Rating: PG-13? I don't know, its a wee bit angsty.
Summary: Duo loves Heero. And in trying to admit that it will never come
to anything; and in hiding it from himself and others- Duo has lost his
heart. It starts off sad- but it has a very hopeful ending.
NB: Don't look for nasty Relena. I don't write her.
You grow up. You cut your hair. You finish school. You get a job.You wear
You never stop loving him.
You never say anything.
He's married- playing the dutiful father. Sometimes you're sure he knows,
sometimes you're positive your secret is safe. You send the family Christmas
cards. You play the favourite uncle.
It never gets easier. It just gets harder.
"I asked Duo if he could pick up Natasha from school today- we have that
thing with the ambassadors." Relena's voice filtered through the half
open door between Heero's study and their bedroom; she was getting dressed.
He grunted. "What `thing'?"
"You know-" She padded through, holding her heels in one hand. "The welcome
She ruffled his hair. Heero hated that.
"Heya uncle Duo!"
Natasha Yuy was a funny hybrid child, with dark blue eyes and a mop of
blonde hair. She looked like a miniature albino Heero.
"Hey there kiddo."
She wasn't too old to be hefted onto one broad shoulder and carried to
the car, so Duo did that. She giggled a lot, so he tickled her. She offered
one rosy cheek, so he gave her a kiss.
Duo would have been the first to admit he lived his life a little too
much by the `so'.
"So what did you do today?" She had been bright eyed, so he had asked
"I drew a picture! A really big one! And then Mrs Tennet put it up on
the wall- because she said it was the best!" She covered her mouth after
the outburst, as if she thought she had been rude.
Duo grinned at her, flicking his eyes from the road for a moment.
He wasn't allowed to crash, so he looked back quickly.
"Where's mama and daddy?
"They're at a meeting with the ambassador from the L3 colony cluster."
Natasha was smart, so he didn't dumb it down. "Your dad will be back tonight-
but you mama has to stay out of town."
"Why?" His eyes flickered up. For a moment all he saw was deep cobalt
blue. Then he realised he had met Natasha's eyes in the rear view mirror.
"Oh she has a debate tomorrow. I think your daddy would stay with her-
but he has a mission."
"A mission with you?" Natasha loved it when Duo told her stories about
missions. Relena hated it.
"No." Duo stopped at the lights. It was raining slush and ice. He couldn't
crash, so he drove carefully. "A mission with Uncle Wufei."
Duo had realised that Wufei didn't like nicknames, so he had stopped using
"Oooh." Natasha was small in the back seat. The rain cast little shadows
over her face.
Duo loved her, and he respected Relena. So he had never done anything.
Even though he loved Heero.
Natasha was sleeping finally when Heero got back. Duo had just finished
reading her a story about a little boy who had lost his balloon. The balloon
had been very red and very shiny- but when he found it was burst. His
mother had bought him a new one.
Duo felt like the little boy who's balloon had burst everytime he saw
Heero, but there was no-one to buy him another one.
"How was it?"
"Boring." Heero was dressed smart. His tie was loose around his neck though,
and he smelt just a little of posh parties. Like cigar smoke and expensive
Duo worked up a grin and unleashed it. Lately he had had to start this-
power up his grin by thinking about good things before he could use it.
He knew it was expected of him, so he did it anyway.
"Relena might be a few days." Heero added. Duo didn't know what to expect
from Heero. He didn't look too upset. Duo assumed he loved Relena.
"She just went down to bed."
During the war there had been a lot of stuff between Duo's words and Heero's
words. It had sometimes been to do with sex, and it had sometimes been
to do with fighting. It was sometimes violent stuff, or sensual stuff.
It had sometimes been friendship stuff.
Now there was nothing. They said more words than they ever had done- well
Heero did, but there was no stuff anymore.
"I'll go kiss her good night."
Duo heard him walk up the stairs and pause halfway. There was a little
tap- as if Heero had fisted the wall gently.
When he came back down Duo was toying with the idea of leaving. His coat
was just at the door, there was little to stay for. When he came back
down Duo was ready to leave.
"Do you want a coffee?"
Duo couldn't say no, so he stayed.
"Relena was asking after you." Heero made coffee efficiently, like everything
else. He rattled spoons in cups like he would disable a bomb, set off
the coffee maker like he would fire a weapon.
"Hmmn." Duo avoided the question like he avoided Relena. He liked her,
but when he was around her he felt naked. It was if she could see his
love for Heero branded red on his forehead. It was if even spending time
with her husband was a betrayal. Something to be ashamed of.
"Are you alright?"
Duo realised he had been staring blankly at Heero's hand for a few moments
too long. He couldn't have Heero worrying, so he stopped.
"Oh yeah- just tired."
In the silence Duo could almost hear the little sipping noises Heero made
as he drank. It was a starkly intimate sound, one Duo didn't really want
to think about.
"I heard you opted out of the mission tomorrow."
"Yeh. Not at my best." Duo looked at his coffee steadily. "You and Wufei
can handle it."
"Hn." Heero could have handled it alone with a broken leg.
Duo's system of `so' wasn't working too well anymore. He had forgotten
what he was supposed to be like, what he was supposed to do. His face
was crumbling away. He couldn't remember the last time he had laughed
without having the need, having the `so'.
"Relena-" Heero began. Now that Duo looked again it seemed like Heero
was bursting to say something. His eyes were cast down instead of even
and piercing. His hands were flat against the table. His coffee cup was
Silly me, Duo thought, for not having noticed earlier.
"Relena- says she wants a break."
"No, from me."
There was a long brittle silence.
Duo was expecting the shower of fireworks and angels any minute. He kept
waiting a little too long.
"Well- is there- is she sure?"
Duo didn't know what to expect of Heero. He didn't look too upset.
"No." Heero frowned slowly. "She's anything but sure. She keeps saying
it's for my own good."
"Well it obviously isn't." Duo offered. He was supposed to be caring,
so he began formulating supportive comments. Five minutes passed and he
had found none.
"Isn't it?" Heero said eventually.
Duo was completely lost.
"I'll see you after the mission," Heero said at the door.
Duo nearly missed the turnoff home.
"So did you tell him?" It was the first thing Relena said on her return
Heero was too tired to replied straight away. He had returned from the
mission to his hyperactive daughter, who had only just that moment fallen
"Yes. I did."
Satisfaction crossed Relena's face- and relief.
"What did he say?"
Heero made her coffee without asking. She kicked off her heels.
"He didn't say much. Seemed to come as a shock to him." Heero passed her
"You understand." It was a statement.
Relena nodded, eyes cast down at the cup before her. "It's not fair on
"Hm." She ruffled his hair. He hated that.
"Oh, hello." Duo opened the door to his flat slowly, and stood back to
let Heero in.
Heero marvelled for a moment at how young Duo looked, even with all that
hair gone. He looked rumpled, as if just awake from a nap. His eyes were
that peculiar shade of blue that so many people liked to call purple.
Heero didn't know if it was really purple, because just then it seemed
"I've been thinking." Duo added, as Heero took a seat on the sofa.
Duo had had a few days to get his supportive comments in order. He was
feeling pretty confident.
"You should really talk to Relena, properly, find out what the problem
"I know what the problem is."
Duo sat opposite Heero, and his expression wasn't condescending like Relena's.
"You do?" Duo didn't look like he wanted to know.
"Its not fair on me."
Duo didn't offer Heero coffee, he didn't offer any alcohol. He couldn't
think of a `so', he couldn't think of an answer.
"I don't understand. If its your problem why is she leaving you?"
"I said I knew, I didn't say I understood."
Duo scowled suddenly. "In the end it doesn't matter man! Understand or
go hide in a hole. Just don't let her leave. You have Natasha to think
For the first time in a couple of years, Duo had said something he himself
understood and believed in. Heero gazed at him aghast. Sometimes you don't
realise what you're missing until it appears again.
A long time before, back when the war was stilling burning, back when
there had been stuff, Duo had had a nightmare. He didn't remember what
it had been about, only that he had woken in a cold sweat- more terrified
than he ever had been before. He never again felt so afraid- so cold.
He had stumbled from the safe house bed, out onto the tiny metal balcony.
He remembered it well. Heero had just saved his life, again, and they
were holed up in a tiny two room flat on some shapeless colony of grey
skies and railings like metal teeth.
There were no sunrises on colonies like that one. Instead the generators
kicked up a notch and for a moment there was a soft half light, then day,
bright and glaringly awful.
When he found Heero, Duo had still been sweating with the dream. He had
needed to check something, something he had now forgotten. When he found
Heero, the darker pilot had been crouched on that tiny balcony, watching
the street below.
The moment where that odd half light lit Heero's face and made softness
there, where previously there had been none- the moment, where he turned
deep blue eyes on Duo and the sky had burst into being behind him. That
was a moment that had never left Duo.
He couldn't remember what had happened after that, only that he had never
really been reassured.
Heero and Relena sorted things out. Life returned to its dry little cycle
as if nothing had happened.
Heero couldn't forget the one moment where Duo had spoken with that passion.
He kept looking now, through barely opaque barriers. Through a brittle
shield, a shield made of glass as fine as paper. Duo felt naked again,
as if a blue gaze was piercing through his soul.
"Are you alright?" Heero asked once, while he was piloting the coffee.
Klunk, rattle, pour.
"Oh me? Hell yeah. I'm great!" Duo was supposed to be positive, so he
was. He was a bit slow though. He had been distracted by the photo of
Natasha on the counter.
Natasha was the living breathing, biological proof that Heero and Relena
had had sexual intercourse once. Duo wasn't normally so petty but it was
"Are you- sure?"
"Of course I am." Duo didn't look up at Heero because he knew he would
do something stupid. It had been so much easier when Heero hadn't noticed.
"Where's Heero?" Duo had waited a few minutes of polite conversation before
Relena frowned vaguely and waved an arm at the window. "He's out with
Natasha, playing I think." She smiled at Duo.
"How are you doing?"
Duo fidgeted mentally. He was positive she knew.
"I'm. . . better." He gave her that concession to distract her. He had
been worse before. He could sometimes even convince himself that if he
tried. Relena nodded knowingly.
"Heero is worried you know."
Duo nodded faintly, gazing as if uninterested at the patterned carpet.
The scrolling wooden leg of the coffee table. The ceiling. He hoped desperately
she wouldn't say it.
"He cares about you."
Not enough. Never quite enough.
Duo was running terribly late now, almost all the time. He had several
reports due- all of which he had done - yet - was unable to hand in. It
seemed that the deadlines were charging towards him with no regard for
anything but their own self-satisfaction. They gobbled up his work only
half digested, tore his words from his throat before they were spoken.
They burned out his path of actions for him.
He stalled in delivering Heero the report.
Eventually he had to. It was due the next day and he needed Heero's signature.
It wasn't as if he was avoiding Heero- he was avoiding Heero's family.
The house. The photos.
Winter had descended again and for a moment he was shocked at how the
time had flown by. He was losing his life. He supposed he had better be
upset, so he tried his best.
"Hello there!" Relena had a Natasha draped around her neck, blonde hair
ruffled, cheeks red and cheery.
It would have been easier if Relena had been a bad mother. Duo was suddenly
very nervous; he felt as if he was on trial.
"Uncle Duo!" Natasha was glad to see him, so he pretended to reciprocate.
"I just have a report for Heero to sign, if that's not too much trouble."
"Of course not! We haven't seen you for ages!" Relena ushered him in,
Natasha skipping a merry figure of eight around her mother.
"Uncle Duo! Uncle Duo! Is it true you had hair longer than Mama?!"
Duo crouched down, tipping his head. "It is indeed."
Natasha squealed with delight. Duo smiled softly. He had forgotten his
hair. He had forgotten that comforting swish of it against his back, the
ritual of washing and brushing. He wondered if he grew it again, would
it be the same.
No. When he looked up at Heero, curled by the fire he knew that for certain.
A new braid would have no meaning anymore. He had nothing to cleanse himself
of, nothing to be reminded of.
He got Heero's signature and two unwanted cups of coffee.
The road home was icy and wet. Snow slapped the front of his car like
wet little hands. The windscreen wipers cut his hearing up into little
sections. Swish, swish.
Duo thought about Heero. He thought for a long time about his blue eyes,
and about his inscrutable scowls. He thought about roughly bitten nails,
about wire tense muscles and tendons. He thought about a deep voice that
used to make him shiver. Heero's voice had always been deep.
He realised too late that he had thought too much. The road had gone-
the wipers, ominously, had stopped.
He felt the car slip from under his fingers, but there was nothing he
could do, so he let it. There were flashes of light and dark, great rushing
noises, and then a sudden colony sunrise, the bright flash of the generators
kicking in- followed by black.
He woke sweating ice cold, eyes wide with a knowledge he didn't want.
The cheap room was suddenly oppressive, the bubbling paint no longer cheery
yellow, but dull grey. Fingers shaking Duo tossed back the covers. He
had never been so afraid in his life. His future- he didn't want that
to be his future.
He groped for the reassuring weight of his braid, tangling fingers tightly
in its slightly unravelled length, sniffing the day old scent of cheap
He staggered to his feet, self-destruction flashes burning behind his
The balcony was just visible through glass panel doors. He could already
see Heero's shadow, cast across the doorway.
Unsteady terrified fingers slid the door open, icy stumbling feet carried
him a few feet over linoleum. He sunk to his knees on the balcony, in
the cool night air- infected by the processed feel of the colonies.
When he looked up he saw it again. That odd half light, both harsh and
soft, peeling any tension from Heero's features, drawing his blue eyes
up, his mouth open slightly.
Duo was a shivering wreck.
The generators kicked in and both boys were flooded in the bright harshness
of morning light. Duo jumped in his skin, fingers flexing in an involuntary
way, breath sharp and whistling through his ice filled lungs.
Heero was more Heero again, scowling in a not quite convincing way.
"I had a - nightmare." Forcing the words out was hard. He edged forwards
a little, wanting to feel warm- because he was so cold, so cold.
"You-" Dark brows drew together in confusion. Heero reached out one hand
to steady Duo and Duo shook at the touch, tense muscles bunching and quivering.
There was a long silence, filled with tense stuff. Duo could hear Heero's
heart beating, just through his palm. He could feel Heero was alive more
clearly than he could feel his own heart beating.
It was all the invitation Duo needed. With a little desperate shiver he
tumbled forwards into a pair of steel taunt arms, so surprisingly warm,
so surprisingly soft.
"I dreamed we died." He murmured gently, burying his nose, so young, so
young, into Heero's collarbone.
He smelled of smoke and salt. He smelled of Heero.
"Died? It was just a dream."
"Shut up!" Duo said pressing closer. "I saw it all."
Heero remained silent for a while.
"A dream about, the future?" He sounded so unlike Heero.
"I have those." He said finally. "But- in the future- I suppose you- will
be there." He sounded so awkward.
"I will?" Duo was embarrassed to be crying, but Heero seemed not to notice.
"It was just a dream." Heero confirmed. "We will both be there, I think.
It was almost a promise.
Duo smiled gently and fell in love with the fake sunlight on bushy brown
hair. With harsh dark brows. With fantastic blue eyes.
He kissed Heero, and it was like a sunrise, this time like a real earth
sunrise, warm and slow and wet and so soft.
Duo had never felt so reassured.
This time it was all very white and clinical, like waking up to an empty
canvas. It reminded Duo of an anime he had watched once- where the main
character had been given the freedom to completely shape his world. White
as far as he could see.
He spent a long time in this empty place, hearing threads of sound and
ghosts of shapes- reaching out to them only to have them slip away.
Then white formed four walls and then an empty room. Then an hospital
room. The change was slow but eventually he found himself.
And the pain. He felt like every bone in his body had been broken and
reset, none too gently. He felt warm though, as if an empty cold space
has been filled again by something he had forgotten he needed.
All of a sudden Heero was there, and he was the old Heero- or maybe the
new Heero. He looked pale, and tired.
Perhaps Duo had already seen Heero smile like that. It seemed like the
first time nonetheless.
"How do you feel?"
"Bad." Duo grinned, he couldn't seem to stop himself.
Heero didn't explain what happened, he just sat- even gaze fixing Duo,
pinning him inside his own heart.
"How long?" Despite himself Duo had a morbid curiosity.
"Far too long."
"Debating over the switch off?" Duo was finding his voice, and the feeling
in the tips of his fingers. They hurt too.
"Almost." Heero slumped, "Fear of brain damage." He added that soberly,
half reaching a hand out to Duo's head.
His wedding ring glinted in the glare of the too white hospital light.
Duo smiled at the sight of it.
Heero gazed at him blankly.
"Oh- oh she's at home, with Natasha." He frowned, "I haven't seen her
for a while- she-"
Duo tried to sit up and the room tipped and slid around his head. Heero
pushed him down carefully, smoothing his forehead, laying his head down
on the pillow.
"Damn Duo- don't do that!"
Duo loved Heero when he was annoyed.
"Relena- she-" Heero ran a hand through his mop of hair, brows low in
a deep frown. "She really leaving me- taking Natasha. I mean, she signed
all the forms and stuff."
Heero looked suddenly so overwhelmed. Duo reached out a painful hand,
managing halfway before it hurt too much.
"Heero." His throat seemed raw, with hurt and hope.
"But she was right. I think."
Heero looked at Duo for a long time. The artificial light, and the intensity
of his gaze, drew Duo into a memory. Into a dream.
"It wasn't really fair."
And suddenly, the stuff was back. It filled their words and sparked along
the ends of their phrases and Duo realised that it was everything and
anything they had missed over all those years. All the unsaids and might
"Ne - Heero." Duo said suddenly, breaking the overflow of feeling.
"I think I might grow my hair again."
I could have taken this lots of different ways but in the end i just let
it drop into reality, because the only thing we can change about or lives
is our future. Just little points- um the overuse of stuff is intentional.
As are the repetitions (there are lots of them. If you find the fic that
boring you can try to count them all.)
[back to Singles a - k]