Crashed + Part 2 (cont)

"Love sucks," I said wobbling sideways.

Trowa picked me up again. "Try and concentrate on walking."

I was more interested in sharing my epiphany. "Love sucks. You think its all great, right? Not true. Want to know what it is?"

"Duo, watch the stairs."

"Screw the stairs," I said, grandly. "Love's a gigantic joke, you know that? A big joke. And the punchline's not even funny."

Trowa sighed. "Remind me not to let you get drunk again. How did you manage that, anyway? I had the same number of drinks as you and I'm fine."

"I kept switching our drinks," I said happily. "Anyway, you're not listening. Don't ever fall in love. It's no fun at all."

"Right. And I suppose making sure you get home safely is fun," Trowa sighed again. "How did Wufei talk me into this?"

"What's love anyway?" I said, charitably ignoring Trowa's less than generous attitude. "You meet this groovy Asian guy with a great body and he's interested and then, bam! He turns out to be Wufei."

Trowa snickered. "Oh yes. And what happens after that?"

"Then you meet a hot Asian guy who has the bonus of having a likeable personality an' you think, this could be it. But is it?"

"And is it?" Trowa asked.

"I don't know! Howard said one day when I'm grown up etc, I'd meet someone special and that would be that. He didn't cover robots or walking armaments. Hell, he barely covered sex. If Sally hadn't decided to-uh -- what's the word?"

"Enlighten you?" Trowa suggested with a smile.

"I'd still think it was a mechanical operation." I snorted. "Friction caused by the interplay of two bodies, indeed!"

Trowa laughed a long time. "And I thought being raised by a knife- thrower was bad. Cathy may be a witch when she's mad, but at least she's not a mechanic."

"Laugh it up, all you like," I said with as much dignity as I could muster. "This happens to be my life."


"You should be. I happen to be in great personal turmoil," I sniffed, pulling away from him and wobbling homeward on my own. "At a time like this, it would be nice to have to support of my friends, but no, nobody cares that my boyfriend makes a nuclear warhead look like a Roman candle."

"I don't even know what you're on about, but come here Duo. You can't walk home by yourself."

"No!" I stabbed a finger at him. "You don't really care and you're not sorry one bit! Yyou can stand there as smug as you like now, but let me warn you -- true love is not just going to suddenly fall into your life and make everything perfect -- "


"Ow -- "

"Ouch. Oh, goodness, I'm sorry!"

I watched as the blond scrambled off Trowa hastily trying to help him upright.

"I'm so unbelievably sorry -- "

I looked at the blond's clothes (clean and apparently pricey) and then up, trying to work out where he'd fallen from. Nothing was immediately apparent. I looked back to where the blond was brushing dust off Trowa's coat (a loosing battle).

" -- terribly sorry, I was running and I slipped. I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"Nothing to speak of," Trowa said. "I didn't catch your name?"

"Oh, what a relief! I would hate to have hurt you -- " The blond beamed at Trowa, then faltered. "I'm afraid I have to go now -- "

"But wait -- " Trowa sent him an agonized look as the blond turned and started to hurry away. "You can't go! I -- just met you!"

"I can't stay. I can't explain, but its dangerous. There are people after me. I'm sorry -- " the blond hesitated then turned and ran away.

"Well, that was interesting," I remarked.

"Duo! Please -- make him come back!"

I blinked. "What?"

"Make him -- "

"I heard! What makes you think I can stop him?"

"You've got more experience with up-siders, you can talk to him. Please Duo?"

I sighed and went after him. It was the charitable thing to do after all. Kid was probably doomed on his own.

It was easy to catch up with him. He'd slowed down once out of our sight, and stuck to the well lit areas. Catching up with him without his knowledge was easy.

"So," I said, materialising at his elbow. "New to the downside? Let me give you a hint. Avoid the light -- if you can see you can be seen."

The blonde stopped. "Please, don't follow me. I don't want to endan -- "

"Endanger us, I heard. But what about yourself?" I said

conversationally. "Your clothes are far too clean. Anyone can tell you don't belong here. And you're alone. I'm surprised you got this far without being robbed and killed."

The blond stopped and stared at me. "Killed?"

"Out of the light," I instructed him, pulling him over to a corner. "Yeah, life's a bit rougher down here. What happened -- shuttle crash?"

He hesitated. "I can't say."

"Not too trusting -- that's good," I said. "At least that fall didn't knock you stupid."

He bristled. "Thanks for your help, but I'll take it from here." He walked off, his shoulders set.

"Oh really?" I said, leaning back against the cracked wall. "Do you even know where you're going?"

He turned around. For the first time there was a hint of doubt in his eyes. "I -- I don't -- "

"Come back with us," I said. "We know the landscape, we can hide you so that whoever you're afraid of can't find you. Ya don't have to trust us -- but you can stay with us till you get your bearings so to speak."

"I don't know -- " the blond said slowly.

"Please come with us," Trowa stepped out of the shadows startling the blond. I shook my head, with reflexes that bad, he would not have lasted more than five minutes on his own. "I couldn't bear to think of you on your own out there -- "

The upsider stared at him, then slowly turned pink. "All right," he said.

All right? I shot a look at Trowa who was becoming a similar color.

"Oh great." I muttered. "This is just what I need."

It was a good thing we reached the Sweeper's fort and Sally's infirmary quickly. If I'd have had to endure any more of the looks passing between Quatre and Trowa I'd have been sick.

"Let Sally look at your ankle. If it is sprained, a bandage will stop it getting worse -- "

"You don't think she'll mind?"

"Believe me, Sally lives to put bandages on people, the more the better," I said sourly. I was getting the starts of a headache. Quatre looked enquiringly at Trowa.

"Ignore him," Trowa said. "He's a little grumpy because his boyfriend turns out to be more robotic than human -- "

There was a gasp from our visitor.

"Heero? You know where Heero is?"

Trowa and I exchanged glances.

" -- maybe," I hedged.

The upsider suddenly became commanding. "Take me to him right away. Its of the utmost importance."

Several things went click.

"You're not Quatre Winner by any chance?" I said.

He looked at me suspiciously. "You have me at a disadvantage, Mr -- "

"Maxwell will do."

Trowa was frowning at me furiously. I ignored him.

"Well then Mr Maxwell, perhaps you'll be so kind as to take me to Heero."

"If you insist," I replied.

"I do." His reply had danger in it.

"Very well," I led the way back to workroom 7. "Wait here," I ordered at the door.

Trowa caught me by the able. "Why are you doing this?" he hissed at me. "You're acting like you've been asked to help a copper."

"I don't like him," I said shortly. "And he doesn't like me."

"Don't be silly," Trowa said. "There's nothing not to like about him. And why wouldn't he like you?"

"He just doesn't," I said. "It's something to do with Heero."

I pulled away from Trowa and slipped into workroom seven. "Heero? You awake?"

"Duo?" I was wrapped in a tight hug. "Duo -- "

I blinked in surprise. "Heero? What's wrong?"

"I thought you were dead -- I woke up in the workroom alone, and I couldn't remember what had happened and I thought that if you were alive you would have come for me and you hadn't so I thought -- and after all Howard does talk about using me for spare parts so when I found myself in here -- "

"It's all right. It's all right," I whispered, stroking his hair. "I'm safe, you're safe -- "

For the moment at least.

"You mean it? You're not hurt?" Heero took my face in his hands and brushed my hair back gently. "You're really all right?"

I don't think anyone had touched me so gently before. "You're back -- " I said softly. "You're my Heero -- "

"What do you mean?" asked Heero. "What happened?"

I stared at him. "You don't remember?"

"The light," Heero said. "We were going to turn it off. I was going to cover you. After that -- I don't remember anything."

I swallowed. "You Heero -- "

Inexplicably, I felt tears welling up. Me, Duo Maxwell, who never cries, was getting teary for the second time in the same week --

"What's wrong?" Heero asked, gently patting my cheek.

"I'm afraid," I choked, clinging onto him. "I'm so afraid -- "


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