Notes: It's from Duo's POV, sort of strange. If it's too disjointed, please
let me know.
They said it would be good
for you. A few weeks in the mountains, away from people. A few weeks in
the mountains, just long to ascertain whether or not you had been driven
insane by the war. A few weeks in the mountains, alone, to make you realize
how much of a soldier you'd really been.
"A healing time," one doctor said, nodding at her colleagues
over her spectacles. You couldn't help but notice that her frames were
tortoiseshell patterned, definitely this year's model. You wondered briefly
what it was like to have enough money to buy designer glasses every season,
then dismissed it.
So. Healing time. You thought it was a bunch of psychobabble hocus- pocus,
because, really, whatever healing you had to do, you wanted to do it in
private, thankyouverymuch. The brochures showed photos of glassy lakes,
reflecting a clear sky and capped mountain peaks. You allowed yourself
to think, 'It looks peaceful,' but tried to hold onto your skepticism
as long as possible.
You weren't sure what you were healing, exactly; not your body, at least.
That was in better condition than ever. One of the first things you did
after the war was over, really over in the way that made people's shoulders
sag in delayed relief, was eat. You ordered room service and charged it
to Relena's bill and knew she wouldn't mind, would encourage it.
You thought you remembered what strawberries tasted like. When the food
came on a little silver-polished cart with a lit vanilla candle and a
steel bucket full of ice, you picked one out of the dish and bit into
It was so sweet it stung the corners of your mouth, and that certainly
wasn't the way you remembered it: flat, slightly gray tasting around the
edges, a chunky core. Seeds that got in between your teeth that you tried
to pry out with your tongue.
You felt as if you'd never eaten strawberries before, not real ones, not
the way they were meant to be tasted. It was new. You wondered if everything
would feel so new.
The cabin in the mountains, maybe, was a good idea, just a place to be
alone and think for a while, while the world made the slow transition
from wartime to peacetime. Thinking was a luxury that you haven't allowed
yourself during the war, not thinking the way you like it. You looked
at the brochures again and the pictures had not changed.
You mentioned it briefly to him, just in passing, just a side-note. You
didn't expect him to smile a little and accept the invitation. You wondered
if he knew how much you wanted him to say yes.
"Sure," he said. You sprung it on him at breakfast and hoped
he wouldn't be coherent enough to understand what you were really asking.
His face was still chiseled with sharp cheekbones and a perfectly proportional
nose, but he looked. Softer.
He looked years younger. It wasn't the youth from sleep or food, but uncertainty,
and being reconciled to it. Changing situations had never bothered Heero,
not when they were unavoidable.
"Okay," you said.
"Tomorrow," you said. You were afraid he would change his mind;
you were afraid he wouldn't change his mind, would show up the next day
in hiking gear and expect to go with you.
It was a trap you'd set for yourself, really; if Heero expected to go,
you'd actually have to. You knew yourself too well, knew your own sly
tricks and cunning loopholes. It scared you that there was a part of Duo
Maxwell that knew he had to do it.
"I'll come by in the morning," he said, running a hand absently
through sleep-mussed hair. He looked tired. You thought it was a better
look for him than perpetually angry.
"Okay," you said, because you didn't want to leave him.
"Sit down, Duo," he said, half as a question but more as a command.
You did, and you ate breakfast together.
The car ride was long and boring. You'd sort of expected Heero, with his
softer face and long, tapered fingers, to also have a wild and crazy side
that he'd kept hidden while fighting, but. You drove, so you got to pick
the music, and you kept the volume turned up as loud as Heero would allow.
It was supposed to fill the silence, but instead, the booming bass and
tinny drums made you more aware of it.
"So," you said as you turned onto your exit. You didn't know
what you wanted to say after that, so you just shrugged.
"I wonder if the cabin will have running water," he said, and
it made you blanche. You just avoided swerving into the oncoming lane,
only it wouldn't have mattered since the gravel road was pretty much deserted
except for you.
You were surprised. You'd never imagined that Heero would be able to do
that--stretch his thought outside himself, extend it, make it larger and
full of possible holes. Heero was facts, Heero was statements in an authoritarian
tone. I wonder.
You wondered what else you were wrong about.
You noticed it after a few days. Heero was a pretty quiet guy, would have
made a good roommate if you'd been normal kids and gone to college. You
thought maybe you would have done homework at the same time, your desks
facing each other, and when you tired of differentiation and he of longitudinal
waves, you would smile at each other like silent conspirators.
You slept at opposite ends of the cabin, but when you wanted to leave
the cabin, you had to use the door that was right by your room. You were
a light sleeper, would probably always be, so when you heard the creaky
sounds of warped floorboards so early in the morning it was nearly night,
you knew he was awake.
He sat outside every morning on the porch with a blanket over his lap.
You watched him watch the sunrise. He only kept his eyes open for the
first glow. When the sun finally rose over the horizon, glinting with
four-pointed stars, he closed his eyes as if the sunrise would never match
the image he kept in his mind.
You couldn't. You had always thought that Heero was stronger than you
were, and now you had proof.
There was no television, no radio. You were really isolated, and you couldn't--quite--make
You cooked breakfast and lunch, and he scraped together some kind of dinner.
It was a plan by default; your time together didn't usually consist of
conversation. No matter what anyone might have thought about your loquaciousness,
which was only a nervous reflex, you had never felt really nervous around
Heero. Even that first time, perched precariously on the edge of his Gundam,
you had forced yourself to speak. It had been a little strange to think
that this solitary boy set you at ease. You tried to treat him like anyone
else, like every young man with that look of permanent pain glazed into
You thought you made Heero relax too. He stopped wearing shoes the second
day, and you followed suit the next day, when it became clear that his
hiking boots would stay in the suitcase. "Why bother?" he said,
and when he put it like that, you couldn't help but echo the sentiment.
You thought a lot. Silence was good for that.
You thought about your life, and lack of one. Sometimes you wanted to
cry or, at least, open your mouth and cry out, but you knew Heero was
always close by. You didn't want to alarm him. Even then, you knew it
wasn't a permanent condition, it would pass. You thought that was what
people called healing.
You thought he was beautiful. You realized it when you went fishing in
a rickety boat with a little spring leak like a miniature fountain of
youth. You caught a boot and he caught a crawfish. You both laughed and
called it a day when the toilet seat emerged from the bottom of the lake.
As he commandeered the oars to turn the boat around, the light hit his
face just so. You didn't know how to describe it then, wouldn't now how
to describe it now. If you knew the words, you would have told him so,
and with wording so strong he wouldn't have been able to miss what was
underneath, not then, not ever again.
Instead, you said, "I didn't mean to shoot you. That time at the
dock, I mean."
"I know," he said, and you knew that he did.
You started to touch him. There hadn't been a conscious decision, exactly,
only that you bumped into him accidentally as he was carrying dinner to
the little dining room table, and your finger swept over soft skin, somewhere.
You would have knocked him over a thousand times to feel that again, but
you thought the touch was made more defined and crisp by the illicit thrill
that had run through you when you made contact.
You got up early one morning and watched the sunrise with him.
He waited until it was late to close his eyes, almost too late. You were
afraid that he wasn't going to. But when he did, you leaned in close and
brushed your lips over the clean bone of his cheek. He jumped a little,
and you jerked back, sitting on your hands instinctively.
When he opened his eyes, they were a little bewildered.
"Duo?" he didn't ask. He smiled at you silently, and you didn't
understand that he was holding your hand until he kissed your knuckles.
A week of not speaking regularly had taken its toll on your manners. When
you had a question, you blurted it out before considering that it might
not have been something Heero was ready to talk about.
"Why did you come with me?"
You were afraid to know the reply. The longer he took to answer, the more
you considered holing up in your room for the rest of the trip and never
coming out except to eat. His face was strangely open, each thought reflected
in his expression. You thought he wanted you to see it.
"I wanted to," he said. It was as good an answer as any.
You kissed him, full-on, no more pretenses or possibly misconstrued shows
of friendly affection, after dinner. You hadn't thought about it, at least
not right before you actually leaned across the table and cupped his face
and kissed him. He tasted like chicken noodle soup and warm bread.
There was a point after he touched your tongue with his and before you
moaned something helpless and so right into him, when you thought you
wouldn't be able to let him go.
Heero's room was closer. You stumbled inside, maneuvering the door and
negotiating buttons and arms that got tangled up in shirts. You held his
hand as you turned down the sheets and climbed into bed. It was different
from anything you'd ever had, no pent-up passion with a flurry of rocking
and clothing. He shivered as you drew him near.
"Hey," you said, leaning over him. Your eyes locked, and you
thought that you'd never been so vulnerable in your life. You were still
in your boxers, but with your legs tangled and your breath just barely
out of sync, you felt naked against the force of his gaze. You thought
he could look at you and know everything in your life that was bittersweet
and half-choked back.
He didn't say anything, but you thought he was forgiving you, not for
things you had done, but things you would do. You thought he knew that
you were already planning what would happen at the end of the month.
'Goodbye,' you told him, and kissed him again, and didn't break apart
except to pull him over you. You guided him inside you, and it felt like
unwrapping gauze from his eyes. You were so cautious, so clever with what
little experience you'd had, and he was so innocent and clumsy, then you
were both feverish and guilty and unable to stop.
He whimpered as he came, his arms trembling once and then giving out.
You were pressed chest to chest, and you imagined that the pulsing- pounding
in your ears and chest was his heartbeat, matching the perilous rhythm
of your own body. His hands came up slowly and traced your ribs to where
they met above your navel. He buried his face in your neck like he was
afraid to read your face.
You kissed the top of his head, smelled salt and something sweet.
You might have been trembling a little too. You might have been glad you
You spent luxurious days fishing and sleeping in the sunlight like kittens.
You almost thought that you were falling in love with him, except that
you didn't allow yourself to think things like that, not with Heero, not
Most good things come to an end when it's least expected. You, at least,
had time to prepare him.
"Duo," he said, one day.
"Mmhmm?" You were watching the sunset. You thought it was an
appropriate ending to an unlikely time. "What's up?"
"What's going to happen?"
You knew that Heero wasn't playing the innocent. The question he should
have asked was, "What do you want to happen when we go back?"
but you had never been bold enough to come out and claim what you wanted
outright. There was always a fight, and you didn't see how it could be
different this time.
You were tired of fighting.
"If you want, we could," you whispered, trying to deflect some
of the blame for the later when you were both cold and ashamed and unable
to look at one another. Somehow, you had expected it, but for once being
right was almost as bad as not.
Heero didn't say anything. He appeared deep in thought, and when he emerged
from it, eyes focusing on you, you could not breathe. He studied you intently,
as if memorizing the exact placement of your face for a time when he would
not be able to see you.
"Let's go to bed," he said, catching hold of your hand.
You spent the last day of your stay--you had come to think of it as a
vacation from all that was pressing and urgent, a place that would always
breathe peacefully--making love quietly in his bed. That last night, you
held him so tightly you thought you would bruise him, but he only pulled
you closer. You didn't realize until then that was what you wanted.
When you came inside him, you closed your eyes. In your mind, he was shaking
and gasping beneath you, mouth wet and open, so beautiful. In that moment,
you thought your forever might have a single, fleeting chance.
It disappeared when he opened his eyes. The blue irises managed to look
blue, even in the dark. He looked at you solemnly, and you thought he
was telling you goodbye, pretending that the moisture running down your
nose was sweat.
In the morning, you roused him well after sunrise. You didn't speak, didn't
listen to music. When you passed by a rest station, you thought about
pulling over and having him, one last time, but your arms kept the wheel
straight and you raced by it.
"Where..." You didn't want to say it, so you played on his ability
to always understand you, no matter how vague.
He gave you directions to a suburb. You hadn't known that he'd bought
a place, had it sacked away for after the war, just in case. A house with,
according to Heero, white-washed walls and lots of windows. You thought
that Heero would never lower the shades, and dismissed it in the next.
As the car pulled into the driveway, you closed your eyes and trusted
that Heero wouldn't see you in the bare light. The lights were all on
inside, as if the house had been waiting patiently for him as he'd left
it. You waited for the door to open and close, because it meant you could
count to ten and then burn rubber the hell out of there, away from him,
away from the memory of his hands--
He looked at you the way old men like at their equally old wives at the
end of their lives, with something like satisfaction and tenderness, the
way a mother kisses the forehead of her child, the way you'd always been
waiting for someone to look at you.
"Come on." He tugged at your hand, pulling you out through the
passenger's side. You clung to his fingers, and he squeezed them lightly.
You didn't dare to breathe, or think, or wonder at all as he unlocked
the door. You might have gasped a little as he pulled you inside, might
have cried a little when he held you tightly in the foyer, the door still
swinging open for all the world to see past.
You saw his eyes crinkle at the corners, his smile move closer, and when
his lips touched yours, he flicked the lights off and kissed you in the
dark, slowly, sweetly.
[back to the Singles page]