice again.

"But there was no return address... I didn't think you wanted to hear from me...."

"Why would I send you letters if I didn't want you to write back?" Duo asked with soft frustration.

Heero looked at Duo helplessly, almost pleadingly, "But you were so happy in all of them... you didn't seem to care about me at all. And then you mentioned staying with Hilde for awhile and I realized you didn't need me anymore."

Duo shook his head, the frustration welling up more. "Damnit, Heero, I'll always need you."

Heero's eyes widened in surprise and contentment at the words. "I--Duo--" But the words choked in his throat before he could form them.

Duo looked over with a soft sigh and shake of his head. He could feel Heero's intense body heat just to the left of his shoulder and the feeling was both calming and distracting at the same time. "It's not your fault, really, I guess. I was being confusing."

Heero quirked a side of his mouth up minutely as he shook his head. "I was just confused."

Duo looked up in surprise at the soft humor in Heero's voice. Heero was looking over at him with shining cobalt eyes and suddenly Duo couldn't suppress the grin that broke through his features. He hesitantly moved over, watching Heero's eyes for anger or rejection, slowly leaning against Heero's side. The Japanese pilot felt that same contentment from before wash over him and, in a sudden daring move, he wrapped his right arm around Duo's shoulders as he stared at the fire.

His body felt warm and alive with joy, and it was the most beautiful feeling he'd ever experienced.

After a moment, Duo laughed softly and shook his head. Heero glanced over before turning back to the fire. "Nani?"

"I'm just a fool," Duo replied in amusement.

"Why?" Heero frowned.

Duo was quiet a moment before he spoke again. "Right before I came here I was down in Texas, in that base where G thought there was Mobile Suit productions. I was there doing my job, and all I could think was that I hadn't heard from you in over a year, despite the fact your mission with Relena got over 1 month ago. And I was pissed. The more I went through the motions of searching for the control room, the more I wanted to just stand there and wait for the guards to appear just so they could capture me and torture me, not that they'd get any information, and then stick it on the next news reel. I imagined my battered face being zoomed in on, my left eye matted shut from blood, my hair ragged and, hell, maybe even chopped off by some dull knife that nearly ripped the rest of it from my scalp." As he spoke, Duo moved away from Heero so he could look up and meet Heero's startled gaze. His violet eyes were ablaze with a determination that Heero had only seen him show on the battlefield when he called himself Shinigami. That unholy gleam that only belonged to the true fanatics.

But Heero was barely noticing Duo's expression. Instead, he was staring up at Duo in mute horror as he thought of what Duo was speaking of doing. To anyone other than Duo, Heero would have looked cold and dispassionate. But Duo knew where to look for the emotions: Heero's eyes.

"I was being selfish, I know, and incredibly petty. But I wanted to shove in your face that friendship isn't something you can toss aside for the hell of it. It's two people who return to each other, again and again, unable to stay apart because of the bond that holds them, that molds them, that either helps them soar or forces them to crash and burn." Duo looked away, partially feeling justified, mostly permeated with shame.

The picture Duo's words and soft voice painted was highly disturbing Heero. He tried to tell himself that it didn't happen, but the thought of Duo going through all that, and WILLINGLY, was almost too much. Adding the fact that Duo would do that because of Heero... because Heero couldn't understand in time the emotions that tried to course through his veins like quicksilver when he thought of Duo....

"Duo...." Heero whispered brokenly, softly.

"Do you know why I didn't do it, Heero?" Duo said in a quiet tone, his arms wrapped around himself as he leaned away from Heero's body.

"Why...?" Heero inquired sadly.

Duo said in an extremely quiet voice barely above a whisper but as certain as the tide, "Because I knew you wouldn't come."

"Duo! I--!" Heero protested immediately.

"You what, Heero?" Duo said calmly, still not looking over. "You know you wouldn't. You'd talk yourself out of it... or, if by some miracle you DID make it there, it'd be with a gun aimed at my heart to silence the traitor who possibly spoke our secrets."

"You don't--" Heero began but was cut off again.

"Don't what? Don't know, Heero?" His voice was still soft, becoming more sure but also more lost. "But I do, Heero. I know because you're strong in everything you do but you don't listen to your emotions." Before Heero could protest he pushed on, "You FOLLOW them, sure. But you don't listen to them... nurture them... let them grow and develop on their own. You would've easily fallen into the rhythm of analyzing them one by one then choosing the most logical route instead of simply going with the flow, letting your actions be changed and discovered with each new feeling pressing in your chest."

Heero suddenly felt insanely weary as he slumped against the ground. He knew Duo was right as well as Duo knew it. They both understood how Heero worked, how he functioned. But it still didn't change the fact that Heero had changed now, somehow, at some point while staying with Relena. Now he knew that he cared about Duo more than he ever thought before. Now it was different.... "The mission is important... but I... I wouldn't have... even if I didn't know what...." Heero trailed off in frustration, trying to say this right. "I...."

"Are you sure you'd come, Heero? I doubt you would. My life doesn't depend on yours... I could live still... but I just... I just want a friend I can depend on... I can trust to help me when I need it...."

He's so sure... I don't even know.... I'd go for him. I'd help him. Wouldn't I...? "Duo, I'm sorry...." It was all Heero could say right then, even though it wasn't what he wanted.

"You'll be sorry when I'm gone, Heero," Duo whispered, haunted, "Right now you're just feeling guilty."

Heero shook his head. "That's not true, Duo. I just... can't...."

Duo sighed. "I know. You can't say what you mean. You need more time. You need to understand everything first. You need others to tell you how to do it because you can't seem to get your words to work right on your own. You need a manual...."

Heero looked away, desperately trying to drag the words from his heart.

Duo looked over and sighed again. "Maybe I was wrong, Heero. Sorry about bothering you. I'll see ya around and next time I send you a letter, return address or not, feel free to contact me." He stood with a grin and wave and walked toward the door, glancing back with empty eyes. "Bye, Heero...."

Heero felt the moment weigh in on him painfully. His heart beat so fast the sound was starting to shatter through his mind and give him a headache. All he could think was that if he didn't speak now, if he didn't say what he was trying to say, Duo would never understand. How could Duo know what he meant when his words came out wrong? His thoughts and emotions flew through his mind at a frenzied, panicked pace. He had to tell Duo! He had to tell him before it was too late...!

"Don't... don't go...."

For all eternity I think I will remember
That icy wind that's howling in your eye
You will seek me and you'll find me
In the wasteland of your mind
When the night comes falling from the sky

Duo stopped and looked back, his hand still on the door. He didn't dare let hope stain his features so he kept his playful grin in tack and asked brightly, "Yeah, Heero?"

"Don't... don't leave...." Heero continued, his face obscured by the fall of his unruly hair as he stared at his clasped hands in front of him.

Duo stood completely still. "Why not, Heero?"

Silence answered his question, so heavy and permanent that Duo began to doubt that he'd heard Heero say anything in the first place, that maybe it had just been his delusional hope that made him believe Heero had spoken those words he wanted to hear.


Duo needed to be needed.

He needed to show that he was someone, that he existed, that his true thoughts mattered to another person. And if it wasn't Heero... then he had no one....

The silence continued, growing stronger and bolder with each passing breath. They were both so still it was like the only thing that lived in that cabin was the flickering flames in the fireplace; the fire that had long ago consumed all but one of Duo's false letters and Heero's crushed hopes. The wood cracked and popped in the quiet, screaming for someone to speak, to move, to confess. Outside, the wind slowly rose until Duo heard the leaves rustling so loudly in the stillness he could hear nothing else.

Heero was letting the world wash away from him as he concentrated on his feelings, on the words that were trying to struggle away from his grip and hide beneath his mask of dispassion. But he knew now that he couldn't keep expecting Duo to return, to understand without being told, to know even when Heero didn't know all of what he was trying to say.

This was more important than anything right then, and yet he couldn't grasp it. He couldn't bring the words to the surface even though he knew most of them by heart. He couldn't make his mouth move, his throat work, his breath release. He knew that somewhere inside he was afraid of rejection, afraid of acceptance, afraid to admit to feeling deeper than he'd ever known before.

And yet he had to say this.

He had to say this.

He had to say this!

After several heartbeats of absolute silence and stillness in the cabin Heero abruptly looked up, catching Duo's startled attention. Heero's eyes were cold with determination, but as strong and pure as the wind that was ripping through the leaves outside at that moment.

"Don't ever go," Heero said with finality.

Well I sent you my feelings in a letter
But you were gambling for support
This time tomorrow I'll know you better
When my memory is not so short

Duo stared at Heero, not noticing that his grin had disappeared beneath the comforting weight of that icy wind blowing through Heero's eyes, that wind that promised more than anything else ever could have.

"Heero...?" Duo didn't dare say anymore in case he broke the spell.

"I didn't understand what I wanted until I was at Relena's and it was gone," Heero spoke into the quiet, his words hesitant but not their meaning, "But I do now." He continued to stare into Duo's eyes, his gaze strong as stone and just as unwavering. But there was no intimidation in his expression, only an overwhelming desire to get things right for once, and then to see where that brought them.

Duo still stood by the door, afraid to stay there for fear of missing his chance with Heero, and yet afraid to approach in case he did get his chance. As much as he wanted to be around Heero as something more than a friend, he was still terrified that Heero would die in his arms or just out of reach like so many others did. And yet the pull to be with Heero was even greater than the pull to be alone, and it was that fact that would have decided his movements.

But by that time Heero had gathered his courage and was already walking over to Duo. He stopped just in front of him, so close that their body heat mingled like invisible auras flickering through the air between them. Duo swallowed as Heero slowly reached behind him and locked the door, a small smirk-smile dancing in his clear and strong cobalt eyes.

"I need you, Duo. I know that now. I want you. As more than a friend... as whatever you'll have me." Heero spoke calmly but the iciness had disappeared to a softened, ocean hue. Duo was caught in the undulating strength of Heero's gaze, unable to do anything more than breathe and recognize the quickening of his heartbeat as it pounded through his body. "Will you have me, Duo? Do you want me anymore?"

The words were almost too much, they were too close to what Duo had always been wanting to hear, to say, to know, to feel, to believe. His breath quickened, his long chestnut bangs partially covering the sudden bright intensity of his amethyst eyes as he searched Heero's face for signs of this being a joke, a lie, anything that would mean it wasn't as real as Duo thought.

He saw nothing but conviction and love.

Duo's breath caught in his throat and before he knew what he was doing he threw his arms around Heero, holding him tighter and tighter as if he feared he was a dream that would disappear at the first touch of dawn's cold light.

"I will always want you, Heero," Duo whispered softly, brokenly, into his shoulder where he buried his face, "Always, always, always...."

This time I'm asking for freedom,
Freedom from a world which you deny.
And you'll give it to me now,
I'll take it anyhow

Heero felt such joy and contentment at the words that he could hardly move. But his paralysis was quickly overcome and he hugged Duo back as closely as he was being held. Their bodies pressed fully against each other, strength and warmth in a world gone mad with war, and with simple human emotions. Heero felt a twinge of terror at the thought of losing Duo again, and before he knew it he had wrapped his hand in Duo's soft braid, gripping his back so strong he almost feared hurting him. But Duo didn't seem to mind, and in fact, he pulled harder until they were so close breath barely made it between them. Their heartbeats were strong and pure, echoing each other with words that could never be spoken.

As Heero looked past Duo's shoulder, eyes focusing on the darkness permeating the world around the simple rustic cabin, he suddenly realized something that had been bothering him. The nightfall was a complete absence of light, when he can finally see what he'd been missing all along. Those stars that Heero had always unwittingly been searching for weren't from missions accomplished or disasters avoided, but instead inside the warm body of a fellow soldier with laughing violet eyes and a silky chestnut braid. That darkness that had been holding his emotions away finally faltered and splintered beneath the flood of love and understanding that suddenly rocketed through his body such force that he was left bereft of anything but the sensation of Duo, fitting in his arms so perfectly.

Heero pulled back at the same time Duo did, their eyes catching briefly before they seemed to realize the words lurking behind each others' clear gazes. Heero leaned forward slightly, but paused at the last second, as if still a little afraid to take the first step. Duo smiled slightly and pushed against Heero, quickly closing the distance until their lips brushed like fresh fire, sparking emotions that traveled in shivers completely up and down their bodies.

The last vestiges of the darkness of their personal nights of uncertainty and fear within them disappeared in the face of that pure conviction, bringing with it the doubt and self-incriminations that had held them back before. As their lips parted, something important passed between the two, pushing away every single hesitation that tried to remain, leaving their futures crystalline and pure.


Night fell.

When the night comes falling from the sky.


(1) Good Night