Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
It was after they moved into the apartment that Heero began to wonder about his marriage. When Relena had accepted his proposal he'd been happy. When they had
quietly exchanged vows in an L1 courthouse he'd been happy. And when they had finally found a place of their own, even though it was too small and didn't really offer much privacy from the other apartments in the cramped old building, Heero had been happy.
That had been four months ago. Heero wasn't sure if he was happy anymore.
Relena always worked late now, leaving Heero to either cook for himself in the dingy yellow glow of their apartment lamps or else go out to eat in one of the hole in the wall eating establishments that were such a common feature of the colony streets. He usually opted for the latter. The apartment could be lonely when it was only him and his silence, hunched over his desk trying to force words out of his pen and onto paper. So out he went, most often to the small noodle shop just a few blocks away. Sometimes he ate there, sometimes he asked Mr. Murong to just pour the steaming noodle soup into his thermos and he took it back with him. He liked walking those few blocks and feeling the colony's night surrounding him.
Heero's neighbor was a young man about his age with the longest braid of chestnut hair Heero had ever seen. They'd first met on the narrow staircase leading up to their apartments, Heero pressing himself flush against the wall so that other could squirm past him on his way up. Violet eyes had smiled bemusedly at him as they maneuvered awkwardly past each other. Duo Maxwell. Pleased to meet you.
Duo wasn't married, but he had a girlfriend. Hilde practically lived in Duo's apartment and she and Relena managed to strike up a friendship in between Relena's seemingly endless hours of overtime at the law firm where she worked. Heero sometimes wondered if Hilde saw more of Relena than he did. He had gone to the office one night to take her out to dinner only to be greeted with tired smile and that she Couldn't, they were in the middle of an important case and she had to stay late.
Heero had nodded quietly and gone to Mr. Murong's. It started to rain and through a cloud of steam he saw Duo duck into the shop wiping raindrops from his cheeks.
Heero stood in the space port feeling lost in the crowds jostling around him, then felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned around and saw Duo standing there. He said that Hilde was going to a cousin's wedding on L3 and since Heero was here maybe they could get dinner together tonight. Heero nodded.
The Midnight Express was a small place, little more than a strip of chipped counter surrounded by tattered red vinyl swivel seats. But the food was good, simple plates of steak and potatoes. The two of them made small talk as they ate. Duo drummed his fingers restlessly against the counter and Heero noticed the unhappy look in his eyes. He wondered if Duo and Hilde were still In Love. He'd noticed that she wasn't in his apartment so much anymore.
After that Heero and Duo spent more time with each other. Relena's off colony trips were becoming more and more frequent and Hilde and Duo had quietly separated. So the two of them had just naturally gravitated toward each other. Heero liked listening to Duo talk, liked the way he tossed his braid over his shoulder and laughed loudly and openly. Duo made him feel warm and happy inside, something he hadn't felt when he was with Relena for a long time.
Duo seemed to like Heero too. Once when they were saying goodnight outside of their apartments Duo had reached out and taken Heero's hand, his fingers stroking soft skin. Heero's breath caught in his throat and he thought that maybe Duo should kiss him. And maybe he would have, if Heero hadn't pulled his hand away and hurried into his apartment trying to force back the lump in his throat.
But that didn't stop him from knocking on Duo's door the next evening. He hated eating alone. Maybe Duo would come over and they'd cook together.
Heero felt like was walking on glass whenever he was around Duo, but he couldn't stay away. Duo had become the focal point around which his days revolved. He woke up thinking about when he would see Duo and when they parted his thoughts jumped to
when they would meet again. Every once in a while he thought that he should tell Duo he was busy, that couldn't see him then their eyes would meet and Heero couldn't remember what he'd wanted to say.
And so time went on, the weeks turning into months.
Heero remembered their kiss. The colony's climate control system had somehow malfunctioned, resulting in a heat wave as intense as anything you'd experience during a southern Earth summer. All of the colony citizens had taken to the streets in the artificial night, sipping water and beer and fanning themselves as they exclaimed about the heat. Heero and Duo had also fled the suffocating walls of the apartment complex for the open space of the park. They sat on the swing set and laughed together in the darkness. Duo reached out and pulled at the chains of Heero's swing so that they spun into each other and became entwined. And then Duo cupped Heero's face in his hands and pressed their lips together gently.
Their kiss was tinged with desperation, both of them aching for the other, wanting to drown in the other. They pulled away and searched for the shine of the other's eyes in the dark.
Heero's voice was barely above a whisper when he told Duo that he didn't want to go home that night. Duo reached out and lightly brushed his cheek in answer.
And Heero couldn't refuse her.
So they began to pack up their belongings and organize their lives into a series of boxes so that it could be resumed in another place. It was more poignant for Heero than Relena. Relena's life for the past months had been spent living out of a suitcase as she moved from colony to Earth, hotel to hotel. It was Heero who had made the apartment home. Heero who had cooked in the tiny kitchen, who had curled up on the futon night after night and watched the artificial sunrise in the mornings. Heero was the one who had painted the walls and hung pictures on them, chose the carpeting and the furniture. So now as he watched everything being torn down and packed away he felt something in his chest tighten.
But maybe that was because for Heero, leaving L1 also meant leaving Duo.
Duo knew that they were leaving, of course. They were neighbors, after all, and it would have been impossible not to notice the commotion that always accompanied someone
next door moving. But Heero still felt that he needed to tell Duo face to face. So one night he asked Duo to come to dinner with him, for one last time.
The Midnight Express was the same as it has been when they first ate there together, the same tattered red vinyl and chipped linoleum. Heero poked at his mashed potatoes and told Duo quietly that he was going to Earth with Relena. Duo had smiled, a smile that didn't reach his eyes, and said that he was jealous. He wanted to go to Earth and see real sunsets. He reached across the table and brushed Heero's hand with his fingers and told Heero to be happy.
Heero wondered if he could be happy anymore without Duo, but he didn't tell Duo that.
The day Heero and Relena left Duo showed up at the space port. He said he wanted to say goodbye. He shook Relena's hand courteously and wished her well, then turned to Heero with a funny half-smile before suddenly throwing his arms around him. Heero closed his eyes and held Duo tight, feeling their hearts beat in unison.
When they pulled away Duo gave him one last, beautiful smile and walked away. Relena watched silently, only taking his hand when Duo was out of sight.
Heero and Relena were as happy as they could be, even though Relena always felt that Heero's heart was with someone else. Sometimes she thought about the young man they had seen at the space port and wondered. But she never asked and Heero never spoke of him. It belonged to the past.
The months stretched into years. Heero decided to visit Hong Kong, that glittering city that had once been at the forefront of Asia and still exerted a powerful attraction even now. He went alone. He wandered through narrow streets and struggled through crowds of people, ate dim sum and stared at the bright and gaudy neon lights. And one golden afternoon he wandered into a tiny souvenir shop and saw Duo.
Their eyes met for a long moment before a bright smile crossed Duo's face. The long haired man gave Heero a friendly wave and Heero raised his own hand in reply. Duo walked toward him and rested a hand on his arm. His voice was soft when asked if Heero would watch the sunset with him.
They watched it from the observation deck of one of the city's tallest buildings with the wind whipping through their hair. They were silent until the sun had passed out of sight, leaving nothing but a brilliant red and orange glow in the west. Then Duo sighed and told Heero that Earth's sunsets were as beautiful as he'd thought they'd be. Heero nodded, unable to speak around the lump in his throat as he remembered the time when Duo had told him how much he wanted to see real sunsets.
Duo had to leave, had to catch the last shuttle to the space port. He gave Heero one last beautiful smile before turning and walking away, his braid swinging gently with his steps.
Alone in the last rays of
the sun, Heero closed his eyes and remembered L1, remembered sitting on
red vinyl seats and eating dinner together, remembered swinging in the
dark, remembered running his fingers through long chestnut hair. He remembered
the past. Then he went back to his hotel and slept, dreaming of violet
eyes and chestnut hair.
For those of you who are WKW
fans, there were some references to his work scattered throughout the
fic. Mr. Murong is a reference to Ashes of Time which features a character
named Murong Yin/Yang, the Midnight Express is the name of the diner in
Chungking Express, Hong Kong is the city which most of WKW's films revolve
around, and the fic's title is the name of the Cake cover of Nat King
Cole's Quizas, Quizas, Quizas, which is a song used in the In the Mood
for Love soundtrack.