+ Part 6
Heero sat on a stone bench
under the ivy canopy. The cool stone beneath him and the cool shade around
him chilled his skin, and he thought to remember this spot later in the
day when the sun's heat would be at its peak intensity.
The dark, green leaves of the ivy were shielding and comforting in their
dominance here. This part of the garden seemed forgotten it was so far
removed from the palace and the main gardens. There was no crushed gravel
path lined with ornamental shrubs leading here, but Heero knew Duo would
One of Duo's quirks was casing a place when he first arrived. He would've
made a great fire marshal, checking all the exits and routes of escape.
Perhaps this little habit had been abandoned now so many months after
the war, but Heero doubted it. Duo had a way of doing things and not even
realizing he was doing them. A sort of sub-routine that ran in Duo's programming,
hidden by the many layers that made up his complex personality.
Heero sighed. Certainly Duo could find him out here, but would he want
Last night had been a very long night. After seeing Duo kiss Zechs and
then disappear into their room, Heero went back to his own room and lay
down on the bed. He tried to fall asleep, but he could not stop himself
from thinking of Duo. It didn't matter if his eyes were open or closed,
he saw Duo. In those ruminations, Heero remembered the blood, death and
destruction of the war, but also the happier times when he and Duo had
carved out moments together. Their missions and their moods hadn't always
coincided, but when they did there had been fireworks between them.
The sound of soft steps on the grass footpath, and the murmuring of a
voice brought Heero back to the moment.
Duo took a deep breath and ducked inside the overgrown enclosure. It was
shades darker in there, despite the morning sun, but his eyes adjusted
quickly. He saw Heero at once. The other boy stood and his crisp white
shirt, and pressed tan slacks and black shoes looked out of place in this
"You're here," Heero said, managing to disguise the excitement in his
Duo nodded and intentionally bit his tongue to stop himself from making
a snide remark. Sarcasm was his usual cover for nervousness, but he didn't
think it right this morning.
He looked about the space, trying to act casual and pretend that nothing
had happened between them last night. He had wrestled with the memory
of their encounter all night. Even in Zechs's arms, Duo had drifted back
to the moment of that kiss, to the press of their bodies together. The
fact that Heero still had power over him made Duo angry and confused.
It wasn't fair. He had worked hard to begin again.
"Yep, I'm here," Duo finally said, becoming even more nervous as Heero
just stared at him.
Heero was still in shock that Duo had actually shown. That note had been
a gamble. If Duo hadn't come to the garden, then Heero would have tried
something else. They had to keep talking if they were going to work this
"Thanks," Heero said, and then gestured for Duo to sit with him.
The bench looked tempting, but Duo only frowned. He could sit and chat
with Heero, but there were still too many unanswered questions to feel
all chummy again.
"Or we can stand..."
"Do you really love me?" Duo asked, the question shooting out like a bullet.
Heero nearly flinched from the force of the question. It was as if it
had been waiting on Duo's tongue since the night before.
"Yes," Heero said with conviction. There was something of a painful look
in Duo's eyes...
"How do you know you love me?" Duo asked, his arms folding over his chest.
Again, a question used like a weapon. For Duo these questions were the
root of everything. He had to know what Heero was thinking. He had to
know if the declaration from the night before had only been said out of
loneliness. And for Heero, these were the questions for which he had only
recently discovered answers, and possibly not full answers at that.
Seeing Duo's posture closed and hearing a slight tremor in his voice,
Heero delayed his response. He wanted to find the right words to hold
Duo to that spot... no, to make him come closer.
"Some say you shouldn't judge a person based on a first impression," Heero
began, his eyes fixed on the slender young man in blue jeans before him.
"But in war your first impression can be the only one you get. What you
decide in those first few seconds can make the difference between dying
and completing your mission."
Duo gave a derisive snort and toss of his head. Leave it to Heero to think
that the alternative to dying was not living, but completing your mission.
And what did this have to do with Heero knowing he loved him anyway?
The reaction was noted, but Heero was undeterred. He was accustomed to
Duo's diverging opinions.
"Do you know what my first impression was of you?" he asked, studying
Duo's face closely.
Duo didn't know, but it had to be something horrible, since the first
few months of knowing Heero had been so full of animosity.
"No?" Heero asked, understanding Duo's hesitation. "I thought you were
bold as hell... and fast."
Duo's lips curved in a half smile. "I always did make a great entrance."
The cocky tone and little smile warmed Heero. He liked this Duo. The one
who always managed to take care of himself, and was so damn entertaining
in the process.
"Of course," Heero continued, "I appended that list to include annoying,
loud-mouthed and a liability."
"Hey!" Duo shouted as he set his fists to his hips. "Maybe you've forgotten
who you're talking to," he said, now pointing accusingly. "I could've
killed you that day...."
"But you didn't," Heero said, feeling confident again. The rhythm of this
conversation was like so many they had shared before. "Just like I didn't
kill you when I thought you had jeopardized my mission."
An involuntary shiver raced through Duo. Though he and Heero had never
discussed that day in the OZ prison cell, he knew exactly what Heero was
talking about. Duo had been injured and was being held captive by OZ.
Heero had broken in, seemingly to rescue him, but then pointed a gun at
his face. Their eyes had met across the barrel of Heero's gun, and Duo
had quickly realized it was no rescue.
"Why didn't you... shoot?" Duo asked, his eyes wide with the memory, and
his body suddenly less defensive in posture.
Heero took a step forward, coming within an arm span of his former lover.
"I found a reason to keep you alive... I told myself that you were still
needed for the good of the mission. But it wasn't that... It was those
damn eyes of yours... and the disbelief in your voice." Heero paused,
taking several breaths. His heart was beating faster with the adrenaline
of that day and the decision he had made. "I can't explain it, but something
changed... something inside of me said the mission wasn't everything."
Duo's eyes widened. "You risked being caught for me," he said, softly,
remembering the escape that followed.
"Hn," Heero nodded and took a step back to sit down, but Duo caught him
by the wrist.
The momentum of Heero's body was stopped. He stared at the hand holding
his wrist and felt warmth race all the way up to his face.
"It wasn't long after that... you first kissed me," Duo said, almost shyly.
Heero looked up, meeting Duo's eyes and then stood fully again. "That's
right," he said, and swallowed. Did Duo want him to kiss him again now?
"Why didn't we ever talk about the war?" Duo asked, gently releasing Heero's
"I don't know," Heero said, regretting the loss of touch. "Probably for
the same reason we never talked about how we felt about each other."
At Quatre's, everyone had carefully avoided the topic of war, choosing
to keep conversations light. Each young man had his own baggage of pain
to sort through, and the prospect of sharing those raw emotions had been
daunting to the young friends.
"Duo, things got real intense for you and me after the war. Maybe... maybe
Relena was a good excuse."
"I knew it. You wanted to get away from me," Duo accused.
"No," Heero said, sweetly, taking a small step forward. "I know it appeared
that way, but I just needed things to slow down."
The mild tone in Heero's voice helped Duo to understand. Heero was not
looking for excuses, he was truly trying to sort things out. Obviously
he had been thinking about what had happened between them.
"I didn't mean for this job to split us apart," Heero added. "That last
night when we argued, I was confused about what I wanted."
"You wanted to make love," Duo said as his cheeks flushed.
"Yes," Heero said, swallowing nervously. "I wanted that, but..."
"But what you really wanted was to talk," Duo finished.
Heero nodded, remembering their last night together. Once again he could
not understand why he had let his pride take him out of that room and
out of that house. But now he was standing here with Duo, in this beautiful,
forgotten garden, and Duo was looking at him with those impossibly large
"I wish we could've talked like we are now," Heero said.
"Yeah," Duo said, looking into Heero's eyes. Those were the eyes from
his dreams, the dark blue eyes that could hold him in place, breathless
Heero was standing so close, just inches away, and the thrill of connecting
like this in words and good energy set Duo's chest to burning. The heat
radiated out, taking him over, making him want... making him ache. He
reached for Heero, grabbing the boy's waist and a fist full of shirt and
pulling him in tight. Their bodies and their lips came together as Heero
returned the fierce embrace.
The moment was rough, frantic in the desperation of young lovers. Why
had they separated? How could they stand to be apart a moment longer?
Little whimpers and moans escaped through the bruising kisses as they
remembered just how good it had been.
Oh, God, Heero...
** Beep. Beep. **
The low, tonal sound cut through the pleasant hum of nature around them,
snapping Duo out of his frenzy. What was that? He broke away from the
tangle of bodies, gasping and stumbling back.
"Fuck," he said, looking up at Heero and hearing the strange sound again.
** Beep. Beep. ** It was Heero's radio.
Heero looked down at the device, hanging lightly from his belt and then
back at Duo. Not now! He didn't want to be called back to duty now!
"Go on," Duo said, breathless. "Answer it, for God's sake."
Slowly, Heero gathered his wits, bringing the radio to his lips. "Heero
"This is Noin. Zechs is ready for the security tour now."
Two sets of blue eyes met and locked over the small, black transmitter.
The ivy canopy suddenly seeming more like an OZ prison cell than a secret
"Do your duty," Duo whispered unhappily, as he hooked a stray piece of
hair behind his ear.
Heero swallowed and schooled his features. It was the same old problem---duty
or love---but he felt he had no choice. "I'll be right there," he told
Noin and re-clipped the radio to his belt. "I'm sorry..."
"No," Duo said, holding up his hand. "I'm the one who should be sorry.
I shouldn't have done that."
Heero felt his heart sink away, bottoming out through his shoes and slipping
away into the earth beneath him. Why would Duo apologize for a kiss like
"I want you to know," Heero began hesitantly, his voice choked, "that
I am sorry... for everything."
Duo lifted his chin and swallowed hard, tears welling in his eyes. A terrible
weight was pressing on his shoulders as he felt this encounter collapsing
into ashes. "You don't have to be sorry... for everything," Duo said in
a mix of anger and regret as he clenched his fists to stop his hands from
Heero nodded. "Then there's hope that maybe someday you'll forgive me."
Duo turned away just as a tear fell down his cheek. He didn't want Heero
to see him cry or to know just how deep the hurt had gone.
Heero's eyes drifted down the length of Duo's braid, his fingers twitching
at the memory of its weight and softness. Oh, the things that Duo could
do with that braid... As much as Heero wanted to resolve this now, lay
it all on the line, he needed to be on his way. And so, he turned and
walked away, retreating quietly back to the palace and to his duties.
"The security measures are more than adequate," Zechs said as he and his
security team exited the computer control room. "I appreciate the subtlety
of the system. We would not want to appear unwelcoming to those visiting
"Thank you, that was our intention," Noin said as she and the others followed
Zechs into the main corridor.
"Is there anything else you needed to show me?" Zechs asked.
"That's everything on my list," Noin said, scanning her notepad quickly.
Then looking to the chief security advisor added, "Did we miss anything?"
"No," Heero said, meeting her eyes. "But we need to follow-up on linking
the border posts."
Though he had answered every question thrown his way during the inspection
with care and thoroughness, Heero's thoughts were elsewhere. His mind
kept replaying his encounter with Duo, making Heero second-guess the things
he had said and done. Part of him wanted to believe that Duo was on the
verge of taking him back. Clearly they were still drawn to each other
and those kisses, they were all fire and need. But another part of him--more
persistent in his thoughts--said that he had lost. Duo had moved on and
was doing well for himself in his new life. Any attraction that remained
was merely embers from the past.
"Thank you for your efforts," Zechs was saying as Heero came back to the
moment. The group had paused at the juncture of three corridors and was
in the process of ending their tour. "I am very impressed."
Noin smiled proudly. She had put a great deal of herself into protecting
the Sank Kingdom both during and after the war and it delighted her to
be receiving this praise from Zechs. "It's been a challenge, but an enjoyable
one," she said sincerely.
Heero merely nodded. He was never comfortable with compliments, preferring
just to be left alone to do his job.
"I'm meeting with Relena now concerning the new university," Noin said,
her eyes intent on Zechs. "Perhaps you could join us to look over the